Application

 Oxford

 Brasenose

 Mathematics

 2001

 rejected

Applicant

 A-levels

 pre-qualification

 N/A

 Russia

 Comprehensive School

 yes (6 A*,3 A,1 B)

A-levels

(NA at AS; predicted A; gained NA at A2)

(NA at AS; predicted A; gained NA at A2)

(NA at AS; predicted A; gained NA at A2)

(NA at AS; predicted A; gained NA at A2)

(NA at AS; predicted A; gained NA at A2)

(NA at AS; predicted A; gained NA at A2)

Other universities

N/A

Decisions about the application

The first British uni i heard of in Russia and fell under its magic spell…..

Went to both on Open Day. I could not warm to Cambridge as city and me and my friend had our room at college invaded by sleepwalking (?) old woman at 3am and no one believed our “ghost story”.
Oxford was much more beautiful and it had a tutor who specialized in Mathematical Biology and I decided he was the the tutor to cultivate my interests in boths Maths and Biology.

It was easy – perfect location and it had the tutor i wanted and besides, i was also tempted by lower application to places ratio which obviously doesnt tell you how many geniuses flock into one college.

Preparation

yes

I had a mock interview with lecturer from local university. People said it was useless, but it gave me good idea what to expect.

Read on everything in maths you can -it might seem very superfluous after the interview and most importantly practice STEP questions! Maths is very much like sport – talent needs practice training to get to top. Public school people are much better coached than state school people- so dont let them win.

Interview

no

no

yes

We did take two and half hours maths test – i didnt realize that there was specimen paper on the Net, but again it was much harder and I think it depressed us all until someone told me above 60% is good…Relief.. – or so I thought…

I had a couple of interviews at Brasenose and one at Christ Church. Missed the first interview simply because i was deaf and didnt hear my name being called out in noisy JCR. So it was rescheduled for 6.30pm with probably exhausted professor (who had interviewed 13 people in row on the same question) before.

One interview was based on curve sketching with the very same Biomath tutor whom i tried to impress by my knowledge of logistic equation (chaos theory). then late interview with tired professor based on very weird computer question – went through it like fog and didn’t take all the hints he was trying to give and the only thing i got right was simple permutation question. The next day in Christ Church (amazing building!) a tutor started with question how bad was my hearing. After “Urgh..” he then asked which maths equation i could remember from book outside A-level syllabus and if i knew proof. I didnt know proof so there we went. In the end it turned out to be some consequence of the Taylor series of which i was still ignorant then. But it was about how i could approach to new things. And i got to the proof not without bored sighs of the tutor. Then it was another interesting number theory question to prove that if a large number is divisible by three then sum of its digits is divisible by three too- which went painfully slow again – more of him answering his own question than I did.

Wear something comfortable in what you go to the school but with extra style. Saw some boys in “smart” suits which were totally out of their character.

Impressions

had a nice two room “flat” for 4 days and there was a bathroom in the landing to be shared by other “flats”. Some Fellow applicants didnt realize they had to open bathroom using their flat keys and went unfortunately large distances to public toilets.
But then i may have been in one of best rooms in Brasenose which is not exactly renowed for its accomodation.

Good

It was all free – meals, deserts, drink and fruits – so I took advantage of it as much as possible…

Both at Brasenose will try to put you at ease (not very successfully with nervous wreck like me though) and my first impression of the tired one was that he looked like Reg in the Coronation Street with a bow tie instead of stern oxford don. At the Christ Church i was too painfully aware of my thick head and being gormless. All he did was putting tick into paper when i got right and “Please continue with this step…”

I didnt speak to any of them, so can’t indulge in that they are all snobs

Final stage

After test I cried buckets so mentally decided it was over.

So six days later a letter came and through address window of the envelope I saw
“I am writing to you, with regret..” so I thought “serves me right”… A bit disappointed though, that prospectus didn’t deliver its promise that those who feel they did badly are the ones who get offer. Not me then…

Looking back

Not very nice to be rejected but no lesson that you can’t always win – is more apt than this

Dont do same mistakes as me
Practice STEP questions like you are in for a big Olympic event.