COVID-19: How to use your extra time at home to enhance your application 

25th April 2020

Feeling worried about how to continue building your application while you practice social distancing? Nervous about being left to work from home without as much support from teachers and friends?

First of all, you are not alone. This is an uncertain time for everyone, and even the universities themselves are struggling to work out what this means for their students. However, now that you perhaps have more time to spend doing things other than school work, try to remain positive and use this opportunity to take control and make your Oxbridge application the best it can be.

We have put together some top tips for using your extra time at home effectively and productively to continue learning and keep your application on track. 

Read, read, read 

Read those books that you said you would if you had time! Use this opportunity to widen your reading beyond your school curriculum- read what interests YOU.

Your local library may be shut, but remember that there are plenty of online resources such as new articles, blog posts, books and journals. For instance, JSTOR and Frontiers have a lot of open and free content for you to enjoy. 

Make sure you use your time to log what you are reading and any reflections you have whilst reading it (what did you find interesting? what did you agree or disagree with and why?) so you can talk about it more easily later.  


Want a break from reading? Watching videos can be fun, educational and engaging. On YouTube alone you can find lectures, plays and the latest developments in research. Visit the Oxford or Cambridge YouTube channels to find videos from experts and students covering a wide range of topics.

think about your personal statement

There’s no harm in starting early! Use some of your free time to think about what you would like to include in your personal statement. Make mind maps, lists… anything that will help you draw together all of your ideas. Be sure to think of specific examples which show your knowledge and passion for learning. You can find further advice on writing your personal statement here.

research admissions tests

You should use this time to find out whether you will have to take an admissions test as part of your application. These will vary depending on university and course. Have a look at some past papers to familiarise yourself with the format of the test. You can find more information about admissions tests here.

call friends or family to discuss your subject

If you can, discussing your academic interests with other people is a great way to improve your verbal skills and engage in debates- these are key skills for the interview! Use the notes from your reading as a prompt to start conversations. 

You could even set up a weekly club with like-minded, motivated students from your school to discuss what you have done to build your application. 

make a plan for the coming months

Look at the application timetable on the Oxford/Cambridge website and make sure you are aware of any important dates. Set long-term goals for what you would like to achieve each month. Stay positive and in control of your academics.