Application

 Oxford

 St Catherine’s

 Engineering Science

 2009

 rejected

Applicant

 A-levels

 pre-qualification

 overseas

 N/A

 Grammar School

 yes (7 A*,2 A,1 B)

A-levels

(B at AS)

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

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

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

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

Advanced Extension Awards

(predicted Merit; gained Distinction)

Other universities

yes

N/A

Decisions about the application

Internationally renowned; I thought I was good enough to get in; tutorial system really appealed to me, as did the short terms – I thought I would flourish in the environment

I liked Oxford better because it was a bigger city than Cambridge with more going on; I thought it would be easier to get in for Engineering than at Cambridge

I love solving problems (maths and science based) and engineering seemed to offer a functional and useful basis for this

St Catz is less formal than the other colleges, it also seemed more international

Preparation

yes

I had a practice interview with my physics and maths teacher – it was horrible, but nothing like the real one. Too general and not subject-specific.

DON’T PREPARE!!!! I CANNOT STRESS THIS ENOUGH.
If you got an A at AS maths and physics, just make sure you know your stuff. Focus and work hard in your first term of year 13 – they won’t ask you anything beyond that.
If you want, look at some AEA maths and physics questions to help you think differently about your subject, but they won’t ask you anything that hard

Interview

yes

no

yes

no

yes

no

2 interviews:
-the first one was at my first-choice college, 40 minutes long
-the second one was at another randomly-selected college, 30 minutes long

They were highly subject specific. I was asked “why engineering” but that was it. The rest was maths and physics.

First interview:

Some basic trigonometry; I was asked to sketch y=cos(x) and y=cos(2x), then shade the area represented by the integral of cos(x) from pi to zero (messed that up and didn’t have enough time to answer rest of the questions).

I was also asked to make a mathematical formula that would show which is the most efficient way of moving a bookshelf, by analyzing the moments acting around the said bookshelf. Nothing impossible.

Second interview:

I was asked questions about the power dissipated in a circuit and to analyze the resistance in a light bulb and and how it changes over time etc.
Then I was asked a question on cicular motion.

The second interview had really easy questions, and i thought it went MUCH better than the first.

Smart shirt with jeans and sneakers. I was being judged on my brain, not my sense of style, so no need to wear a suit.
NOTE: The tutors were all wearing shirts and jeans/trousers. No suits

Impressions

I loved St Catz – it has very modern architecture that I couldnt get enough of.
University College (my second college) was also really nice. Very old and big buildings.

Medium-smallish rooms. Quite nice though. Shared bathroom facilities, but all clean.

decent, nothing special

They were all very nice. Not trying to catch you out.
But the one guy at the first college was a dick though – he kept on saying, “because my days of applying to Oxford are long gone, I’ll help you out” whenever I was stuck.

They seemed pretty cool.

Final stage

Anxious, nervous… I wasn’t expecting an offer though, because the first interview had gone so badly. I was hoping to be pooled…

Absolutely gutted. I was rejected straight up and I wasn’t pooled or anything. It seemed really unfair to me because my second interview had gone so well and I felt as if I’d been judged on my mistakes instead of my successes.

Looking back

Definitely. I’d do things a little differently in the interview, and I wouldn’t have wasted my time doing so much preparation for it (I went through my AS and A2 physics course loads of times, and finished my A-Level maths course early just for the interview but in the end it didn’t help)

DO NOT BE NERVOUS IN THE INTERVIEW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! JUST FOCUS AND DON’T PANIC!!!!

IF YOU KNOW YOUR PHYSICS AND MATHS CONTENT, THEN DON’T WASTE YOUR TIME PREPARING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!