Application

 Oxford

 Somerville

 Engineering Science

 2002

 offer made

Applicant

 A-levels

 pre-qualification

 N/A

 N/A

 Independent – selective

not known if selective.

 yes (6 A*,3 A)

A-levels

(NA at AS)

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

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

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

Details about the offer

 conditional

B in English Literature, A in Mathematics, A in Physics

yes

Oxford is definatley my first choice & has really spurred me on to get my head down to work! Univ college Durham is my reserve (ABB).

yes

yes

University College, Durham

 grades pending/unknown

Decisions about the application

I thought it would be an unmissable opportunity for a challenge, especially as I was told by my college that they did not expect me to get in. Ha, did I show them!

I visited both Oxford & Cambridge but found there was much more to do in Oxford, and as I have lived in a big city for all of my life I felt it would be less of a shock to the system!

I found that Somerville had a very friendly atmosphere which I had not found before; everyone was very willing to help & answer questions that they have answered hundreds of times before with a smile on their face!

Preparation

yes

I had two mock interviews and weekly Oxbridge lessons; both of which did nothing to prepare me! The interviews were far more formal than the real ones, and the questions were uncomparable to the ones I was asked.

The Forms: Just not to try and stand out – your UCAS forms will make you shine, so be bog standard on the application forms!

The interview(s): Don’t prepare because you can’t! You should be a reasonably able mathematician to apply and that’s all you need in my experience along with the ability to apply that knowledge. I had (by fluke) read Simon Sighn’s ‘The Code Book’ as a book on holiday (which is so interesting) & that went down like a house on fire as one of the interviewers got really excited when I mentioned it in an answer(!) If you are set on preparation, then I would recommend a well known science based book. I actually did an independent study on the orders (sorry recommendation) of my college & it got me nowhere – it wasn’t even read!

Interview

no

no

no

My interviews were informal chats with a couple of Maths & Physics questions slotted in! I was terrified (especially as the first was running late & I was staring at the door for 15mins beforehand!) but determined to be myself, and by the second I had accepted rejection & treated it as a game.

Both interviews began with general interview questions relating to my personal statement. At Somerville, I was asked a question about logs & differentiation and then a physics question about thermal heat (my coursework in fact!). St. Anne’s was a differentiation & energy question about an at graph of a plane taking off. The questions were far from impossible – in fact I was gutted after my Somerville interview as I froze & could not remember the basics! The tutours were kind & helpful though & congratulated me when I completed them believeably! The interviews went overtime (50mins each) as we chatted about general engineering – my work experience & other related topics.

I dressed in comfortable smart casual – black pinstripe trousers & a red wool top (lovely!). Somerville was very informal; most people wore jeans, and the few who wore suits looked like pretentious prats! However other friends I have spoken to who applied at different colleges found the opposite, so do your homework!

Impressions

I loved Somerville for it’s friendliness & informal atmosphere. It is a good distance from the centre of Oxford too, which is always good when considering the need for easy bed access after a good (drunken that is) night out! I hate to be a girl but it was really pretty too, and only across the road from the Engineering dept.

My room was nice – good size, nice view, huge big desk, sink in wardrobe (what?)…though an extra pillow was definately needed!! It took me ages to find the shower too- I was wandering around in my towel down the hall until I was rescued by a lurvley undergrad!

Excellent

Really good choice of food that was nice to eat! Cheap too – Ł3 for a full 3 course meal with drink!!

Friendly & helpful. Even went to the extreeme of smiling at me in the corridor after my interview, which unnerved me at the time to be honest!!

The best I’ve seen! I know a few people from my college who went to Somerville last year too, and they are all really good fun – we had a ball even though I was being interviewed!!

Final stage

Utter shock! Though to be honest I knew before I’d opened the letter as my parents peeked & were dancing around my bed, switching to lights on (to my disgust) as they threw the envelope at me! I still don’t fully comprehend that I have a place!

Looking back

Definatley. I came so close to not applying, but the challenge & experience defeated me! Even if I had been rejected, it would definatley have been worth it as I have the experience forever. Plus the satisfaction is unmatchable!

Be yourself & don’t worry. The frame of mind that I had throughout the interviews was that rejection isn’t the end of the world – I treated the possiblilty of a place as a bonus to the experience, and I didn’t build myself up to expect it. However, the wait was unbearable as the not-knowing killed me!