Modern Languages


 offer made





 United Kingdom

 Independent – selective

 yes (11 A*)


(A at AS)

(A at AS)

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

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

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

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

Advanced Extension Awards

(predicted Distinction; gained Distinction)

(predicted Distinction; gained Distinction)

I also took (not enough space to fit on) an AS level in Critical Thinking and got a B.

Details about the offer


A in German





Well, some people say that UCL (former SSEES) is the best place to take Russian in the UK but Oxford has a certain status and prestige and is just generally wonderful so I chose to accept their offer. It wasn’t a hard choice.

 offer met

Decisions about the application

Ooh – the usual. Prestige, best of the best, academic challenge, work-hard-play-hard stuff.

Oxford is nearer and the tutors seemed friendlier (at Cambridge they were quite standoffish – and almost gave me the impression of ‘you wouldn’t manage our course’, which I didn’t like.) Oxford’s M. Lang building is also far far prettier and generally more wonderful than Cambridge’s 60s classrooms.

I chose German and ab initio Russian:

German – I’d studied it at A-level, enjoyed it a great deal, chose it over french partially because of employment factors but mostly to study some wonderful german authors in the original.

Russian – seemed like a great opportunity to start a language from scratch with tip-top teaching quality; Russian is also VERY useful to employers, the literature is wonderful (and benefits a great deal from being read in the original) and Russian also opens up another group of languages other than the Indo-European.

I didn’t go to any open days – made my decision to apply to magdalen for reasons of:

1) Prestige (academic)
2) Wealth (lots of money for travel grants etc)
3) Accom. Cost (which has now risen dramatically)
4) Location/Grounds – amazingly beautiful
5) Fellows in both German and Russian
6) Large and Old
7) Provides accom. for all 3 years of course



but it was all useless




Yes – two essays from German and 2 from French. I wrote 2 (one from each) especially.


German – short 30 min grammar test (examples online)
Russian – language aptitude test – 1 hr

Not bad – tutors were friendly, if quite confrontational: “So, you don’t like literature, do you?” but all very interesting to discuss.

Spoke for about 1 minutes in German, copied some phrases parrot-fashion for Russian, talked about literature in both and why I’d chosen those particular languages.

See above.

I think it was mostly casual stuff – wore a shirt (without tie) and jumper for one, the rest was all very casual things. Even wore jeans to one of them.


Magdalen is wonderful and beautiful and great. I hadn’t visited it before interview so I was taken back with the grounds in particular – the view of the C18th New Buildings was particularly stunning (and still is!)

Magdalen accomodation ranges from quite good (certainly acceptable) to gloriously wonderful with en suite bathrooms, sets of 2 rooms and (in at least two cases) a grand piano!

Not bad and it was all free at the time!

Friendly, interesting, quite personable and obviously intimidatingly intelligent. But that’s what you want!

Friendly, normal – not all too posh!

Final stage

What do you think? 😉

I opened the letter.

What kind of damn fool question is this?

Looking back


Be yourself.

And avoid clichés.