Application

 Oxford

 Wadham

 Chemistry

 2001

 offer made

Applicant

 A-levels

 pre-qualification

 N/A

 N/A

 Independent – selective

 yes (5 A*,4 A,1 B)

A-levels

(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 NA at A2)

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

Details about the offer

 conditional

A in Chemistry, A in Mathematics

AAB

yes

N/A

 grades pending/unknown

Decisions about the application

Just out of curiosity. Oxbridge are the best in the country and I’m just wondering whether I’m good enough to get in. Also it’ll be interesting to know what the interviews (which we hear so many horror stories about) are like.

From the prospectus the university came across to me as way more friendly than Cambridge. I went to their Science Open Day and the chemistry department was absolutely amazing. Besides I’m sick of Cambridge applicants (from our school anyway) slagging Oxford off so I’m set out to prove them wrong lol!

It’s the only one I got time to see during the Science Open Day. The college is beautiful and the people there are really friendly and helpful. Overall it’s great so I applied there.

Preparation

no

Mention on the form that you went to their open day (only if you actually did of course). It’s a good conversation topic for the interview (they ask whether you enjoyed it…etc) and also it also shows that you did try to find out about the course and the university before you applied.

Don’t worry about it too much, just be yourself and show them that you love chemistry! Looking carefully through the a-level stuff you’ve done and maybe scan ahead to topics coming up then it should be alright. Always be honest and don’t be embarassed to say that “we haven’t covered that topic yet”—it’s better than waffling for 10 minutes pretending you know something when it’s experts you are talking to! If you are stuck, try to relate the problem to something similar you’ve done before and guess—sometimes it’s exactly the right answer!

Interview

no

no

no

I had one 30 min interview. There were 3 interviewers, one from each branch of chemistry (organic, inorganic and physical). They were really friendly and tried to settle me down by spending the first 5 min explaining generally about the course at Oxford.Then it was the interview bit with the technical chemistry questions…it was more like a discussion really and they helped me out when I’m stuck. I think the interview went alright (despite me going hysterical when I came out of the room, thinking how I’ve screwed up lol), and I also learnt something new (see below)

Each interviewer asked me some questions about their branch of chemistry. For physical it was “If I’ve got an alkane and I’d like to know more about it, what should I do?” He was trying to get me to talk about Infre-red spectroscopy (IR) but of course my mind went blank lol. Then for organic I was asked to draw and explain the mechanism of ethene’s polymerisation, which unfortunately I haven’t covered yet, so nicely they gave me a few hints (oh it seems to involve free radicals!). He then asked me about some general production process and use of plastics. Finally for inorganic “How and why are the structure for CO2 and SiO2 different?” I smiled when that question came up because everyone (including me) knows “how” ever since GCSE but never “why”. Now I do, thanks to the tutors!

ust the normal— blouse, long skirt and my lucky blue woolly jumper, which turns out to be a bit too warm for the small interview room lol.

Impressions

Wadham is great! Lots of nice people who are willing to chat to you 24/7 and lots of cool facilities. JCR, music rooms…the library and gardens are huge!

There were lots of stair cases and the one I stayed in was a slightly older one so they are double rooms. It’s got a joined living room and two smaller bedroom with washing basin. It’s was alright but not when in the morning (and other time in general) you need to run 3 floors to the basement to get to the toilets and showers lol.
The newer staircases are really nice with single rooms and probably have ensuites as well. MOD EDIT: If only!

Good

The vegetarian option seems more delicious most of the time lol

Not sure as I’ve only met them once, but they were really friendly and approachable during the interview.

Our hosts for the interview (2 3rd year chemistry undergraduates) were lovely! They offered us lots of advice for our interview and endless supply of coffee and biscuits. They also show us around the college, as well as taking us out for movie and ice-skating. I also met a few 1st years and they were just as friendly and nice.

Final stage

I was getting anxious for the arrival of the letter for days because all my friends have heard from Oxford already. When I came back from school one day there it was on the living room table. So I took it up to my room, shut the door and turn the music on so loud that I can’t hear myself think…and I opened it! It said I’ve got an offer and I was numbed for ages…honestly I wasn’t expecting anything! I didn’t want to get hysterical just yet so I only told my parents when they came back from work and we went out for a nice meal.

Looking back

Of course! Applying to Oxford was one of the coolest experience ever. Apart from the interesting interview, I’ve made quite a few good friends during my stay there. Oxford was really a lovely city and I certainly wouldn’t say no to a few days off school lol.

Go for it! There’s nothing to lose and a fun experience to gain. Just be yourself and show them your passion for your chosen subject. This is not hard to do and is after all what interviewers are looking for.