Application

 Oxford

 St John’s

 History (Modern) and Politics

 2006

 offer made

Applicant

 A-levels

 pre-qualification

 home

 United Kingdom

 Comprehensive School

 yes (7 A*,2 A,2 B)

A-levels

(A at AS)

(A at AS)

(A at AS)

(A at AS)

(B at AS)

Advanced Extension Awards

(predicted NA; gained NA)

Details about the offer

 conditional

A in History, A in History

AAA

yes

yes

yes

I’ve received an offer from the LSE for ABB, it’ll be my insurance!

 grades pending/unknown

Decisions about the application

Well I went on a summer school visit to Somerville College, Oxford after my GCSEs for a week. I had a fantastic time and this, plus the obvious benefits (unrivalled international reputation, great facilities, tutorial system, you know the score!)

Well the summer school kind of brainwahsed me towards Oxford, plus they did my course (though as it turned out, this needn’t have mattered)

Combined the two subjects I’m interested most in, perfect! Having said that, I did consider applying for PPE for a long time, but was eventually put off by not having done A-level maths, and only getting a B for GCSE. (Though, they do stress that maths is not required)

I went on an access day to St. John’s for politics and it seemed good, I applied with 2 of my friends from my college. It’s a big college so if you want something smaller, Lincoln or Corpus Christi might be better. Having said that I’d definitely reccommend it.

Preparation

yes

I had one mock interview with a teacher from another college. Nice though he was, my actual interviews were totally different to that.

Some of my advice would be for you would be to go on as many access courses, summer schools etc as possible. It just allows you to become that much better acquainted with the application process as possible, and the whole interview process isn’t nearly as daunting as it would be if you were going down there for the first time.

Secondly, start early. Get familiar with the process and most importantly, regardless of your subject, do some reading. Nothing too arduous at first certainly, don’t be one of these people who give up all their social time, there’s no need.

Thirdly, think of the sort of things they could ask you at interview and consider this whilst writing your personal statement. I found the only part of my application they discussed at interview was my personal statement, and at that, only specific parts. They are not, for example, interested in extra-curriculars at all, I get this impression not only from my own interviews, but speaking to others about theirs. In English interviews, they didn’t ask my friends about books they’d read in their spare time for example. They’re very direct and to the point so don’t waste too much of your statement talking about your extra activities, interesting though these may be. On your personal statement, I would say dare to be different. These guys have to read hundreds of these, many of them, just like the one before; so if you can make yours different by adding some subtle humour, personal experiences etc all the better. I was castigated at my college for making mine too “personal” (what should I write I asked, an impersonal statement?) but I sent it anyway, and I honestly believe it helped me win a place at the places i applied. It’s easier to say I know, but try to make it interesting! If some of your teachers like it and some don’t, I’d say it’s a good sign!

Interview

yes

It was the HAT (history aptitude test). It’s unusual, and I think they only really use it to whittle down candidates before interview. The best advice I can give is to get the previous papers off the web and practice.

yes

One essay on the Asquith Liberal reforms. Just choose something you did reasonably well at (doesn’t have to be perfect) and more importantly something you’d be happy to answer questions about at interview. If you want to guarantee something they’ll ask you about it’s your work. Definitely go back over it several times and do some reading on the subject, I didn’t do enough and didn’t do as well as I could have done on this part I think.

no

Well I had 5. More than anyone there I think, I was there for 6 days (take some emergency clothes!). I had 2 on wednesday and 3 on Friday. The first 2 were unusual, I was really nervous for the first one but this lessened as the interview went on. Because I applied for history and politics it was split, 15 minutes on each. History part was great but the politics, christ it was bizarre. Started talking about the political implications of mountain climbing. Weird.

The second I had with a different set of tutors, half of the interview was based on a source piece (a timeline of Wythenshawe in Greater Manchetser, I ask you!) and the other about my personal statement. I had a bit of an argument with them really! I’d say it’s good to question what they’re saying but I probably went a bit far. After they’d offered me a place one of the tutors phoned me, she was very nice and said she had personally fought to get me a place but some tutors felt I had been too inflexible and as a result, very nearly didn’t offer me a place. Having said this, I think most people are too far the other way and won’t question anything or are too shy to do so.

I then had a further 3 interviews. One back at St. John’s, which went better. Then another 2 (all on the same day) one at Mansfield and another at Regent’s Park.

Smart casual, shirt and trousers with jacket for one, shirt trousers with jumper for the others. I don’t really think they care what you wear.

Impressions

St. John’s was nice, some people were abit snotty but most were great. It’s a big college with great facilities.

I didn’t see much of Mansfield but I know it’s small but it seemed like a nice place.

Regent’s Park is a PPH and as such is very small. It’s also quite religious (though they stress that you by no means have to be religious to go there) I was hoping I wouldn’t get an offer there though, as I’m not religious at all and it just seemed too small for me.

St. John’s rooms I’m told are some of the best in the university. In the Tommy White buildings they’re really big and well furnished. Bathroom between 2 and a kitchen between 4. Having said that a girl who was in the older part of the college had a mouse in her room! JCR isn’t as good as others though. There’s a good games room and the hall is nice (though they all are). Think it’s fair to say food is quite variable but decent. I had a friend at Wadham who was down there the same time as me. That seemed nice, better food than John’s!

As above

They were very pleasant, friendly, but to the point. Didn’t have one I disliked.

Again, friendly, one was so unbeliveably quintessentially oxford I can’t tell you.

Final stage

Mixed, I thought me being interviewed so many times was a good sign, that they must be trying to get me in somewhere. Having said that you never know, the phone call was a huge relief.

A lady from St. John’s phoned me and said that they couldn’t offer me a place for history and politics but could for straight history, would I be interested in accepting. WOULD I???

Looking back

Definitely!

Everything I’ve said, with the proviso, just give it a go and hope for the best! What’s the worst that can happen? You get rejected, so what? You%