Application

 Oxford

 Hertford

 English Language and Literature

 2010

 offer made

Applicant

 A-levels

 pre-qualification

 home

 Hong Kong

 Comprehensive School

 yes (12 A*,1 A)

A-levels

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

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

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

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

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

My art and design course was actually an Art and Design (Graphic Communication) course.

Details about the offer

 conditional

A in Art and Design, A in English Literature, NA in General Studies, A in Mathematics, A in Mathematics (Further)

AAA, I have to get 3 A’s from four subjects: English Literature, Maths, Further Maths or Art and Design.

I must get an A in English Literature.

yes

no

 grades pending/unknown

Decisions about the application

I’ve always been told that I should try and apply for it. It was also more of a personal goal – I wasn’t totally decided upon going to Oxbridge at first, but after visiting Oxford a few times, I fell in love with it. I’m one to not be too optimistic and so I tried to steady myself and my hopes.

However, I knew that if I actually got in, it would open up so many doors for me. I love to stretch myself and I believe that it is at Oxford which will help me achieve that.

I haven’t vistied Cambridge before, and stereotypically, I saw Cambridge as more of a science-orientated university. Oxford just appealed to me a lot more and I have visited it about 3 or 4 times now and even stayed at a Sutton Trust residential there, so I’ve decided to go for Oxford.

I chose this course because I absolutely love literature! I cannot wait to have all of that time to read. Admittedly, I haven’t been doing much reading so far, but I am looking forward to tackling the reading lists and writing the essays. I love the discussion about books because there is just so much to say and discover.

I chose this college because it was close to the city. It was also quite small and it was quite high in the Norrington tables. I wanted a college which was cheap as well and would provide me with 3 years of accommodation because I like things to be simple and not too complicated, considering that I haven’t really lived by myself before.

Preparation

yes

We had a practice interview which was actually really invigorating. The questions really did make me think and I would say that it was very helpful. The teacher interviewing me was actually a lot scarier than the actual interviewers at Hertford College.

Stay calm – they are actually such friendly people. Don’t be intimidated by what other people say. Also, remain neutral about it, and slightly leaning towards the negative side – that is probably the best because it really is tough! There were 30 people applying for English and only 8 of us could get in – do not be downtrodden if you don’t get accepted because you are just as good as the others.

Interview

yes

I had to take the ELAT and I only got 41 out of 60 in it, but I still managed to get to the interview stage and consequently been given a place (providing I achieve those 3 As in summer).

The ELAT consists of several extracts which revolve around a common theme. Mine was about time, death and morality and it was really nice just analysing them – I think I must have dropped marks because I didn’t make it clear what I was trying to look at.

yes

I had to send in an essay from my AS year and I decided to hand in a piece about Jane Austen and her use of humour to entertain readers in “Pride and Prejudice” and “Emma”.

yes

I would say yes and no here because what I had to do was look at three poems and then talk about them whilst in the first interview. You could say it was kind of like a test, because they wanted to see what I thought about the poems, however, I would say it is more like a discussion. I really enjoyed it!

My interviews went pretty well, on hindsight. I think there were a few moments when I faltered, but I would say that it is important to make eye contact. Speak with gesticulation and just be enthusiastic in your interview. Do not be intimidated by them because they want you to perform your best as well.

After the first interview which was about 20 minutes long, I had a second one after about a few hours and this time we were talking more about my personal statement and the things that I read, personally.

The questions that I got asked included what do you think of this poem? What can you say about this poem? What do you think it is about? What features do you find interesting in the poem?

Then in the second interview, I got asked questions like, do you think that it is important to look at the biographical details when reading Plath’s poetry? What sorts of literature do you enjoy reading? And why do you read that literature? What are you reading now? What influences what you read? What are the differences you see in Gothic literature?

I wore tailored trousers and a shirt. I hate dressing in very formal clothing, but I decided to go for something less casual.

Impressions

The college that I applied to looked really small from the outside. However, once we got in, it was so beautiful. The place didn’t look as brigh and cheery as I expected it to be, but it was in winter. So that is expected. I also stayed at Lady Margaret Hall and that was really beautiful, but so far away from the centre. That was in summer.

The size of the rooms at Hertford were amazingly huge, but I think that that room which I stayed in was for the people in the third year or later. I believe that the rest of us have more typically sized rooms. I am sure that most of the rooms will be fine though.

Facilities were well spaced, I believe there may be one shower and one toilet, (I think there was a bath somewhere) to each floor.

The food was delicious!

The tutors lived in the college and my potential tutor was on the same floor as me. That was a little scary and I made a terrible faux pas by saying “see you soon” to one of the tutors when I was leaving. I feel so ashamed, still.

The college students were wonderful. They were so friendly. I loved it.

Final stage

Ah, it was so menacing. I really tried to stem my hopes and remain neutral about it all. I managed to get on with school and all of that because the interview was during term time.

I was sat at the table, eating lunch when the post came. My Mum brought the post in and then I was opening it, I tried to hide it from them, so that I could read it first. Then a smile crept across my face because I read that I had been accepted! It was so surreal!

Looking back

I would still apply if I had to.

Don’t be scared of it. However, remember, this takes a lot of effort and it doesn’t only start at AS level. You need to make sure that you work hard from Year 10 onwards. Everyone else applying is going to be predicted with 3 As, otherwise the school will probably not let them apply there, or at least advise them not to. So you need to make sure that your GCSEs are high as well. They are so important.