Application

 Oxford

 Hertford

 Oriental Studies

 2002 (deferred entry)

 offer made

Applicant

 A-levels

 pre-qualification

 N/A

 N/A

 Independent – selective

Not known whether selective or not

 yes (7 A*,4 A)

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

AAB

yes

N/A

 grades pending/unknown

Decisions about the application

All the usual: tutorial system, excellent course, prestige etc.

Oxford course seemed slightly better. Also there’s more to do in Oxford than Cambridge.

Seemed relaxed and informal, there’s a fellow in Japanese there and friends who are at the college say it’s a great place.

Preparation

yes

If I had any questions my Japanese teachers were always helpful and staff proof-read my section 10 a couple of times. Didn’t really have any ‘Oxbridge Lessons’ though.

Read around the subject, look at whatever takes your fancy. Try and see some films because they’re often very good and show that you can do more than simply absorb information from print. At the end of the day there are only a few applicants so on top of a good academic record you should have something different that’ll catch their eye.

Interview

no

yes

One essay was a history piece to do with the Meiji Restoration. I’d done it for A2 level coursework and was pretty happy with the end result. The other piece I did was in Japanese about seasons in Japan, slightly more rushed than the other bit!

no

It was quite relaxed stuff, discussing bits and bobs from my section 10 mainly. The tutors were all pretty nice and didn’t try to grill me or catch me out. On the whole not as bad as I’d expected.

Quite a broad range. Was asked stuff about my section 10, why I though kung-fu was better than Japanese martial arts and what I’d contribute to college life aside from academic work. Got asked a question about Iraq which I wasn’t prepared for, should’ve read the newspapers but was too lazy I guess. A few grammar questions related to English language which were a bit tricky- the adjectival interrogative use of the word ‘which’ anyone?

Jeans, t-shirt and a sweater. Didn’t want to wear a suit as it makes you look like a bit of an idiot seeing as the tutors are casually dressed.

Impressions

Very nice on the whole, not as big as some of the others and possibly not as beautiful as places like Magdalen etc. but it had a nice friendly feel to it.

My room was pretty good, well heated and enough room for two big comfy chairs. It varies massively from college to college though from what I saw of my friends rooms. Some places were really awful so I thought I was quite lucky.

Edible but not great

Friendly, relaxed, intelligent (obv.)

Very nice, didn’t really see them that much, maybe there were no students.

Final stage

It was over the phone, was very relieved as I’d waited until January. Then realised there’s much work to be done before I’m there.

Looking back

Of course. The whole process is quite an experience and you’ll learn lots from it, not only about your subject but also that these things are random, sometimes really well qualified candidates don’t get in etc.

Just be prepared for anything. The process is random but if you do enough work beforehand you can go in with a positive attitude that’ll show. Try and relax as much as possible during the interview period, go out and have a good time!!