Application

 Cambridge

 King’s

 English

 2003

 pooled, offer made (Hughes Hall)

Applicant

 A-levels

 pre-qualification

 N/A

 N/A

 FE College

 yes (2 B,6 C)

A-levels

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

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

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

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

Details about the offer

 conditional

B in History

yes

I assume that I shall go to Cambridge. But like Liberty X I’m thinking it over.

N/A

 grades pending/unknown

Decisions about the application

The best university in the country (according to the rankings in the papers). International reputation. Assessment by examination. Supervisions with tutors. To study with smart people.

I wanted to apply to Oxord and had filled in a mock UCAS form with Oxford on it. Then the ‘Oxbridge’ tutor at the college where I studied suggested Cambridge due to the differences between studying English at the different institutions ie: not having to start at 1100, but rather 1300 AD

Size, it sounded quite impressive

Preparation

yes

There was an ‘Oxbridge’ tutor who helped with my application and wrote a brilliant personal statement. He also marked the two essays that I had to send in. But since I was no longer a student there, I did a lot of stuff myself.

The form: It’s not really that much of a hassle. Lots of it is repeated from the UCAS form, so don’t worry about it. Be clear.

The interview: Timed essays. Talks with teachers and fellow students. Try to have read a few of the classics and remember them. Be prepared for some verbal testing as well. Try unseen poetry/prose essays.

Interview

no

yes

I had to give in two pieces of written work. This was a bit of a hassle, since I had done my A level in 1 year and had only written timed essays. I had also completed my A level over two years before. So I re-wrote one of my mock exam essays and added bit in. I was also given an essay question by my old English tutor which I answered. Even thought they were marked, I never got a grade and was unsure if they were good enough.

no

I had four.
There are some obvious things that happenned which I shall avoid retelling. But some strange things did happen.
Firstly, when I got to the college, I saw a sign which said that the English written test had been cancelled. At the end of my first interview I was told that my second interview would be replacing the test. At the end of my second interview I was told I would be having a fourth interview with someone from another college. (I was originally told I would be having 3). No one asked my about any of the books that I had studied. One of the interviewers asked about one of the books I refered to on my statement, but when I tried to extend the conversation to another book by the same author, I was shut up because he hadn’t read this other book. I was asked if I read poetry which I told him I didn’t. I also admitted to reading Nick Hornby books (my mind went blank). The second half of my first interview involved me having to read a passage from a book i’d never heard of and comment on it. This should be really easy, especially if you are currently studying English, but I struggled.
My second interview wasn’t an interview, but rather a handful of tests. In one section I had to read through 4 paragraphs of text and correct any mistakes. It was quite a strange experience.
My favourite interview was my fourth one with the person who will become my Director of Studies. He had obviously read my form and appeared to be interested in me as a person as well as a potential student.

A suit. Come on, you’ve got to try. Especially if you’re not at school, you don’t want to feel as if you haven’t made an effort compared to those in a uniform.

Impressions

Kings is massive and looks impressive from outside. The hall where we ate dinner was also very nice and big. However, some of the staircases that I had to go up to for my interviews seemed to be deathtraps, maybe just to add to the tension in the day. Hughes, where I am going is quite small, but perfectly formed. Off the tourist trail.

Library in Kings is big. The library in Hughes is not

Good

It filled me up. Why do people moan so much about the food?

Sometimes I really felt people were trying to trip me out. On the whole, they wanted to see if I was able to think on my feet. They still made me feel a bit nervous, apart from the the guy from Hughes who was really welcoming.

At Kings, they all looked like typical uni students. They were friendly to me.

Final stage

I was pooled initially. This was not unexpected. My interviews at Kings had been a disaster. I went to my Dad’s to collect the letter, it was a thin envelope. So I made me excuses, left, read the letter in the car and drove home and had a slightly flat New Years. Two weeks later I went to my Dad’s again and saw the envelope from Hughes on the floor. It was quite fat. I knew it was good news. I felt quite relieved. The week before I was stressing out so I was happy there was a good outcome. Over a month later, I am still telling people, but very slowly. I am aware that I don’t want to rub peoples noses in it, so I don’t normally tell them until they ask about my university applications.

Looking back

Hell Yeah. Cambridge is still the best uni in the country. When I visited a family friend yesterday, I was congratulated again. I feel like a micro-celebrity.

Make sure that you are well prepared. Be prepared to speak quite a lot.