Application

 Oxford

 Balliol

 Chemistry

 2007

 pooled, rejected

Applicant

 A-levels

 pre-qualification

 N/A

 United Kingdom

 Independent – selective

 yes (2 A*,7 A,2 B)

A-levels

(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)

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

Other universities

yes

yes

Decisions about the application

I wanted the name. Furthermore the collegiate system was very appealing to me, I liked the whole idea of one-to-one tutorials too.

Oxford did straight Chemistry. I didnt wan’t to go through the natural science route.

Chemistry was my favourite subject.

I originally applied to St. Catz but got reallocated to Balliol due to a high number of applicants.

Preparation

yes

School gave me a practice interview.

I found my interview at Imperial more helpful than the one I had at school. Reason being that the Imperial one was quite similar to actual thing; I felt my school one was just a test of knowledge, not how i “think”.

Interview

no

no

no

Had two interviews, one at each college (Balliol and Lincoln). In general both interviews went well, I knew atleast 75% of the material I was questioned on at the first interview, and about 90% of the material on my second.

In my first interview I had three interviewers, one inorganic, one physical and one organic chemist. I was questioned by each about their topic of chemistry. Firstly I was questioned about NaCl, we spoke about the lattice, why it has a high melting point, why its so strong etc…Next I was presented wiv a blank graph, I was told to sketch the curve of this equation (V(r) = A/r^12 – B/r^6)) and then to interpret the graph and differentiate the equation and label minimum points etc…Finally with the organic chemist she asked me what I had been studying recently (these questions are a godsend, pick your strongest area!) I told her i’d been studing about aromatic rings and benzene etc…she opened up with why they are unreactive and asked me to draw it out, and then we moved onto the alkylation of benzene and had to draw out the mechanism.

Second interview I had two interviews, one physical and one organic, again each questioned me about their area of chemistry. Firstly I was questioned about rates of reactions, secondly i was questioned about nucleophillic substitution and told to draw out mechanisms and label them, and then I had to build up on it and compare why certain molecules was a better nucleophile then the other. We also talked about bond angles.

To both my interviews I wore suit trousers, a shirt and a black v-necked jumper. It looked smart, yet was comfortable and wasn’t over the top.

Impressions

Balliol: if you like the whole traditional look and feel this is the college for you. It was very well maintained and the grounds were very nice.

St. Catherines: a modern feeling (which is why I orginally applied there). Its quite large and spacious when you visit it in real life.

Size of rooms at Balliol was very adequate and spacious. In the bedroom there was a large desk, a comfortable bed and a wash basin in the wardrobe. However the interior wasn’t so great, there was paint peeling off the walls, curtains were ripped, squished flies on the ceiling, abundances of cobwebs in the radiators. My room was also on a bridge and so was very cold.

St. Catherines rooms were almost like a box, but quite livable. They had a modern feeling to it, however wernt as large as Balliols room. There was no wash basin either and the blinds wern’t 100% effective at keeping light out.

I only experienced food at Balliol on the day I arrived and unfortunately I was the last person to arrive (late), so ate on my own, also being late the nicer food was no longer available so I was limited to potatoes and rice.

The next couple days I ate out with friends and had my own breakfast.

Tutors at Balliol seem friendly, they wanted me to get the correct answers in the interviews and so were very encouraging. It was the same for Lincoln.

At Balliol they didn’t seem very helpful. Some seemed reluctant to talk so I didn’t have an overall positive experience, the porters seemed friendlier.

At Lincoln the college students were much more helpful and seemed much more entertaining. They even showed me to the room I was being interview in.

Final stage

I was keen to know their decision, although I had convinced myself that it was a rejection prior to receiving the decision letter.

Looking back

Yes definately, its worth a try. Even if you don’t get in its a great experience, and will infact making you stronger if you want to apply again next year.

Be very alert in the interview, the tutor will suggest concepts to you throughout and its essential to be right on form and to pick these concepts up and build on them. Remember to listen very carefully.