Application

 Oxford

 Brasenose

 English Language and Literature

 2008

 pooled, offer made (St Catherine’s)

Applicant

 A-levels

 pre-qualification

 home

 United Kingdom

 Comprehensive School

 yes (5 A*,4 A,1 B)

A-levels

(A at AS (282 UMS); predicted A; gained NA at A2)

(A at AS (291 UMS); predicted A; gained NA at A2)

(A at AS (255 UMS); predicted A; gained NA at A2)

(A at AS (260 UMS); predicted A; gained NA at A2)

(A at AS (262 UMS); predicted A; gained NA at A2)

I had also gained a qualification in Creative Writing as part of the YASS scheme with the Open University. My school funded this course for me.

Details about the offer

 conditional

A in English Language and Literature

AAA, 3 A’s to be achieved. One of which must be in English Literature. General Studies does not count within this offer. Drama and Theatre Studies DOES COUNT!

yes

yes

N/A

I have applied for Warwick to do English and Theatre Studies, but having been offered a place at Oxford, I felt I could not refuse it! The reputation opens so many doors and the drama is second to none, despite its absence from the possible degree subjects.

 grades pending/unknown

Decisions about the application

I liked the idea of being able to say I go to Oxford!

My school sent me on a residential to one of my choice. I think I chose by the classic ‘ip-dip-doo’ method. There is certainly method in the madness though! Oxford has the biggest English faculty in the country and is a bigger place generally.

I didn’t really start ‘reading’ until a couple of years ago. I felt I had a lot of making up to do! So I applied to somewhere that would really push me.

Again, the ‘ip-dip-doo’ method was used. Brasenose is gorgeous, no doubt. I also had interviews at Jesus, St.Hilda’s and Catz (where I was accepted). The only college I didn’t like was St.Hilda’s! Catz is lovely and modern. 60s building, but not bad 60s!

Preparation

no

My school gave me no help whatsoever in terms of tuition or interviews. I was helped with my personal statement.

Don’t get worried. Before my first interview this guy came up to me saying, “Oooo, what are you planning to speak about in your interview?!”. I said, “God, I don’t know really. Haven’t thought about it.” The interview is a test of who you are and how you think. EVERYONE who turns up to interview would be good at Oxford and is very intelligent. They’re looking for the people who offer something more than academic prowess, which is something that is very easy to be good at!

Interview

yes

ELAT. This was a lovely test. 6 extracts, 30 minutes to choose 2/3, then 1 hour to write an essay comparing them. Mine were to do with art and I wrote about perceptions of beauty. If you want to cross-reference an author/poet/playwright do so briefly as it isn’t a test of wide reading! I referred to Blake only to illustrate a point I made about beauty. I was surprised by how much difference the test makes. When I turned up to interview, 72 applicants had been whittled down to 40 on the basis of the test, written work and personal statement. Qutie a hefty chunk!

yes

In the end I submitted a shoddy little timed essay that I had written months ago. It was on ‘Death of a Salesman’. I didn’t re-read it before interview and they didn’t ask me about it. Don’t know how much it meant.

no

No. Nothing. Just 5 interviews at 4 colleges!

Brilliant. The only awful interview was St.Hilda’s. I got in and they gave me an early 16th century religious sonnet. They read it to me and said I had a minute to think about it and then I had to discuss my views and ideas! Surprisingly that was the best part of the interview! They then asked me what I had read in the last year. “We don’t want to know why you were interested in the books, we just want to know what you have read.”…Hmm…Useful.

The two interviews at Brasenose were mediocre. My one at Jesus was good. The last one at Catz was easily the best for me. We spoke about drama after speaking about a poem they had given me 30 minutes before the interview (I had a poem in every interview!). I felt that was the only interview in which I really ‘performed’.

Nothing too surprising. Why was this poem written at that time? Why do you like Dylan Thomas? When taken out of context the questions seem difficult. But essentially they’re very logically ordered.

3 interviews I wore jeans, trainers and a shirt. 2 at Brasenose I wore smart trousers, shirt, jumper, shoes. I realised after my first 2 interviews that it doesn’t make ANY difference to them. I felt slightly more relaxed in jeans.

Impressions

Brasenose, wonderful architecture, slightly snobby, VERY FEW Northern applicants! Jesus, wonderful architecture, great for drama apparently. My friend applied there and his room was massive! A bedroom, a little ensuite, a little desk/lounge area! Hilda’s was crap. Did not like it. Beautiful surroundings, horrible tutors! Catz…Ah Catz! Big, spacious, modern, MASSIVE JCR, laid back people, no snobbery, liberal. I sat watching the Oxford/Cambridge rugby match before my interview! Go on Oxford!

Brasenose were pretty small ropms. Catz was massive. Jesus was a big college and my friends’ room was huge.

Yes

All good except one at Hilda’s. Especially welcoming at Brasenose and Catz. I had a nice cup of tea in one of my Brasenose interviews!

Brasenose, bit snooty. Hilda’s, lots of women! Jesus, didn’t see many, but the ones I saw were cool. Catz seemed pretty relaxed.

Final stage

Annoyed. Convinced myself I hadn’t got in when other people were hearing and I wasn’t! My letter came two days before Christmas! Great present!

I saw two letters in the box. One from Brasenose and one from Catz. I thought it was good news as soon as I saw that! My Brasenose one said ‘We cannot offer you a place but another college is interested and your application should be successful’. My Catz letter said Welcome to Oxford! 🙂

Looking back

For this feeling, yes! I very nearly applied to drama schools instead. But was convinced by parents and teachers who said I had a good chance and I shouldn’t pass up the opportunity.

Don’t worry if your letter is late! It doesn’t mean failure. Don’t worry before the interview! They want to see who you are. Don’t prepare answers! They will see through it. Just relax and you’ll be fine. It’s a good experience regardless of the outcome!