Application

 Oxford

 Hertford

 English and Modern Languages

 2006

 rejected

Applicant

 A-levels

 pre-qualification

 N/A

 N/A

 Comprehensive School

 yes (9 A*,3 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)

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

Other universities

yes

N/A

Decisions about the application

It’s the only place which offers this course, other places have variations on it, but I liked the emphasis on literature. There are, of course, the standard benefits of the tutorial system, etc. I wasn’t going to apply as I thought it would be quite pretentious, and that the people would annoy me, but all my teachers said I would get in, so I thought I may as well. (Teacher’s power of prediction- rubbish)

Let’s face it, Cambridge is a nothing place. Apart from the university it is fairly small, with not a lot to do. They also don’t do my course.

I love these two subjects- I have always been passionate about English and I find Spanish culture and language fascinating. I cannot imagine not doing either of these subjects, I am really interested.

Hertford seemed far less pretentious, and this was proved correct when I went for interview- the people were really down- to- earth and nice. They let you walk on the grass during the open day as well, which is definitely a good sign.

Preparation

no

No, I had no help and did all in my own time. It’s annoying, there were other people there who had had lessons on how to do the grammar test, interview techniques, what to say and on the literature of their target language, so be warned, that people there will have had A LOT of help.

Well, I had really been swotting up for the past 6 months, I could speak about different literary periods of Spain, the lives of authors and different levels of criticism (all in Spanish, just to boast, but they didn’t ask me about ANY of it. Be advised the spanish interview will be in English, and that they will not ask anything about your personal statement.

Interview

no

yes

2 for English, 2 for Spanish. They say not to write pieces specifically for Oxford. I didn’t, but I would advise others to do so. This is a literature course, they don’t want pieces about the population distribution in Mexico, even though that’s what we were doing in class.

yes

One freakishly difficult Spanish test. Don’t even try to revise, they ask you about everything and the vocab is so random that it cannot be predicted.

It went fairly well (I thought). I understood the poems in both the english and spanish one, and could discuss them comprehensively. I was thrown on discovering the spanish one was in English, and was eagerly waiting for them to ask me on my personal statement.

Just to say- I think maybe I showed a little to much of a less- serious personality for Oxford. That doesn’t mean I did a strip- tease or stand-up comedy act or anything, I just chatted and tried to lighten the mood a little. On reflection- you have to remember that the people interviewing you were not the fun ones at school, they were the ones who discussed literature in their lunch breaks. Don’t try to lighten the mood, I don’t think they understand.

They asked a lot on the poems they gave me, and really picked out single words and made you analyse specific aspects. A lot on the essays I sent in- DON’T send in courswork you did months before (like me)because trying to talk about something you did months before doesn’t work. The only question I was asked in Spanish was ‘Have you ever been to Spain?’

I wore a smart/casual winter skirt, and a jumpery thing. It is VERY cold up there, and the only people wearing suits were the uncomfortable looking ones. Hertford is not a hugely formal college, so don’t dress up.

Impressions

It was lovely, the people were lovely, the students were lovely, I would have loved to have gone.

Good sized rooms, lots of shelves and things. Showers good, all good. Very useful heater positioned near the bed.

It was fairly good actually, there were a few unidentifiable objects, but on the whole it was filling and good.

They were really nice (even though they didn’t want me) and I would have been very pleased to have been taught by them. They were interesting, nice and (obviously) very knowledgeable.

They bustled around a lot, but I suppose they had a lot to do. They seemed nice, and friendly. They looked like they were interesting, and I would have liked to have been one!

Final stage

You just want to find out, it sucks not knowing. It’s worse when your friends get in, and when you still don’t know.

I was a bit miffed, as EVERYONE said I would get in. However, I know it’s a bit of a lottery, and I trust the tutors to have decided that I wasn’t suited to the course. I also know lots of very clever people who didn’t get in, so am not heartbroken or anything.

Looking back

FREE BOARD AND LODGING IN THE HEART OF OXFORD FOR 5 DAYS DURING PRIME TIME FOR CHRISTMAS SHOPPING!!!! Need I say more? Also, my standards in Eng and Spanish improved a lot due to the extra work I was doing, and it was a great experience. Just to have the half hours talking to the tutors was great as well, it’s nice to chat to people who really know their stuff.

Write a list of stuff you don’t want to say, so you can avoid it. Be warned that they pick up on every little point you make, and be very careful what you say. Don’t try to be chatty, and don’t let your subconscious tell you you will get in. If they think you think you’re in, you’re not.