Application

 Oxford

 Somerville

 English Language and Literature

 2008

 pooled, offer made (Somerville)

Applicant

 A-levels

 pre-qualification

 home

 United Kingdom

 Comprehensive School

 yes (8 A*,2 A)

A-levels

(A at AS)

(A at AS)

(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)

Details about the offer

 conditional

A in English Literature

AAA

undecided yet

N/A

Decisions about the application

Because of the teaching – the tutorial system really appealed to me. Also, the history of the town is exciting, particularly its significance in literature.

Oxford as a town I found more attractive, and Cambridge specified that they would rather English applicants did not take Drama and Theatre Studies A2, which I wanted to continue with.

It’s a very broad, diverse course which spans a large time period, but also goes into detail about specific periods.

Preparation

yes

I had a mock interview with my headteacher who graduated from Oxford.

Read around your subject, but make sure you understand and enjoy when you’re reading – don’t read specifically for the interview, take it as an opportunity to read for pleasure and discussion. It shouldn’t be onerous, but engaging, and if that’s the case, that’ll come across in the interview.

Interview

yes

I sat the ELAT

yes

I had to submit a recent essay done as school work, but was not a timed essay.

no

Very enjoyable, although the process was quite stressful. The actual interviews I found really interesting.

I was given the choice of what to talk about in my first interview, which was really nice, and the tutors were very interesting and pleasant – I wasn’t embarrassed to ask for clarification or definitions when I was unsure.

Questions about why I enjoyed the books we were discussing, what I thought the significance of certain themes were. For example, I spent a long time talking about the politics in Paradise Lost, and its relevance in Frankenstein. I also discussed the significance of methods of communication in Heart of Darkness, none of which was daunting, as I chose to talk about all those books, and I initiated the discussion of those themes.

I wore a a smart/casual skirt and a comfortable jumper, because I wanted to feel comfortable, and not have to worry about what I was wearing. I wore more or less what I normally wear, but a little bit smarter, so I didn’t feel over- or under-dressed at the interviews. To be honest though, whatever you feel comfortable wearing is the best option.

Impressions

Beautiful! Academically charged, but friendly and engaging.

The accomodation was very good – I had a decent sized room with an en suite bathroom, a big desk etc. The only bad thing was that the heating wasn’t great and the bed was next to the window, so it was a little chilly at times!

Excellent.

Very friendly and communicative – I felt completely comfortable talking to them, during interviews, and outside of interviews.

Very helpful, and very welcoming. They were really supportive and understanding of interviewees needs, but were also friendly and fun to spend time with.

Final stage

Anxious! But it was a relief that the applications procedure was over.

I think I cried rather a lot, as did my parents, and then had champagne at 9.30am!

Looking back

Definitely – all of the stress involved in applying just convinced me that it was somehting I really cared about, so it was definitely worth it.

Don’t apply because of the prestige of the university; apply if you think you’d enjoy yourself there, and if you really care about your subject. Applying is a stressful experience, but if it pays off then that’s great, and if you don’t apply you might always regret it. If you do apply and don’t get in, then at least you’ve had the opportunity to discuss your subject on a level that you wouldn’t in school.