Application

 Oxford

 Somerville

 Modern Languages

 2008

 offer made

Applicant

 A-levels

 pre-qualification

 N/A

 United Kingdom

 Independent – selective

During the interview period, I found the other applicants to be from a variety of backgrounds and there seemed to be an equal mix of independent and state-school applicants.

 yes (9 A*)

A-levels

(A at AS)

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

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

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

I also have extra qualifications in Drama and Music as well as Young Enterprise.

Details about the offer

 conditional

A in German

AAA, Excluding General Studies

undecided yet

I’m still waiting to hear from a University and I would prefer to have replies from them all before making a final decision

N/A

Decisions about the application

The course at Oxford appealed to me as it is very literature based, I liked the idea of belonging to a college, I was encouraged to apply by teachers so I thought I’d give it a go!

Oxford was more of a lively city, and the colleges are closer together and more integrated into the centre of Oxford, whereas I felt Cambridge was quieter and more spread out.

I liked that the German course at Oxford included a lot of literature, and many different styles of literature that I was keen to explore.

Somerville seemed very livley and friendly in the prospectus. I went to a German Open Day that was held mainly at Somerville, and I felt at home there right away – the atmosphere was just as described. Somerville is also opposite the Language Centre which I felt suited me very well!

Preparation

yes

My German teacher did an extra 45 minute lesson with me for 3 weeks, where we mainly practiced grammar in preparation for the grammar test I had to sit during my interview period.

If you have to sit a test, make sure you thoroughly look over the practice paper the college supplies you with as it is invaluable to know what to expect! Think about questions they might ask you and have an idea of what you want to say, and if you’re unsure, ask a teacher or tutor. I tried to do a lot of reading, and watched a lot of german films, to try and show an interest in my subject outside of the A-Level specification.

Interview

no

yes

Yes, I had to submit two marked essays. It was said that at least one of the essays should be in the target language, so I submitted both in German as we do not write any essays in English in my A-Level course. One was about one of the literary texts we were studying, and another was an essay I’d done about nuclear power.

yes

Yes, I had a 30 minute grammar test before my first interview. All language applicants took their respective grammar tests in the same hall, and it was surprisingly relaxed! Although the grammar test was extremely difficult, everybody seemed to feel the same afterwards and I think it helped that I had studied the practice paper with my teacher. I felt the test did not go very well, yet I was offered a place, so do not feel disheartened if you think it is going badly!

In general they were ok, I had one general interview, and one german interview. The German interview was first and I think that went worse than my general one, but it is difficult to know how you were received as the interviwers, although very nice, do not give anything away.

I was given a short passage in German to study for 15 minutes before my interview, and I was asked to think about how to summarise it in English. I was also told I would have to read part of the passage aloud. In my interview, I misinterpreted part of the passage but the interviewer was very helpful and guided me to the correct answer. We discussed the novel my submitted essay was based on in great detail, and then we moved into German, and discussed my work experience in Germany and mu upcoming trip to Cologne. I was also asked my a second interviewer about Brecht as I’d mentioned him on my personal statement. The interview was more like a discussion than just questions and answers which really helped me to relax.

My general interview was the better of the two. I was asked about a lot of things on my personal statement, which then naturally led onto other things. For me, we talked about literatre and the importance of literature, and about theatre as that is my main interest outside fo German. It was again, very friendly and relaxed. The interviewers allow you to say everything you want to,. and only move onto another topic to discuss once they are certain you have finished.

I wanted to look smart, but notr too formal, so I wore a black skirt, black tights, a blue jumper and black flats to my first interview, and a blue dress and grey cardigan to my second. Most people dressed like this, in comfortable clothes that were smart yet comfortable. The interviewers were not dressed formally at all. I looked to see what other people who were there for interview were wearing to get an idea myself!

Impressions

Somerville had a friendly and lively atmosphere, where I felt I could thrive not only academically but also socially. When I arrived in the room I was to stay in for the duration of the interview period, there was a ‘good luck’ card left for me by the room-owner, which made me feel relaxed straight away and sure I’d chosen the right college for me!

The room I stayed in was fairly large, bigger than my bedroom at home – it even had a fireplace! There were showers, toilets, little kitchens and even a bath on my floor. The JCR’s were great, equipped with televisions, table football and computers. The atmosphere in JCR was also very lively and a really greta place to relax after an interview! The dining hall was also really beautiful. The library is huge, very cosy and welcoming and I could picture myself spending many comfortable hours working away in there. One thing I really like about Somerville is that you are allowed to walk and sit on the grass, which is forbidden in many Oxford colleges.

Delicious! We were provided with 3 meals a day, all hot meals. The portions were huge, and very welcome! There was a great variety on offer, always a vegetarian option, soup, sandwiches and salad as well as a selection of hot dishes. There was also ‘snacks’ put on for applicants twice a day, 10-11am and 3-4pm, where hot drinks, juice, mince pies and satsumas were provided. The dinner hall was also a great place to meet people, on the first day of my interview period, I entered the hall alone and just sat with a group of strangers. I soon found myself chatting away and making plans with them for the evening.

The tutors were really friendly and approachable. I did not see them much around college, I only really saw them in the dinner hall and at my interviews, but whenever I spoke to them they seemed very nice and not at all scary!

The undergraduates were very helpful, aspecially upon arrival, and made sure you knew where things were and that you were comfortable. They take you to all your interviews and tests, and take your mobile number incase you have a last minute interview that you were not aware of. They were very keen to chat to you about their Oxford experience which was really interesting, as well as arranging entertainment for us every night.

Final stage

A few days after my interview, it was the end of term and I was flying to Cologne, Germany. We had been informed that most of the decision letters would be sent out on the 19th December, when I was still away, so I left my parents with strict instructions not to open my letter! I tried to put it out of my mind, as although I was keen to get a place, I knew the decision was out of my hands at this point. It was probably best that I was away from home for that week, as it kept my mind off the pending decision, and perhaps if I was at home I would have been much more tense!

I arrived back from Germany at 11pm on Sunday 21st December, to my parents expectant faces, letter in hand. I was forced to open it there and then in the kicthen, still with my coat on and I was delighted to see I’d got a place. If the truth be told I screamed with shock, as in my mind the German interview and the test had both not gone fantastically! My mum and dad were really pleased and I couldn’t wait to text all my friends! As I met many lovely people at interview, we has already been keeping in touch over Facebook, so it was really nice to see who else had got in and to share our excitement!