You may have been dreaming about studying at Oxford for years, ever since you were small and knew what going to university actually was, but now time has come to make the decision, so how do you decide between the two? The tricky thing is you can only apply to one, you can only put either Oxford or Cambridge down as one of your choices on your UCAS application form. You cannot fill up your UCAS application form with lots of different choices at Oxford or Cambridge or a combination of the two. Now, these are lumped together under the name Oxbridge, but they are actually quite different. These two universities have a lot in common, they're very, very old, they are very traditional, It's going to be very formal setting there and they always rank at the top of the world's university league tables or very close to the top and they are going to have very similar styles. There are tutorials, there are supervisions, there are very small, intimate teaching styles, as well as the large theatres and the large labs, but there are some important differences between the two of them. The most important difference is going to be the course, as while they are very similar, they don't actually offer the same courses. For example, Oxford will offer separate degrees in biological sciences, chemistry, and physics, whereas Cambridge offers a natural science degree where you won't know exactly the nature of the degree you're going to take when you start it, you pick and choose modules as you go along, so your interest might development and your interest may change over time, but you're not guaranteed that you're going to come out with a physics degree. Oxford does PPE, politics, philosophy, and economics all bundled together in one degree, whereas Cambridge will offer you a degree in economics, it will offer you a degree in philosophy, or you can do a degree in politics and history. Cambridge offers degrees in veterinary science, land management, architecture, and Asian and Middle Eastern studies, whereas Oxford offers degrees in oriental studies and fine arts. Even the degrees that have the same title at the different universities may be completely different. You need to delve deep into the modules, deep into the units, and check that the degree you're applying for actually suits you. If there's a particular section of classics that you're really, really interested in, one university might offer it and the university may not. Check you're actually applying for a course that you want to study. Don't just apply to the university based on the name or based on their reputation because you think it'll suit you better later in life, apply to a course that you want to study. Both of them are going to require fantastic A-level grades with a typical offer of being all A's with one or two of those A's being A stars. They use different ways to differentiate between excellent grades, which nearly everyone who apply is going to have (mumbles) of course, a majority of students at Oxford (mumbles) pre-interview assessment. They will use this to decide upon who to interview and who is going to get to play. Only about half of the courses at Cambridge have a pre-interview assessment, much more of these you have to submit written work to or there is going to be an assessment on the day. Those are the big differences between the two. The only real way you can determine whether you prefer Oxford or Cambridge is by going to visit them and seeing what they're actually like, seeing where you think you'll be happiest, and seeing which one suits your personality better. Oxford is slightly large population, it is also slightly more compact and is known to be ever so slightly livelier, but when you compare either Oxford or Cambridge to a city like London or Manchester, then their size and liveliness do not compare. Cambridge is ever so slightly on the smaller size and some of the qualities are a little bit further out, so it will probably require you to get a bus in every morning.
There are so many different holidays at Oxford and Cambridge that even if you want one that's a bit quieter in a livelier city, you're going to find that. There are a few other small idiosyncrasies between the universities, which may, but probably won't have a massive impact on whether you decide to go there or not. For example, Oxford requires you to wear academic dress when you're sitting exams and Cambridge doesn't, these are really small things but it something that you should be aware of when making your choice. The best thing you can do is do as much research into the course that you want to do and then visit the cities to see what you actually think of them. Things like open-top bus tours will give you a really good easy overview of the whole city and then start talking to people, see if the people were happy there and see whether you think you will fit in there.