Application

 Cambridge

 Trinity Hall

 Modern & Medieval Languages

 2010

 pooled, rejected

Applicant

 A-levels

 pre-qualification

 home

 United Kingdom

 Grammar School

 yes (10 A*,1 A,1 B)

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)

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

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

German AS and A2 both in Year 13 – I had to justify that in my interview.

Other universities

N/A

Decisions about the application

The school encouraged me to and I didn’t want to regret not doing it and always wonder if I would have got in.

I preferred the course at Cambridge.

The Oxford course involves too much literature for me.

I wanted to go self-catered, which narrowed it down a lot; I looked at the list of pros and cons of each college on TSR, but I can’t remember how I decided now.

Preparation

yes

They organised trips to conferences on getting into Oxbridge, and we were supposed to have a mock interview but it was cancelled because of snow.

I didn’t even know about the SAQ until they sent it to me after I applied, but it asked for your UMS in all your AS subjects and mine weren’t brilliant. The best preparation is working hard throughout Year 12 and reading around the subject over the year, not in the week before the interview. This way you should have some good essays to send off too.

Interview

no

yes

An essay in each language I was applying for and one in English. I hadn’t expected to have to send work in and I struggled to find something that was decent, as opposed to having been written at 10pm the night before it was in.

yes

We had a 45-minute test: we were given a passage in English which we had to summarise in either language we were applying for, then answer a related question on, in English.

Not as scary as I expected, but I struggled with the more open questions because I hadn’t had a mock interview or any sort of practice.

I didn’t have to talk in either French or German for very long, and it was a fairly simple conversation. For French, I talked about my A-level cultural topic; for German, about my interest in Germany and which parts I’d like to visit.

My motivation for studying French.
Why I liked the book I mentioned in my personal statement, what its main themes were.
Main theme of the passage I was given, what genre it might belong to.

For my German passage, how does the form reflect the content, and what does the passage say about the human condition.
Is it damaging that schoolchildren only learn about the Nazis in history lessons.
Is it useful that some German words have no English translation, eg Schadenfreude; would it be better if we all spoke English.
Do I agree with the quote that “my language is the limit of my imagination”.
A couple of easy grammar and vocab questions, mostly GCSE level.
I had to justify how various things on my personal statement were useful for studying languages or specifically German.

Black trousers, a white t-shirt and a colourful cardigan. I didn’t want to be too scruffy or too smart, but there were some people in proper suits and some in jeans and trainers in the waiting room.

Impressions

A bit like Hogwarts 🙂

Two of my interviewers were really lovely and friendly, the other two were more professional and didn’t put me at ease quite as much.

Very friendly and helpful, nothing like the stereotypes of Oxbridge students (ie snobs / massive geeks)

Final stage

The waiting was the worst part! I just wanted it to be over so I knew which uni I’d be going to.

I was pooled, then rejected. I was kind of relieved because I wouldn’t have been able to decide between Cambridge and the uni I’ve now firmed, and if I’m honest a big part of my reason for applying was “because it’s Cambridge!” and I much preferred the course at my firm choice.

Looking back

Yes, I was scared I’d mess up the interview but I did a lot better than I expected so I felt pretty good afterwards. It was a good experience and I’m glad I did it.

The interview was nowhere near as bad as I imagined it, so don’t stress too much about it. Just don’t mention anything you can’t answer follow-up questions on, because there *will* be follow-up questions, and make sure you can explain and justify everything on your personal statement. Remember they’re going to push you as far as you can go, so you won’t be able to answer every question – it’s your attitude and the way you respond to challenges that matter.