So You Want to go to Oxbridge? Tell me about a banana...

2nd December 2005 at 00:00
So You Want to go to Oxbridge? Tell me about a banana...

Oxbridge Applications, 0870 080 1940 pound;9.99

This book aims to demystify the Oxbridge applications process a little, but not too much. It is published, after all, by a consultancy that aims to help schools and students navigate that process. With no complexity, there'd be no market: hence, perhaps, the choice of Oxbridge interview question that provides the title.

But it's rather good on interviews, drawing on the experiences of admissions tutors as well as of recent applicants and graduates that the company has helped or consulted. It's reassuring (interviews really are designed to find out what you do know, rather than what you don't), informative (on the sort of open-ended questions that might come up in particular fields of study) and (if you need advice on the advisability of slogans on your T-shirt) practical.

It covers the rest of the ground too, with sections on the all-important personal statement and the written tests that in some subject areas both universities are beginning to use. On balance it is clear, sensible and helpful. There are perhaps two reservations. Most of what is here is already available: in prospectuses, on the web and at the excellent admissions open days (not mentioned here) that the colleges provide. And it is neither well designed nor in general well written. A tighter editorial hand would put this right.

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