The Admissions Process | Mansfield College (2023)

You can apply for an undergraduate course at Oxford between 5 September and 16 October 2023, for entry in 2024 (or deferred entry in 2025). Applicants must complete aUCASForm before 6pm UK time on 16 October (usually 15 October, unless it falls on a weekend.

Applicants should ensure that they leave their school or college plenty of time to complete the reference section before the deadline. We will only accept late applications if there are exceptional circumstances.

More information about making a UCAS application can be found on the Oxford undergraduate admissions website.

Below you can find more information about each stage of the admissions process.

Choosing a Course

Oxford offers just under 250 different courses from 30 faculties and departments. Each course allows both breadth and depth, ensuring that students can gain a wider understanding of their subject while also specialising in the areas that interest them most.

Each course is structured, taught and assessed differently, so it is important to research the courses you think you might enjoy so that you can pick the one that best matches your interests and abilities. Our courses are very challenging, and whilst we provide a lot of academic support for our students, they need to be motivated and willing to work hard in order to do well.

You can find out more about the range of subjects that Oxford offers on the main University website 'Courses' section. Mansfield, as a small college, does not offer every course. You can find out more about the subjects we offer on the Mansfield Subjects page.

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Choosing a College

Undergraduate students at Oxford are members of the University, of their department, and of one of the colleges. Colleges are small communities within the University, made up of undergraduates, postgraduates and tutors. They have an academic focus as well as being the place where our students live, eat and socialise. Mansfield is one of 30 undergraduate colleges in the University. To find out more about Mansfield, have a look at the following pages:

  • Studying at Mansfield
  • Living at Mansfield
  • Student Life
  • Fees and Finance

Applicants to Oxford can express a preference on their UCAS form about which college they'd like to be a member of. They will be considered by all colleges that offer their course, to ensure that no one is disadvantaged by choosing an oversubscribed college, but around two thirds of applicants who receive an offer will be given it by their first choice college.

If you don't want to choose a college, you can make an 'open application', which will mean that a college is assigned to you. The college you are assigned will depend on application patterns for your choice of course that year, but there is no advantage (or disadvantage) to making an open application in terms of your likelihood of being made an offer. The tutors are looking to admit the best candidates from across all colleges, and so won't be concerned about whether or not you chose their college.

You can find out more about how to choose a college on the 'Do you choose a college?' pages of the Oxford admissions website.

UCAS CodesInstitution code name:OXFInstitution code:033Campus code:E

Admissions Tests

The majorityof Oxford courses require you to take a test as part of your application. These tests are designed to stretch and challenge you, and to show us your aptitude for the subject. They are not tests that you 'pass' or 'fail', but the scores are used to help us work out who has the potential to do well on our courses.

The registration deadline for all tests is 29September 2023, apart from the LNAT for Law, which has a deadline of 15 September 2023. Applicants mustensure that they register for the test; it is the responsibility of the student to ensure that they register before the deadline, not their school or college.

Admissions tests will take place on the following dates:

  • LNAT: you must take the LNAT on or before 15 October 2023.
  • BMAT & TSA: 18 October 2023
  • CAT, Oxford ELAT, MAT, GAT, AMELAT: 19October 2023
  • HAT, MLAT, PAT, Philosophy:20 October 2023

The following Mansfield courses have admissions tests as part of the application process:

NOTE:Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing (CAAT)recently announced its decision to withdraw from delivering its admissions testing services over the next two years. In 2023, they will deliver paper-based TSA and BMAT tests for the final time but will not be delivering Oxford's own tests.We are delighted to announce that from now,Tata Consulting Services(TCS) will manage the delivery of Oxford's own admissions tests.

The TSA and BMAT tests arranged by CAAT will be taken by candidates on 18 October. Any questions regarding either of these tests should bedirected to CAAT.

Further details about admissions tests, including past papers are available.

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Written Work

For several of our courses, we ask that you send us written work as part of your application. This should be something that has been produced as part of your normal school or college work, of no more than 2000 words in length, and which has been marked by a teacher. We use this piece(s) to assess your writing ability, your ability to think critically, and what kind of support you are receiving from your school.

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The deadline for submitting written work is 10 November. There is guidance on the submission of written work and a downloadable copy of the cover sheet.

The following Mansfield courses require written work (the faculty guidance is provided in italics):

English: one piece
This should preferably be an analytical discussion of a topic or topics in the field of English literature, though an English language topic is permissible. It should not be a short timed essay, a critical commentary on particular passages of text (practical criticism exercises), or a piece of creative writing.

History: one piece
Please send an ordinary essay on a historical topic, not a structured question, nor a source-based response, nor a personal study. Your written work should be about 1500 words long, and not longer than 2000 words. Note that in selecting work for submission you should choose a piece which has enthused you and on which you are willing to talk. Do not worry if you have changed your mind on the topic since writing it. Tutors are impressed by candidates who remain intellectually engaged with their work.

Philosophy & Theology, Theology & Religion: one piece
Please send work in Religious Studies if you are studying this subject to A-level (or equivalent). If you cannot submit a sample of work in Religious Studies, please submit work in a related area. You may send an essay oran examination or test answer to an unseen question, which has been supervised and marked by your school or college. Please ensure that work is not overly long, as tutors want to evaluate the succinctness and pertinence of your work.


As part of the admissions process, we shortlist for interview any candidate who we believe shows aptitude for their subject and fits the selection criteria for their course. Unfortunately we are not able to interview all applicants, but we shortlist on average around 60% of applicants for interview, with variations from subject to subject. Shortlisting is coordinated by each individual department, to ensure that no candidate is disadvantaged by applying to an oversubscribed college. A small amount of reallocation between the colleges takes place during the shortlisting process, though not in every subject.

All applicants for each subject will be notified at the same time whether they have been shortlisted for interview or not. This will be in late November or early December, depending on the subject.


The interview is an significant part of ourselection procedure,but it is important to remember that no individual part of your application is considered in isolation - including the interview. Tutors will also be looking at your exam results and predicted grades, your personal statement, your teacher's reference, admissions tests and written work (where applicable) and any contextual data that you provide. Each of these elements will be considered when we decide which candidates to accept.

If you are shortlisted for interview, every effort will be made to make your experience as comfortable as possible.

The style of the interviews will be academic in focus, intellectually challenging, and will combine existing knowledge with new material. Discussions may focus on your personal statement, written work, material studied in school, texts/pictures/problems given during the interview, or completely new material.

During the interviews, we are looking to see that you would benefit from what we have to offer, in terms of both the course content and the way that we teach it. Part of this involves assessing whether you would benefit from studying in the tutorial system, where the focus is on discussion in very small groups. We also want to see that you are able to think critically and independently about the questions we ask you, and that you are able to engage with material that you haven't encountered before.

We expect candidates to be a bit nervous during the interview period, but we will do everything we can to make sure that you are put at ease. Your interviews will be challenging, as we want to test the limits of your abilities, but remember that the tutors want you to succeed as well, as they are looking for candidates whom they will enjoy teaching on the course.

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Tutors will make their decision based on how well they think the candidate would perform on the course they have applied for, using the selection criteria for that subject, and how much they would benefit from what we have to offer. Each department will coordinate the decisions for their subject across all colleges, ensuring that the best applicants are made offers regardless of which college they applied to. A number of candidates will be reallocated to a different college, either after having an additional interview there or after the tutors there have considered their application material.

Candidates who are shortlisted for interview will be told whether or not their application has been successful on 9January 2023. Candidates for 2024 entrywill be told whether or not their application has been successfulon 9 January 2024. Decisions will be released via UCAS Track early in the morning. This will be followed by direct communication from the college considering your application.No decisions will be given out over the phone.

For information about feedback, please go to the Feedback page. The deadline for requesting individual feedback is to be confirmed, but likely to be 15 February 2024.

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The Admissions Process | Mansfield College? ›

Many colleges also ask for short answer responses, sometimes called supplemental prompts or personal insight questions, in the range of 150, 250, or 350 words; in this case, aim for the suggested length and be aware of the hard limits on either end, but don't stress if you're over or under by 10-15%.

How do you answer college admission questions? ›

Here are some tips to help you ace your short answers:
  1. Don't repeat the question.
  2. Don't use unnecessarily large words. ...
  3. Answer honestly. ...
  4. Supplement your résumé. ...
  5. Always use details to bring even a short story to life.
  6. Don't be afraid of the word limit. ...
  7. Describe your personal growth. ...
  8. Be specific about each institution.

How long should short answer responses be on college application? ›

Many colleges also ask for short answer responses, sometimes called supplemental prompts or personal insight questions, in the range of 150, 250, or 350 words; in this case, aim for the suggested length and be aware of the hard limits on either end, but don't stress if you're over or under by 10-15%.

What is the college admissions process? ›

Applying to college typically involves taking standardized tests, writing personal statements, collecting letters of recommendation, and filling out applications.

What is the most important thing in college admissions? ›

Courses and Grades

A student's grades in college-preparatory classes remain the most significant factor in college admission decisions.

How do you impress college admissions? ›

  1. Earn Good Grades in Challenging Courses. ...
  2. Get a High SAT/ACT Score. ...
  3. Write a Compelling Personal Statement. ...
  4. Demonstrate Interest. ...
  5. Secure Strong Letters of Recommendation. ...
  6. Apply to a Diverse Selection of Colleges. ...
  7. Opt for an Early Admission Plan. ...
  8. Manage Your Online Reputation.

How long should I wait to hear back from a college application? ›

The average turnaround time for an admissions decision for schools with rolling admissions is four to six weeks, though in some cases students might have to wait longer. For regular decision candidates, the wait is more like eight to 12 weeks. Students handle that waiting period differently, experts say.

How many hours is good for college application? ›

It is recommended that having 50 – 200 hours on a college application gives it a good chance of being seen favorably by college admissions officers.

How long should an admissions essay be? ›

The primary essay for your college application, often called a personal statement, is typically around 400-600 words. The Common App personal statement — which is used as the primary application essay by more than 800 colleges — must be 250-650 words.

What if no college accepts me? ›

While asking for an admissions decision to be reconsidered is only appropriate in rare cases, a second chance may be possible, either through attending community college and then applying to your preferred school(s) as a transfer student, or by taking a gap year and reapplying to your preferred school(s) in the next ...

Is the college admissions process random? ›

In short, a school's acceptance rate says very little about your chances. Every school has a different type of student profile, so getting into school A with the same prestige or quality as school B doesn't mean you will or should get into school B. The process is incredibly subjective and a bit random. ”

Are college admissions hard? ›

The first thing to acknowledge is that the hype and anxiety are not unfounded: it is, in fact, much more difficult to get into college than it was a generation ago. The number of college applicants has risen sharply, especially over the past ten years, and this trend does not appear to be letting up any time soon.

How do colleges decide who to accept? ›

Offers of admission are based on each school's enrollment objectives. Making admissions decisions is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Large state schools may use a test score and GPA formula. Highly selective schools may have multiple reviewers with many voices weighing in on a decision.

Do college admissions look at attendance? ›

Colleges are not particularly concerned with a student's attendance history unless it has an impact on their final grade. Colleges are aware that you probably won't attend a class every day. You will miss a few days due to life events like doctor's appointments, illnesses, and special occasions.

What are the early signs that you have been accepted into a university? ›

The early 'sign' would be a letter to you that you have been accepted, or wait-listed or rejected. In some rare cases, you may get a phone call from the college, because of a mishap with their computer or some process that will delay an announcement.

What not to ask admissions officers? ›

But all the same, it's not a good idea to ask about the school's party culture or anything related to drugs and alcohol. Questions that make you seem uninterested. Don't ask admissions officers questions that compare them to other schools.

What do admissions officers want to see? ›

Admissions officers look at “hard factors” (GPA, grades, and test scores) and “soft factors” (essays, extracurricular activities, recommendations, and demonstrated interest) to gain a full picture of applicants.

What college admissions officers say they want in a candidate? ›

College admissions officers want to see what motivates and inspires you. Who you are and what you are passionate about. In addition to your personal statement, you may need to write supplemental essays as well.

What awards look good on college applications? ›

Examples of academic awards include, but are not limited to:
  • AP Scholar.
  • Any “honor society” such as, International Thespian Society, National Honor Society, etc.
  • Honor Roll.
  • National Language Exam Recognition.
  • National Merit Award.
  • President's Award.
  • School subject-based award.

What things impress colleges? ›

What Are the Best Extracurriculars for College?
  • Leadership Work and Positions. Colleges seek out applicants with leadership experience. ...
  • Part-Time Jobs. ...
  • Sports and Athletic Participation. ...
  • Academic Clubs and Teams. ...
  • Artistic and Creative Pursuits. ...
  • Volunteering and Community Service. ...
  • Internships.

Is it OK to follow up on college application? ›

If you've previously sent an email to an institution and haven't received any response, you should send a college admission follow up email. You must ensure that your email to the admissions' office is legitimate and professional.

What happens if you apply to two colleges early decision? ›

Can You Apply to Multiple Schools Using Early Decision? No. Since Early Decision is binding, you cannot, in good conscience, apply to more than one school using this method for college applications. If you do and are caught, it could result in both schools withdrawing their offers of acceptance.

How long do colleges look at applications? ›

It can take a few weeks to a few months to hear back for a college admissions decision, depending on the type of application you submitted. Early applicants — such as early decision or early action — will generally hear back in December while regular decision applicants will receive their admission decision in April.

How many colleges should I apply to at a time? ›

In general, it's a good idea to apply to a minimum of five schools. Submitting more applications increases the likelihood of an acceptance and the odds of receiving financial aid offers. Before putting colleges on your list, consider key factors like your budget, financial aid opportunities, and personal preferences.

How many times should you apply to a college? ›

There is no magic number, but five to eight applications are usually enough to ensure that a student is accepted into a suitable institution (depending, of course, on the individual student's record and circumstances). This number should be made up of a combination of “safety,” “match,” and “reach” colleges.

How long should a college exam be? ›

Most exams are 2–3 hours long. The first part of the exam usually consists of multiple-choice questions.

How many admissions officers read your essay? ›

Usually one to two admissions officers read an essay. Some colleges do not look at essays. Some colleges will choose only to look at your GPA, Course Rigor and SAT/ACT scores.

How do you make a college essay stand out? ›

Frequently asked questions about college application essays
  1. A unique, personally meaningful topic.
  2. A memorable introduction with vivid imagery or an intriguing hook.
  3. Specific stories and language that show instead of telling.
  4. Vulnerability that's authentic but not aimed at soliciting sympathy.
Oct 25, 2021

How many essays do you need for college admission? ›

You'll submit one essay through the Common Application for all your schools. Some colleges may ask you to also answer a few supplemental questions.

Can colleges reject you for being too good? ›

While there is some anecdotal evidence that overqualified students get rejected, these students aren't usually turned down because of their better-than-average grades or test scores. Most likely, the overqualified student isn't the right fit for a school or they haven't shown enough interest to admission officers.

Can college still reject you after acceptance? ›

Yes, colleges can take back an acceptance letter. When prospective students apply, they agree to the college's policies, which include the right to revoke admission.

Do colleges send you a rejection letter? ›

1. Do Colleges Give Rejection Letters? Yes, colleges send rejection notices to students who weren't admitted.

Do admissions officers remember you? ›

There is a considerable chance that they will not remember your name. They are more likely to remember a distinguishable piece of clothing or a question you ask. Your questions should be sharp. Ask about a specific academic program and how admissions consider applicants to that program.

Are college admissions first come first serve? ›

Since admission is granted on a first-come, first-serve basis, you'll want to submit your application as early as possible. Typically, community colleges, online schools and distance learning programs offer this type of enrollment.

Do college admissions fact check essays? ›

The answer is a resounding no. In fact, with some exceptions, such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which has historically fact-checked random batches of applications, admissions officers at elite universities rarely fact-check much of anything.

What GPA wont get you into college? ›

Typically, colleges will not accept a GPA below 2.0 to a four-year program, but there are options for students with a GPA lower than this to succeed in being accepted.

What college is the hardest to get accepted at? ›

Harvard, Stanford and Princeton, unsurprisingly, are America's toughest colleges to get into in 2023, according to Niche's most recent rankings.

Is a 4.3 UC GPA good? ›

Is a 4.3 GPA good? This GPA is above a 4.0, which means it's weighted (it takes into account the difficulty of your classes in conjunction with your grades). This is a very good GPA. It most likely means you're taking high level classes and are earning As and Bs.

What makes colleges more likely to accept you? ›

ACT / SAT Test scores

No matter which you take (colleges don't actually prefer SAT or ACT scores over the other) higher test scores will increase your acceptance odds. Not only that, but ACT / SAT scores can also qualify you for scholarships and certain forms of financial aid.

Do colleges look at senior year? ›

The important thing to know is that colleges do look at your senior year grades. So, a weaker performance in senior year than in previous grades can impact your application and college admissions decisions.

What grades do colleges look at the most? ›

Your first year and sophomore year affect your cumulative GPA, which is important to most colleges. However, a solid academic record in your junior year is likely to carry more importance with an admissions committee.

Do colleges care about AP classes? ›

Colleges like them both. Both honors and AP courses are rigorous courses that most high schools weight more heavily on your transcript. AP courses, however, culminate in the AP Exam. Good AP scores show colleges you are ready to succeed at college-level work and can even earn you college credits.

Do colleges care about freshman year? ›

For colleges, the freshman year is typically the least important year on the high school transcript (they figure you're just trying to find the school every day). But that's not to say freshman year doesn't matter at all. Lots of colleges, particularly private schools, will consider your freshman grades.

Do colleges care if you miss class? ›

Do professors actually care if you miss a class? Most professors expect students to miss a class every now and then. For students who miss one or two classes over the course of a semester, professors rarely care.

Who gets a likely letter? ›

Likely letters are sent to students who are likely to receive an offer of admission to a school they have applied to. Colleges know that competitive applicants can end up with many choices, so they want to give them extra time and incentive to consider accepting their offer.

At what time do college decisions come out? ›

When Do Colleges Release Admissions Decisions? Most admissions decisions are released in late March. Students typically receive a notification from each individual school they applied to, either by email or in their application portal, when decisions are ready to be viewed.

How do you respond to a college admission letter? ›

College acceptance letter response examples

I am pleased to accept this offer, and I am excited to begin taking classes here in the fall. Thank you for this opportunity. I have attached the required documents, including my high school transcripts and health forms. Thank you again for your time in reviewing this letter.

What do you say when talking to an admissions officer? ›

Say hello, tell them your name, and thank them for being there. College admissions officers are people, too, and they're always thrilled to connect with kind and friendly students!

What do you say to a college admissions officer? ›

A simple formal email starts with “Dear First Name,” often followed by a greeting such as “I hope you're well.” You should get to your point pretty quickly, explaining why you're emailing and how they might know you. (For example, saying something like “It was nice to meet you at the Regional College Fair last week.”)

What do you write about in a college admissions essay? ›

Whatever subject you choose, make sure it's something that's genuinely important to you and not a subject you've chosen just to impress. You can write about a specific experience, hobby, or personality quirk that illustrates your strengths, but also feel free to write about your weaknesses.

How long does it take for a college to accept or reject you? ›

Every college has its own timeline for evaluating student applications. It's not unusual for a college's application process to take four to six weeks. Colleges that have an application portal allow students to go online to check the status of their applications at any time.

Can you reply to a college that rejected you? ›

Immediately after you receive the rejection letter, reach out to the admissions office. Write a thoughtful letter and explain that you still believe that the school is the best fit for you, you plan to reapply, and you are fully committed to attending if accepted.

Do you have to respond to a college acceptance? ›

Respond to the college you've decided to attend

Make sure to send in the following items, via the online student portal or through email, by the deadline: Your acceptance letter. A deposit. A separate acceptance letter for financial aid if required.

What do admissions officers look at first? ›

Admissions officers look at “hard factors” (GPA, grades, and test scores) and “soft factors” (essays, extracurricular activities, recommendations, and demonstrated interest) to gain a full picture of applicants.

Do college admissions officers read essays? ›

The person who reads your application in a college admissions office might be a dedicated admissions officer, a faculty member, or a student or part-time essay reader. They are reading your essay in the context of your application overall.

Does talking to an admissions counselor help? ›

If a student is a really good fit for a particular college and shows interest, the admissions representative can help explain all the possible pathways to admission available. Plus, the admissions representative in some cases can advocate for the student through the process.

How do you start a college admissions essay? ›

The introduction has to reveal to the reader what your essay is about and catch their attention. You could open with an anecdote or an interesting story that will show some of the best parts of your personality and character, offering an insight that will help the admission officers get to know who you are.

What do admissions officers want in a college essay? ›

In your application essay, admissions officers are looking for particular features: they want to see context on your background, positive traits that you could bring to campus, and examples of you demonstrating those qualities.


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