10 Things You Didn’t Know Could Get You To An Ivy League University

May 26, 2023

EasyUni Staff

Getting into an Ivy League school is always a dream come true for any student. A lot of people dream of stepping inside the halls of today’s top academic institutions, but only a few ever get to enter. As evident in an article published by USA Today - students are still gunning for a place in these schools, stating that most Ivy league universities have received a record number of applicants for Class of 2021. Despite this, the acceptance rate was lower than ever.

The truth is, even impressive GPA or A level results do not guarantee a place in the top universities in the world. Ivy Leagues and its UK counterpart, the Russell Group, also look at a bunch of other things you do to get a spot in their highly-coveted institutions.

Curious to know what other factors they consider?

Here are 10 things that will help you stand out from the big crowd and earn you an admission into one of the much desired Universities anywhere in the world.

1. Score high in IGCSE/SPM

It’s never too early to start preparing! IGCSE and SPM are equivalent to O-Levels; and every good grade matters. As IGCSE/SPM are high school completion examinations, gaining excellent results in them show consistency in your ability to do well in studies and therefore act as an indicator to your future achievements.

cute cactus studying googly eyes dictionary

2. Pick the right combination of subjects

It is essential to choose the right combination of A-Level subjects, as some degrees require you to have completed prerequisite units. For instance, if you want to study Medicine, Chemistry is compulsory; and Physics is required for Engineering. Most degree courses would have prerequisite subjects, so make sure to cover the bases of your targeted field

girl searching in library education books

3. Choose high-valued courses

Core academic subjects are usually higher valued than other courses. Mathematics, Sciences, Economics, History and Foreign Languages (your mother tongue taken as a foreign language doesn’t count!) will always be seen as important units by universities. Also be aware that some courses do not align academically. An example of this is that Economics can not be taken in combination with Business Studies or Accounting.

4. Develop as a person and stand out though extra-curricular activities

One of the more well-known ways to get into the Ivy League or Russell Group University is through sports. Research has shown that it can increase your chances of admission by 400%! While this may be an avenue for athletic people, the bottom line is that you must be a proven disciplined and dedicated member to a uniformed body. This can include any noteworthy activities you do: visual arts, music, dance, theater, school newspaper, computer programming, chess club, building robots, speech and debate, etc. The trick is to make your favourite activity sound like a prestigious accomplishment. For Russell Group universities, students who spend time honing activities related to their careers are very much welcomed. For example if you are interested in Computer Science, you may want to get engaged on projects related to programming. 

american football rugby sports ivy league

5. Write an excellent essay or personal statement

Your essay or personal statement should reflect your personality and what kind of student you will be. Without seeing the school officials, this is the only way they can get to know you beyond your results. Be yourself, but keep in mind to keep your essay or personal statement succinct and easy to understand. In a personal statement - be clear on why have you chosen the course and your understanding of what the course and career means to you.

6. Be well prepared for an interview

A small percentage of applicants get tested in interviews. If a University interviews you, it usually means they consider you a serious candidate. During the interview, make sure to highlight your strengths, without sounding like you’re boasting of course. If you are feeling nervous about this, practice your interview beforehand with your tutors.

7. Get teacher recommendations

As the only thing you can control in your application, you should ask teachers who know you and think positively of you. Pick a teacher who can write about an awesome thing you did for their class. Score well in their classes so they keep you in good thoughts! In the instance that your reference is submitted by your school you must provide as much details as possible to the tutors in charge of all the activities that you have taken part in, including any positions of responsibilities.

8. Do well on the admission tests

Admission tests are the only standardised tool to compare students. One student who scored very high on one of these admission tests for Medicine gives the following advice: “Half of the challenge with the UKCAT is becoming familiar with the style and approach to questions, and the pace you’ll need to adopt to cover everything, rather than the questions themselves. I would have found it very daunting to sit down in the exam having never encountered the particular types of questions before.”

girl studying stressed laptop pencil

9. Volunteer and arrange work observation placements

And this doesn’t imply to just join a bunch of volunteering activities because you think it will improve the odds of getting into the top Universities. No - to stand out you have to accomplish something noteworthy in one volunteering activity. Whatever that activity may be, put all of your genuine effort in it! And while you are at it, gain some work experience as well to bring some background of hands-on learning to your profile.

creative christmas arts crafts paint oil paper brush

10. Score high on the AS examinations

Not all schools enter their students for AS examinations, but when applying for a University, your AS results will be seen as a part of your application. If you have a bad overall score for your GCSE, you can somewhat compensate this with a high score for the AS examinations. But be careful - poor AS results are worse than no results!


While there is not a universal strategy to get in an Ivy League or a Russell Group University, it surely is not easy to be admitted into these schools. That is why Oxford International College (OIC) has committed themselves to helping students realise that with the right balance of academic and personal development activities, they can realise their full potential and eventually find themselves in Harvard or, say, Oxford!

OIC, ranked 3rd in the league table for Top Sixth Form Colleges in the UK, specialises in A-level study and offers an extensive range of academic subjects. Their classes are conducted in small groups, which allows for more interaction with the teachers and students.

Furthermore, OIC’s teaching staff are graduates from the University of Oxford and top universities worldwide. Not just lecturers - they are also research scientists, published authors of academic literature, as well as experts in their fields. So, what better way to learn about your future school than by asking people who have experienced what it's like to be in those universities, right? With a 50% success rate of students getting into Cambridge University this year along with a myriad of other top universities offers, OIC is also uniquely placed by offering specialist career preparation taught by people directly within the field. This enables students to discover their passion by working with experts.

Aside from academics, the well-rounded approach on teaching provides the highest standards of education and support to make the best of their experience in school. Students are encouraged to participate in activities that will develop their leadership, teamwork, and personal effectiveness.

It’s time to prepare for your bright future and fulfill your dream of entering an Ivy League University. Let Oxford International College help you and be with you every step of the way. Enroll today at http://www.oxcoll.com/

Kickstart your education in Malaysia

We'll help you find and apply for your dream university


This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience. By using this site, you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Cookie Policy , Privacy Statement and Terms & Conditions .

Maximum 6 courses for comparison!

Chat on WhatsApp

Courses selected for comparison