Application

 Oxford

 Exeter

 English Language and Literature

 2007

 offer made

Applicant

 A-levels

 pre-qualification

 home

 United Kingdom

 Comprehensive School

 yes (2 A*,7 A,3 B)

A-levels

(NA at AS)

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

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

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

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

Details about the offer

 conditional

A in English Literature

AA, excludes general studies

yes

no

It’s such an achievement to recieve an offer from Oxford, so naturally I’m going to accept the place and hope to meet the conditions

 grades pending/unknown

Decisions about the application

I applied to Oxbridge because I wanted a good education. University is a lot of money so I naturally want the best education I can get, it will be fantastic to be taught by world class tutors in my field.

I originally chose to apply to Cambridge, but after careful consideration I decided I would be much happier living in Oxford. In my opinion it has a lot more to offer, from shops to clubs etc. It is also easier to reach by train from Cumbria!

I’ve always loved English and I have a natural aptitude for it, so I wanted to develop my English education. The Oxford course is very wide and varied, and offers the opportunity to study English back to 1100.

Exeter is a friendly, medium sized college. It’s extremely pretty, has literary fame (Philip Pullman studied there, as did Alan Bennet) and it centrally located next to everything you need. It also has strong links with America, and offers a careers service for its’ students.

Preparation

yes

I had a practice interview in our library with my Head of year, a Maths teacher, a Doctor and a member of the local Rotary Club. There were no English teachers there, but it helped prove to me I could be confident in an interview situation.

Read widely, formulate your own opinions, and don’t be afraid to defend your views: yet don’t be too arrogant in defending them. The Tutors want to see that you have potential and you would be a pleasure to teach, so make them laugh, thank them for giving you the opportunity, yet prove that you are very enthusiastic and have the potential to succeed.

Interview

yes

I sat the ELAT on October 31st 2007. It contained six unseen pieces and you had to compare/contrast two or three pieces in any ways that seemed interesting to you all built around a particular theme, ours was “London.” Don’t worry too much about it, it only plays a small role in determing admission decisions, but do your best!.

yes

One piece of work.

no

No exams had to be sat because the ELAT had been taken.

I really enjoyed my interviews. Once you’re there sitting on the sofa it doesn’t feel like you’re really in an “Oxford” interview, you just feel as if you’re having a friendly discussion. We talked about the texts I was studying on my syllabus, as well as pieces I’ve read independently. I had one interview for 20 minutes on my first day, and another for 10 minutes the next. I was then told I could leave: considering I was the second applicant to be interviewed each day I was able to leave at 9.40 after the second interview. My interviewer told me I could go and didn’t have to hang around to wait in case any other colleges wanted to interview me-they’d obviously made up their mind!.

We discussed my syllabus and also my wider reading. There was a short meeting before the interviews and the English tutor outlined what would happen in the interview.

The first question I was asked was, “So what are you studying for A level?.” I then talked about McEwan’s “Saturday” and this led onto a lengthy discussion about “Mrs Dalloway” as I’m comparing the two novels for my coursework. My interviewer recited quotations of the novel, and I was asked what they meant and how the reader gathered meanings from these quotations. I was also asked what a “stream of consciousness” was, and was asked to explain how free indirect discouse contributed to the novel. We then moved onto discussing a poem we’d been given an hour before the interview, which was a metaphysical poem, and I was asked what particular lines mean, what the poem meant, who was speaking etc.
The day before the second interview we were told that we would be asked to discuss anything we hadn’t already discussed in the first interview, so I took the opportunity to discuss Plath’s poetry which I read in my spare time. When talking about “Daddy” I discussed how it sparked critical debate about authorial background etc. This was the interview where I was tested more on defending my views and arguing a point to the the interviewer. You have to be able to keep on your toes with the questions. I kept talking so much I had to stop, take a breath, and say “Sorry I’ve got too many ideas!” a few times.

I wore smart pants, with a smart top and some pearls. They don’t mind what you wear, just don’t be scruffy. Make a clean, presentable impression!.

Impressions

Exeter is a great college!. It’s medium sized, but it’s hidden down a lane, so you can tell it’s easy to escape the tourists and the busy hustle and bustle of City life. It’s near all the shops and centrally located next to the Bodleian library and the Sheldon Theatre as well as a few pubs, plus it’s only ten minutes away from the train station. The rooms are easy to find in the College, and the tutor’s rooms are lovely. Everyone was really friendly, and the Student helpers made you feel at ease with the whole process.

I had a third year student’s room, and it was huge!. It had two seperate rooms, one was a living area, then there was a smaller bedroom with the wardrobe and a sink. I’d have been very happy if that was my room as a Student but obviously it was for a third year!. First year rooms will be a lot smaller, and some of the other people I met came to look at my room and they said they had a smaller one.

Breakfast was fine, there was cereal, toast, tea, coffee and juice etc. The evening meal wasn’t particulary great, it was Pork in a kind of white sauce with rice that was still hard. So it wasn’t particularly wonderful that night but I only ate there once!. The Students took us for ice cream and hot chocolate later in the evening.

They were lovely and very welcoming. When you read about interviews everyone always talks about how they argued for ages with their interviewer. I dont know if it was maybe because it was an English interview but I wasn’t challenged that much, they just push you for answers and all you have to do is keep on your toes and offer thoughtful opinions.

They were lovely!. An English student met me at the Porters lodge and took me up to my room. Then there was a quiz in the JCR and there was the opportunity to meet other applicants. All the helpers were great and made you feel lots better!.

Final stage

To be honest I kind of put it out of my mind. People kept asking but I didn’t let myself worked up about it. Getting into oxford isn’t the be all and end all, but it’s wonderful if you do!. If you’re a good student there’s no reason why you can’t achieve anywhere else.

I knew it would be arriving before Wednesday 19th, so on the Monday morning I texted my Dad from school to ask if I had any letters. I did and he could see it was from Oxford, so on my Lunch he brought it up to school and I opened it in the car. Then I ran into school and told everyone!.

Looking back

Of course. I don’t have the best GCSE’s or the best AS level grades and now I have an offer. I remember thinking of applying in August and making big lists of the Collegs in order to narrow my choices down. You’ll never know if you don’t try and you could miss out on a big opportunity.

Don’t. Panic. Even if I hadn’t got in I’d have still seen it as a great exprience, I made so many friends and stayed in one of the best Universities in the world. I you go into your interview terrified you’re more likely to mess up. Don’t be arrogant, just be yourself, and show the interviewers you are enthusiastic and have the potential to succeed.