Application

 Oxford

 Worcester (open application, allocated college)

 Mathematics and/with Computer Science

 2006

 offer made

Applicant

 International Baccalaureate

 pre-qualification

 overseas

 Vietnam

 Comprehensive School

 yes (4 A*,5 A)

International Baccalaureate

( predicted 7; gained NA)

( predicted 7; gained NA)

( predicted 6; gained NA)

( predicted 7; gained NA)

( predicted 7; gained NA)

( predicted 7; gained NA)

( predicted 7; gained NA)

( predicted NA; gained NA)

Details about the offer

 conditional

7 in Mathematics

39 points overall

undecided yet

yes

yes

Decisions about the application

I thought I might just give it a try. And it actually helped to get the UCAS thing done really quickly.

Oxford. I’ve been to both for a very brief moment, but liked Oxford much more.

Em, because I enjoy doing maths and working on PCs?

I heard the food was marvellous (good food => safe place to study) and I liked their website (not a very good reason to choose a college). I’ve been told the colleges are roughly the same, so…

Preparation

yes

I have been given a general interview with my headmaster and a maths/comp general one with two maths teachers. Both were kinda nice and kinda useless, because there was no general interview after all and they actually asked real maths/comp question at Oxford.

Try solving some interesting maths puzzles. Revise integration. Induction can be useful. Do some background reading just in case. And mainly, relax and chill out.

Interview

no

no

yes

The test was much much easier than those specimen papers on the internet, but don’t get lulled! They have been harder. The good thing is that interviews have higher priority.

They give you some questions to do beforehand, so you can discuss them at the first (just first!) interview. Maths/Comp are easier than straight maths ones. The interviewers were really nice and did make the impression they are just trying to test your abilities.

At the first interview, we discussed the solutions to the questions given to me before and then extended some of them (e.g. make a generalized formula or prove by induction).
At the second interview, you are given a chance to talk about something you are really interested in or are working on. I talked about some of my programming projects. Make sure you look enthusiastic, but don’t push it too hard. Also, if you make a mistake, don’t panic! Stay cool, you can always shine in later questions.

Something about averages, which I did really badly. Then they asked me to graph x cubed and x to five. Also, integrate x to -2 from -1 to 1 (impossible, because it passes an undefined point). Then a question on flotation and finally a question about a ladder being leant on a wall and slowly collapsing down. What is the locus of the point half-way along the ladder?

Suit. No risk.

Impressions

I was impressed. It is a beautiful college with lots of green spaces.

My room was relatively old and the shower was two floors below mine. Also, ther was an emergency door in my room, with the small glass window broken, so I could see my roommate’s bedroom. Weird.

Good. Not as good as I expected, but surely something to look forward to.

Friendly and generally nice.

Most of them were fine, bright and extremely friendly. They even taught me to play poker!

Final stage

I kept the “I sort of don’t care, really” attitude. I thought I haven’t done soo well and so I was not expecting a offer. But I was fine.

I opened our mailbox and said “Aah, here it goes, the rejection and some stuff to back it up”. I was surprised to receive the offer, but the excitement fell in the next 5 minutes.

Looking back

Yes, definitely, even if I was rejected, because it is a great life experience (as many others before me have said) and it can make you consider things more carefully.

Prepare but don’t over-prepare. They are not looking for walking superheads crammed with encyclopedia facts. Don’t try to be too clever, show your abilities with modesty. Be enthusiastic and show willingness to learn. Don’t take the things too seriously and just relax and chill out.