Application

 Oxford

 Magdalen

 Biochemistry, Molecular and Cellular

 2009

 rejected

Applicant

 A-levels

 pre-qualification

 home

 N/A

 Grammar School

I go to a state Grammar School.

 yes (10 A*,2 A)

A-levels

(A at AS)

(A at AS (286 UMS); predicted A; gained NA at A2)

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

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

(A at AS (279 UMS); predicted A; gained NA at A2)

Other universities

yes

yes

Decisions about the application

The collegiated system was very attractive and I’ve always wanted to apply there ever since I’ve heard about “Oxford and Cambridge” as a young child.

Well, it was a very hard choice. I do prefer Cambridge more but I thought a single science degree migth suit me better, plus the introduction of an A* at Cambridge slightly deterred me off as I don’t want to miss it! It funny really as I’m predicted all A*s but I just didn’t believe in myself.

I’ve always loved science and esp molecular biology, all those stuff about genetics, DNA, proteins and the organics.

It has to be the deer park! Anyways, at first, a friend recommended to me as it’s one of the most beautiful colleges in Oxford and situated nicely from the town centre. Also, as an artist, I think I’ll be inspired a lot!

Preparation

yes

a mock interview but it was on more general stuff like “why biochemistry”.

Don’t try to cram as much as you can for the interview – it seriously won’t work asthe tutors are looking for your thinking process. The Magdalen tutor even said, “we’re interested in how you’ve arrived at an answer and won’t be impressed if you know the answer but cannot explain your thought process”.
But by all means, do read around your subject and make sure you can find some interesting articles (because you’ll never know, they might ask about it at interview!).

Interview

no

Nope

no

Nope

no

Nope

I had two.

The first one was at Magdalen and I had to wait for half an hour outside for it(as it went overtime) and that really made me nervous… A LOT!).
But generally, I think it went alright, may be quite well but I cannot really tell! The tutors werelovely and encouraging whenever I got stuck. We’ve also joked a bit and I really enjoyed it, wished it could have lasted a bit longer!

The second was at Wadham and all in all, went pretty badly for me as I feel like I’ve very much under-performed. They asked all academic questions but they weren’t so grilling and I failed to realise what the tutors were asking at some points…
Basically, I came out knowing I’ve pretty much wrecked it and just hoping the tutors could tell that I was nervous and will forgive me.

The first one started off asking me about relaxing things like “how was your journey” and “why Magdalen?” and etc. Then we went into a flowy, and nice disccusion about general biochemistry.

The second one focused more on chemistry, membranes and biochemical processes.

First interview(Magdalen)
“Tell me about protein synthesis.”
“What are telomeres?”
“How do we produce more varieties of proteins when we have less genes to do so?”
And further questions on RNAi and discussions of molecule shapes and significance of them.

Second Interview (Wadham):
“Tell me something about the X and Y chromosomes”
*gives a diagram*
“Which of these molecules will be able to diffuse across the phospholipid bilayer?”
More questions on specific molecules and their interactions.
“How does this process[dehydrogenation] happen?”
“How can we tell that it’s this part of the molecule that is cleaved off rather than this part?”(this was quite misleading and after ages, I realised they were interested in evidences and how I can prove it. I did eventually and talked about isotopes).
Further questions on this…
“What are some genes dominant and some recessive?”

A black trousers, black working shoes, a blue and casual blouse and a black cardigan (don’t worry, I don’t actually wear that much black normally – it’s just for the interviews!).

Impressions

Magdalen – it’s so breathtakingly beautiful and I loved every second I’ve spent there. Generally everyone is nice(but still, there were some students who are quite “proud/snobby”, it’s quite inevitable really as Magdalen is the biggest and accepts mostly private schoolers and isn’t known for how friendly it is).

Wadham – I didn’t realise how big it is. College-size wise, I think it might even be slightly bigger than Magdalen, but Magdalen has the awesome 100 acre deer park so that dramatically increases the overall land-space!

I’ve also visited Exeter on the Open day and I think I do regret not apply there in the end(I didn’t apply mainly because they only offer first year and possibly last year accommodations and it’s too centered!). Exeter is a lovely and friendly college with really out-going students. Everyone is just too nice and you do really feel at home there!

The size of rooms in Magdalen varies, but all are big enough for your needs. I stayed in one of the rooms in the cloisters attics and it’s one fo the relatively smaller one(right next to the stairs and bathroom, how convenient though!). The room is old but also has a very cosy feel to it!

The food is awesome – some repetitive(like sausages and eggs every morning) but others really varied(like roasted meat one night and chips the other!).

I didn’t actually meet that many tutors (they were probaly hiding in their rooms interviewing students or spying upon us..hehe).

But the two tutors who interviewed me there were lovely and jokey. I remember when I got a bit excited during the interviews and acted like an utter clown, they laughed and tried to make jokes to make me laugh too!

They vary actually but generally, they’re all quite friendly. Some of them are very bubbly and nice, but others are quite….distant? And didn’t smile much.

Final stage

Gosh it was unbearable. I couldn’t even sleep or do any revision(and I really NEED to!) at all! I’m generalyl a very patient person but couldn’t be half as patient for this wait(even though it’s only about a week..which is pretty short compared to others!).

My reactions on the day was, admittely pretty exaggerated(I’m just very sensitive and over-react):
I played lots computer games to ease the wait on the day lol! But when the post came, I received a thin letter in a windowed envelope. You could see how many sheets there were and my heart just sank when I guessed that there’s only one single paper.

I hoped that it’s not a rejection but when I opened it and saw a “unfortunately…” I froze and couldn’t read any further and was in a state of…pain I guess. My mum took the letter from my hands, read it and tried to comfort me by saying “it’s alright” but I couldn’t take it.

At first I tried to shrug it off and thought, “oh well, it’s not the end of the world” but I just started crying without control when I thought more about it and I felt really guilty as I felt I’ve let many people down.

I thought may be both of us reading it wrong and had a glimmer of hope, went back and read it through this time but it was a definite rejection and I got really low and just…carried on crying – but eventually I got over it(but it was a slow and hard process!).

Looking back

Probably not as time passes, I’ve slowly fell in love with the natsci course at Cambridge and I’m now kicking myself for not applying there earlier.
But then again, I probably would, purely so I can re-live the interview period again (it was overall a very worthwhile experience!) and hope to do my best and see how much I could have improved.

Look into all of the courses you’re interested in, in detail at both unis and don’t get deterred by the A*s like I was. Also, try and calm yourself before the interviews as you really cant’ think properly when you’re all nervous like I was!

And also, if you do decide to apply, be extremely prepared for a rejection(not saying you’ll get rejected btw!) as you really can’t predict the outcome that easily! If you do get rejected, please don’t get disheartened! The first moment/period is the most difficult to overcome (you may feel like a failure, good-for-nothing and etc..just let it all out, don’t hide anything/lie to yourself), but then you’ll find it easier to cope as time passes, until you eventually get over it!
And of course, fi you do get an offer, congratulations! You’ll really going to enjoy these 4 years!

But above all, believe in yourself and good luck with your application!