Application

 Oxford

 Jesus

 English Language and Literature

 2008

 offer made

Applicant

 A-levels

 pre-qualification

 home

 N/A

 Comprehensive School

 yes (9 A*,2 A)

A-levels

(A at AS)

(A at AS)

(A at AS)

Details about the offer

 conditional

A in English Literature, A in German, A in History

yes

no

 grades pending/unknown

Decisions about the application

Because of their academic achievements and facilities etc. It’s also very pretty.

I preferred the English course at Oxford and Oxford is closer.

I liked the look of the English course at Oxford because it placed a great deal of emphasis on older English Literature, something which I’m very interested in.

Jesus College stood out because of its links to Wales and it also has a (relatively-speaking) high state-school intake. It also seemed to me that my interests were quite similar to the interests of the tutors.

Preparation

yes

I had one mock interview with a woman from Cardiff University who had not studied English. It wasn’t particularly useful because the Oxford interview is so focussed on the subject, but it did help to build my confidence.

A mock interview is a good idea, but don’t expect it to work miracles. It is probably far more useful if the person interviewing you is a stranger that has studied your chosen subject. Most of the preparation (at least for English) has to be done on your own. I would recommend exploring an unusual area of English, such as Old English, not only because they’re often very interesting but the tutors will see that you have a keen interest in English literature.

Interview

yes

Sat the ELAT, it went OK, I thought. The main problem was the time pressure. In the test, I compared and contrasted an extract from an Alan Benett play with a modern poem about Rembrandt’s self-portrait.

yes

I had to submit one essay. I sent in my coursework from Year 12 (a discussion of the language in ‘The Color Purple’). The essay was not mentioned at all at interview.

no

I thought my interviews went reasonably well. I was given (terrifyingly enough) a third interview, this time with all four English tutors. I felt that I wasn’t as articulate as I could have been, but they must have taken my nerves into account.

There were no general questions asked such as ‘Why English?’ The interview focussed pretty much entirely on the poem we were given beforehand and then touched on writers I had mentioned on my personal statement.

Before each interview, I was given a poem (first a Renaissance sonnet, then ‘I Am’ by John Clare and lastly ‘The Hospital’) and 30 mins to annotate it. We then spent most of each interview (about 20mins) and all of the third one discussing it. I was asked questions such as ‘What do you think of the effect of this technique?’ ‘Can you see any other examples of where the poet displays this?’ The questions were very specific but had no right or wrong answers. The questions were also very specific with regard to my personal statement. They asked me about Old English (joy!) and who my favourite author was. I was also asked to talk about Rushdie’s narrative style (I had not expressed an interest in Rushdie, I had merely quoted him – if you mention somebody in your personal statement make sure you know about them). Other questions included (horrifyingly)’What was significant about when the interval was placed in the recent production of ‘Hamlet’ with David Tennant?’ and I was also asked about Richard the Second (the Shakespeare play).

A suit – it made me feel more confident somehow. Most of the others were wearing casual / smart-casual clothes, but hey I got an offer so a suit can’t have done me too much harm. I would probably recommend wearing one.

Impressions

Jesus is beautiful, although they have built a white monstrosity (temporary thankfully) in the second quad to house the kitchens whilst the old ones are being refurbished.

I stayed in college overnight. The accommodation was reasonable. I was sharing a spacious living room and bathroom with another interviewee. The bedrooms were small and the beds uncomfortable and everything could have done with a new lick of paint but that’s what you expect of student accommodation.

It was delicious and varied. There were plenty of vegetarian options / halal as well, if you have any particular dietary requirements.

The tutors were exceedingly kind and made an effort to make me feel at ease. They said at the start ‘There won’t be any trick questions etc.’ and made me feel more relaxed about the whole thing.

They were OK, all posh and English of course, slightly undermining Jesus’ identity as the ‘Welsh College’, but they all seemed quite friendly.

Final stage

I was nervous and couldn’t sleep. I kept running the interviews over in my head. My advice is to try and avoid thinking about them.

My mum called from downstairs, ‘There’s a letter here. Return address – Jesus College.’ I went down, shaking, and opened it. Then I jumped up and down and smiled a lot.

Looking back

YES!

Be prepared. Read widely outside of your syllabus and make sure you note down your favourite authors on your personal statement. As I said earlier, it’s probably a good idea to explore a relatively obscure area of English Literature. Try to enjoy it (I actually did enjoy my first interview, the others were a bit scarier). When you’re discussing a poem try and link in other works (e.g. this line expresses a similar sentiment to that expressed in Shakespeare’s Sonnet no.18) to display your knowledge of literature.