Do Oxbridge prefer 4 A levels?

Are you starting your university application and aiming for the best of the best? Oxford and Cambridge places are sought after like gold dust. With this in mind, you might be wondering how you can up for chances of being accepted. You might think that doing 4 A levels over the usual 3 will help you in this area. But is this the case?

Oxbridge entry requirements

Oxford and Cambridge Universities are known for demanding the highest grades of As and A*s off students. However, doing 4 A levels over 3 is neither required nor preferred. 3 A levels are demanded from the universities, and most students who go there only do 3. If Oxbridge wanted students to have done 4 A levels, they would be upfront about it in their requirements. 3 A levels are enough to demonstrate that you have a broad skill set and knowledge, plus, a readiness to learn. You need top grades to secure your place at Oxbridge, with devout concentration being given to all your A levels. Therefore, it might be worth only doing 3 subjects so that you can give your full attention to each qualification.

With A levels being so challenging, aiming to do 4 of them might pile up your workload too high and attending a half term revision course could really help you tighten your exam technique. This pressure, extra revision, and spread of focus might hinder your performance in your subjects when you could’ve done better. Taking out a huge chunk of time to study and revise for an extra subject will be very time-consuming. Is it worth putting your other subject grades at risk? After all, 3 exceptional A levels will be accepted by Oxbridge, whilst 4 mediocre A levels won’t be. You could be putting more unnecessary pressure on yourself when you already have so much on your shoulders. By pushing yourself to do a 4th A level, you could be risking your chance of getting an Oxbridge place.

Why a 4th A level might be appealing

Doing 4 A levels will show that you are academic, have excellent time management, and can perform well under pressure. Adding this additional qualification to your application will set you apart from students who only managed 3 A levels. After all, Oxbridge are attracted to students who show enthusiasm. You will be more well-rounded with your academic knowledge and approach to learning and have a more diverse skillset. You will show readiness for going above and beyond for your studies which Oxbridge will love to see. It could also show that you would be capable of doing the intense studying required on Oxbridge courses. Getting a degree at Oxford or Cambridge requires nothing less than exceptional hard work, so practising early might be beneficial.

Whilst doing 4 A levels will show you are comfortable with heavy workloads and hard graft, Oxbridge don’t require 4. You could save yourself the effort, even by simply doing an AS level or EPQ instead. These will still make you stand out but will be less likely to put your other subject grades at risk.

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