Application

 Oxford

 Worcester

 Physics

 1997

 offer made

Applicant

 A-levels

 pre-qualification

 N/A

 N/A

 Comprehensive School

 yes (1 A*,5 A,3 B,2 C)

A-levels

(NA at AS; predicted C; gained B at A2)

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

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

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

Details about the offer

 conditional

AAA, any 3 out of the 4.

yes

I accepted the offer and am now coming to the end of my third year at Worcester and have enjoyed my time here greatly.

N/A

 offer met

Decisions about the application

Oxford and Cambridge still have a reputation that makes a degree from either really worth something. I wasn’t by any means really set on Oxford but I thought it was worth a go applying and seeing what happened

Oxford does a physics course not just natural sciences. Cambridge is quite close to home so I wanted to get away a bit more.

The surroundings, it has got a lake in the grounds. To be honest it was mostly chance but I did make the right choice (although I would say that now wouldn’t I)

Preparation

yes

Yes, a very pointless practice interview with the Headmaster which was about as unlike the interview here as was possible.

The Forms: I didn’t write anything extra on my Oxford application form as I’d already had enough worrying over my personal statement on my UCAS form. I guess the only advice would be only write down things that you are prepared to talk about as that is all the interviewers have to ask you!

The interview(s): Be prepared to be challenged. Interviewers won’t learn anything from you if the questions are too easy or far too hard. Don’t sit in the interview and say nothing, explain what you are thinking about a certain problem, how you would go about solving it etc. If you give the interviewer something back about the way you can analyse problems it is more useful than you sitting there and saying nothing!

Interview

no

yes

To be honest I can’t remember exactly what I sent but it was (probably) a practical write up and a piece of coursework style writing. Although my submitted work wasn’t mentioned in my interview it gave the interviewers an idea of what I had been studying which lead to possible interview questions.

yes

I had to take a 1 hour maths paper. I didn’t know you could get sample papers before interview so I didn’t know what was coming (the fact it was done without calculators was somewhat of a shock to the system)

I had two half an hour interviews at Worcester and a half hour interview at St. Hughes. All the interviews were similar in that the interviews quickly found something that was a little too hard for you to answer and helped you through it.

Sketching graphs, differentiation of nasty (!) functions, geostationary orbits, estimation questions eg. number of atoms in a grain of sand vs. number of grains of sand on a beach

A suit. Don’t really know why, it’s the same thing that I’d have worn to an interview for a job so it seemed appropriate.

Impressions

I liked it, it seemed a nice friendly environment.

The rooms where fairly big, the facilities where good to say a lot of the buildings are very old. The college bar was open in the evenings we were there which was a nice venue to chat to people.

Good

The ‘formal’ meals that happen most evenings here are excellent and very cheap. Well worth the effort of getting into a suit for dinner

I can only really comment on the physics tutors all of which have been really good. What is nice is that you feel that they do actually care about how you are doing etc. and aren’t just teaching you because they are paid to which is the impression I’ve got from people at other universities.

They are a nice enough bunch. There are people from a very wide range of backgrounds here and you won’t like everyone (or maybe that’s just me). I have in my time here made some really good friends and don’t know of anyone who can honestly say they really don’t like the place.

Final stage

The letter arrived on Christmas eve which was nice. The decision to accept the offer was not too hard to make although I didn’t feel pushed into it by school which was nice.

Looking back

Yes, sometimes I think how much easier life would have been (work wise) if I had gone to another university. Although perhaps it shouldn’t an Oxbridge education still does open a lot of door to people so the extra work is worth it.

Have a go. It can do no harm to you whatsoever. You get to spend a few days living in Oxford which is an experience. If you are successful then great, if not then no harm is really done and the interviews you get at Oxford put you in a good position for interview elsewhere.