Application

 Oxford

 St Hilda’s

 English Language and Literature

 2002

 offer made

Applicant

 A-levels

 pre-qualification

 N/A

 N/A

 Independent – selective

 yes (2 A*,6 A,2 B)

A-levels

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

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

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

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

Details about the offer

 conditional

AAAB

yes

Oxford is my first choice if I manage to meet my difficult offer! Followed by St. Andrews.

yes

yes

 grades pending/unknown

Decisions about the application

Oxford offered the most interesting course, but also a tutorial system, of which the academic vigour was particualarly attractive. Basically, I wanted a challenge.

Oxford as a town, seemed to have a life outside of the university, unlike Cambridge which seemed claustraphobic. Additionally, I believed the course at Oxford had greater breadth.

After visiting several college open days, I found that St. Hilda’s was friendly, relaxed and neither too large nor too small. The English department there was really strong and the fellows supportive.

Preparation

yes

My school offered weekly classes on poetry and an introduction to literary criticism. Although, I didn’t believe these to be particularly useful at the time, in hindsight it is important to have a varied knowledge of poetry for your interview.

The form: I think the most important thing is how you write rather than what you write. There is of course a chance that the tutors won’t read what you write, but if they do, this is your first chance to show of your writing style.

The interview: Firstly, know your set texts inside out, along with each and every aspect mentioned on your personal statement.
Secondly, look up the aspects which differentiate your cource from other universities.
Finally, read widely and have an idea of different poetic periods.

Interview

no

yes

For English, I had to submit two essays. My first was a piece of coursework on Hamlet, which I felt showed in depth personal study and my second was a homework essay on Duffy, with emphasis on context. The colleges do ask for work that isn’t rewritten, which I submitted, so I would recommend not stewing over any work repeatedly

no

I had two interviews on the same day. My first was with one man and mainly based on my set-texts and the second was with two women which was more conversational about my literary interests. I also had to analyse two unseen pieces of poetry.

In my first interview, the questions started out simply on one of my set texts:Keats. The interviewer then asked me to compare Keats with Eliot, an interest expressed on my personal statement. Each of these I was at least somewhat prepared for, but I was then challenged to find the significance of Keats’s Nightingale in Eliot’s the wasteland and Fitzgerald’s writing, which was particularly challenging. In my second interview, I was asked to discuss Beowulf, particularly from a contextual point-of-view and then to compare the ideas of revenge with Hamlet. I then recieved a piece of poetry wildly more difficult than in my first interview, which I had to discuss.

A black sweater and a Burberry kilt. I thought it was smart, but not overdressed

Impressions

Friendly and relaxed-everybody seemed willing to help.

My room was large, but very cold.

Good.

Every tutor I met was friendly and seemed to think me a worthy candidate. They were challenging but not pushy and I found this helpful for my interviews.

Very caring and supportive. Obviously they have been in the same situation in previous years, so they seemed genuinely pleased to offer advice.

Final stage

I jumped up and down, which I followed by screaming. Later, I realised how much work was in store, causing me to calm down rather quickly.

Looking back

YES! YES!

Even if people tell you not to apply or doubt your abilities, if you feel Oxford would suit you, then go for it 110%