Application

 Oxford

 St Edmund Hall

 Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE)

 2005

 offer made

Applicant

 A-levels

 pre-qualification

 home

 United Kingdom

 Grammar School

 yes (5 A*,5 A,1 B)

A-levels

(A at AS (244 UMS))

(A at AS (267 UMS); predicted A; gained A at A2)

(A at AS (287 UMS); predicted A; gained A at A2)

(A at AS (242 UMS); predicted A; gained A at A2)

Advanced Extension Awards

(predicted NA; gained Ungraded)

Details about the offer

 conditional

AAA, Not General studies. I dropped Physics after receiving my offer to concentrate on the 3 subjects.

yes

no

 offer met

Decisions about the application

Because of the course PPE- it just appealed to me in every way.

Cambridge don’t do PPE; SPS is a very different course that I didn’t really want to study.

Because it covers the essence of government in its entirity, but it is also broad enough to consider other elements.

Teddy Hall seems a fun place; my school experience was so bad, I wanted somewhere a little laid back about academics. Plus, its in the centre of town, is unobvtrusive so most tourists pass it by, and is really, really pretty. 🙂

Preparation

yes

My school tried to give some basic generic advice to Oxbridge candidates, most of which was redundant. I did go out of my way to have a lot of mock interviews though.

Don’t over-prepare! Its entirely possible, especially if you’re stressed about it, and want to do something pro-active to help yourself. The trouble is, at interview, you will regurgitate what you’ve read without really thinking about it properly.

Interview

no

yes

2 essays:
One was a history essay, about the economy of Nazy Germany (completed in my AS year). The other was a Politics essay on the pre-primary stage of US Presidential elections (completed in September before I applied).

Neither was particularly outstanding, but they were decent, and more importantly, I was willing to discuss them at interview (sods law meant that they didn’t come up!).

yes

Standard PPE exam (probably available on the internet somewhere). I think one thing that definitely helped me was that I just about finished it; my time management is pretty good. That was in contrast to a lot of other candidates, at least from what they told me.

I had 3, one for each branch of the subject.

Politics was nice, the tutors were friendly, and encouraging. I walked out with a good feeling about it, because I had been able to say some not-completely-idiotic things there.

Philsophy was confusing- the tutor was very eccentric, but cool, and asked an age-old question with no answer. He just wanted to see how we thought.

Economics was hard- the tutor was distant, and didn’t respond much to what I said. We started discussing a book, but he dismissed everything I had to say about it- which wasn’t a lot, because my mind had gone blank!

Politics- “Do you think politicians should always be honest?” (discussion about public interest vs public knowledge- security issues, etc.)

Philosophy- “Imagine a heap of sand. Take a grain away, and its still a heap. But carry on doing that, and you’re left with just one grain, which isn’t a heap. At what point does it stop being a heap?”

Economics- (He gave me a graph) “Explain what’s going on.”

I can’t really remember now, but it wasn’t anything special. Jeans and a sweater, I think (it was pretty cold!).

Wear something comfortable. The tutors are going to try and make you uncomfortable in the interview, wearing something like a suit when you’re not comfortable thinking in that is probably going to hinder you. Plus, they don’t care what you wear, they care what you think and say!

Impressions

I was kicking myself when I got home because I did what I promised myself I wouldn’t do, and had falled in love with Teddy Hall.

I think the rooms and showers, etc. were all pretty standard for a university room.

Terrible.

Politics- nice and friendly.
Philosophy- confusing and eccentric (but fun!)
Economics- distant and difficult to communicate with it.

Friendly and helpful.

Final stage

Worst feeling ever. You just want to know.

Letter. I started jumping up and down, and then called everyone I knew.

Looking back

Yep- apart from the fact that I got in, it was the best year of my life anyway!

Its not about what you know, its about how you think.