Application

 Oxford

 St Catherine’s

 History (Modern) and Politics

 2008 (deferred entry)

 offer made

Applicant

 A-levels

 pre-qualification

 home

 United Kingdom

 Comprehensive School

 yes (9 A*,1 A,1 B)

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)

Details about the offer

 conditional

A in History, A in History

AA

yes

no

 grades pending/unknown

Decisions about the application

All the normal reasons, its oxford, a degree from there can get you anywhere. I liked the city, its really pretty, and i loved being in a place where you’re constantly intellectually stimulated, even just sitting around n the common room, and talking to so many clever people which makes you clever too!

Cambridge don’t do history and politics, and I didn’t want to do straight history or their social science course because I’m not interested in sociology or psychology particularly. I was all set for Cambridge though, until i went there and realised i really hated it, it was so small and unimpressive and i just didn’t like it, so started looking at Oxford instead.

I love history and politics from doing them at A level, and particularly political history and looking at the past and finding links and similarities to the present, so why not learn both together.

I wanted to go somewhere big and modern (so all the pluming worked!), and St Catz is cool and outside the town, but nice and big.

Preparation

yes

I had a mock interview with my teacher and a one of his uni friends, they were quite good, about the same level of non-aggression as in the real thing, but so much more difficult, which i suppose is good. It didn’t go very well though, apparently i mumbled too much and didn’t say anything clever. In my lessons following he was always trying to make me speak properly, not sure it worked that well though.

Read around your A level topics for history, particularly if you send in a school essay. Make sure you’ve read all the books you mention in your personal statement and know at least something about areas of interest you’ve mentioned. Think about arguments and counter arguments for things you read and research. Don’t worry too much!!

Interview

yes

HAT was about political history the year i sat it which was so great! I went through the past papers on the oxford website which helped so much, i got the idea of what the paper would be like a timings etc. I also asked my history teacher for some help before which was really good, especially about the primary source section. Make sure you revise the topics you’ve studied in history at least a little bit so you can write about them.

yes

I submitted one of the A2 essays we’d been doing which was fine. I’d done quite well so I didn’t have to do anything to it.

no

They were ok, I wasn’t too nervous sitting outside which was good, and the interviewers were really friendly and talked to me a bit before they asked me anything. I had panels of 2 people interview me both times, and they both asked questions, which gave some variety at least! In general they were scary but ok!

In the history interview they asked me about the essay I’d submitted (abut Germany) and the period in general and in its context, and linked it to the rest of Europe and the future of Germany. It was ok, felt good because it was about something I was comfortable talking about. For politics they asked everyone about the same two areas, world government and why we obey the law. I though this was hard and kinda harsh, it seemed more at home in a law or PPE interview. But everyone was in the same boat so it wasn’t so bad.

They asked about the ways leaders try to unify people (I started talking about politics and Sarah Palin and then realsied it was a history interview), and about why communism is so repressive. For politics they asked me about the EU which I’ve never studied so that wasn’t too good, and about traffic lights, should we go through red ones. The questions didn’t seem too bad which made me think they were going easy on me and no way would i get in.

I wore black trousers and a plain jumper (one pink, one yellow) to my interviews, nothing too smart and it was comfortable so i didn’t feel really self-conscious or up-tight.

Impressions

It was lovely, though i did go to an old collage and it was magical St Catz was nice because it was so well set out and organised.

My room was really nice, it was quite big and had windows all down one side with very exciting blinds in them. There was a sink in there too. The staircase was nice, there was a kitchen shared by about 10. The common room had a massive TV and a games room with poole and stuff in which was cool.

Yes, it was very nice, well i say nice, it was standard food considering they were catering for so many people, but obviously some of it was a bit gross. In general though they gave you loads and it was nice.

They seemed really helpful and approachable, and pretty normal which was shocking!! They were friendly and nice.

They seemed nice too, very helpful (though they were being paid to be so) and gave us lots of information and help which i frequently needed. They organised a few things to do in the evenings too which were fun. Seemed to work hard though :S

Final stage

I was feeling fairly chilled, i didn’t really rate my chances since there were 13 of us going for 2 places. It was my birthday in between too and you don’t want to be worrying on your birthday do you. Underneath it all though i was itching to find out!!

I saw the letter and tried to hide it from my mum, but no such luck. I opened it shakily and having read the first line about ‘pleased to inform you…’ i started screaming and jumping about in an excited stupor! I was soooo happy!!

Looking back

Yes most definately, even if i’d been rejected becuase the pepole you meet there are so lovely and it is so good to talk to people who are cleverer than you and so get new ideas and arguments. It’s also really good fun and I did some shopping when i should have been at school. what could be better! Not only that it also made me much more confident and able to verbally express myself better.

Don’t worry! and no need to over prepare by reading everything ever written. Just breath and talk to other applicants, and you’ll be fine and hopefully relaxed! Also take some work to do while you’re there because it gets soooo boring. Try to get a mock interview or someone to help with talking through ideas, especially in politics away from studies, but other than that don’t worry!!