St John’s

 Classical Archaeology and Ancient History


 offer made





 United Kingdom

 Comprehensive School

I was educated at home up til A levels, for which I attended the sixth form centre of a comprehensive school.

 yes (4 A*,2 A,2 B)


(A at AS)

(B at AS)

(A at AS; predicted A; gained A at A2)

(A at AS; predicted A; gained A at A2)

(A at AS; predicted A; gained A at A2)

Details about the offer




 offer met

Decisions about the application

I felt that Oxford was the university which best suited my method of learning. Having been educated at home I was used to one to one/one to two tuition and a lot of independent study. Therefore the tutorial system is perfect for me. I also really love the architecture in Oxford and the course itself is ideal.

My dad went to Cambridge therefore I chose Oxford! Not sure really, I’ve always felt more drawn to Oxford.

I’ve always been interested in archaeology and hope to have a museum-related career.

St John’s is a large, rich college and I found the tutors and staff very helpful when I was considering applying there. I visited it on an open day and felt at home there. I was also attracted by its academic reputation.



I had one mock interview which wasn’t especially helpful.

I found that pretty much all the preparation I’d done was useless! As long as you’re interested in the subject and you can demonstrate that you’ve started to pursue topics you’re particularly interested in you should be fine at the interview. Because for this course you don’t have to have any prior knowledge, be prepared to think logically through new material.




Because it’s a course which doesn’t require any prior knowledge of the subject, I submitted two English literature essays.


Very enjoyable actually! I only had the one interview of around 25 minutes. Beforehand I was very, very nervous but once I was outside the tutor’s room waiting to go in I became very calm and focused, which meant that nerves didn’t get the better of me.

Before the interview I was given a pack of materials to read through – some text, maps, archaeological diagrams etc. The first part of the interview was focused on my interpretation of these and how they related to each other. I enjoyed working through it and being questioned on it, although I only realised several things I should have said after the interview was over!

Then I was asked what I wanted to talk about, which was luckily a question I’d prepared for, and I picked something I’d mentioned in my personal statement. The tutor quickly went off on a tangent about something completely different though – I got the impression that they wanted to give me the idea that I was choosing the topic while actually testing me on things I didn’t already know.

I was also presented with a photo to comment on, as well as an actual historic artifact.

As above. I didn’t get any of the nightmare questions you hear about being asked at Oxbridge interviews!

My advice is don’t be afraid to admit you’re wrong, and remember that it doesn’t really matter if you come up with the wrong answer, the important thing is to show your thought process in reaching that answer. For example, with the historical artifact, it was a piece of pottery with a rough inside surface. I said that because it was chunky it was probably used domestically for cooking or something, and because it had a rough inner surface it could have been used as a zester (!). After the interview I suddenly realised what it was (a mortar for grinding things) but the tutors seemed to like the idea of a zester anyway!

I wore a smart black skirt and pink top, with my coat over it. I actually forgot to take my coat off so I had it on throughout the interview!


I really liked it – everyone was really helpful and there was a friendly atmosphere.

I got a large room with fridge, desk, bookshelves, sink etc.

Excellent! Much better than expected and the dining hall was very impressive.

Extremely helpful and friendly. We had a meeting with one of the tutors who’d be interviewing us shortly before the interviews, and he reassured us about it and mentioned what kind of things they’d be asking us about.

Again, really helpful. They did their best to make us feel at ease.

Final stage

So, so nervous – thinking about it almost constantly.

I’d been away the night before and I got a text from my boyfriend to say that the letter had arrived. I rushed home and found an A4 envelope waiting for me and there was obviously other stuff in the envelope as well as the letter which was a good sign but I didn’t really pick up on this until after!

I opened the letter, saw the words “I am pleased…” and then just burst into tears because I was so happy!

Looking back


I’ve already given interview-based advice, and the only thing I’d add to that is that if you’re thinking of applying, you’ve got nothing to lose – and even if you don’t get in, you’ll have a good time staying at the college for interviews!