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Receiving an Offer from Oxford - Linguistics

By Nora

Before attending the Oxford open day, I had been set on applying to read History and French. They were my two favourite subects and I had already begun work on my personal statement. Then suddenly, after visiting the Taylor Institution Library and speaking to students, I decided I wanted to study French and beginners Russian. I have wanted to go to Oxford ever since I was little, and only recently did I realise that this was the only place that facilitated such a breadth of study in terms of literature and history for languages.

For Oxford, this involves a tricky personal statement, trying to show interest in a subject you don’t study. Then an even trickier MLAT exam. For me, this constituted a 30 minute French grammar test then a 30 minute language aptitude test, testing your understanding of grammar from a made up language. I spent almost my entire October half term working on French grammar, and did 10 practise LATs. I actually felt that the exam went well, and it’s much shorter than other Oxford entrance exams, but I did feel that a lot of practise was necessary (I’m thankful that Oxford provided a lot of resources for this online).

Later on, I was asked to send two essays, one written in English, and one written in French. For my English essay, I chose a politics essay about the US constitution. For French, I had only ever written one essay, so I wrote another in a two day period (which was fairly stressful) about a film we had studied in school.

In December, I was shortlisted for interview. I only found out 3 days before my interviews, so I had to begin the preparation process beforehand. I consulted past questions online, reminded myself why I want to study my subject at Oxford, and then did 2 mock interviews with my teachers. I had 3 interviews, one for each language at the college and 1 with the faculty of Russian. My first French interview, I personally thought went horrifically, and my mum had to physically hold me for about 10 minutes whilst I cried over what I thought was a dead dream. I wasn’t given anything beforehand, and I struggled to grasp what the poem I was given in French was about at all. When it came to the section in spoken French, I couldn’t understand what I was being asked very well, and verbally seemed to lose all grasp on the French language. I managed to find some strength and maybe it was that I felt there was less pressure on my last two, but both my Russian faculty and college interviews went well. I was given a poem in English (again during my interview, not beforehand) and asked about my personal statement. If I were to self assess, I imagine that it was this section that truly allowed me to convey my passion for my subject: I had thoroughly enjoyed everything that I had done for my personal statement.

It was fairly easy to distract myself over Christmas, and move on and accept what I thought was a good but ultimately unsuccessful attempt. The morning of January 10th was the biggest surprise that I have ever experienced and probably the best day of my life. I feel so privileged and proud to receive an offer, and can’t wait to call New College home.


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