Application

 Oxford

 Regent’s Park College

 English Language and Literature

 2006

 offer made

Applicant

 A-levels

 pre-qualification

 home

 United Kingdom

 Independent – selective

 yes (4 A*,6 A)

A-levels

(A at AS)

(A at AS)

(A at AS)

(A at AS)

Advanced Extension Awards

(predicted Distinction; gained NA)

Details about the offer

 conditional

AAA, Excluding General Studies

yes

N/A

 grades pending/unknown

Decisions about the application

Prestige, the tutorial system, Oxford itself, its reputation for English

I used to live in Cambridge and found it a bit small and limiting. I also preferred the Oxford English course.

Obvious choice for me- I couldn’t think of a way I’d rather spend three years.

I applied elsewhere and got pooled to Regent’s Park, but wouldn’t consider rejecting the place- a place at Oxford is a place at Oxford- and I feel lucky to get one at all considering the odds.

Preparation

yes

A little- I had a few interviews and a couple of extra lessons.

It doesn’t matter about how much you’ve read at all; what really counts is how much you’ve thought about what you have read. Read everything on your personal statement and, most importantly, read around everything you’ve read for your AS Levels and for the topics on which you’ve submitted your essays. Make sure your essays are the best essays you’ve ever written.

Interview

no

yes

Two essays on any topic.

yes

I had to write an essay while I was there on one or both of two poems.

I had three; one at my first choice college and two at Regent’s Park College. The first was terrible and the second and third much better.

In the first I was mainly asked about the essays I had submitted. The interviewers were unfriendly and intimidating. They asked nothing about my personal statement or A/ AS course. Instead, I was asked to comment, in technical detail, about the poems I had been given prior to the interview, and about Keats. We talked a little about Henry Green, and a little about Shelley.

In the second and third, I was asked about two poems (one by Larkin and one by Byron) and asked to contrast the two. I was given some unseen prose and then asked, much more generally, about topics of literature which interested me.

The first:
What do you think about literary theory? Is it still relevant? What do you think makes language poetic? What is poetic language? What do you think of Keats in the light of Shelley’s ‘Adonais’? How does Keats fit into the philosophical spectrum of the other Romantic Poets? Why does Henry Green use gerunds for the titles of his novels? Are they gerunds? What else could they be? What is the metrical structure of ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’? Is this significant? What is the ‘carrion comfort’ of ‘Carrion Comfort’? Can you contrast this poem with ‘Hamlet’?

In the second I was asked about anaphora, alliterative chiasmus and diacope in the Byron and Larkin poems. I was given a passage from Chaucer and a passage from the Bible, in Latin, Old English and English, and asked to comment on the grammar. In the third I was asked mainly about my interests; we ranged from DH Lawrence’s characterisations to a discussion on ‘Hamlet’ in the light of Aristotle’s definitions of tragedy.

Jeans. It doesn’t matter.

Impressions

Corpus Christi was beautiful. It had a very friendly JCR. Regent’s Park was much nicer than I had anticipated.

Very comfortable.

Just like good school food.

The tutors in Corpus were intimidating and arrogant. The ones in Regent’s Park were much warmer and encouraging.

Very clever, articulate and friendly. More unpretentious than imagined.

Final stage

Insomnia.

I got a letter from Corpus saying that they couldn’t take me but that I’d get an acceptance elsewhere. On the same day, I got a letter from Regent’s Park offering me a place.

Looking back

Yes.

Read around the subject but don’t worry about it enormously. I must’ve read a book a day for three months before the interview; I should’ve read about six and thought about them more. Try to be confident with your opinions in the interview, but not arrogant. The tutors don’t care what you think, they just care about why you think it. Remember that they are world-class experts, you are 17/18. Don’t plan answers; they won’t ask you about what you want to talk about.