Application

 Cambridge

 St John’s

 Geography

 2003

 pooled, rejected

Applicant

 A-levels

 pre-qualification

 N/A

 N/A

 Independent – selective

 yes (9 A*,1 A)

A-levels

(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)

Other universities

yes

yes

I got a place at UCL but, depending on my results, I’m going to take a gap year and re-apply, probably to Oxford.

Decisions about the application

I liked the collegiate idea for which, of the three British universities that provide it, Oxbridge seemed to appeal to me more than Durham.

I found it a very tough decision (I visited Oxford 3 times and Cambridge twice!) but when I saw St John’s, Cambridge I just thought it seemed to stand out from the rest so I picked that one.

Wealthy, good size, on the river, good reputation.

Preparation

yes

Yes – 2/3 extra lessons a week for a couple of months and two practice interviews (which were really useful).

The form: Not really other than if you’re going to write anything in the extra box make sure it isn’t pretentious and is specific to your college and your course.

The interview: Make sure you know your personal statement well and know your course. If you have anything not on the syllabus which you find interesting it’s probably best to mention it on your personal statement as it’s not likely to come up otherwise.

Interview

no

no

no

I had two interviews of 20-25 mins, one straight after the other. My first was of a general nature,second interview was quite hard and all geography related.

First one was all extra curricular stuff and basics like Why Cambridge? Why Geography? etc Second one was all Geography and much more taxing. There were two interviewers who played good cop and bad cop, with the one asking me all the hard questions and the other being much more straightforward. Most of the questions were related to things on my personal statement, though sometimes only very slightly.

Smart suit. I wondered over what to wear but when I got there was relieved to find all the other candidates wore suits well. From what my friends said from their interviews it seems that Oxford candidates were slightly more casual than those at Cambridge, though that could be a sweeping generalisation!

Impressions

Very smart and very wealthy. Seemed like a nice place to live, especially being right on the river. However, it does seem that the rest of the Cambridge colleges have a fondness for hating St John’s so it may not be all that a popular place!

Ok – quite formal, not exactly relaxed but definitley friendly.

They seemed a good bunch of people, pretty sociable and welcoming. Seemed quite public school dominated though.

Final stage

Annoyance really because I had been pooled so I had to wait even longer to find out my fate and I could have received a phone call at any time to get a further interview, but I didn’t. By the time the actual rejection letter came I kinda knew I hadn’t got in anyway.

Looking back

Yes definitely because after doing Oxbridge reading and alike A-Level Geography seemed easier.

Go for it and don’t be bothered if you’re good enough or not. A friend of mine got no A*s at GCSE and AABD for AS but got an offer from St Cat’s, Oxford, so give it a try!