Oxbridge Candidate's Application Experience
Wednesday, 06 March 2019
Emily Manock is one of the Bolton School Sixth Form students who has successfully applied to the Universities of Oxford or Cambridge this year. Here she talks about what inspired her to consider Oxbridge and her experience of the rigorous application process:
“Recently, I received my offer to read German and French at Jesus College, Oxford University. Looking back, even though it was suggested to me earlier by relatives and others, I believe I first started to consider the Oxbridge route when I was in Year 10. Before this, I did not consider it a possibility, as I believed I was not gifted enough to be considered a place, as well as the fact that I was sceptical of my chances as a disabled student. However, I performed exceptionally well academically at the beginning of the year, particularly in my YELLIS test, and was invited on the Oxford trip that year. On that trip, we visited Jesus College, where I saw a student who likely had cerebral palsy as I do, and it was at that point that I began to set my sights on Oxford.
“The application process was stressful and required a lot of work. The first step of this process was the UCAS application, for which I received support from the school careers department, specifically in regard to my personal statement, which was brought up several times during my interview. Having initially applied for English and German, I studied intensely for my English and Modern Languages aptitude tests to improve my knowledge of German grammar and English language devices. This took a lot of detailed studies to maximise my marks, most of which I completed independently. The exam was complex, but there were a plethora of past papers that were easy to access online to give me an idea as to what concepts would be tested. Following this, I had to submit written work in both English and German that had been verified by School to show my writing ability, and it was after this that I had to wait to be called for interview.
“Having initially applied to Worcester College, I was one of the last people in the year to hear about my interview. Yet, when I got the email calling me for an interview, I was informed that I could not take English and German but was welcome to try for French and German. Additionally, I was allocated Jesus College rather than my initial choice. This meant I had to study for another aptitude test and submit more work within just over a week. I received a lot of support from the MFL department, without which I would have struggled immensely, as a week was hardly enough time to prepare. Specifically, the focus on the interview with practices from both my languages teachers and within the Oxbridge CEP sessions helped a lot with preparation. The interviews themselves were a lot less intimidating than I was initially expecting. I felt like they were arguably the strongest part of my application since I felt confident in my approach to abstract questions on language as well and I felt like my answers surrounding the two literary extracts were good. We touched on a number of subjects including translation, swearing, and sign language, as well as multiple topics I mentioned in my personal statement. Therefore, I would recommend that potential applicants try to maximise their super-curricular activities, such as lectures, workshops, summer schools, and wider reading. I would also advise that candidates do not worry about being allocated to other colleges and courses because the University does, in fact, take it into account.
“Receiving the offer was a somewhat odd experience since the date fell in the middle of my mock exams. I had refused to check UCAS before going home, because I had two exams that day, and after having heard other people’s rejections, I was not confident I would be offered a place. However, when I got home, I was greeted by the envelope, and I was pleased to find it was heavy. When I opened the letter, I was completely elated, but I could only celebrate for around half an hour before going back to revise for the next day of exams. I am currently not sure what the future holds for me after Oxford, because the change in my course has led me to consider other career options, as well as possibly post-graduate education, in a field such as Linguistics or Translation.”
Four more Bolton School students also received offers. In the Girls’ Division Annette Elmes received an offer to read Spanish and Portuguese at St John’s College, Cambridge; and Millie Wood an offer to study PPE at Balliol College, Oxford. In the Boys’ Division, Matthew Schaffel received an offer to study Classics at Brasenose College, Oxford; and Rupert Varley to read Engineering at Emmanuel College, Cambridge.
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