Application

 Oxford

 Jesus

 English and Modern Languages

 2006

 rejected

Applicant

 A-levels

 pre-qualification

 home

 N/A

 Comprehensive School

It’s a Welsh-language Comprehensive.

 yes (7 A*,4 A,2 B)

A-levels

(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)

Advanced Extension Awards

(predicted NA; gained NA)

(predicted NA; gained NA)

Other universities

no

Decisions about the application

I applied because it was a lovely place, I wanted the tutorial system and that I knew that they taught both English and German to an excellent standard.

Cambridge didn’t really stand a chance because I’d decided from the get go that it’d be Oxford for me.

English was (or so I’d thought) something I’d always been good at and something I’ve always enjoyed, as has both German and French. Plus, I thought that having taken a language to degree level would really help me, and a year out in Germany is always a plus!

I chose Jesus because that was where I went for the open day. My teacher also attended there, so I got to have a good idea of what it was like from her.

Preparation

yes

I had so many after school grammar sessions! Also had a few sessions with my English teachers and so many books to read.

Don’t stress yourself out or try to read too much. At the end of the day, you have a life to live, and Oxford is not the be all and end all. The mistake I made was stressing out too much, almost making myself ill in the process. I would advise revising grammar for foreign languages a lot and making sure you know the things you’re supposed to know thoroughly, but bear in mind that the test they give you is so far removed from what you’re expected to do at A Level, so it will be difficult.

Interview

no

yes

I submitted an essay on King Lear and one on an unseen poem for English. They didn’t ask me any questions on my essays. In fact, one of the tutors asked me if I’d read any Shakespeare.

For German, I sent in two pieces I’d done in the October before the interviews on two different topics that we had looked at. I wasn’t asked about these either.

yes

As said before, I had to take the horrible grammar test. DO NOT GET DEPRESSED WHEN YOU SEE THE SPECIMEN TEST! Honestly, I did, and it’s just not worth it. Even my German teacher had trouble with it, and she’s near fluent. Furthermore, when she showed it to her rather intelligent German friend, he remarked that it was clear that this test was obviously not written by someone German. So, I repeat, don’t worry too much about it!

My Modern Languages interview was first, and was pretty good because the tutors were so lovely. My English interview was HORRIBLE. The tutors literally laughed at me for two minutes, they made me feel very very small. Whether or not they’re actually nice otherwise, I don’t know, but they certainly did nothing to disprove the old Oxford stereotype, and I came back feeling like I wasn’t entirely certain that I wanted to pay Ł3,000 a year being taught by people who get a kick out of putting 17 year olds down.

In my Modern Languages interview, I was given two pieces to look at and annotate, one in English and one in German, and I had 40 minutes to read both. I was also required to speak German for the last two minutes of my interview.

In the English interview, it was pretty basic, nothing to read or annotate, just them firing questions at you.

In Modern Languages, I was asked why I wanted to study the course and was asked specific questions on the pieces I was given. I didn’t fully understand the German piece, but the tutor was lovely and guided me through it. Then I spoke two minutes of really bad German.

In English, they also asked me why I wanted to study the course, and then was belitted for not having read much German Literature. They then asked me what modern literature I had read recently, if I had read any Shakespeare and that was about it.

If I could give feedback on those English tutors, I’d tell them to buck up their game and sort out their interviewing tactics, because they clearly don’t know how to get the best out of a student. I actually suspected that they hadn’t read my personal statement, because at one point in the interview, I mentioned being Welsh, to which they answered, ‘oh, you’re Welsh are you?’ … why yes, had you read my personal statement, you would know that not only am I Welsh, I speak Welsh fluently! So watch out for that!

I just wore smart casual because it was comfortable.

Impressions

It was really nice… I’m not one to get all sentimental over a building! I liked it at any rate.

My staircase was on Ship Street, and our rooms were pretty small… the ones in the college itself were a lot bigger. It suited me at the time, but I would have been very displeased to have a room that small and have to pay loads for it had I been studying there.

It was alright.

Ah well, you should read my rant above for that!

Modern Languages : nothing but praise, so lovely!
English : Made me feel like I was nothing but dirt on their shoe. Glad I don’t have to see them ever again!

They seemed pretty cool!

Final stage

Annoyance. The post was being very very very slow.

I walked downstairs, opened the letter, and said ‘Ok, whatever, at least I know now’. I was a little upset the night afterwards, but I realised the next day that it doesn’t really matter at all. If I’d been accepted, then I’d know that perhaps the English tutors were using tactics, but having been rejected, I think that they were just reacting to what they thought was a bad candidate, so I don’t have a great deal of respect for them, as is evident! Don’t be put off English at Jesus just because of me, because maybe they’ll actually like you, because they obviously didn’t like me and I didn’t like them! Just don’t let them walk all over you if they didn’t like you.

Looking back

Yes. If only for the fantastic week I spent there. I advise you visit G&D’s and Ben’s Cookies. When you arrive there, go to the JCR and socialize, because you’ll meet such cool people there!

Don’t get stressed! Realise that Oxford is not the be all and end all and that it is not worth feeling like you are worthless over it. Don’t let your confidence be shattered! Most of all, have fun and meet loads of people!