History (Modern) and English




 International Baccalaureate



 United Kingdom

 Grammar School

 yes (5 A*,5 A)

International Baccalaureate

( predicted 7; gained 6)

( predicted 7; gained 6)

( predicted 6; gained 7)

( predicted 6; gained 5)

( predicted 6; gained 6)

( predicted 2; gained 2)

I take Philosophy as my third Higher but it isn’t on the list.

My second language is Spanish, and that also isn’t on the list.

Other universities


Decisions about the application

I believe that the best History and English course for me was at Oxford – so regardless of the Oxford factor, I would have applied there. However, since applying another university changed their course to the same as Oxford’s which is where I currently study.

Cambridge didn’t offer my course, so it was simple.

I wanted to do History and English, and the Oxford course had the highest number of bridge papers.

I applied to Exeter College, was offered interviews at Wadham (and so that’s where I stayed), and had additional interviews at St Catherine’s.

I loved Exeter, but realised that all colleges have brilliant aspects to them.



Nope. None. Not a bit.

If you have exams to take pre-interview, revise but don’t panic if it is not what you expected. I took the HAT in 2008 and the format was radically changed – it took five minutes of silent hysteria until I started answering questions, and I managed to get an interview!

If you get an interview, KNOW WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT. This is probably the worst place to blabber on without knowing that vital date or important fact.



I took the HAT.


Two English essays and a History essay.



First History: disaster. The interviewers were polite but distant, and I have never come into contact with anyone like them. I stuttered and generally failed.
Second History: better. I felt that it was all over anyway, and so got a good conversation going.
English: average. Analysis of poem was OK, and the conversation went in a direction that I liked.
Third History (St Catz): by this time I had been there four days, and was sure that I had failed, so I didn’t try. BAD MOVE. Even if you think this, still focus – it was probably this one that lost my place.

Keep calm, even if you ‘know’ it has gone wrong.
There are wrong answers, but only if you phrase them badly (probably humanities only mind).
Don’t let them scare you – they are only trying to be nice!

No general ones about ‘why history/English/Ox/college?’. All subject based, clear and concise. I was asked in my first and third history interviews what I wanted to talk about, and I chose the first one that came into my head. Don’t. Talk about something you KNOW.

I’m a girl, so:
dark blue smartish jeans
black boots
smartish dresses
coat, scarf, hat, gloves when waiting (it was freezing!)


Wadham was very austere and posh, while St Catz was more laid back. I preferred Wadham, probably because I stayed there and became attached…

My room was large with a sink in a cupboard and a walk in closet thing! Leather chair, rug, posh lights…all mod cons. The bathroom was shared by 12 on my staircase, and as I was on the bottom floor I was across the hall.

Lovely. Three hot meals a day with little queues. Tues, Wed and Thurs dinner is served (to us) in the Great Hall, and those happened to be the nights I was there – it was insane!

Very polite, but they definitely kept their distance. I assume they didn’t want any calls of foul play.

Really helpful and reassuring – although I did find it difficult when I went to St Catz. At Wadham Student Helpers wore bright red t-shirts, but there was nothing to distinguish them at St Catz – so asking for directions became pretty embarrassing!

Final stage

Not good. I knew that I had not got an offer because I had panicked through all the interviews, but it was still a shock when I got the letter.

Small white envelope from Wadham saying that they didn’t have a place for me, and no other colleges were considering my application.

Looking back

Yes. Definitely. I’ve grown so much as a student. But it is hard, especially with school work/work work. You have to really want it to be focused enough to deal with that and everything else.

Go on. People still get in, you know!