Application

 Oxford

 Balliol

 Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE)

 2006

 rejected

Applicant

 A-levels

 post-qualification

 home

 United Kingdom

 FE College

 yes (3 A*,6 A,2 B,1 C)

A-levels

(A at AS)

(A at AS)

(B at AS)

I also retook module 6 of the History exam in my Gap year, changing my overall grade to an A.

Other universities

no

Decisions about the application

I felt I’d enjoy three years at Oxford and be amongst like minded people, plus it really is the place to do my subject.

Cambridge doesn’t offer PPE.

I like all three discipline areas and I’m basically terminally indecisive.

It’s one of the academically stronger colleges, It’s right in the middle of Oxford and it looks pretty.

Preparation

no

My college are reasonably used to Oxbridge applications, but there was no extra tuition or anything.

Talk to people about your subject and read around your subject. If you’re applying for PPE it’s worth basically memorising an interesting book in the subject areas you’ve already taken.

Interview

no

yes

Two essays. If I remember correctly I sent one on politics and one from history on the New Economic Policy in Russia.

yes

Yeah, breif exam testing abstract concepts in the three subjects.

One 30 minute interview, quite enjoyable although I felt that maybe I wasn’t articulating my thoughts as well as I’d have liked. They also opened up by asking about my B and Resit in History which I didn’t think was a good sign.

They asked me for one Economics book I had read and then asked questions about that which basically boiled down to – what defines economics as different from other social sciences. Then some fairly general Politics and philosophy questions which didn’t require too much specific knowledge.

Jeans, a shirt and a suit jacket, I think it’s worth dressing smartly if only because it tends make me feel a little more confident.

Impressions

Nice, one of the really old traditional ones with a proper quadrangle, makes you feel really scholarly wandering through it late at night.

They put me in something they called the ‘fresher’s ghetto’, the rooms were small but otherwise no worse or better than any other university accommodation I’ve seen.

Fine for three days, might irritate me a bit after an entire year but then I like my own cooking.

They seemed like the kind of people you’d want to learn from for three years, bit detached from worldly matters like organisation though.

They all seemed like fairly normal students, if maybe a bit more intelligent and interested in their subjects.

Final stage

I tried not to think about it, especially as I felt my chances weren’t that good. I was also working in a full time job at the time so I didn’t have a lot of free time to worry.

I was at work and my dad phoned me up to say that a letter had come from Balliol and to ask whether I wanted him to open it. I was a little disappointed but not exactly surprised so I just got on with it.

Looking back

Definitely, the interview is a good experience in itself and it’s taught me a lot about Oxbridge should I ever try to gain admission there again, for a postgrad say. That said if I were actually offered a place I’m not sure whether I would take it. With hindsight I think the next three years at the university I’m at now may actually be more enjoyable.

Make sure you really know your stuff, you’re well read and most importantly approach the whole thing knowing that most people don’t get in and that the admissions process is more about the Tutors guessing whether you’ll have a fulfilling time at Oxbridge than their simply testing your intelligence.