St Catharine’s

 Anglo-Saxon, Norse & Celtic


 pooled, rejected






 Independent – selective

 yes (3 A*,5 A,1 B)


(A at AS)

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

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

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

Other universities



Have accepted Medieval History at St Andrews as my firm offer. It’ll suit me so much better than Cambridge would’ve, and the whole process of getting the grades and then keeping up with the work once I’m there will cause so many less stomach ulcers!

Decisions about the application

Cambridge did the specific course I wanted – I didn’t conciously choose to apply to ‘Oxbridge’

Cambridge did the course

Central location, good independent/state, boy/girl mix



One mock interview which was totally intimidating and irrlevent

The form: Er…make sure you spell your college right ie St CathArine’s not St CathErine’s!

The interview: Read as much as you can around the subject, try and visit relevent archeological sites such as Sutton Hoo and the Viking Ship Museum in Oslo to show you have a practical interest, also watch pertinent tv programmes like Blood of the Vikings or The Story of English. Above all, be enthusiastic at the interview: it didn’t get me in, but it can’t do any harm!





I had 2 – one with the admissions tutor, one subject one with 2 members of the ASNC department.

The first interview went ok. I was literally hyperventillating with nerves at the start, but gradually calmed down. The guy asked me things like ‘why ASNC’, ‘what do you hope to get out of university’, and then some weird questions about how much freedom did I think the media should have and what was my opnion of the govt’s stand on foxhunting. Odd questions,nnot half as general as I thought the ‘general’ interview should/would have been, but I guess he was trying to get me to think.

The academic interview went really well – I came out on a real high feeling I’d done a great job (which they led me to believe by saying ‘It’s great to see someone who’s so enthusiastic’ ha!). They asked ‘why ASNC’ 2, which I thought was a bit pointless as I was repeating myself, then things like ‘do you think a book’s audience would affect how it’s written’, ‘if your little sister was starting Latin how would you describe cases to her’, what books have you read about ASNC’. Again, questions intended to provoke thought rather than any subject-specific stuff, which would be unfair as no one who applies for ASNC has studied it at school

Blue polo neck and black trousers – presentable but comfortable


Nice and warm, which was much appreciated as my interview was on a bitterly cold day. Bit grotty on the inside, but for all I know other collages are like this too

Dr Mark Ellis, the admissions tutor was nice enough – had the uncanny feeling he kept trying to turn the interview into a Law interview, as that’s what he teaches Dr Richard Dance – ASNC Fellow, very friendly and interesting to talk to. Would have been fantastic to be taught by someone like that

Very friendly and encouraging

Final stage

The letter came on December 30th, and it said I’d been pooled. Felt gutted, then disappointed, then angry, then hopeful – after waiting 3 weks and having my Xmas hols ruined by stress, it was such an anticlimax, and meant the agony continued.

I got the rejection letter on 7th January, but by that time I’d done all my despairing etc, opened it, then ran upstairs to get my St Andrews info out. Basically, got over it within about 10 minutes.

Looking back

Probably, purely because the course I wanted happened to be at Cambridge. But in terms of how much stress the experience put me through, both because of all the extra work I put in, and the awful wait to see and then have it all come to nothing, then I’d seriously think twice

NB: this candidate reapplied (see second profile!) and got in 😀

Go for it, but please try and keep a sense of perspective (which is especially hard as ASNC is literally a unique course and it’s very hard to cut your loses as you can’t do it anywhere else). Nonetheless, do try, and also don’t waste your entire Xmas hols worrying over it like I did – you’ll make yourself ill and can’t do anything to affect the final outcome