Application

 Oxford

 Brasenose

 Chemistry

 2008

 pooled, offer made (Christ Church)

Applicant

 International Baccalaureate

 pre-qualification

 home

 United Kingdom

 Independent – selective

 yes (9 A*,1 A)

International Baccalaureate

( predicted 7; gained NA)

( predicted 7; gained NA)

( predicted 7; gained NA)

( predicted 2; gained 0)

( predicted 7; gained NA)

( predicted 7; gained NA)

Advanced Extension Awards

(predicted Distinction; gained NA)

As my second ‘Individuals and Societies’, I did ‘Political Thought’; a school-based syllabus not available from the menu.

Details about the offer

 conditional

6 in Chemistry

39 overall including core points.

yes

no

 grades pending/unknown

Decisions about the application

Recommendation by school.
Large chemistry department.
Reputation.

I wanted to do pure Chemistry, not Natural Sciences as offered by Cambridge.

Favourite subject

Central location
Large endowment
Guaranteed accomodation every year
Middle of Norrington Table so thought (wrongly) that it would be less competitive

Preparation

yes

We had weekly sessions lasting about 90 minutes, attended by 3 Chemists, 1 Biochemist and a Medic.

I learned the parts of the syllabus we had not yet covered in class (in my case Further Organic). It is difficult to prepare for as the questions are designed to be unfamiliar. It came in useful learning the top half of the periodic table; I was asked to give the electronic structure of Boron and Nitrogen.

Interview

no

no

no

2/4 went well, 2/4 went OK.

Shapes of Molecules
Electronegativity
Maths- Calculus & Graphs
Moles Calculations
Mechanistic reasoning
Physical Chemistry

I was asked about shapes of molecules. Firstly NH3, then BH3, then NH3BH3, then N3B3H6. I was asked to draw the mechanism of bromination of cyclohexene, and about geometrical and optical isomers of that molecule. I was asked to determine the number of water molecules in a given cup of 180ml, stating my assumptions (temperature & pressure, dissociation, ions, relative mass of O=16, H=1 etc.). I was asked to differentiate progressively harder equations. I given an equation and told to draw it, with it ending up being the equation for an energy curve relating to internuclear separation. I was then asked to differentiate and suggest what the curve would look like for different diatomic elements.

Chinos, loafers and a shirt (no tie). I took a casual jacket and scarf to my interviews as it was very cold, but took them off before starting.

Impressions

Brasenose was very friendly and had an extremely warm atmosphere. There were always sociable people in the JCR and I spent lots of time just chatting to other interviewees.
As I was pooled to Christchurch I spent about 30 minutes in their JCR. The atmosphere seemed slightly more hostile, although this could be because I had just arrived there from another college. There seemed a more competitive air in Christchurch which wasn’t apparent in Brasenose.

I had an ensuite room (with a bath but no shower) in Brasenose with a good size bedroom. A cleaner came every morning and gave me new towels and emptied my bin.

The food, despite a pretty limited selection for breakfast, was very good, although I am not a fussy eater.

In Brasenose I met 3 tutors. The 2 in my first interview, although quite nice, seemed quite offhand and dismissive. In my second Brasenose interview, the tutor was really friendly and encouraging, complimenting everything I said.

At Christchurch the 2 tutors were exceptionally friendly and immediately put me at ease. They had smiles on their faces and seemed genuinely enthusiastic to be there. In my second interview, 2 other tutors were also very friendly, sharing jokes and putting me at ease, improving my performance.

At Brasenose, the students were all keen to meet us and make us comfortable. They were very accomodating if you had any needs.

I only spoke to one student at Christchurch and he was a bit weird and awkward, but I wouldn’t want to judge the entire Christchurch student body based on him.

Final stage

Quite nervous; many of my friends had applied to Oxford and received their letters almost a week before me, including some surprise rejections. Having said that, the arts interviews happen a week before the science ones so this is, to some extent, expected.

On December 23rd I got one letter from Brasenose saying ‘we are unable to offer you a place at Brasenose, but I understand that another college is likely to accept you’. The following day I got an acceptance letter from Christchurch.

Looking back

Certainly

Relax. Make some friends whilst you’re there. Think a bit before every answer you give to a question, don’t blurt out the first thing that comes into your head as the questions are designed to be counter-intuitive.