Application

 Oxford

 Magdalen

 Engineering, Economics and Management

 2001

 pooled, offer made (St Edmund Hall)

Applicant

 ‘Asian’ A-levels

 pre-qualification

 overseas

 Singapore

 Independent – selective

not known if selective

 yes (4 A*,4 A,1 B,1 C)

‘Asian’ A-levels

(predicted A; gained A)

(predicted A; gained B)

(predicted A; gained A)

(predicted A; gained A)

‘S’ Papers

(predicted Distinction; gained Distinction)

(predicted Distinction; gained Merit)

general paper – predicted A1, achieved A1

Details about the offer

 conditional

A in Mathematics

AB

no

yes

yes

I’ll be going to Stanford.

Decisions about the application

Well they’re arguably the 2 best universities in the UK (although LSE and Imperial also have excellent global reputations). To be honest, Oxford was my back-up in case I didn’t get into Stanford university in the US.

I’ve been to both and Oxford is a nicer city in my opinion. Besides, I lived in Oxford for a couple of years (albeit as a young child) when my dad did research at the hospital there.

The college’s grounds were absolutely gorgeous! Sorry if that comes across as a bit shallow, but I made the choice on the basis of looks haha

Preparation

yes

They had mock interviews, but only for the humanities students so I didn’t have one. My physics tutor did put me in touch with a senior who’d gotten into Oxford the previous year (but he eventually went to the University of Pennsylvania in the US)

Honestly I thought that my application form was quite pathetic, just a rehash of my CV…exactly the same thing I put on my UCAS form. Frankly, I don’t believe that the admissions tutors are that concerned with your forms…its more to provide them some additional information that they can use as the basis of questioning during your interview. Its all in the interview…

As I gathered from other candidates, engineering interviews normally involve questions on the passage (which you really can’t do much about preparation wise, just think on your feet basically) followed by 2 questions, one on physics and one on maths. The physics one will normally be on a applied sort of thing (mine was on staples, a friend’s was on air-conditioning). Just reason it out, its ok if you’re not entirely correct, they want to see how you think. As for the math one, it should be pretty easy, if you can’t do it then you aren’t applying to the right course.

Interview

yes

no

no

I was given a passage which was very abstract. It was about how randomness differs from
fuzziness, and about fuzziness in set theory (elementhood and
subsethood)…even the interviewer admitted that it was quite hard to
understand sometimes. That went pretty well, there was one hiccup when he
asked me whether this statement from the passage was true. A AND NOT-A…in
my nervousness I didn’t realize it was a boolean statement, so it took a
while before i got his question. I managed to elicit one “ah” from him when
I suddenly blurted out that elementhood was a subset of subsethood, a sort
of epiphany on my part I suppose. He asked me a few questions on my personal
statement and was quite interested to hear about a WAP application I’d developed for a competition. Then he realized that he was running out of
time, so he gave me 2 problems. The physics one was to draw the forces
acting on a staple as it is being used to staple something. I didn’t have
much of a problem with that. Then he asked me why the sides curve in (the moment of the normal forces
about the joints). The math one was a joke, to differentiate x^(x^2) with
respect to x.

I wore smart pants and a short sleeved shirt. I live in Singapore so I wasn’t about to wear a bloody suit or anything along those lines.

Impressions

Absolutely gorgeous!

Never got to go for a formal visit

Final stage

It wasn’t such a big thing, I just felt a sense of satisfaction I suppose. I got the letter about a week after I’d gotten into Stanford (now that I was REALLY happy about =)) so I wasn’t too concerned with whether Oxford took me.

Looking back

Why not, it didn’t hurt to apply. If I hadn’t gotten into Stanford I’d go to Oxford so it was nice to have insurance of some sort. I guess its a matter of what style of education one wants.

Don’t worry too much about your forms and all, they care a lot more about your interview. At your interview, don’t get thrown off by weird passages or questions, just reason it out and you’ll be fine.