Frequently Asked Questions

We aim to answer as many questions as possible in our FAQs below so we hope you find them helpful. 

If your question isn’t answered below, please use the form at the bottom of this page and one of our team will get back to you as soon as we can. Please note that we are entirely volunteer run so we cannot reply to all enquiries immediately. We endeavour to reply to all questions within about seven days. 



  • What is the OMS? What is included?

    The Oxbridge Mentoring Scheme is designed to help students gain broader subject knowledge, an understanding of how to answer Oxbridge-style questions and the self-confidence to be prepared for any interview scenario. It includes:

    • Academic mock interviews with written feedback
    • Recommendations for subject-related reading
    • Advice on course and college choices
    • UCAS personal statement brainstorming and critical review
    • Preparation for entrance tests
    • Practice in answering Oxbridge interview questions

  • How much does the Insight Outreach OMS cost?

    The OMS is free for all students accepted onto the programme. This is thanks to volunteer Oxford and Cambridge students and graduates who want to mentor dedicated students.

  • What is Oxbridge?

    Oxbridge is a shortening of the words Oxford and Cambridge, and is word used to mean either of these two universities.

  • How is the OMS different to other initiatives that exist?

    The OMS is a mini-syllabus of support, replicating the Oxford and Cambridge style tutorial and supervision systems. Also, our mentors are trained to deliver and use study frameworks through online mentoring classes. OMS elements interlink with each other and are underpinned by simple structures that enable students to consolidate their learning. The OMS process develops critical reasoning and creative problem-solving skills so that students can prepare themselves for Oxbridge entrance tests and interviews. Our mentors guide students through what can sometimes feel like a bewildering application process, but empower them to take charge of their own learning.

  • How will the OMS be delivered to students?

    The OMS is run by a dedicated team of enthusiastic volunteer mentors, all of whom are Oxbridge educated and trained to deliver our unique programme. Tutorials will be delivered via an online teaching platform meaning that geography is no obstacle.

  • When are OMS tutorials held?

    The OMS programme is designed to run flexibly around the schedules of the students and tutors. This means they usually run during evenings or at the weekend, though this isn’t always the case. Tutors and students mutually decide on times which work for them.

  • Our school has its own in-house programme and we want to avoid conflicting information. How can we achieve this?

    Insight Outreach is committed to supporting teachers, not replacing them. The bespoke nature of the OMS programme means that Insight Outreach can work alongside a school’s existing programme, supplementing it with support as appropriate.

  • We support the OMS but want to retain control of the UCAS process. Is this possible?

    Ultimately OMS students will be in control of the UCAS process and are encouraged to seek wider advice from a variety of sources. Insight Outreach runs UCAS brainstorming and critical review sessions to support students in writing high calibre, academic statements that will enable them to compete for places at Oxford and Cambridge and other top UK universities.

  • Legal Status

  • Is Insight Outreach a charity?

    Yes, as of June 2018, Insight Outreach is a registered charity. Our charity number is 1178862.

  • How is the OMS funded?

    Insight Outreach’s legal form (a 'Charitable Incorporated Organisation') enables us to create partnerships to generate income. Insight Education is not only our parent company who assisted in creating our charity; it is also the trading arm of Insight Outreach, funding OMS operations. Our hope is to help turn IO into a self-funding organisation by attracting corporate sponsorship and grant-funding, as well as through fundraising events and initiatives and selling educational products.

  • Application & Selection

  • Can Year 11 students apply a year early for the OMS?

    Students can only apply when they enter Year 12. The OMS is run for Year 12 students only.

  • Can Year 13 students join after the summer vacation?

    The Oxbridge Mentoring Scheme’s success lies in the relationship we’re able to build with students over the year, helping our students to identify their particular passions and strengths. We regret that we are unable to fit the elements of the OMS scheme into the autumn term of Year 13. We don’t wish to create short-cuts that ill-prepare students for Oxford or Cambridge admissions.

  • I am at boarding school on a partial/full scholarship; can I apply?

    Insight Outreach is a programme designed to help increase the number of state school students access Oxbridge. Independent schools are (invariably) able to provide support for Oxbridge applications that state schools are not usually resourced to offer. We regret that we are therefore unable to invite applications from students attending independent schools. Should students from independent or boarding schools find out about the OMS themselves and wish to apply, Insight Outreach will consider any applications on a case by case basis.

  • I am from a single parent household. My mother/father has struggled financially to put me through boarding school. Can I apply for the OMS?

    Should students from independent or boarding schools find out about the OMS themselves and wish to apply, Insight Outreach will consider their reasons for applying on a case by case basis. Our priority however is to help increase the number of state school students access Oxbridge.

  • How are students selected for the programme?

    Insight Outreach will select students by considering their individual background, GCSE grade profile, the content of their application form and their statement of motivation. These will give an indication of whether a student is likely to thrive on the OMS programme.

  • I am uncertain about the OMS, but don’t want to miss this opportunity. What do you suggest I do?

    If you are uncertain about certain aspects of the programme and would like to know more, please get in touch with your questions. We are also happy to give you advice about whether you are likely to be accepted on to the programme if you are unsure about this.

  • What if I am selected, begin the OMS and decide it isn’t for me?

    We ask students to be honest and absolutely certain at the start whether they wish to embark on the OMS. Where a student has doubt, they should inform Insight Outreach immediately so that a place can be opened up to students who wish to make the most of this opportunity.

  • Does it matter if my GCSE grades aren’t outstanding?

    The grades you achieve at GCSE are undeniably used as an indicator of your potential for success at a top university. However, Oxbridge is far more interested in your academic trajectory than finding students who may have already peaked by the time they get to their A Levels. If you have GCSE grades you aren’t particularly proud of but have done much better in your Year 12 predicted grades, don’t let your GCSEs get in the way of putting in an application; simply acknowledge you are on a learning curve. This is particularly the case if extenuating circumstances impacted your grades. Please explain these to us in your application form.

  • OMS Programme

  • Can you help me with applications to other universities?

    Skills learnt on the OMS are directly applicable to applications to other universities, and 100% of OMS students get an offer from at least one Russell Group University. However, we do not offer support for students who are not considering applying to Oxbridge.

  • Does applying to Oxbridge affect my chances of getting into other universities?

    Universities don’t generally know which other universities a student has applied to. However, since Oxbridge candidates have to submit their UCAS form by an earlier deadline, universities are likely to know if a student has applied to Oxbridge. This does not affect per se the chances of a student securing offers from other universities. However, there is always the risk that a university might not offer a place, particularly if it deems the student strong enough (on paper) to secure an Oxbridge offer.

  • Will universities know I have received extra support from the OMS programme?

    You do not have to declare additional support received when applying to university. There is nothing wrong in students proactively seeking help to become more informed about, and to prepare themselves, for the Oxbridge admissions process.

  • Will the OMS help me write my personal statement?

    Helping students with their personal statement is a crucial part of the OMS. We do not, however, ‘help you write’ your personal statement. Rather, we ask questions specifically designed to guide students through writing their personal statement, and then provide critical reviews to assist you as you revise your work.

  • What help can you give me for interview preparation?

    The OMS includes critical thinking skills exercises, practice answering ‘standard’ interview style questions, as well as a mock interview and feedback prior to your Oxbridge interview.

  • Will I have to take time off school for the programme?

    No. The OMS works around students’ school requirements and commitments.

  • How long does the OMS run?

    The 2019 Oxbridge Mentoring Scheme runs from March of Year 12 to the point of Oxbridge interviews in December of  Year 13.

  • Can teachers observe online OMS tutorials?

    A student can decide if they feel comfortable enough being observed during OMS tutorials. Insight Outreach can’t however guarantee that OMS tutorials will occur during school hours. The OMS is usually run outside of school hours.

  • What is the frequency of OMS tutorials?

    OMS tutorials take place once a month, and last for one hour.

  • How much homework is set from tutorials?

    The amount of homework set varies dependent on the time of year – our tutors strive to find a balance between the demands students might be facing at school and the requirements of the Oxbridge application process. Certain aspects of the scheme can actually help relieve student workload at the busiest times of the school year: for example, we aim to have students complete their personal statement before the start of the autumn term. Homework is, however, vital preparation for the UCAS process and study at Oxbridge, even when it feels like an extra burden. We expect all students on the scheme to honour work set and deadlines agreed.