Students are shown Balliol Library at Chemistry Taster Day in 2019  (photo: Stuart Bebb)

Balliol’s Taster Days achieve positive outcomes

Thursday 24 March 2022

Balliol’s Subject Taster Days for students in Year 12 who are giving serious consideration to applying to Oxford University are proving very successful, achieving offer rates well above the University average. 

A Taster Day typically involves a day at Balliol, with academic sessions and advice on the admissions process and interviews. Because of the pandemic, however, last year all the Taster Days became virtual and employed a shorter format, including academic content, demonstration interviews and access to Balliol undergraduates. Virtual or in person, the aim of the day is to raise the aspirations of the students who attend, help them make informed choices, and encourage them to apply to Oxford.

Of those who attended the Taster Days for the 2020/2021 academic year (which were in seven subjects), 45% applied to Oxford (241). Participants at the Chemistry, Classics and Medicine Taster Days had particularly high application rates (over 60%). 

Those participants who applied to Oxford achieved a 38% success rate: 91 out of 241 received offers, 7 of them from Balliol. The average success rate for applications to Oxford across all courses is 17.5%. 

Outreach events such as the Taster Days also aim to encourage Oxford applications from those from disadvantaged backgrounds and backgrounds under-represented in Oxford. Data from the 2020/2021 Taster Days also shows success in this respect, with offer rates in some subjects that are considerably higher than those achieved by Oxford University’s UNIQ programme (34%).

While the virtual Taster Days attendees saved considerable time and expense as well as missing fewer lessons than for an in-person event, the inability of participants to visit the College to meet tutors and undergraduates has probably reduced applications. We are therefore delighted, now that we have resumed in-person events, to be offering Taster Days in Chemistry, Biology and English this year, with others in the pipeline: more information will be posted on this page. We also hope to expand the range of subjects offered in this highly successful format. 

If you would like to support Balliol’s Outreach work, please make your gift to Outreach today

Photo above (by Stuart Bebb): year 12 students visit Balliol Library during a Chemistry Taster Day (pre-pandemic).