Application

 Oxford

 St John’s

 History (Modern)

 2002

 rejected

Applicant

 A-levels

 pre-qualification

 N/A

 N/A

 Comprehensive School

 yes (5 A*,5 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 NA; 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

I have to admit that it was probably the prestige. I also didn’t think that I could live with the ‘what if’s’ for the rest of my life. My tutor also encouraged me. I wanted to see if I was really good enough.

I visited both with my school and I just prefered Oxford as a place – it seemed more of a real city. To be honest the course didn’t really come into it.

This was where we stayed on the open day and it seemed really nice then. It also had beautiful grounds and a fantastic, central location. I would consider my choice more fully if I applied again because I didn’t really look anywhere else and this was probably a mistake.

Preparation

yes

Yes. My tutor was fabulous and gave me some mock interviews (although absolutely nothing like the real thing) and the school arranged a mock interview with someone from the local university (again nothing like the real thing). My tutor gave up a lot of his spare time to help me.

Know your written work and everything surrounding it inside out and back to front. Sell yourself – don’t be like me and wish you’d told them all the things you’ve really read etc.

Interview

no

yes

I submitted my AS Histroy coursework and a practice exam essay written under timed conditions (I actually rewrote one paragraph though). These were probably the best two pieces I had and I could (I thought) talk about them.

no

St John’s – Half an hour interview with two men all based on my written work. One asked all the questions until the end when the other asked one based on a book I’d mentioned on my personal statement.

Wadham – 3 * 15 minute interviews. One general (although it was very heavily History orientated) with one man and two academic each with two people. I was called here just before I was about to leave on the Friday so I was quite annoyed and I had tried to put History totally out of my mind.

St John’s – All related to Russia (both my essays were on this topic) i.e. why did Stalin join the Bolshevik party, did he have any ideology etc. The one on my personal statement was about a book and I had no idea what the answer was (even though I’d genuinely read it) so I had to say, ‘I don’t know,’ three times – I don’t think that was a good sign!! Wadham – A place that has influenced your view of History? (that really stumped me!) Was Stalin successful? Was he popular? What were the causes of WWII? Why History? (at last – I’d prepared that one!)

Long skirt and top although I realised with mortification afterwards that I had forgotten to take my coat off!!! I’d always worn it for practices so I guess it felt normal to wear it! I doubt that made a great impression!

Impressions

St John’s – Nice. Really nice students/fellow applicants and gorgeous grounds. Brilliant location.

Wadham – I was really impressed. Everyone seemed friendly and approachable. It was dark when I had my interview so I didn’t see much of it physically. Great location.

Big. Facilities were perfectly adequate and the fridge was a nice extra. In general rooms seemed comfortable and big.

NA

I’m allergic to nuts and I didn’t think that such a stressful situation was the time to start eating outside my house as I haven’t done it before!! I am therefore an expert on the range of food sold by the Sainsbury’s across the road!

Ok. One seemed really nice and friendly and tried to put me at my ease. The other (the older one) was probably ok once you got to know him but I found him quite intimidating in an interview situation.

Friendly and willing to help.

Final stage

I didn’t really expect an offer after my interviews but I still felt disappointed and upset that I wasn’t good enough for the best in the country.

Looking back

I’m not sure. The interview practices that I did with another girl (academically brilliant and good in interview – I’ve always been in awe of her) drained a lot of my self-confidence as did the real interviews. However, it is nice feeling telling people that you’ve applied. Four days off school to shop was nice too!

I can’t stress enough how well you need to know everything that surounds your written work. Know your personal statement well and if you’ve mentioned any books know them extremely well! Try not to be intimidated in the actual interview and, as my tutor kept telling me, treat it as an experience.