Application

 Cambridge

 New Hall

 Anglo-Saxon, Norse & Celtic

 2003

 offer made

Applicant

 A-levels

 post-qualification

 N/A

 N/A

 Independent – selective

 yes (3 A*,5 A,1 B)

A-levels

(A 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

 unconditional

yes

N/A

Cambridge is my firm offer

 offer met

Decisions about the application

Unrivalled teaching resources and library facilities

Cambridge did the course I wanted

Comparatively undersubscribed, off the tourist track, college cat

Preparation

no

Emphasise your enthusiasm, try and make connections between aspects of your reading eg literature and history and Germanic and Celtic material, bang on about the primary sources as the course is very much based on these. Also mention any visits to sites of interest in Scandinavia/ Wales/Ireland/Britain, such as the Oslo Viking Ship Museum and Sutton Hoo. Make it clear that you are the kind of person who is utterly self-motivated and who will not just read books, but will actually bother to visit sites to actively pursue your interests.

A final point for those who may be thinking of applying without a language A level: one of the reasons I was rejected last year was because I didn’t have a language, so I made sure I compensated for this this time round by taking uni courses in Latin and Icelandic – this is especially useful as Old Norse and Modern Icelandic are very grammatically similar.

Interview

no

yes

2 essays – an English coursework piece on To The Lighthouse, and a Theology class essay

no

I’m not quite sure how the interviews went – it was hard to take an objective view of them. The general interview was very strange, as the interviewer didn’t ask me anything about my personal statement or current affairs, and he told me at the start that he wasn’t going to ask about my reasons for chossing ASNC, as my personal statement was much broader than those of the other ASNC applicants to the college (wasn’t sure if this was a good sign or not!). He asked me questions like what’s the use of ASNC, what’s the importance of primary sources which I put together a waffling answer to. At the end, he asked if I had any questions, and I asked if New Hall has got a new cat yet and if the JCR has completed adoption of a dolphin, to which he said he didn”t know, and that I probably knew more about it than him! The interview was odd, as I went in expecting a tough time, as I could hear the girl before me being grilled inside the room, and another ASNC applicant also told me that the interviewer was very ‘nitpicky’, but mine wasn’ t like that at all. I left feeling somewhat nonplussed and wondering what the point of the previous 20 minutes had been.

I had the academic interview with Dr Maire and Richard Dance (so embarrassing as he interviewed me last year when I applied to St Catharine’s). They asked why I’d decided to reapply, to which I said that in the past year I’d done more reading and exploring and was even more certain that ASNC was the subject for me. They said they could see that and had been very impressed by my personal statement. They didn’t really ask me anything directly related to my personal statement, but I feel I managed to mention most of the things I wanted them know about eg visit to Iceland, attempts to get to grips with aspects of Icelandic grammar, connections between the various texts I’d read and the primary sources ( the connections point got an enthusiastic nod from Richard Dance and the comment ‘yes, we like our students to make connections’!). The questions they asked me were not on topics I could have prepared in advance, and I’m afraid I may have demonstrated that I’m not fantastic at thinking on my feet; however, at least I don’t think I talked rubbish, it’s just that my answers weren’t particularly profound. They asked what’re the main differences between French and Icelandic. I said French wasn’t an inflected language, they said ‘yes that’s the main one’ and moved on. They asked how we could date a source if we didn’t know who wrote it or when, and I talked about if the style matched that of a known author, if we could scientifically analyise the ink and parchment (was so annoyed I forgot to mention the handwriting!), if the contents could be cross-referenced with any other sources that talk about events we know happened at a certain time, or archaeological evidence, or if the text talks about themes which we know were important at a certain time eg conversion to Christianity. Maire then asked what I thought the difference between literature and history was, which was where I think I started to get into difficulty. The question confused me, as I intially had trouble distinguishing between the two concepts because a literary source can also be historical. Maire had to prompt me by suggesting it could be something to do with the style, and I waffled on this point for a bit, but didn’t manage to move on to consider other aspects of the question. Basically, I had no idea of how the interviews went, and was astonished to get an offer!

Purple cardigan and long beige skirt, stuff I felt comfy in, plus a cosy scarf – Cambridge is cold in December!

Impressions

Modern, rather cold

Didn’t see any

Dr Basso was the Classics fellow who did my admissions interview. He looked disconcertingly like a taller version of Peter Jackson! He was very nice to me. The ASNC tutors were lovely too, although neither of them belonged to the college.

Didn’t see any.

Final stage

Was completely shocked as thought the interviews were pretty mediocre

Looking back

Yes, because I was reapplying for ASNC (got pooled and then rejected from St Catharine’s last year) and knew that I’d always regret it if I didn’t give Cambridge one more go.