Application

 Oxford

 Merton

 Mathematics

 2006

 offer made

Applicant

 A-levels

 pre-qualification

 home

 United Kingdom

 Independent – selective

 yes (9 A*,2 A)

A-levels

(A at AS (277 UMS); predicted A; gained A at A2)

(A at AS (296 UMS); predicted A; gained A at A2)

(A at AS (296 UMS); predicted A; gained A at A2)

(A at AS (297 UMS); predicted A; gained A at A2)

(A at AS (270 UMS); predicted A; gained A at A2)

Advanced Extension Awards

(predicted Merit; gained Distinction)

(predicted Distinction; gained Distinction)

(predicted Distinction; gained Distinction)

Cambridge STEP Maths

(predicted NA; gained 1)

(predicted NA; gained 1)

Details about the offer

 conditional

A in Mathematics, A in Mathematics (Further)

A

yes

yes

yes

 offer met

Decisions about the application

The tutorial system ensures personal attention, whilst the course allows freedom of choice. The prestige of an Oxbridge degree is also second to none in the UK.

My Maths teacher urged me to apply to Cambridge, but I preferred Oxford, as the people seemed to be a little more down to earth, as well as the city being a lot nicer. STEP didn’t really have an impact on my application, as it might have done others.

It’s very flexible, and one of the most prestigious courses in the county.

Merton was not only beautiful, but also had really nice, reasonably cheap accommodation (for all 4 years of the course if I want), really nice tutors, really nice students, great location and excellent food! What more could you ask for?! They also have a very strong academic ethos, which suits me well.

Preparation

yes

A few extra classes (maybe 6/7 2 hour sessions) in a more tutorial style fashion on harder problems, the sort we might’ve got asked at interview. Just arming us more thoroughly, but not really any teaching, just methods of thinking. We also looked through some of the past written papers, and discussed our methods and answers.

Know C1-3 inside out. Otherwise hints given in the interviews may be meaningless, and the questions on the written paper may well be impossible.

Interview

no

no

yes

The 2-and-a-half hour written test – 40% is (varying from easy to tricky) multiple choice questions, 60% is on longer style questions, covering geometry, calculus, logic, functions. Anything can come up!

My first was really good, the interviewers were especially warm and friendly. My second was mildly horrendous, with the interviewers being comparably hostile, but still very nice. My last interview (at St. Hugh’s, my allocated second choice) was reasonably average.

Surprisingly, I got asked lots of questions about my personal statement. I got asked about a book that I’d read – they didn’t really believe that I’d read it until they’d quizzed me, since it was a first year undergraduate text – on analysis. I also got asked about Monte Carlo modelling, whch was something I’d mentioned in my work experience, and explained how I used it in context.

First interview was mainly curve sketching, geometry, and combinatorics/probability. The questions were easier than I expected, but were still very much harder than the A-level syllabus required of us.
Second interview was much harder than I expected, and was oriented about very abstract and logic-based problems.
Third interview was based entirely about convergence and divergence and limits of series.

A green jumper, light blue shirt underneath, blue woolen overcoat and scarf (it was very cold!), blue/green/grey corduroy trousers and smart black shoes. I wouldn’t wear a suit, since I wouldn’t feel comfortable under pressure in one – also, lots of the people looked ridiculous in their suits, as they generally wore party suits (e.g. black shirt + shiny white silk tie) as opposed to more subdued suits, and just looked a bit gimpy! Just wear what you are comfortable in, but don’t go in unneccessarily scruffy/smelly/dirty clothes!

Impressions

Merton was much much nicer than St. Hugh’s, in my opinion – St Hugh’s was far far far too far away from civilisation, and was too modern for my liking.

My room was very nice – small but comfortable living room, bedroom and en-suite shower room + toilet.

Excellent! Merton make a mean Rhubarb crumble, even if it was served on two nights!

Very friendly and encouraging, as well as helpful – they recognised me when I was in town and said hello as they walked by.

Like any other teenager – happiest when lazing around and eating/drinking… But they were very helpful, and always there if you needed anything.

Final stage

I convinced myself that if I did get an offer, it would be from St. Hugh’s, and that I probably wouldn’t get an offer at all. Thankfully, I didn’t have too long a wait.

I ran upstairs to tell my parents, then rang numerous family members across the world, and then rang/texted my friends.

Looking back

Yes – the miniature holiday in Oxford was so much fun. I met some great people – if I didn’t get a place, some genuinely nice and intelligent people would, and it was nice to know that I wouldn’t be bitter.

Don’t stay in your room! Socialise, explore, get lost (not before an interview though!), eat ice-cream, go to the cinema/pub, play giant Jenga! Just don’t be miserable – enjoy your time off school and your chance to impress the tutors – if you are happy, your nerves will disappear !! But still make sure you know C1-3 inside out – good luck!!