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Chemistry Applications

Today I'm featuring an interview with Adam, who has recently started am undergrad degree in Chemistry at Lincoln College:

Why did you decide to apply to Oxford in the first place?

For me the reputation of the university was a huge draw, I loved the idea of having the chance to study my favourite subject at a world leading institution. The opportunity to learn from experts at the cutting edge of their fields wasn't something I could turn down so I thought I should give applying a shot. The city was also part of my decision with all the amazing architecture of the colleges and just the general feel of the place.

What subject did you apply for?

I applied for Chemistry.

What did you do to try to make your personal statement stand out?

I did my best to include any extra reading I had done and explained how it had helped me further my understanding of my A Level subjects (the "A Very Short Introduction" books were particularly useful). I also referenced any work experience I had done which could be linked to skills I would need in my degree.

Can you give us an insight into your interviews?

I had three interviews, two on one day and a separate one the following day. They were pretty daunting to begin with, I was terrified for my first interview but seemed to get progressively more relaxed after that. I found my first interview, in organic chemistry, the most difficult (probably because of the nerves!) and felt like I missed some obvious things. My next two interviews I felt went better as I had more of an idea of what to expect and what would be expected of me. The first two interviews were at Lincoln where I applied and the final one was at St Edmund Hall. The organic interview started with some general mechanisms I'd seen in AS chemistry and then went on to discussing why some products are more likely to form than others in these reactions. My second interview was inorganic and physical so I was asked to talk about the gas laws and some trends in the periodic table, I also had to explain why these trends occurred and derive some equations (with some help!). My final interview was quite broad and covered some organic chemistry as well as some of my maths knowledge with trigonometry.

How did you find the interview experience overall?

At first I found the interview experience pretty scary but soon realised that I could only do my best and that the tutors interviewing me wanted me to do well. Everybody seemed to be in the same boat with how they were feeling before the interviews and I didn't hear any horror stories so the overall experience was probably as positive as it could have been!

Which college did you get into?

I was fortunate enough to get into Lincoln where I applied.

What are you most looking forward to about starting Oxford?

Meeting people who are as passionate about the subject as me and having the opportunity to speak with experts in the field in my tutorials. All of the traditions, fancy meals and dining halls are pretty exciting too.

What are you nervous about?

I've heard that chemistry is a lot of work so that's one thing I'm nervous for, also making a good first impression with people.

Any top tips you'd like to give future applicants?

Try to do as much wider reading as you can as this will give you more to include in your personal statement, and remember that the interview is meant to be an opportunity to see how you think so just try your best. I found that thinking out loud helped the tutors to see where I might have missed something so they could push me in the right direction.

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