Application

 Oxford

 Wadham

 Oriental Studies

 2002 (deferred entry)

 offer made

Applicant

 A-levels

 pre-qualification

 N/A

 N/A

 Comprehensive School

 yes (4 A*,7 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

AAA

yes

N/A

 grades pending/unknown

Decisions about the application

Truthfully, I applied because someone once told me I wouldn’t be able to get in, and I wanted to prove them wrong. Not the best of reasons, but there we are.

I visited both, and decided that Cambridge was really not for me. I found it too small and claustrophobic. Luckily for me, I visited Oxford and loved it!

I originally chose Wadham for its politics more than anything else – it is meant to be one of the more left-wing colleges, which suited me. However, I didn’t like it much when I actually went for the interview, so I was pleased to be pooled to Pembroke, which seemed to be a lot friendlier.

Preparation

yes

All Oxbridge applicants had a “practice interview”, which was a joke, as we all sat round in a big circle listening to each other, and could pass any questions we couldn’t answer.

Read as much as you can about the subject before you go for the interview! Anything – newspapers, magazines, just make sure you have an opinion. Also, don’t be scared of sticking to what you believe even if you’re challenged – they are trying to see how well you can argue your position. Finally… if you said you read a particular book in your personal statement, READ OVER IT AGAIN, you may be asked about it.

Interview

no

yes

Two essays – one for English Lit and one for Psychology. The Lit essay was my Year 12 coursework (critical opinions of The Color Purple), and my Psych essay was about *ahem* male and female attractiveness.

no

I had two interviews, one with two interviewers and one with one. In the first interview I had to read a passage and answer questions on it. The second interview was more to do with analysing language.

A few general questions like “Why Chinese?” and “Why Oxford?”… and then some really hard stuff like “Use the word ‘which’ in four different ways.” Some of the questions were a bit random, like “Do you think Iago [from Othello] is a 2D character?” In the first interview I was also asked about things on my UCAS form – trips to the Far East etc.

Just casual clothes – black trousers and a top. I didn’t want to go overboard with a suit, but I didn’t want to look scruffy either.

Impressions

I didn’t really like Wadham – it was really big, but no one seemed keen to tell you where anything was. Pembroke was really nice – it’s smaller, and looks like a castle from the outside (superficial, I know).

My accomodation was OK, quite big with a phone, sink, desk etc. It seems to vary wildly though – a friend of mine at another college had a room that looked like a prison cell.

Good

You get served by waitresses – which makes it feel like you’re in a posh restaurant and have to watch your table manners.

I only spoke to one tutor at Wadham, but she seemed friendly. She phoned me at home the day before I went for interview, just to introduce herself.

The students were nice: they tried to arrange stuff for us to do in the evenings etc. The ones who took me to my interviews really did try to put me at my ease before I went in.

Final stage

It came at 7:30 am on a Saturday morning – I was asleep. I felt really freaked out when I saw it – but I read it and just burst out laughing, I just couldn’t believe it.

Looking back

Yes, just to challenge myself. If I didn’t get in… well, there are other universities. But I would definitely give it a shot. If you don’t try, you’ll never know.

Just go for it. You may not get in, but at least you’ll have had the chance. And don’t forget to read!