Application

 Oxford

 New

 Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE)

 2008

 offer made

Applicant

 A-levels

 post-qualification

 N/A

 United Kingdom

 FE College

Boarding school followed by state 6th form

 yes (9 A*,1 A)

A-levels

(A at AS)

(A at AS)

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

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

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

Details about the offer

 unconditional

yes

yes

yes

Best course

 offer met

Decisions about the application

Amazing course
International reputation
Collegiate system
Loved the atmosphere

Preferred the atmosphere of Oxford to Cambridge, seemed less geeky, more light-hearted and fun, which I think is better since the work is pretty intense…
Plus Ox is supposed to be better for arts/law and Camb doesnt do PPE

Interest and potential careers
Variety and flexibility

Loved the atmosphere, nice, normal, fun-loving people. Plus its good for music and has a great location.

Preparation

no

Take a moment to think clearly and make sure you answer the question being asked. Structure your arguments, show your thinking calmly and logically.

Interview

yes

PPE Aptitude test – essay section has a short time restriction

no

no

Short, fair, course-focused, enjoyable.

Its difficult to prep for the interviews as questions are designed to test your thinking style – not your prior knowledge or even interest. It was pretty much all about aptitude and potential.

Questions in response to hypothetical situations and selected texts from each branch (3 separate interviews).
Again not something that could be prepped for. I got asked absolutely nothing about my personal statement or about current affairs/previous relevant knowledge. However, other people did.

Casual dress, loafers – comfortable and presentable in one pleasing outfit.

Impressions

New – Gentile, yet far from being subdued.
Pleasant grounds, amusing students – seemed up for a laugh…or two.

Balliol – Probably second favourite for PPE, a little more uptight though, more studious. Perhaps more state-school people than New, but that was just the impression.

St Johns – Nice enough college, very wealthy, not as good for PPE, pompous but well meaning.

Worcester – Loved the feel, charming grounds, old school types – but not so great for PPE, good for hist, english and thesps I believe.

Magdelen – Very large grounds, less party atmosphere than New and Worcester, but civilised and pleasant.

Merton – Too studious. Felt much more pressured and less lively than the others I visited. But great results.

Others – Teddy Hall was nice, but quite small (St Edmunds), Oriel was pleasant, rah-filled but in a good way, Hertford seemed boisterous and full of humanities types (geography etc), Christ Church was… well, it lived up to the stereotype – I quite liked it, but overly traditional/pompous and I didn’t like the idea of living with hoards of tourists day in day out traipsing about the place.

Mixed really, some rooms were really nice. Sets were good as the shared living rooms were large and came with sofas, big desks and fridges, clearly essential.

Standard

Pleasant, relaxed

Summed up by: “Work hard, play harder” I think. With emphasis on the playing.
Most seemed lively/fun, some were quieter and more musical. Not a bad lot really.

Final stage

I prepared myself for rejection, whilst secretly hoping/wishfully thinking that I might get in.
Then, I thought back over my interviews, convinced myself that I had blown my chances in spectacular style, and attempted to forget about it.

Disbelief… I think it took a month to actually hit me properly! I kept thinking I had misread the letter.

Looking back

Of course, you cant get in if you don’t try and apply!

You will probably know if you have a chance or not, be realistic with yourself before you decide to apply as others who got rejected took it badly (obviously).

Remember, for PPE there isnt too much preparation you can do, the best thing you can do is to talk to lots of different people to get used to responding to people who think in different ways to you, the interview is all about how you think naturally.

Don’t be put off applying by an iffy grade – if you come from a school which is acknowledged to be less than top-notch this will be taken into account and there are other ways to prove yourself – the TSA-test is an important factor, as is the interview. The interviewers are much more interested in potential than previous opportunities and knowledge.

Finally, the personal statement is the place to prove interest, the interview is the place to show ability, not that you can memorise your book list… You may be asked about things you have mentioned in your personal statement, but don’t count on it.