Application

 Oxford

 Trinity

 Modern Languages

 2005

 pooled, offer made (Somerville)

Applicant

 A-levels

 pre-qualification

 home

 United Kingdom

 Comprehensive School

 yes (6 A*,3 A,2 B)

A-levels

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

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

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

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

Details about the offer

 conditional

A in Chemistry, A in Mathematics, A in Spanish

Took Italian A-Level the year before for which i got a B. Other Universities required only two further grades, Oxford wanted three A’s.

yes

I didn’t really want to accept the offer, as i preferred sheffield. however, i gradually got used to, and excited about the idea of coming to oxford

yes

yes

Received offers from Exeter (AB), Bath (AA), Sheffield (BC), Leeds (BC) and QMUL (BD)

 offer met

Decisions about the application

I had six choices, and not many universities offered Spanish and ab initio Russian, and as my tutors suggested i apply for it, i thought i should. I didnt think i’d get in though.

I think it would have been harder to get into Cambridge.

I had always wanted to do languages, in particular Spanish as part of a degree since year 8. I could have done Italian, but i felt like that wouldnt have been as useful as some other language as it is not widely spoken. I originally wanted to do Chinese or Japanese but was advised against doing such difficult languages as *part* of a course. Russian was different and perceived as difficult (but apparently isn’t) – i fancied a challenge as well as a new language.

It was a last minute decision: piece-of-paper-out-of-the-hat type thing.

Preparation

yes

Oxbridge candidates were handed over to the teacher with most experience of the oxbridge application process. He helped us with our personal statements and the like. I had an interview with the rotary club and another with my headteacher + spanish teacher. they were nothing like the actual interview(s), but helped me think nonetheless.

Prepare, by all means, but don’t get into the habit of thinking that they *will* ask this question and *won’t* ask that one. I was told to prepare answers for, “Why did you choose Trinity?” and “Why Oxford?”. They never asked me those questions.

Interview

no

yes

the work i submitted was rubbish. i didnt have any essays in english, so sent in two spanish ones and an italian one. for the two spanish essays (one literary and one discursive) i had got barely half-marks, and the italian one was a rubbish business letter. but the invited me for interviews, so they cant look at it that hard.

yes

i had to take a spanish exam and a language aptitude test. prepare for the spanish exam – the grammar is slightly more difficult than a-level. the aptitude test i actually found quite fun, not gruelling at all. there are various different questions, some working out patterns in english, others working out patterns in icelandic or Wolof or some other obscure language, and they also ask a set of questions by the end of which you should be able to work out a paragraph of some made-up language. there are practise papers – do them.

scarey, and nothing like the ones i had done at school. i had five interviews, but the tutors were all very nice and made you feel very comfortable. don’t fret about them.

i had one for russian, where two women-tutors tried to dissuade me from taking on russian; one for spanish, where i was asked questions about a passage; another for russian, talking about ‘stuff’ basically, i talked of my interests, the tutor of his; another one with language tutors, and we talked about my personal statement; and the final one was with a russian tutor and she asked me questions that made me think.

some examples:
repeat these russian sentences after me… are you sure you want to study russian? look how much work there is… talk to me about the other languages you’ve learnt in the past… so tell me, how did the latin ‘civitas’ get to ‘ciudad’ in spanish and ‘cittÅ•’ in italian?… you mentioned ‘families’ of languages, what do you mean by that? in which family would you place english?

A dark suit and shirt.

Impressions

i applied to trinity. it’s a classic oxford college, architecturally beautiful. did seem a bit formal, though. i visited somerville (that’s where i’m going to study) and at first it seemed like a maze of 1920s school corridors but the students there were very friendly, and on re-visiting it, it is a lot less starchy. i also had interviews in LMH, a lovely college, very quiet and well kept.

I only saw rooms in Trinity. The one i stayed in was adequate, but i heard of other apartments with multiple rooms and fire places.

Top notch. And free.

Very friendly. Some were a bit… away with the fairies, but still very interesting and supportive.

Brill. Really helpful.

Final stage

I tried my best not to think about it, and i honestly thought i wouldn’t get in.

Oxford sends you the letter just before christmas. how nice of them. I got two letters. The first one was from Somerville, offering a conditional place of three A’s. I was super happy, but at the same time i now had the dilemma of accepting it or not. I’m very glad that i didnt get the letter from Trinity first: that one said they had denied my application, and it was no longer under condsideration by any other college.

Looking back

For definite. I might be able to go through that period a bit more calmly.

Just go for it, and stay calm, but not too confident. Prepare for what your teachers say, and prepare for more. Don’t get stubborn.