Application

 Cambridge

 Queens’

 English

 2007

 offer made

Applicant

 A-levels

 pre-qualification

 home

 United Kingdom

 Independent – selective

 yes (5 A*,2 A,2 B)

A-levels

(A at AS (251 UMS))

(A at AS (293 UMS); predicted A; gained NA at A2)

(A at AS (279 UMS); predicted A; gained NA at A2)

(A at AS (271 UMS); predicted A; gained NA at A2)

Details about the offer

 conditional

AAA, Excl. General Studies

yes

no

 grades pending/unknown

Decisions about the application

I don’t know really, the applications process seemed like a challenge and I like a challenge. Also, I really really love English so I wanted to do it somewhere with lots of other people who love it just as much as I do.

Cambridge is quieter and prettier, I think. I like the sleepiness of it.

It was never any contest, English has always been my favourite subject. The course at Cambridge is intensive but also versatile, which I liked: firstly, you study everything from 1300 – now, and secondly you have a lot of choice in the books you read. It’s very independent.

Queens’ is the party college! On top of that, I had the same interests as the fellows there, and it’s on the river, and the buildings are pretty.

Preparation

yes

All the Oxbridge English applicants (4 of us) met once a week to discuss some poems.

Make sure you’ve thought in depth about anything you’ve said you’ve read on your personal statement, and have some interesting things to say about them. Re-read everything and talk to as many people as you can about books and poetry.

Interview

no

N/A

yes

I was asked to submit 2 essays of any length and any type on any literary subject.

no

N/A

I thought it went quite badly really. One half-hour interview with the two Directors of Studies, who both seemed nice enough but were very quick to pick me up on weak points and challenge my opinions. Discussed a short poem (“Love Song” by William Carlos Williams), talked about things I’d mentioned in my personal statement and supplementary application questionnaire, asked me if I had any questions. One asked questions while the other took notes, and they alternated. The room was lovely though – it had big comfy sofas and hundreds of old books! When I came in, the younger one was bouncing on the sofa. It was a fun atmosphere.

We talked about the influence of Baudelaire on French poetry, as well as about my opinions of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and the character of Oberon (I was playing Oberon in my school play at the time, and had told them this). They asked me to develop everything I said, as well as challenging my statements and making them appear totally ridiculous so I had to fight to justify them. It was fun, in a masochistic sort of way.

“So, tell me about Baudelaire.”

That was a toughie. We also talked about power struggles in Shakespeare and the importance of colour in poetry.

I wore black trousers and a grey jumper. It was comfortable and warm but kinda smart too.

Impressions

It was lovely, very pretty even though it was cold and grey. They were undergoing building works so the staff kept reminding us that it wasn’t “at its best”, but it was still nice. Everyone was friendly but purposeful, which I liked.

I didn’t stay overnight. The bar looked good though.

I didn’t get the chance to eat it.

They were very intense but friendly, and wanted you to do your best.

Didn’t really meet any of them properly, but I was smiled at a lot so that was nice.

Final stage

Dread. Dwindling hope. Trying not to think about it.

The letter was very small and thin so I immediately assumed it was a rejection. Couldn’t quite believe it when I actually read the words – then I was all tearful and shaky with shock and happiness!

Looking back

Yes, but it wasn’t all sweetness and light so I’d think more carefully about it.

Think very hard about everything you read and make valid judgements that you can back up. I think making links to other things you’ve read helps too. Finally, don’t underestimate the importance of luck!