Application

 Oxford

 Magdalen

 Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE)

 2005

 offer made

Applicant

 A-levels

 pre-qualification

 home

 United Kingdom

 Independent – selective

 yes (9 A*,1 B)

A-levels

(A at AS (265 UMS))

(A at AS (276 UMS); predicted A; gained A at A2)

(A at AS (255 UMS); predicted A; gained A at A2)

(A at AS (256 UMS); predicted A; gained A at A2)

(A at AS (281 UMS); predicted A; gained A at A2)

(A at AS (290 UMS); predicted A; gained A at A2)

Details about the offer

 conditional

AAA, I already had an A in maths at the time of the offer which wasn’t included in it, so the offer was 3 more As, so I had to achieve a total of 4As.

yes

N/A

 offer met

Decisions about the application

I felt that it provided the best academic opportunities available.

Oxford offers PPE, Cambridge has no equivalent, and I also like Oxford better as a city.

I am very interested in politics and economics and I don’t think that they can be properly studied without a good understanding of philosophy.

I chose Magdalen partly because it seemed like a friendly place, partly because of its location, partly because of the accommodation provided and partly because of its reputation, especially for PPE.

Preparation

yes

A mock interview with the headmaster and heads of departments, and also philosophy sessions after school (although these were not specifically for Oxbridge students).

There was also a week during the Summer before the interviews for Oxbridge applicants from across the county, organised by my school, but paid for by the county council and available to students from all schools in Norfolk.

Make sure that you get at least one harsh mock interview with a teacher or similar person, it’s very useful just to get you to think in the right way.

Make sure you know more about your subject than just the A level curriculum (this only applies if you study the subject at A level).

Interview

no

I had to sit an exam at Oxford before the interviews started. Past papers can be obtained online, and the format in all of the exams I’ve seen has been almost exactly the same each time.

yes

I had to submit one essay from each of two subjects. I submitted a past paper essay from politics and another from economics, both of which I’d done as homework.

yes

I had to sit an exam at Oxford before the interviews started. Past papers can be obtained online, and the format in all of the exams I’ve seen has been almost exactly the same each time.

The interviews were all different. I had one for each subject in PPE. The philosophy one seemed to be the most relaxed and felt more like a disucussion than an interview. The politics one involved two tutors interviewing at the same time and they were more aggressive in their questioning and the economics interview was, in my opinion, the one in which the tutor was most aggressive.

In my philosophy interview I was given a specific question a few minutes in advance to discuss and was also asked general questions about why I thought philosophy was important.
In my politics interview I had to choose a book to discuss and also was asked about specific topics by the tutors.
In my economics interview I was asked to choose a topic to talk about and then discussing it took up the whole interview.

I wore smart black trousers and shoes along with a shirt and a fairly smart black jacket but no tie.

I felt comfortable in this and smart at the same time, without being overdressed.

Impressions

The college seemed to be lovely and a friendly place.

The room that I had for my interview consisted of a large bedroom with a sink and an even larger study/living room containing a table, a desk and a sofa with plenty of room to spare. I shared a bath, shower and toilet with 3 other rooms on my floor.

The food was tolerable, but I have a low opinion of almost all institutional food.

The tutors seemed friendly and competent, but I didn’t have any contact with them outside interviews.

From the little that I saw of them, the students seemed to be very friendly and helpful.

Looking back

Definitely, it would have been worthwile applying even if I hadn’t gotten in.

Make sure you find someone to do 1 or 2 mock interviews with you, and make sure you read around your subject.