Application

 Oxford

 Lincoln

 English Language and Literature

 2008

 offer made

Applicant

 A-levels

 pre-qualification

 home

 United Kingdom

 Independent – selective

 yes (8 A*)

A-levels

(A at AS (300 UMS))

(A at AS (300 UMS); predicted A; gained A at A2)

(A at AS (283 UMS); predicted A; gained A at A2)

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

(A at AS (294 UMS); predicted A; gained A at A2)

Advanced Extension Awards

(predicted Distinction; gained Distinction)

Details about the offer

 conditional

A in English Literature

AA

yes

N/A

 grades pending/unknown

Decisions about the application

To be absolutely honest, the main reason was because it was ‘Oxbridge’ – many of my friends’ older siblings had been, it was considered the holy grail of education by all my teachers and so it seemed the correct ‘next step’ for anyone academically inclined. It was only later, after I had visited Lincoln & the university itself that I began to want to go because it seemed like such an amazing and beautiful place.

I followed the sweeping generalisation that Oxford is for humanities and Cambridge for sciences. Also, one of my teachers told me that the Oxford English course does not specialise as quickly as the Cambridge course does, and I thought it would be preferable to have a broader, more general pool of knowledge before becoming intensely involved in one subject.

Because I love English! I spent a while toying with applying for Physics (because one ends up with a more desirable degree) and Classics (because there is a greater probability of acceptance) but in the end I realised that in order to really succeed, not just in applying but in actually completing your degree, you have to have a true and deep love for your subject. ‘Tactical’ subject choices tend not to work. I thought it wasn’t worth applying for such an oversubscribed subject as English and I managed to get a place – I’m confident that this was mainly due to the fact that the interview really brings out any passion you feel for the subject.

Lincoln was the most friendly college I visited, no one seemed pompous or pretentious and the library was absolutely stunning. And it’s extremely central – so you can easily pop down to the market or the bookshops. Moreso, however, the English tutors I spoke to were extremely interesting and approachable. You have to like the people you’re going to be taught by.

Preparation

yes

I received two interviews from my school and had a 10 minute discussion period in which I explained why I wanted to study English to other Oxbridge applicants. Privately I made notes on my favourite novels and read a lot of poetry.

None of my preparation came in use. The most helpful preparation was the interview, but mainly because it got me used to the format – so i wasn’t surprised when I got given an unseen poem and told to comment on it. I think now that you cannot really prepare – the whole point of the interview is that they stretch you beyond what you expect, and ask you to think in new ways. If you are able to think quickly and logically under scrutiny, and if you can argue articulately and eloquently under pressure, then you will do well in the interview. One girl in our year hired a private tutor, memorised quotes, spent hours in mock-interviews and yet she didn’t get in. In short, I’m not sure how useful preparation is.

Interview

yes

The Elat – I thought it went absolutely terribly, but the exams are meant to be hard, so it’s tricky to read into them. Don’t over-analyse the way it went, because you’ll never know your results. Also, the examiners are human – if you have a bad day but you’re strong on paper & you try your best in the interview, you can easily redeem yourself.

yes

This formed the main bulk of my interview – about 50-60%. The interviewers asked me questions on the novels I had written about, picked up on general themes in my essay and asked me to elaborate on certain points I had made. My personal statement was not mentioned once.

no

No exams during the interview process.

The first one went very well, but the second was harder – more intense and very detailed. I did feel as if they had gone well in general, but (again) you can’t base much on your initial reactions. The girl who majorly overprepared believed her interview had gone incredibly well, and other people thought they had flunked and still got a place.

The first interview was unseen poetry followed by a discussion of my essay. The second was unseen prose followed by a discussion of my essay.

Most were specific questions pertaining to my essay – I suppose the only question that really threw me was ‘What questions would you like to ask us?’.

A skirt and a proper shirt-thing. I wore it because I didn’t feel comfortable wearing a suit, but I wanted to dress up a little bit – ie not just wear jeans!

Impressions

Lincoln was lovely – it was extremely pretty and everyone was very friendly. To be honest, all the colleges seemed very nice – I think going to any of them would be a treat.

The accommodation was very varied. None of the rooms I saw were extremely small or cramped, but there is a noticeable size difference. The worst rooms were the ones on Turl street – although they weren’t far at all from the college, they were very cold. In terms of cleaniness and general quality though, the accommodation was very good.

Very good. Lincoln was rumoured to have the best food in oxford, and I agree. I’ve been to quite a few open days at various Oxford (and Cambridge) colleges, and Lincoln had the nicest ood, and the most generous helpings!

Extremely friendly – they were not aggressive or dismissive during the interview, and whenever I saw them walking around the college they always smiled and said hello.

Again, very nice and friendly, although I did not see that much of the.

Final stage

Very nervous.

I received a letter through the post on 23rd December, but I was away so only opened it a week later. It was very concise, and simply stated that I had received a place at Lincoln, stated the conditions (AAA) and enclosed was a form entailing details on bursaries/scholarships.

Looking back

Definitely! One of the most stressful but rewarding experiences I’ve had so far.

Don’t panic or over prepare. Don’t be psyched out by applicants who use obscure vocabulary or have memorised most of the works of Milton/ Shakespeare/ [Insert great author here]. The tutors are not looking for someone who can spout the history of literature at you, they’re looking for potential – and the interview process really highlights academic potential, not simple knowledge. It’s obviously useful to read about your subject and know what interests you, but you’re not expected to be an expert in it – you’re only expected to have the potential to become an expert.