Application

 Oxford

 Magdalen

 Classics

 2001

 pooled, offer made (Oriel)

Applicant

 A-levels

 pre-qualification

 N/A

 N/A

 Independent – non-selective

 yes (10 A*,4 A)

A-levels

(A 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 Classical Greek, A in Latin

AAB

yes

N/A

 grades pending/unknown

Decisions about the application

Supposedly, the Classics course is the best in the country, and I liked the flexibility of the course options with things like linguistics and philosophy thrown into the mix. Possibly also because it was “expected” by the school after my GCSE results.

It was “suggested” to apply to Oxford by my teacher – and it’s right in between both my parents!

Again, teacher persuasion, and it sounded like it had a good mix of academia, music and drama which sounded pretty good!

Preparation

yes

Yeah – many repeated “how to write a personal statement” lectures over and over again, and a mock interview that was pretty useless, but at least it was a practice!

Don’t panic, and don’t necessarily bother with any esoteric knowledge. They are testing what you can do without rote learned facts in general – though some may help. Then again, all the people who were quoting elegiac poetry at me probably got places!

Interview

no

yes

I had to submit two essays – considering I’d only written one over the course of the AS year, I had to rush one out pretty quick – neither were very good apparently, which doesn’t bother me that much. An essay on Euripides’ Bacchae discussing Pentheus’ role and an “analysis” (i.e. a list of rhetorical techniques) on part of Cicero’s Verrine 5 were what I produced.

yes

A Latin and a Greek test – roughly old A-level standard (not like the “dumbed-down” A2 exams this year). Apparently, I came about halfway in the grand list o’ applicants, making me too stupid for Magdalen.
I had a twenty-five minute Philosophy test to do before my surprise interview, with two logic questions that I utterly screwed up and a “complicated” Philosophy question that was much easier – admittedly, I wasn’t in the best frame of mind at the time!

At Magdalen, I had an interview with the Classics, Ancient History and Philosophy tutors. Classics and Ancient History were about my essays – the Classics one pulled it to shreds in a nice way, the History guy asked me history questions (considering I didn’t do History at GCSE level, I didn’t think I did too badly but I was probably pretty naff), and the Philosophy tutor was really interesting, but again I didn’t acquit myself very well. However, all three were extremely nice and so on, and I had no regrets about applying there.
Christchurch gave me an interview with two stereotypical dons who bored me rigid and didn’t test me in the same way at all as Magdalen, even though they must have known I wasn’t accepted at Magdalen. They only asked me really about my Bacchae essay.
Oriel gave me two interviews – the Classics one was really nice, the lecturers were very nice (wow, so many adjectives!) but did ask more testing questions. However, just as I thought I could FINALLY go home (having been there for five days already) I had a disastrous Philosophy interview which I had no idea I was going to have, leaving me in tears and thinking I had no hope of getting into Oxford at all!

Magdalen – Questions ranged from “Why do you think Cicero wrote down the actio secunda of the case against Verres?” to “Do you eat meat?” Christchurch – I’ve completely forgotten now, it was that dull. Oriel – “Do you think that by applying the methods of music teaching to all forms of education we might bring about social and economic reform?” (gulp) Oriel was the only college to refer to my personal statement at all.

“Smart casual” – owing to the cold weather, smart jumper with a t-shirt and trousers. Suits make you look like an independent school ponce and you shouldn’t really dress down IMHO.

Impressions

Magdalen was undeniably impressive, but not too much of a maze – eventually it was easier to work out where you were going.
Christchurch, from my brief glimpse, seemed far too big for me – I almost got lost on the way back to Magdalen after the interview.
Oriel seemed pretty nice – small, but this had the advantage of making it more private. Again, didn’t see much of it.

Only saw Magdalen – I had a room much like my one at home i.e. not too big, but bigger than my sister’s box in halls at Sheffield. Plenty of room to spread out in for sure – and it had a fridge! Oriel’s accomodation remains to be seen…
I was out on the High Street, so I can’t comment on the campus accomodation.

Good

Anything’s better than the radioactive sludge our school produced! Seriously, I thought the food was pretty good – though I probably won’t be able to afford it three meals a day at uni.

Extremely personable in general – though as previously stated I didn’t like the Christchurch ones much, but each to their own fairly obviously.

The actual students were extremely welcoming and helpful – though some of the prospective applicants seemed a bit on the disdainful side.

Final stage

I had already had a phone call, which took away most of the shock. I was pretty convinced I wouldn’t get a place at all – Magdalen was only okay, Christchurch was dull, and Oriel was a nightmare! So when the tutor from Oriel rang to say I had a place I was a bit shellshocked to say the least! I was a bit muted about it in the end compared to my parents, but I was extremely pleased, considering how many people got rejected from my school (most aren’t bitter, some are). Funnily enough, those who thought they were really bad tended to be the ones who got places!

Looking back

Definitely, because I’m really looking forward to the course. I think that was more of a factor than the uni in some ways – if I’d gone for a different course i.e. Medicine then I would never have applied there!

Don’t panic, don’t pretend, and do your best! And probably don’t go partying each night – sometimes you have things to do at nine each morning, and breakfast is early too!