Application

 Oxford

 Wadham

 Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE)

 2006 (deferred entry)

 offer made

Applicant

 A-levels

 pre-qualification

 home

 United Kingdom

 Comprehensive School

 yes (8 A*,1 A,2 B)

A-levels

(B at AS (228 UMS))

(A at AS (298 UMS); predicted A; gained NA at A2)

(B at AS (231 UMS); predicted A; gained A at A2)

(A at AS (270 UMS); predicted A; gained A at A2)

(A at AS (283 UMS); predicted A; gained A at A2)

Advanced Extension Awards

(predicted NA; gained NA)

Details about the offer

 conditional

AAA

yes

no

 grades pending/unknown

Decisions about the application

Becuase I wanted to go!

I only live half an hour away from Cambridge, and fell in love with Oxford the second time I went there (the first time, I threw up in Pizza Hut and saw very little else.)

Wanted to carry on with Maths and Humanities, always been interested in Politics and Philosophy and discovered upon looking into Economics that, actually, I love that too!

They stood out whilst I was making my initial decisions, and after going to an open day I never looked back.

Preparation

yes

A couple of talks with Professor Cardwell, science admissions tutor from Cambridge; opportunity to go to Eton Universities Summer School; a couple of practice interviews; loan of a Philosophy textbook and an open office for me to panic in whenever the mood took me!

Read plenty about your subject (and not just from your A-level syllabus)- if you want to study it for the right reasons, that shouldn’t be too difficult! Also, try not to panic about the small things. I sent my UCAS application to the wrong college (LMH), and I still got an offer, so there is no conspiracy theory and they will probably not equate your common sense with your academic potential (See: Adam Smith)

Interview

no

yes

Sent in two pieces of coursework- an English essay on Far From the Madding Crowd, and a History essay on Witchcraft in Early Modern England. As these had nothing to do with what I was actually interviewing for, they didn’t get mentioned.

yes

The PPE exam I took was exactly the same format as the specimen. One comprehension, one word disassociation, one you-too-can-do-basic-economics! question. No preparation possible, although I’ve heard that the same words often come up, so if you’re terrible at that, perhaps looking at some of the more common ones might be a good idea.

I had two. One was a very friendly intellectual chat, the other an icy grilling (if such a thing is even possible).

Interview one was with two Politics tutors, interview two with a Philsophy and an Economics tutor. In the first interview, I was given some things to look over first.

Interviewer 1: the UN charter and general faults with said organisation
Interviewer 2: The fairest distribution of carrots on desert islands (Capitalism/communism/meritocracy etc.)
Interviewer 3 & 4: Why PPE, what have you read about it?
Interviewer 3: “What would you like to talk about?” Looked at logic questions
Interviewer 4: Health Insurance.

First interview- red jumper and courdroy trousers. Second interview- red shirt with white braces, black trousers. Really, I just wanted to wear braces to one of my interviews, although in general I wanted quirky-but-smart, as it’s how I feel most comfortable.

Impressions

Wadham and I have a spiritual bond. No, seriously. Everything about that place was the best thing that I’d ever seen. I got excited about the sink in the cupboard, for crying out loud. If you feel like this during your interviews, you’ve made the right decision to apply. Or perhaps you should seek psychiatric help. Who can say.

I loved the Wadham staircase arrangement, particularly as we had a little kitchen- the whole thing feels very homely. The room was massive, and really rather lovely (although a little cold).

Lunch was nice, but dinner was poor. Food all tastes like cardboard at 8.00 in the morning, so I can’t possibly comment on breakfast.

Those in interview one were fantastic, and I look forward to talking politics with them when I join the ranks of the undergraduates. I was less charmed by those in interview two.

Fabulous.

Final stage

I was more concerned about how I would react when I was rejected than anything else. I had a close friend who also applied, and I was worried about our friendship if (as I thought was most likely) she got in and I didn’t.

My boyfriend took the call whilst I was driving him to Cambridge, but wouldn’t tell me what it was until I got out of the car. When he told me, I refused to believe that it was actually for the deferral! (I’m going to China next year, and wouldn’t have accepted 2007 entry). After finding out, I smiled. A lot. And then started worrying for my friend.

Looking back

Absolutely. Whatever the outcome, trying is always better (and yields more valuable experience) than giving up just because of what *could* happen.

1) Don’t worry about stupid mistakes- everyone makes them. I met a guy at interview who panicked because he wrote his name in the top left hand corner of his test sheets and not the top right, as instructed. If this really had anything to do with anything, the box up there would say “rejected”, not “offer made”! 2) Do everything you do at an interview, and at Oxford in general, for YOU and not for the interviewers/tutors/big brother. If you are who they want, they will take you regardless of whether you wear braces to the interview or whatever. 3) Enjoy the social opportunities, particularly if you’re there for a long time. Other interviewees are often very interesting people. And for goodness’ sake, wish other people interviewing for your subject good luck when you part company!