Application

 Oxford

 Jesus

 Chemistry

 2009

 offer made

Applicant

 A-levels

 pre-qualification

 home

 United Kingdom

 Independent – selective

 yes (8 A*,1 A)

A-levels

(NA at AS)

(NA 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 A at A2)

Also Grade 8 Piano and Grade 8 Flute

Details about the offer

 conditional

A in Chemistry

AA, Need AAA, including A in Chemistry, excluding General Studies.

yes

I applied originally for deferred entry, but before interviews I was told by Jesus college that it was highly unlikely I would get a deferred place, as it is very rare for Jesus to give them, and asked if I would consider an offer for non-deferred entry.

no

 grades pending/unknown

Decisions about the application

Because I had been told that I’d probably have a good chance of getting in, and I had nothing to lose by applying, so decided to give it a go.

Cambridge don’t do Chemistry – they do NatSci, which is either very biology-focussed or physics-focussed in the first 2 years, which i didn’t want to do.

I love Chemistry! Applied for straight Chemistry MChem at all my Uni choices.

I went down to Oxford (not on an open day) and had a look round all the colleges. There were two (Jesus and Hertford) which just felt right, and so I had to decide between those two. Eventually went for Jesus because a past pupil from my school had gone there and loved it, and the Oxford coordinator at school said that he’d heard what a friendly college it is.

Preparation

yes

I had 3 mock interviews – 2 from teachers at other schools, in a scheme run between schools in our area, and one from the boss of a research science company based near us who school has contacts with.

Know AS chemistry really well, and the A2 stuff you’ve done so far. I wouldn’t bother learning stuff off the syllabus – they are testing how you deal with new info and concepts, and how you apply what you know in other areas, not how much you’ve learnt. It’s not like an exam where you have to be able to just recite some things parrot fashion – they really are looking for understanding.

Interview

no

No

no

No

no

No

I had 3 interviews, 20 minutes each, each with 2 people (either 2 tutors, or 1 tutor and 1 postgraduate student). 1 organic, 1 inorganic, 1 physical. We were all called in to a room together beforehand to meet the interviewers, and were told what was going to happen to settle our nerves. They said all the interviews would be purely about chemistry, as they didn’t have time to ask about personal statements/ other interests etc. Having said that, in my first interview (organic) he asked a quick question about work experience and my gap year plans, which was really good in settling nerves.

It sounds difficult, but try to enjoy the whole experience. The interviewers don’t leave you hanging, if you’re struggling they help you out, so don’t worry.

I wore smart black jeans, flat shoes, striped blouse and big cable knit jumper. I didn’t want to do the whole suit thing, but didn’t want to do the totally casual thing. To be honest, people were at both ends of this spectrum, and I really don’t think it matters at all.

Impressions

It varies from staircase to staircase, but the one I was in was quite big, with a desk etc., and there were 2 bedrooms joined onto a shared bathroom.

Good. Looked like fairly normal uni food.

They all seemed nice and helpful and I got the feeling that they wanted me to do well.

All very helpful, friendly and honest.

Final stage

I waited quite a while, my friends who’d also applied (to different courses and colleges) heard before me, but i got the letter on Christmas Eve, which is still only 10 days after interviews. I wasn’t that nervous, I just wanted to know, as I knew I couldn’t do anything to change the outcome now.

I got a letter, I opened it, it said I had an offer. Cue happiness all round, and a big decision to make about the whole gap year or Oxford thing.

Looking back

Yes.

Go for it and don’t worry. If you’re good enough you’ll get in, if you’re not you won’t, so you’ve got nothing to lose. Don’t set your heart on it, because it will only make any disappointment worse, and don’t apply just because it’s Oxford – if you don’t like the course/the uni, you’re not going to enjoy it just because of the reputation.