Application

 Cambridge

 Downing

 Modern & Medieval Languages

 2003

 offer made

Applicant

 A-levels

 pre-qualification

 N/A

 N/A

 FE College

Applied for French and Russian

 yes (7 A*,1 A,1 B)

A-levels

(NA at AS)

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

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

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

Details about the offer

 conditional

A in French

AB

undecided yet

N/A

Decisions about the application

I was encouraged to do so by my college.

I preferred the atmosphere.

Low applicant-per-place ratio, spacious.

Preparation

no

Do not prepare answers.
Do quite a bit of background reading for the relevant languages.
Brush up on verb constructions/prepositions.

Interview

no

yes

A History essay (‘To what extent was the Indian Mutiny of 1857 a result of British insensitivity to Indian culture?’), two pieces of French language work (an ‘issues’ essay and a dialogue), and an essay on Francois Truffaut’s ‘Jules et Jim.’

no

I was given a piece of French to read ten minutes before my first interview. I was asked to read a paragraph (to test my accent, I suppose), and then discuss it in French. I was asked a few questions on the piece in English (not too hard). We then discussed Voltaire’s Candide (which I had written about in my personal statement), and our mutual dislike for ‘Jules et Jim.’

My second interview was a Russian/linguistics one with two tutors. The Russian tutor asked me about my Polish background and Gogol’s The Overcoat. The linguistics tutor gave me a list of English constructions to discuss. Both went well.

I can’t remember many, but here are a few examples: “Words are described as the “SS of the unconscious” in this passage. What do you think this means?” “Would Gogol have been able to achieve a similar effect had he set the novel in the countryside?” “Why does ‘sortir’ sometimes take ‘avoir’ in the perfect tense?”

A white shirt with an open collar, black trousers, black shoes and my coat.

Impressions

Nice: spacious and friendly, if a bit disorganised.

Friendly – they didn’t want to grill me. In fact, at some points, it seemed as though they wanted a chat (???)

Nice, if a little pretentious.

Final stage

I was a bit nervous when I was opening the letter, and happy when I discovered that I had an offer.

Looking back

Yes.

Don’t let yourself be psyched out by the repuation.
Only apply if you are truly passionate about your subject.
Prepare for the interview, but don’t over-prepare.