Application

 Oxford

 St Anne’s

 Physics

 1998

 offer made

Applicant

 A-levels

 pre-qualification

 N/A

 N/A

 Comprehensive School

 yes

A-levels

Details about the offer

 conditional

yes

[now at St-Annes, Oxford]

N/A

 offer met

Decisions about the application

[This was written in the context of talking to someone who was considering applying for Chemistry at Oxford]
I haven’t actually started yet so don’t know much about anything other than the uni itself. I love the town – not too small (unlike Cambridge), close to London, etc. Perhaps if you are in any doubt about what area of science you are interested in then Natural Sciences at Cambridge is the course for you (if you haven’t looked at this course then I *strongly* recommend you do. I was gonna apply for it for the whole of lower 6th until my physics epiphany. It seems perfect for anyone with any doubt. I was glad that I made my mind up in the end because if I was honest I knew I liked oxford much more. Cambridge seems to be a very academic/scientific university. I wanted to get away from all that nerdy science stuff and meet some interesting people (although I’m not saying this wouldn’t be poss. at Cambridge). Of what I’ve seen so far I can strongly recommend oxford. I’m not an authority on the chem. course though I’m afraid…

It’s reputation as a college with a high proportion of state school applicants – i know it’s a cliche but i didn’t want to be surrounded by public school “types” for four years.
It’s supposed to be relatively unpopular in terms of applicants so i hoped i
would find it easier to get in.

Out of town – no tourists.

Promised reasonably good accomodation in 3 of the 4 years i’ll be here.
And mainly it’s general reputaion as a liberal, progressive, non-traditional college.

Preparation

no

[How did you prepare for your interview? Did you read any particular books? Did you find your preparation useful? Given the chance again what preparation would you do?]
I did research on current areas of activity in physics. Most of this i did on the internet. The only books i read were my alevel books to make sure i knew the syllabus inside out. I also re read the books i’d mentioned on my ucas form (brief history of time, etc.)
My research on current physics was not directly relevant to any of the questions i was asked although i would definitely do it again because i would imagine it’s quite common to be asked questions where a vague awareness of what’s going on in research would be a very good thing.

The a level revison was vital as most of the technical questions were on
stuff that appears on the a lvel syllabus.

Interview

no

no

no

[This was written in the context of talking to someone who was considering applying for Chemistry at Oxford]
I had two interviews with them and a maths test which all physics applicants sit. The interviews went ok. I’m sure you’ve already been told this but the interviews aren’t really that bad. I’m sure chem. interviews are similar to physics so I’ll give you an idea of what to expect. They last about half an hour. you’ll walk in and talk about yourself and your non-academic/non-chemistry interests for a bit. I get the impression that they are looking for reasonably rounded individuals so make sure you mention any sports/voluntary work/non-scientific books you’ve enjoyed. Just make it clear chemistry isn’t the be all and end all of your life.

Then you’ll talk about chemistry in general terms. You obviously need to know the answer to “why do want to do chemistry?”, “what areas do you especially enjoy?”. Try to keep abreast of current issues in chemistry ( I am not the person for advice on this as I hated my a level and wouldn’t touch degree level chem. with a fecking barge-pole). My main source of info was the internet. there are several great sites on particle physics which was my “specialist subject”. I’m sure they’ll be loads on the internet for you. Try the chemistry guide at www.about.com it’s written by a human so is usually more effective than yahoo or whatever.

They then went through some calculations with me to check my maths although I don’t know whether this would happen in chem. (probably in a simpler way). I would think you’d get quizzed in quite detailed terms on the a level syllabus. make sure you’ve revised what you’ve done so far and have at least read what’s still to come after xmas.

[What format did your interview take?]
There are two tutors and i had two one hour interviews with them seperately.

I was also called for interview at St Edmund’s Hall where i was with all three tutors at the same time. ON asked me general academic questions, one asked physics question and one asked maths although they would make occasional comments during the other tutor’s “bits”.

Impressions

[What were your first experiences of your college upon arrival for interview?]
I was shown to my room and generally well treated logistically.
Entertainment (videos, etc.) had been laid on by the JCR so sunday night was quite relaxing. Everone was a bit up tight about the interviews so it wasn’t that easy to meet people.

[How would you describe your college?]
It’s atmosphere is totally different to that of the small number of other colleges i’ve been to in that it’s so liberal in terms of regulations and so on. It’s not oppressively academic either.

[and now as a student:]
Basically, all the things i mentioned [in earlier questions] were borne out. It certainly feels like a very liberal and progressive atmosphere.
Apart from accommodation – there was a cock-up and too many offers were made so five too few rooms were available. I’m one of the four people who live in the graduate accommodation in summertown.