PPE at Hertford College

The front gate of Hertford College
Carved floral decoration on the Hertford College gate

Application Procedure for PPE

As explained on the Oxford University admissions website (which you should consult for further details), any application to Oxford must be made through UCAS. Moreover your application must be submitted online between 1 September and 6pm on 15 October 2017, because Oxford operates a much earlier deadline than most other universities, to give time for the admissions tests and interviews. For PPE, you must also register in good time for the Thinking Skills Assessment (i.e. the PPE Admissions Test), which takes place on 2nd November 2017 (usually in your own school, or a local test centre). Please consult the TSA website to ensure that you don't miss the deadline, and note that there is a useful Application Calendar on the University's PPE website.

     Since the development of the Thinking Skills Assessment (TSA), there is now no written work requirement for PPE applications. Invitations for interview will be based on your UCAS application and performance in the TSA, with interviews scheduled for Sunday 3rd until Wednesday 6th December 2017 (again, details are provided on the University admissions website). Note that if your first choice college is very popular (something that can vary wildly and apparently randomly from year to year), your application may be passed to another college that has fewer applications – this will be done only to improve your chances of success, and you will not be discriminated against in any way. This procedure has the effect of evening up the competition per place at the different colleges, so that around three good applicants will compete for every place. Hence for our standard 9 places (including one 'Open Offer' place), we would usually interview 24-27 candidates.

     The impact of the redistribution is most dramatic at a college like Balliol, whose large number of PPE places tends to attract a disproportionate number of applicants. Once the TSA results are in, each oversubscribed college is allowed to 'reserve' around half of its interviewees, after which its highest-scoring unreserved candidates will be redistributed to colleges that have a weaker field of applicants. This means that a large number of strong Balliol applicants will be interviewed elsewhere, thus increasing their chances of admission. (Detailed figures can be found at College Success Rates Table, where you will see that in 2016, Balliol had 152 applicants, of whom 13 were accepted by Balliol and 7 at other colleges, while Hertford had 67 applicants, of whom 9 were accepted by Hertford and 3 by other colleges.) Hertford is consistently one of the more popular colleges (i.e. well above the median), but usually around the mean on applicants, so redistribution has little effect on us (at most one or two transfers either way): thus all – or nearly all – of our applicants who make it through the TSA will be interviewed at Hertford. Less popular colleges may end up with most of their interviewees coming by transfer from the very popular colleges. The overall effect is that, apart from the few most popular colleges, after redistribution the threshold for admission should be of a very similar standard at all the other colleges.

     Note that the system also makes provision for second college interviews at the margins, thus equalising even more the standard of entry at the different colleges. See later pages on this site for more on the PPE Test and on PPE Interviews.

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