6 Ways To Use Holidays Efficiently When Applying To Oxbridge

Applying to Oxbridge requires lots of early preparation, especially during the holidays. Read our 6 top tips on how to use your holidays effectively.

Last Updated: 12th July 2022

Author: Meltem Kamalvand

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Holidays should be for relaxing, but ensure you make use of some of the time available to maximise your chances of university success!

A lot of candidates will be wondering how much preparation they should be devoting to getting ready for Oxbridge entry season. Whilst holidays can provide a useful, low-pressure starting point for study, it is important to be strategic in how you use your time and to opt for a ‘quality over quantity’ approach. Here are six small ways to get started whilst still leaving you time to enjoy your holiday:

1. Targeted Reading

No doubt many candidates will have long reading lists to get through, either self-imposed or put forward by their teachers in order to develop their areas of interest. The truth is, the longer the reading list, the more unrealistic and daunting the task.

Depending on the type of book in question, it is much better to read selectively making brief notes from only the relevant chapters, rather than trawling passively through entire books over the course of the summer by the poolside. In reality, you will retain very little doing this come interviews in a few months time.

Instead, reading more intensely for shorter periods of time, making notes on the important sections, and noting your own point of view as you go will prove helpful in the coming months. 

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2. Watch and track the news

Each week write a top-line summary of the key developments that have occurred in the news that week, and briefly note how they relate to your subject. This will make them easier to call upon in the coming months, and by the interviews in December, you could have a personalised and subject-specific round-up of current affairs from the past six months to draw upon.

3. Engage with friends and family

The best way to develop your point of view is to challenge it. Try explaining something you’ve learnt to a friend or family member to check your understanding, debate, and revisit material you’ve read. Constantly engaging and re-engaging with ideas, is the key way to develop a sophisticated understanding of your subject.

4. Familiarise yourself with the relevant Admission Tests

As daunting as the Admissions Tests seem, the key to cracking them is practice. The summer is a great opportunity to familiarise yourself with the format of past tests and develop a basic understanding of their requirements. Make a note of any points of uncertainty to ask your teacher, and have a stab at planning and writing a few in timed conditions.

The UCAS website will have all the information you need about which Admission Test to take. We have also written a few articles on Admission Tests so don’t forget to check your relevant test below.

5. Be Proactive

Holidays are a great opportunity to develop your interest in your subject in the real world. Seek out work experience, go to museums, and look to your local community for any events taking place in your area. The possibilities are endless.

6. Know when to switch off

They say creativity and original thought flourishes when the brain has time and space to visit and revisit ideas, procrastinate, and mull things over. Often, the best ideas come as if from nowhere, whereas in fact, they have been slowly bubbling below the surface inspired by things we have read, seen, heard, and experienced over time.

If you fill your brain constantly with new ideas and speed through book after book, you don’t give yourself time to reflect on what you’ve learnt. Sometimes, it is important to switch off and relax as well. For this reason, holidays are a great opportunity to develop your overall learning.

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