Hertford Shield

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 1st September and 14th October 2011, because Oxford operates a much earlier deadline than most other universities, to give time for the admissions tests and interviews. (Note also that an even earlier deadline applies to students wishing to be interviewed abroad.) 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 2011 (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 from Sunday 4th until Wednesday 8th December 2011 (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 8 places, we would usually interview 24.

     The impact of the redistribution is most dramatic at colleges like Balliol that get huge numbers of PPE applicants, most of whom will be transferred to other colleges if they get through to the interview stage. Hertford's application numbers have tended to be close to the average, although it is one of the more popular colleges (the average is skewed by Balliol etc., so Hertford's numbers are close to the mean but well above the median). Thus we typically receive at most one or two interviewees who had originally applied elsewhere, and interview all of our own applicants who qualify. Less popular colleges may end up with most of their interviewees coming by transfer from the very popular colleges, with the transfers taking into account TSA scores so as to ensure that all colleges have a strong range of candidates. Because Balliol (etc.) get to choose around half of the interviewees that they keep (e.g. a college with 10 places available is allowed to hold onto their preferred 15 candidates, with perhaps 15 others that they don't choose), and they have so many to choose from (Balliol has recently had of the order of 200 candidates!), the competition for places there will be especially strong. Apart from these few colleges, therefore, after redistribution using the TSA the competition should be of a very similar standard amongst the rest.

     See later pages on this site for more on the PPE Test and on PPE Interviews.