Application

 Oxford

 Lincoln

 Computer Science

 2005

 offer made

Applicant

 A-levels

 pre-qualification

 N/A

 N/A

 FE College

 yes (6 A*,4 A,1 B)

A-levels

(A at AS)

(A at AS)

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

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

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

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

Details about the offer

 conditional

A in Mathematics, A in Mathematics (Further)

AAA

yes

N/A

 offer met

Decisions about the application

World’s top universities; steeped in history and silly traditions; really liked the oxford course.

Prefered the oxford course- more theoretical. At the time i was deciding i didn’t like the idea of having to study 50% natural sciences as you do at cambridge. Also, i’ve lived most of my life just outside cambridge, so wanted to get away to somewhere new, preferably somewhere with a better nightlife!

Seemed small and friendly. Met a really cool guy on an open day who really sold the place to me. Seemed much more down to earth and relaxed than the college i was originally considering (Oriel).

Preparation

yes

For the term preceding, i had extra maths classes looking at past oxford entrance papers and step questions. Each of us had to research and give a presentation on a maths topic that interested us (i was grouped with the oxbridge maths applicants).

Fortnightly mock interviews, mainly looking at different maths problems with the teacher organising the course, based on former students accounts of interviews. I also had a mock interview with a computing teacher from the local formal poly, which was nothing like the oxford interview at all.

Do lots of reading- find a couple of topics you’re interested in a read as much as you can about them. Try to solve some interesting programming problems (check out the british informatics olympiad for ideas).

Also do lots of step papers (or past oxford entrance papers if you can get hold of them) to help prepare for the maths test.

Interview

no

no

yes

Maths exam, same as for the maths applicants. Really tough test- it’s based around the pure maths in the a level syllabus, but was much more involved and nasty.

The ones at lincoln both went really well. The first one was with the computer science tutor- he asked me a few things about myself and my personal statement. He picked up on the stuff i wrote about my interest in Godel’s incompleteness theorem, and we talked about that some more. We then moved over to his table and he asked me some technical questions about lists and searching algorithms for a grid of numbers.

The second interview was with a maths tutor- it went well; he asked me about what areas of maths interested me, and then asked me some tricky differentiation questions. He asked me a question about laying dominoes on a chess board, and whether it was possible to cover all the squares (domino covers 2 squares) if you cut off two diagonally opposite corners. I’d seen this before, didn’t find it too difficult.

The third interview at LMH was pretty awful, however. He was really friendly, but made me sit on this really low chair looking up at him and the rathe cold sounding female grad student with him. He didn’t explain the problem the interview centred on in a way that i fully understood, even after i asked him to clarify, and i made a couple of stupid mistakes as well, and on the whole it was fairly depressing. I think i made a good impression on the more general questions the grad student asked afterwards, which perhaps saved myself from complete embarrassment fortunately.

Smart shirt, trousers, jumper, smart/casual shoes. Pretty smart, but not over the top, for the actual interviews. Just casual clothes while hanging around the common room.

Impressions

Lincoln -Really stunning buildings on the main college site; small and cosy. Great central location. Spacious bedroom with ensuite. Amazing library, and really cool bar.

LHM- wasn’t there long. The main college seemed rather nice, big compared with lincoln. My interview was in what appeared from the outside to be someone’s house (it had been converted).

All the rooms on the main site seemed really nice, mostly with ensuites. Apparently there were some less nice rooms used by undergraduates across the street.

Really good. Specially the chocolate cake/pudding thing. Some wierd combinations though- chilli con carne with rice and mashed potato, or peaches with mint choc chip ice cream.

The computer science tutor was really kind and friendly. The maths tutor was nice enough, but seemed a bit more serious.

Seemed like a great bunch of people. Light hearted and down to earth. Told us lots of funny stories about college goings on. One of them looked like my evil twin.

Final stage

was pretty horrible- my friend got his acceptance letter only a couple of days after he got back; i had to wait over a week. Couldn’t do any revision for my january modules.

ecstatic! I danced around the living room for about 20 minutes (i was alone). I phoned my parents, who were both really pleased for me, even though they’re not really sure about the whole oxford thing. One of my mum’s workmates said it was as good as playing for england!

Looking back

Yes! I had a really amazing time during the interviews, and met some really great people, many of which didn’t get in unfortunately. I absolutely loved the place.

Give it a try- computer science isn’t a very competitive subject so you stand a good chance. You haven’t got much to lose and even if you don’t get in, the early application date means that you can get all your university stuff out the way really quickly.