Application

 Oxford

 Trinity

 English Language and Literature

 2003

 offer made

Applicant

 A-levels

 pre-qualification

 N/A

 N/A

 FE College

 yes (4 A*,3 A,1 B)

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)

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

Details about the offer

 conditional

A in English Literature, A in French

AAB

yes

yes

yes

At the moment, accept Oxford (AAB), not sure about insurance – could be Warwick(ABB) or Nottingham …if they offer me!

 grades pending/unknown

Decisions about the application

Complex! Didn’t really think about it till the end of year 12, never really considered myself as a particularly strong applicant but thought might as well give it a go. Was curious to get an insiders view on what interviews are really like as well! Went on open day and really liked the atmosphere, all the traditions, wealth of history etc. Plus was pretty keen on doing a lit based French course and Oxford is pretty much the only uni (apart from Cambridge) that offers that!

Well, there really wasn’t any choice. Cambridge don’t do my course! But I’ve known loads more people who went to Oxford so I think it would have been Oxford anyway!

Well, went on open day, LOVED it. It is gorgeous! But yeh, apart from that, it seemed to have everything that i wanted accomodation and food wise, +I had a friend who was already there+ my English teacher seemed to have a vague recollection of it as being good for English. At the end of the day though, I don’t think your choice of college affects your application or your chances of acceptance overly. Just go for the one you would most like to live in….and ignore the ratio things!

Preparation

yes

Well, they tried – I had three mock interviews – one english, one french, one ‘personal’ – but they were a bit of a waste of time really, all degenerating into ‘informal chats’ and none of them nearing anything like the real thing. Basically, from my experience, i would say you can’t prepare for an Oxbridge interview though, as they didn’t ask any of the things I was expecting….best tip for a practice interview is just to try and get used to talking ‘deeply and intellectually’ to someone, without cringing at how trite you sound. they really like it at Oxford if you can manage to convey your enthusiasm/ love for subject when you talk – so work on that!!:-)

The form: Oxford one is pretty easy really. Check your spelling! For the written work submittal form, check you write the right title on each cover sheet! I had to send 4 and rushed filling them in on the day before the deadline, and so wrote the wrong title on one and had to resort to using tip-ex….!

The interview: Read loads! w/o getting paranoid. for english, think about the more abstract issues it entails, the influence of context, what is genius, universality, how does lit communicate, the relationship between english and the other arts, what makes something classic……… they like it if you can discuss that sort of thing and having discussed this sort of thing in my English AE lessons really helped me.
For french, don’t get hung up about the conv in french, cos that really worried me. Read as much French Lit as you can. I think that’s what the French tutor found impressive about me that I had read a lot independantly. And read works from diff periods as well. Read english translations….but read!

Interview

no

yes

4 essays, 2 for English, 2 for French. English I submitted AS and A2 level coursework because i felt they showed my writing skills at their best and also covered all three genres of poetry, drama and prose, (aim to do this if poss cos they need to be convinced you can handle all three!) French, I submitted another English essay on Frankenstein to show I could evaluate texts, and an essay in french on racism. This was written specially cos I didn’t have to write any ‘essays’ as such for AS. Again, don’t get too stressed about written work, I think they really mean it when they say they don’t want it to be re-written, it’s just to check you’re a coherent writer.

yes

French Grammar Test, this wasn’t too bad, but obviously designed to see whether you had learnt grammar thoroughly. There was a whole page of questions where you had to explain grammatical points so make sure you know grammatical terminology…indirect object pronoun etc!

Well, they talked to me+i talked to them!
I had 2 which wasn’t many compared to some of my friends!
English – The whole interview was totally devoted to a discussion of the poems they gave me 20 min before. And they ripped those poems apart! Their questions were almost totally on themes/ideas/concepts within the poems not really on any technical linguistic features, tho i tried to weave those into my answers! Only right at the end did they pick up on some things I’d said in my answers to ask about more ‘abstract’ issues related to English generally eg. ‘What is it that makes something classic? Would you ever dispute generally accepted critical opinion on this?……But nothing on my personal statement, own interests, books I’d read. And nothing even close to ‘Why Oxford?why english and french? Why trinity?’ I think they deliberately try to be unpredictable!
French – only one interviewer this time. More of an informal chat, again based on a text i was given 20 minutes before, but questions much simpler, to do with comprehension, style, etc. Then he asked me my favourite french author and i waffled (very vaguely) about Camus and the three novels I’d read by him for a while and that was it! Tip: dont talk about Camus if you have someone to talk about (annoyingly i did!) bcos every single French applicant i talked to had ( about L’Etranger) i think to be different can never be a bad thing!

see above. Generally, esp with French they do let you steer the interview, so think about what you say carefully+be prepared to justify it with quotes+examples! the French question in my French interview was ‘Tu connais la France deja?’ Really simple.

Pin-stripe gray trousers + white jumper – English
Black flared trousers + stripey chenile jumper – French Generally, the other applicants weren’t as smart as I anticipated so just wear what you feel good and comfortable in. And be warm!

Impressions

Trinity’s gorgeous. I’m getting decidedly attached to it now I got in! 🙂

My room was really nice, ensuite. nothing to whinge about at all really! (which seems to be the aim of this part!)

Excellent

It’s great, lots of choice, lots of it. Apparantly Trin has the best food in Ox. Not sure I’ll be able to stomach two big meals a day though!

Nice! English guys were complete academics but still friendly and approachable, and they never made me feel a pathetically thick+presumptious specimen of humanity like part of me feared they were going too

Lovely! No, really nice normal ppl apart from (some of them) being abnormally intelligent! all the helpers were really friendly.

Final stage

Well I was pretty much convinced I hadn’t got it so I didn’t want to open it. Pulled out the two booklets they sent with it first – ‘affording oxford, ‘+oxford bursuries’ which gave me courage to read the rest! Completely hyper afterwards danced around my house+ txted everybody!

Looking back

Yes it was a worthwhile experience definitely! Come on people, you get off school for four days!

Go for it apply! I really didn’t think I’d have much chance of getting in and I did so…..give it your best shot! And for the interviews: Smile and be enthusiastic, no matter how cheesy you feel!