Application

 Oxford

 Brasenose

 English Language and Literature

 2009

 rejected

Applicant

 A-levels

 pre-qualification

 home

 United Kingdom

 Comprehensive School

 yes (2 A*,7 A,2 B)

A-levels

(B at AS)

(B 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)

Other universities

yes

no

Decisions about the application

Well, I got my 3As in August and by that point had decided to apply for English, and not Psychology as I’d originally planned.
I’d been to an English Open Day at Oxford and liked the talks we’d had…I just thought I might as well.

I live about half an hour from Oxford, love the city, know it fairly well etc. I knew very little about Cambridge, other than the fact that they look at your UMS scores, which scared me because mine weren’t that amazing.

..Because I love English! I liked that it was Language as well as Literature; I’d be interested to learn about the development of the language. I also just loved that the course covers a large amount of time, learning literature which I would be able to make no sense of otherwise.

One of the talks at the English Open Day was taken by one of the Brasenose tutors and I recognised her name when I was flicking through the prospectus. I looked her up and found that she specialised in areas which I wanted to learn more about, as did the other tutor there.
Also, Brasenose is old, pretty, traditional, central, big but not huge…sounded like the right one for me.

Preparation

yes

My English teacher put me in contact with a girl who’d just graduated for English from Pembroke. I sent her my personal statement and she went through it a few times. Then she sent me some mock packs of unseen texts for preparation for the ELAT…and THEN she came and did two mock interviews with me, as did a couple of other teachers at my school.

I’d really recommend mock interviews, as they made me feel slightly less nervous.
For the ELAT, do the sample paper on the internet because you’ll find that the paper is probably unlike any exam you’ve taken before.

Interview

yes

An ELAT.
Where you pick two or three extracts from a group of six, all loosely based around the same theme. Then you just have to talk about them in any way you see fit; it’s kind of enjoyable because the amount of freedom you’re given to talk about whatever you want.

yes

AS Coursework. If I were applying again, I’d probably choose to submit something a bit more recent because I feel like I’ve improved at English since I wrote it.

no

I actually felt that they went fairly okay. My first one was straight away on the Sunday morning, when I totally wasn;t expecting there to be any interviews as we’d just arrived. I found it difficult because the tutor gave no acknowledgement as to whether or not I’d said anything remotely intelligent. It’s actually quite unnerving.
The second was better, I was challenged a few times but I argued my point and came to some sort of compromise.

For both interviews I was given extracts. For the first I had two; a poem and some prose and I found both fairly difficult. I think I probably let myself down with them because I didn’t push myself far enough with them. They also asked me questions about something which I later found out was a very specific Romanticism term.
The second, I was given a poem which I was much more comfortable with. I went straight for some detail in it and it kind of set the conversation.

First interview:
-He asked me whether I’d been to that English open day which I had been to…He didn’t even ask. it was more like a statement.
-He asked what I thought of the poem, what I thought it was about. and then just more specific questions about it.
-Then he asked about the prose, what I thought “sublime” meant..(because thats what it was discussing), what the term “sublime” meant to me, could it be applied to literature…I said maybe Keats, and then he asked me more about that.
-Then I was asked what I enjoyed reading.

Second Interview:
-What did I make of the poem, I went into some detail, she picked up on something I said and went with it…She was basically just trying to get me to make sense of it.
-She asked what texts I’d studied at school and then asked which one I’d like to talk about and what aspect of that text I’d like to talk about. she picked up on something I said and argued against it and I agrued back etc etc. and we came to a kind of joint conclusion.
-Then she also asked me about what I enjoyed reading.

First: A white and grey striped shirt, green jumper, grey smartish trousers.
Second: The same trousers and a cowl-necked grey top.

Impressions

Brasenose is beautiful, it seemed really friendly, all the hosts were very helpful, took us for ice cream etc. It seemed really quite big, too.

My room was pretty nice. It was big-ish, had a bed, loads of shelves, an armchair, a desk. it had a lovely view out onto the new quad and I could see the Radcliffe Camera from my room. It seems that rooms vary massively; one girls room was absolutely huge, had everything my room had, plus a sofa, wardrobe and a bay window looking out into the high street.

It was quite nice! There was loads of choice for breakfast, dinner was fine…not amazing, but alright.

Really lovely. Like I said, it’s difficult to gauge what they think of you and what you’re saying but I did find them very nice…The first man made jokes etc, they really put me at ease (or tried to, at least)

So so helpful! The minute I got in I had people coming to me checking I was alright, knew where i was going etc. The ones taking to your interviews were really nice too. Everyone was lovely :]

Final stage

It was kind of hell-ish. I’d heard that some people had been phoned on the Friday night by the English tutors to say that they’d been offered a place, so I kind of knew I hadn’t gotten into Brasenose. And then on the Saturday, no letter came, but then my friend got an offer. Then Monday came and again, no letter.
I’d sort of given up hope by th Sunday evening.

I went shopping on the Tuesday and texted my mum from a Wagamama to ask if the letter had come. It had so I got her to open it and read it on the phone. I was actually okay, I’d almost recommend it because being out with a friend was a good distraction and it also meant some pretty quick retail therapy.

Looking back

Yes and no. Yes because I did really enjoy my time at Brasenose, I’m so proud of myself for even getting an interview because that course at that college was particularly competitive this year. I met some really nice fellow applicants and had some relatively intelligent conversations with some very very clever tutors.
However, the process it really very stressful, it takes up so much time and effort and you can’t help but get emotionally involved in it.

Don’t see it as the only place which you could ever go to, don’t set you heart on it.
In the interview, totally be yourself, be honest and see the whole thing as a conversation.