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The Road To Oxford Computer Science

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Computer science could be the ideal course of study for you if you see yourself designing and building software systems, picking up a career as a manager or administrator for a technology company, or even a career as a researcher in a technological subject. A degree in computer science or information and computer sciences could provide you with the background, abilities, and knowledge you will need to make a difference in the world.

Computer science is a dynamic and blossoming field that has shaped the modern world. Your understanding of theories and cutting-edge technology will be greatly improved by having a degree in this area. Your expertise and knowledge will enable you to create innovative solutions to today’s problems.

Now, speaking of where to get this degree from. That is an internal debate I also did not have fun with, but you’re probably reading this because you have chosen Oxford as I did some 4 years ago.

At Oxford University, computer science is one of the most competitive majors. Only 6% of applicants are successful in gaining an offer to study the course. It is quite a low figure, but that doesn’t mean you cannot give it a shot. Secure perfect grades and dazzle them at the interview, they wouldn’t say no to you.

Speaking plainly, I got overwhelmed midway through my A-Levels and already had plans to jump ship till I came across a YouTube video about tutors from Oxbridge Mind. What were the odds of bumping into a video? I looked them up, go enrolled, and my grades surprised me. They guided me with my personal statement and preparations for my interview.

What is Computer Science at Oxford like?

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In the UK, Oxford is the best choice for a Computer science education. The university’s undergraduate computer science program emphasizes the integration of theory and practice while covering a wide variety of hardware and software developments. Quite a number of things, like AI technology and programming, are covered within its long curriculum. The field deals with the use of a lot of numbers in different forms, hence the reason Oxford keeps a lookout, especially for candidates with exceptional mathematical skills. These skills will be honed and molded by the tutors for use in any way possible to effect change in the world.

What do I Need to get in?

In addition to your perfect scores in the GCSEs, you will need the following:

  1. A Levels with A*AA in Mathematics, Further Mathematics, and or Computer Science.
  2. Advanced Highers with AA/AB.
  3. International Baccalaureate (IB) with a score of 39 and 766 at Higher Levels.

Do I Need an Admissions Test?

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To get into Oxford Computer science, you also need to sit for the Mathematics Admissions Test (MAT). This was put in place to assess your mathematical capabilities. There would be familiar aspects from the A Level and AS Level Mathematics but taken up several notches to increase the difficulty level. The university aims to get the best and only the best by making these tests challenging. A lot of preparation would be required to have a smooth sail. My Oxbridge tutor held my hands through my preparations.

What percentage of applicants eventually get an Interview?

The thought of the competition you are up against to get a place in Oxford scares a lot of people away. After the applications are sent in, and the MAT test is done, tutors at the admissions board closely assess the intake to begin a shortlisting process.

On average, with the information gathered during the application and the results from the MAT test, roughly 1 out of every 5 applicants is invited for an interview by the college. In the 2024-22 cycle, of 869 applications sent in for Computer science, only 145 were shortlisted for an interview.

The number looks small and discouraging, but it shouldn’t kill your fight. Give it a try, preferably with a tutor, and you may just be one of those that not only gets an interview but gets an offer. Never give up!

How to Prepare for the Oxford Computer Science Interview

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Nobody can tell you what exactly you are going to be asked in your interview, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t prepare well for it. Here are a few tips:

  1. Work hard on every part of the admissions process: It begins with the GCSEs, then the UCAS application, the MAT admissions tests, and finally, the Computer science oxford interview. Every bit of your preparation has to be precise and intentional to the end goal. You do your research on the grades required for a stellar application and work towards them, also bearing in mind that you are allowed to ask for help when you need it.
  2. Study your personal statement: This may sound odd, but yes, you should re-read it before your interview. Questions may come up from there during the interview, and you should be able to respond well to any question asked because they are your words.
  3. Do some extra independent reading: The additional knowledge you gain doing this would reflect your enthusiasm to learn and your love for computer science during the interview. One thing that must be seen and felt in those 20 to 30 minutes is your passion for the course. So, a little more reading won’t do you any harm.
  4. Broaden your horizon: Reading widely on the subject would expose you to some new ideas and theories. However, you need to apply some critical thoughts to what you’ve gained by challenging these concepts. This could be a way for you to practice how to respond to a debatable subject during the interview.
  5. Practice interview questions: I believe practicing some oxford computer science questions with a tutor or someone that has taken the interview before can act as an invaluable simulation of the real interview. Oxbridge mind provided me with these materials that aided me. You can find out more about this and many other Oxbridge Mind services by clicking here.

What should you avoid doing at the Interview?

In my opinion, there are two sides to this coin. First, a candidate is over-prepared in his or her preparation and gets carried away in over-confidence, completely ignoring necessary prompts from the interviewers. Or second, having little or no preparation and lacking self-confidence, thereby resulting in other ways to improvise or cope during the interview.

There are a few things you should note and avoid during your interview:

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  1. Do not impose your thoughts or answers on your interviewers. Be open to listening to their prompts and suggestions to help you rethink your answer.
  2. Do not feel you need to know the answers to all the questions. Whether or not you get it right, the assessment is more on your critical thinking than your answer.
  3. Do not worry about what the interviewer might be writing during the interview. It shouldn’t get you scared or insecure.
  4. Never give a “dismissive” hint or attitude that a question you have been asked is too easy for you to handle.