Application

 Oxford

 Worcester

 Medicine

 2003

 offer made

Applicant

 A-levels

 pre-qualification

 N/A

 N/A

 Independent – non-selective

Not known if selective

 yes (10 A*)

A-levels

(A at AS)

(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)

Details about the offer

 conditional

A in Chemistry

AA

yes

N/A

 grades pending/unknown

Decisions about the application

I’m a science geek at heart so I liked the idea of pre-clin years (although I realise the advantages of an integrated course – my 3 others choices were integrated). Tutorials and collegiate system sounded like fun too.

I visited both – both are great unis but the atmosphere at Oxford seemed more vibrant. I also quite liked the idea of having 2+ interviews at Oxford compared to at Cam where it may all rest on 1 because it felt like I had a greater chance to prove myself.

Also, I didn’t know this when I applied but it could be useful for future applicants – Oxford had a new application procedure this year – only 35% of medical applicants were interviewed mainly based on BMAT results and GCSEs. This means if you are strong on paper than it could be more worthwhile to apply to Ox – however beware that quite a few ‘perfect’ applicants were rejected pre-interview.

Thought it was quite a musical college. Absolutely stunning with a more laid back feel compared to the bigger scarier colleges. I quite liked the idea of only two medical fellows because it’s more intimate. I also met a medical student at Worcester on the open day who was ecstatic about the course at Worcester!

Preparation

yes

Mock interview with consultant – it was nothing like my Ox interview but I felt it was good preparation as I hadn’t had a ‘proper’ interview in about 6 years.

Do cartloads of background reading – become a human sponge – you can find some fantastic articles from the internet. Read the medical sections on the New Scientist. Read the ‘medical’ topics in your big fat bio text books. Read a book by Richard Dawkins (good because he is a fellow at Ox) – the Selfish Gene perhaps – his books are actually really entertaining! Read up on the NHS and current issues – know who won the last Nobel Prize. If you’re interested in say genetics (like myself) then know some key dates (1953) and general history (Watson, Crick, Franklin etc).

Interview

yes

BMAT – buy/borrow CGP books – know them from cover to cover. Do the timed practice papers on the BMAT website. It is also a time management exercise so be quick but stay calm – my time management flew out the window on the day because I was panicking.

My score wasn’t too dazzling but once you get through the deselection pre-interview I don’t think it matters as much, it pretty much rests on the interview. My essay was horrific but thank god they didn’t ask about that.

no

no

2 interviews – each had one fellow of the college and a clinician (I think, not too sure lol). A present student will take you up to your room, you wait around, go in, be polite (do the usual – only sit when they offer you a seat, say good morning/afternoon, strong handshake, smile lots, at the end say something like “Thank you for your time.”)

Oh yes, if you don’t want your picture taken during your interview take a passport photo (name on back) with you. They have so many applicants it just helps them remember who’s who.

First interview was a logical problem which was good because it doesn’t matter if you get the answer (after I said my ideas, the fellow said that all my answers were wrong but it didn’t matter) because it’s just to see how you think. There was also ethics and we touched upon the NHS and how to improve things (I got a bit controversial and said scrap IVF, being sterile is not an illness, it’s just a status, 20% chance of success, what sort of odds is that!). Oh yeah also he said “What interests you in bio?” – talked about british bio olympiad and then went on to describe the co-ordination of the heart. Second interview was a lot more of my background reading. Talked about books I read (all genetics) went on to gene therapy. Current issues (MRSA – went on to talk about bacteria and antibiotics), retroviruses, MRI, basically a hell of a lot! This interview was very testing, they kept firing question upon question at me so you have to be sharp! Then went on to talk about using stats in medicine/randomised controlled trials.

I decided on a ‘traditional’ skirt (grey, quite modern, had some weird pleat on one side), pinstriped shirt and wooly tank top on top (had weirdo modern pattern on it). Wanted to appear original but smart. If you are a guy, do wear a suit – all my interviewers were wearing suits so do make an effort. I think I was the only girl who chose to wear a skirt – my legs were freezing so do keep that in mind when choosing clothes (I felt better for wearing a skirt though because maybe it made me stand out a littler bit more, I don’t know!)

Impressions

Worcester – stunning, students are super friendly, didn’t get a chance to see much though.

Exeter – small, seemed quite quiet but cute, nice accomodation (warm).

Wadham – vibrant atmosphere, funny students, all round friendliness – food was alright.

Worcester House – freezing cold, huge rooms, minging shared bath.

Lovely, interesting, easy to talk to.

Friendly, welcoming, lovely!

Final stage

Arrived home from a week away, huge pile of post in the doorway, wafted through them all, found a large fat envelope. Ripped it open and voila. Was more shocked than happy at that stage but now I’m happy 🙂

Looking back

Definitely. Even if I didn’t get in, the whole procedure was worthwhile.

Be yourself, be enthusiastic, be confident (but not arrogant), have faith!