Application

 Oxford

 Balliol

 Physics

 2003

 offer made

Applicant

 A-levels

 pre-qualification

 N/A

 N/A

 Grammar School

 yes (10 A*,1 A)

A-levels

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

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

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

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

Details about the offer

 conditional

AAA, effectively AA as I had an A in Maths already

yes

Oxford first choice, Queens Belfast 2nd

N/A

 grades pending/unknown

Decisions about the application

I knew it was the best place to be academically, and that certain job oportunities would arise after I finished my degree. This coupled with the fact that its a great place clinched it for me. It was an entirely personal choice, and I wasnt influenced by my parents or teachers, they let me decide for myself which I appreciated… i have the opinion that if you’re just applying because your dad says so then you’re taking a place away from someone who really wants to go!

I had a work placement in the design office at the Physics Department in Oxford and I really loved the town and the atmosphere. I was influenced by a few of my teachers who had been in the past and I was told that Cambridge was quite a small town, too small for me and my personality probably! I went back to Oxford for the open days and still really liked the place, it was then that I knew I’d fit in.

I stayed here during the week of the open days. My maths teacher went to Balliol and on my work experience I spoke to the physics tutors and to some students, one in particular who went to my school, he was loving it there and recommended it to me

Preparation

yes

Our school had some Oxford and Cambridge admission tutors speak about the application process and about general Oxbrdige info. We had meetings once a week as a whole group… (there were 17 of us who applied) and I had a class for anyone going for Natural Sciences.. ie Engineering, Physics etc which didnt help at all in the end.. though was quite good fun in the end! We had two mock interviews, which went quite badly for me, though was much more confident going into the real one!

The Forms: Mention if you’ve been to Oxford or have visited the college before, thats about it

The interview(s): Make sure you know your notes off by heart, physics and maths. Do the sample maths papers and think of any obvious questions you can get asked. Be confident and trust your instinct in the interview

Interview

no

no

yes

I had a 1 hour Maths exam on the day of my interview

I had two interviews each with two tutors. The first one went really well and the second went so-o. The tutors were really nice, but usually one agreed with me whilst the other tried to question everything I said, even if it was right!

I had to do problems on the board. The first interview involved me working out differential equations, 2nd order ones and it lead to SHM of a mass on the end of a spring. The second interview was more curve sketching and general maths. I didnt get asked a specific physics question in either interview, it was all maths!

I wore a suit, just thought I couldn’t go wrong with it and I had one! I didnt want to wear anything else incase everyone else was wearing a suit

Impressions

Balliol is really cool, JCR is nice and the layout of the grounds is different from most colleges. Balliol is in a great place, really central. Other colleges I liked were Queens and Exeter

I wasnt too impressed by the rooms at Balliol, they werent that bad, but werent that good either.. not a very warm homely feeling to them. Your only sleeping there though.. you’ll be living in the JCR so Im not worrying about that. My room was overlooking a graveyard.. so added benefits all round!

Edible but not great

Apparently its quite expensive to eat in the halls.. and if your like me and you dont think money grows on trees it might be worthwhile to think about other catering choices.

The ones I spoke to were really nice.. .. made me feel so at ease, which i was really glad of. Some were a bit eccentric, but if you leave them be they’ll be fine with you.

Most were really nice though i did meet some stereotypical ones who really got on my nerves.

Final stage

Was more relieved than anything,, the hard work had paid off.. I was so glad. 5 of my best friends got offers too so that made it even more special

Looking back

Yes i would, had 6 places on my UCAS form and couldnt find 6 places to fill it without Oxford, why not have a go id say to anyone thinking of applying.. worst they can say is no.

Give it your best shot… be focused and make sure you concentrate on it.. if you dont get it then forget about it.. nothings lost!