Hi, I’m Flora from Wiltshire, and I have just been offered a place to study Classics at Univ, with a choral scholarship. I actually applied for the joint course of Classics and English, and it’s understandable that I was turned down for this: English is definitely my weakest A-Level, and Univ has never had a Classics and English student! I’d known for a long time that I wanted to do classics, and that I wanted to go to Oxford. Over the summer I wrote the first draft of my personal statement, and applied online for the choral scholarship. This meant that I had to pick a college quite early on, and I found that the statistics available online were really useful. Google things like “college success rates” and you can then sort through colleges by subject, too. When I got back to school in September I had discussions about my personal statement. I showed it to my tutor, a couple of teachers, and the head of sixth form (herself a classicist and Oxford alumna). I did make some bold statements (which came up in the interview!) but just went very specific in why and what I love in my subjects. Then, I did the choral scholarship. Thankfully Oxford does them early, so they were out of the way and I could focus on the admissions tests. I submitted my UCAS a few weeks before the deadline too, so that wasn’t something I really had to stress about. My school put on really good preparation for the tests. We did one practice paper a week from September until half term (I say one paper, I mean half- either the Latin of the Greek section in the enormous exam). I had to sit two, the CAT and the ELAT, and I didn’t have so much preparation for the English, due to the tragic death of one of my English teachers, which understandably shook up everything. In November I had an email back from my college inviting me to interview. I had to do four- two for classics, and two for English. At this point I also had to fill in a form saying I’d like to be considered for the single honours courses instead of the joint; thankfully I said I would! The interviews were fun. You’re spending a decent amount of time with experts, talking about subjects you all love. I didn’t come out feeling very confident in my performance, but I wasn’t completely traumatised. Interestingly, of the other people I know who got offers, most of them also had fun in the interviews. So to summarise:
Write a draft of your personal statement (however rudimentary) early. Just get the words down.
Prepare for the tests! Just do little and often.
Relax about the interviews. Know what you’re talking about, don’t be cocky, but you CAN enjoy them!
And try not to worry if you’re turned down. I know many completely brilliant students who didn’t get in, but it depends on so much: statement, UCAS, tests, interviews, interviewers, other applicants, course, college... it’s not a reflection on your intelligence.