Application

 Oxford

 Corpus Christi

 Biochemistry, Molecular and Cellular

 2006

 offer made

Applicant

 Scottish Highers/Advanced Highers

 pre-qualification

 home

 United Kingdom

 Comprehensive School

 yes

Scottish Highers/Advanced Highers

( predicted A; gained A)

( predicted A; gained A)

( predicted B; gained B)

( predicted A; gained A)

( predicted A; gained A)

( predicted A; gained A)

( predicted A; gained A)

( predicted A; gained NA)

( predicted A; gained A)

( predicted A; gained A)

Details about the offer

 conditional

A (AH) in Biology, A (AH) in Chemistry, A (AH) in Mathematics

yes

N/A

 offer met

Decisions about the application

Because I wanted somewhere I could go geek, and not be considered quite such a freak.
And the teaching is so brilliant.
And the city is utterly lovely.
And I wanted to live in a castle/college.

Oxford’s so much prettier.
Also, I wanted to do straight Biochem, not Nat Sci.
Also, I was ill when I visited Cambridge, so got fed up with it.

Because Biochemistry explains life. And I’m obsessed by it. Good reason, I think.

Well, I was going through them in alphabetical order, and this was the first one that had a website that didn’t terrify me. I wanted old buildings and I was led to believe that you got to live in the college for the whole degree (which was a lie, hmp).

Preparation

yes

I had a couple of meetings with my head of year, but they were just the old regular interview stuff – smile, don’t get scared if other people seem more confident, what I’d say if they asked why Oxford etc.

Go for a subject you really like, care about and really get into it – read around, search for stuff on the internet, go rummage through your library.
And do know what you’ve done in school on the related subjects.

Interview

no

No, none, I believe this is nice, though it means more rests on the interview.

no

no

Not too scary – for two I only had one person interviewing me, which wasn’t too intimidating. I didn’t feel overly lost, and just tried to make suggestions when I had zero clue.

The first was more biological, the second was all chemistry for all of us (and we got to choose what it was about – the interviewer said anything we were comfortable with, or particularly liked. I oh so smartly used this so that I was asked about electron orbitals)

Then my last at Queens was a mix of maths (simple, but still well mucked up by me), bio & chem.

Give me an example of a protein, what effect does an enzyme have on a reaction, how can antibodies complementary to all the various pathogens come about, the way the DNA’s folded up in the nucleus and how mutations would affect this, and, more as a rumination, how the way the DNA was folded was passed from generation to generation.

The next was the electron orbitals, and I got asked about the differences between U.V. and X-ray spectroscopy, and had alot of help there. Also about why in a sample of molecules the energy given out in form of the electromagnetic spectra was less than that absorbed (whereas it was the same in a sample of atoms) and how the spectra would be affected if an atom was bonded, as opposed to alone. I had a great deal of help on all of this.

The last was at Queens. At first I was asked a little about why Biochem. Then they asked if I did anything extra in school about Biochemistry and I said no, but I read alot outside of it. They asked what and I said about some stuff I’d read on the plane (super coiled DNA, anyone? :S I hate regurgitating stuff that’s been purposely learnt, though I had looked at a couple of articles I thought I could talk about).

After that came stuff on equilibrium constants, which we’d covered abit on in school. Managed to tell them that 2/20 simplifies to 1/2, which was bright…

Then I was asked what my understanding of proteins was, what the bond between the amino acids was called. Then to draw it and I was asked about it’s properties. I said strength, rigidity and that was good because it meant proteins’ structures were sturdy and came out the same. Then they wanted to know why it was so, and made me do a resonance structure (but I only half got that).

I then tried to figure out the 3D shape of the peptide bond (it is flat).

After I got asked if I had any questions, and said no.

For the first, a rather dashing dark red (men’s) jumper, black skirt and heeled, black school shoes.

For the second day, a green jumper-like top, and black jeans (with a sewn-up, and slightly bloodied hole by the knee…).

I’d not recommend the second though – I thought it had helped wreck my chances, when I was looking back at it, that they’d have thought I didn’t make an effort.

Most people were in smart jumpers with the girls in skirts. Quite a few of the males changed into suits for the interviews.

Impressions

Lovely, though small.

Queens was very big in comparison.

My room was pleasant, although I was disappointed that it wasn’t actually in the college. Good size and shared bathroom and kitchen on each floor of the house my room was in.

Very nice, great vegetarian options as well.
We even had waiters (I managed to ask one what subject they were applying for… well, they weren’t wearing the Rep T-shirt)!

Very nice and intelligent.

Helpful – making sure we got to interviews on time, taking us to our second choice colleges.
And nice, setting up films to watch.

Final stage

I refused to be remotely optimistic. I’d really enjoyed myself in Oxford, and had decided that I’d be quite content with one of my London unis.
Also I kept very busy (partly ’cause it was great that I had no big interview coming up) so not much time to worry.

It was skinny, so I remembered what I’d heard of that and thought I hadn’t got an offer.
Then I started screaming and crying, and then rang/texted/emailed everyone who I thought might vaguely care.

Looking back

Yep, whatever the outcome was, I still had a great time in Oxford.

And I’m happy at what the outcome was. I’ll just hate myself if I don’t make the offer. It would, however make all the people I’m unbearable to about it, rather more cheery 🙂

Love your subject, read up on it, pay attention during whatever classes you have at school, don’t get too nervous during interview, try and enjoy it as much as poss.