Application

 Oxford

 St Edmund Hall

 Earth Sciences (Geology)

 2005

 offer made

Applicant

 A-levels

 pre-qualification

 home

 United Kingdom

 Comprehensive School

Fairly good school, no real Oxbridge expertise.

 yes (8 A*,2 A)

A-levels

(A at AS (253 UMS); predicted A; gained A at A2)

(A at AS (263 UMS); predicted A; gained A at A2)

(A at AS (253 UMS); predicted A; gained A at A2)

(A at AS (259 UMS); predicted A; gained A at A2)

Open University Short Course Astronomy (good fun!)

Details about the offer

 conditional

AABB

yes

no

 offer met

Decisions about the application

The tutorial and collegiate systems, the atmosphere of my chosen college, the content and quality of my course, and the history and tradition of Oxbridge.

I consider myself more a geologist with a general interest in science than a scientist with a general interest in geology, so I thought Geology at Oxford was more appropriate than NatSci at Cambridge. I visited colleges at both universities and found Oxford more attractive and less claustrophobic. I also live quite near Cambridge and wanted to get away. Finally, I really liked my college.

I was looking for a course that covered all the essentials of earth sciences while allowing some flexibility and independence – Oxford seems to manage this. The high mathematics content will hopefully prepare me for a research career afterwards. The course and department are the best in the country, along with Cambridge’s. I was also very impressed with the comfortable but scholarly atmosphere in the department on the open day.

Only seven colleges offer geology. Of these, I was particularly interested in Exeter and St. Edmund Hall since they seemed to have the most character. I visited the Hall on an open day and enjoyed the cosy sense of community and slightly zany, eclectic architecture. It’s the kind of place you could only find in Oxford and I love it.

Preparation

yes

I had one practice interview with a chemistry teacher who had been to Cambridge. It was much easier than the real thing.

Learn only the very essentials of maths, chemistry, physics and biology by heart – you don’t want to be caught out not knowing something fundamental. Don’t over-prepare or worry too much!

Interview

no

no

no

Difficult but fascinating.

My first one was in college. The tutors asked me about a lot of things I hadn’t studied yet in my A levels, which I found quite frustrating at first. On top of that, I forgot some incredibly basic science which came back to me afterwards – I was kicking myself!

The second interview was in the department and because I was less stressed (I was sure I’d already blown it), I was able to think more carefully about what I was being asked. I quite enjoyed this interview and I felt it went in my favour.

I was asked to comment on some specimens and to consider straightforward problems in chemistry and physics. There was very little biology since I was not offering this at A level. There was a little algebra and calculus in my second interview.

Smart casual. Trousers and a collared shirt with a fleece over it.

Impressions

Pretty, and unpretentious. I liked it very much.

My room was fairly large and had a sink, desk, drawers and a cupboard. (And a bed, obviously.) The wall was rather thin and traffic outside kept me awake.

Nothing special but not unpleasant.

Polite, considerate and annoyingly clever.

Chirpy and helpful. They seemed to be permanently delighted.

Final stage

Depressed! Sure I hadn’t made it.

Elation. I had to keep re-reading it. Still can’t believe it now.

Looking back

Yes!

Don’t worry too much! If they let me in, I’m sure you’ve got a good chance…