Application

 Oxford

 Balliol

 History (Modern) and Politics

 2005

 rejected

Applicant

 A-levels

 pre-qualification

 N/A

 United Kingdom

 Comprehensive School

 yes (4 A*,3 A,3 B,1 C)

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)

Advanced Extension Awards

(predicted NA; gained NA)

(predicted NA; gained NA)

Other universities

no

Decisions about the application

For its academic reputation and the tutorial system. I liked the city and the array of opportunities the university presented. I also liked the idea of studying with like-minded people in a challenging environment.

I always had a preference for Oxford (can’t really explain why) but my decision was cemented by the fact that Cambridge didn’t offer my course.

Because I enjoyed both subjects at school and the combination sounded interesting and broad. It left open a lot of career paths and was academically credible.

I was attracted to the college’s prestige and its social and academic reputation. After going to an Open Day I felt at home in the college and really liked all the people I met.

Preparation

no

I had a mock interview with the local Rotary Society which was fun but not at all like the real thing as they didn’t ask for copies of my personal statement or written work.

Don’t get too stressed (easier said then done I know)and make sure you’re up-to-date with all your current school work, as there’s nothing like feeling you’re getting behind with coursework etc while your interviewing – its just not a great feeling to have playing on your mind when you need to be entirely focused.

Interview

yes

I had to sit the HAT test (History Aptitude); it was a total disaster and was one of the factors that cost me a place. My school wasn’t aware I had to sit it until I asked them the night before the test and we had a moment of panic. I also didn’t really do the preparation needed. You really must try and sit a practice paper (you can print them off of the faculty website) and try and think of historical concepts and subjects you’d be willing to write about so you’re not shooting blind in the exam.

yes

This was another disaster area for me. My teachers hadn’t set me any essays that term, and when I got the letter from Oxford asking me to submit two by the next week I totally freaked out and they weren’t the best essays I could have written, which the tutors obviously picked up on. If you know you have to submit work for your interview, start requesting work early on. It might suck for a week or so, but it’ll be worth it come your interview.

no

My Politics interview went shite! Me and the tutor did not hit it off at all and I made some seriously daft comments about democracy which I didn’t actually believe. He aslo quizzed me on a book I’d put on my personal statement that I hadnt actually read (classic big interview mistake – don’t do it!)

My History interview went a lot better, but I still didn’t feel I was perfoming well enough and dodged a few questions that I really should have hit head on. They asked me about the essay I’d submitted and also a bit about my wider interests. I had put on my statement that I was interested in gender history, the essay I had submitted was on 16th Century Religious change and the interviewer kinda linked the two together in an odd way which totally stumped me.

I was also late to my History interview (but it WASNT my fault – honest!) they were very nice about it and didn’t seem too concerned, but still. If you think its gonna take you long to get there, ask to stay overnight in college the day before. I left home at 6am (and was knackered all day) and still got caught in traffic.

Politics:

– What did I think internal and external threats to democracy were?
– Did I think democracy was the final form of human government?

History:

– Printing in the 16th Century
– Gender History
– Social change
– Historians views

I wore a brown pencil skirt and some heels with a white shirt. The tight skirt and heels were probably a mistake as the sofas are really on the floor and sitting down was a bit hard. But I felt more comfortable dressed up. As long as you’re not scruffy I dont think they really care.

Impressions

I loved Balliol. It was really the reason I was so gutted to get rejected. Everyone was really nice. The food was good, the rooms were big and the tutors were lovely (especially the History tutors.)One of my friends was interviewing at Merton and I didnt really like the atmosphere there, so I felt I’d made the right decision.

Rooms were big, if a bit cold. There was a desk, a wardrobe, draws and bed. Im pretty sure there was earthnet connection too, and a phone in each room where you can call the rest of Oxford for free!

Really nice. Although trying to swing your legs over the benches to sit down was quite an experience.

I really really liked the History tutors – they were really nice and friendly and made me feel at ease. Wasnt so hot on the Politics tutor that interviewed me, but he was still very polite.

Really nice. Everyone was really friendly and helpful.

Final stage

I knew I hadn’t got in so it was pretty depressing. I only had to wait a week to find out though which wasn’t so bad.

Someone once said to me that if the letter’s thin – it’s a rejection and they were right. I cried my eyes out; then realised that I hadn’t given it my all and it was a fair decision.

Looking back

YES. I met some great people and it’s a really good experience whatever the outcome.

Have faith in yourself and if you want it – go for it.