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Congratulations on making it to Oxford or Cambridge! It’s a great achievement and an enormous opportunity. With that in mind, you need to make sure you’re prepared to make the most of your time at one of the world’s leading universities. But how can you do that?

Summer Work

Before you begin your engineering degree at Oxford or Cambridge, you will probably be set some work by your tutors. It is important to complete this, as it will help remind you of things you may have forgotten over the long holiday. It is also designed to ensure that everybody starts on a level playing field, so you will disadvantage yourself from the onset of your first year if you don’t complete it. Not all colleges set work, however, so it is important to also find other ways to prepare for university study. 

Solving extra problems on websites such as n-rich Maths, IsaacPhysics and i-want-to-study-engineering, is a great way to shift your brain back into the right gear before university begins.

Looking over any ENGAA or PAT papers is another good way to prepare, as these are similar to the standard you can expect towards the beginning of your degree. 

A-Level Content

At both Oxford and Cambridge, Further Maths A-Level is not presupposed. You will cover the content of Further Maths A-Level in your first term, but at breakneck speed. This means it’s worth finding yourself a Further Maths textbook and doing some self-study if you haven’t done it at A-Level. Just familiarising yourself with most of the concepts will ease the blow of first-term maths for you! If you’ve studied Further Maths A-Level, then looking over the content before you begin is a good idea. 


One final tip is to make sure you have all the necessary equipment. You will need a scientific calculator throughout your degree, and also lots of drawing equipment, such as a 30cm ruler and a protractor. If you arrive well prepared, you’ll alleviate a bit of that freshers’ week stress and be able to focus on the important things. 


Obviously you deserve a break after A-Levels, but it’s important not to rest on your laurels and forget most of your maths and physics skills over the long summer break. Keep the work ticking over and you’ll be ready to go. Make the most of this incredible opportunity!