Application

 Oxford

 Lady Margaret Hall (open application, allocated college)

 Chemistry

 2008

 offer made

Applicant

 A-levels

 pre-qualification

 home

 N/A

 Comprehensive School

 yes (9 A*,2 A)

A-levels

(A at AS)

(A at AS)

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

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

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

Advanced Extension Awards

(predicted NA; gained Merit)

Details about the offer

 conditional

A in Chemistry, A in Mathematics, A in Physics

yes

N/A

 grades pending/unknown

Decisions about the application

Because it offers the best education available in this country.

Cambridge don’t offer straight sciences, and I want to study straight Chemistry, so the decision was pretty much already made.

Not because I’m best at the subject, but because it interests me more than any other subject. I’m better at maths than I am at Chemistry, but I don’t find it nearly as interesting, so I wouldn’t work as hard for it.

I couldn’t decide between the colleges, so I risked it and applied open.

Preparation

yes

I had a mock Oxford-type interview with my Chemistry teacher, which was actually harder than my real Oxford interviews.

For Chemistry applicants, don’t just learn facts to be regurgitated, make sure you understand what you’re learning and why it all makes sense.

Interview

no

no

no

One was a little poor since I made some damn stupid mistakes early on, the other two were much better. The third one only lasted 25 minutes rather than the whole half an hour since I answered all the questions quickly.

I was not expected to know perfectly the aspects that were at a post A2 level, but only to have enough of an understanding to work them out there and then.

Nothing on my personal statement, only subject specific questions, such as balancing a complicated formula, working out the number of H+ ions in a certain amount of pute water etc.

A suit with a blue shirt, open necked, to look smart but not obnoxiously smart.

Impressions

Lady Margaret Hall was beautiful, Somerville was aesthetically disappointing by comparison. I was glad to have gotten into LMH over SOM.

The room at LMH was at least twice the size of my room at home, with two armchairs and a desk chair, but there were only three toilets and two showers on the floor with about 15 rooms.

Better than expected.

Friendly and welcoming once they realised I wasn’t a moron.

Very pleasant, genuine people. Not as intimidating as I had expected.

Final stage

Utter soul-destroying all-consuming dread.

My mum woke me up with it even though I was ill and had asked her not to wake me up if the letter came because I needed lots of sleep. I read it, smiled, threw it at her and went back to sleep.