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    (Original post by parentlurker)

    2. The interview does, however, allow you to spot if the applicant has an annoying accent, ethnic minority background, minor disability, will be good to look at in a supervision.......

    4. I certainly paid a bill for my child, not that many years ago.
    I rarely post here but wow, that comment... well that's an unjustified and ridiculous slur on a bunch of people who, I feel, are really trying hard to be fair and open. I have seen no hint from the Freshers' photos that students might have been chosen because they look good in a supervision - they look a nice, normal group of young people to me.

    I've been to loads of Open Days in my time and Cambridge were by far the most accommodating financially with free lunches etc. We did pay for overnight accommodation (and one visit we brought a tent!) as we live miles and miles away but that's fair enough I think. Why should a university give free accommodation?? Some of my children's friends who needed it had financial support from the (state) school/EMA for Open Day/interview costs etc.
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    (Original post by supamum)
    I rarely post here but wow, that comment... well that's an unjustified and ridiculous slur on a bunch of people who, I feel, are really trying hard to be fair and open. I have seen no hint from the Freshers' photos that students might have been chosen because they look good in a supervision - they look a nice, normal group of young people to me.
    An interview does give the opportunity for subconscious bias to arise though. I admit I'm biased when it comes to this, but if Cambridge are really trying their hardest to be "fair and open", then why don't they do some research into the utility of interviews? I don't really think that's too much to ask. Cambridge spends huge amounts of money on the interview process each year, and we are told that they've done no research into whether or not it's value for money?

    I don't for one minute think that academics would be intentionally choosing better looking applicants etc. But I'm fairly sure that there's been research done that shows that good-looking people are more likely to be thought of as having other positive characteristics, such as truthfulness, intelligence etc. Even then, it's unlikely that there is subconscious bias going on, but still, it's an interesting point to consider.

    I assumed that Cambridge has been doing research into interviews (apparently Oxford does so), but just not published it, but from the comments from the Admissions Tutor suggest that they aren't even trying to do any research on it. Most people tend to disagree with me on this though, so perhaps I don't know what I'm talking about.
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    (Original post by Chief Wiggum)
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    I take your point about the existence of subconscious bias but I think many Cambridge academics (certainly the ones I have spoken to) are so obsessed about the quality of the mind that I wouldn't have thought it would be a problem. However that just is my subjective opinion. Also my observation is that the students I have seen come from a massive range of different nationalities which I think is great for my kids who have had a rural upbringing. And without being rude, Cambridge students don't seem to be more good looking than the norm!

    Your comment about doing research into the utility of interviews is sensible - there does seem to be variation between subjects and colleges about how important interviews are. In the old days it was more of a brief, friendly chat. Now it seems more complicated. But I do think (not based on any evidence I'm afraid!) that it does give an opportunity for students from all sorts of educational backgrounds to demonstrate their true potential.
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    (Original post by Chief Wiggum)
    ...

    I assumed that Cambridge has been doing research into interviews (apparently Oxford does so), but just not published it, but from the comments from the Admissions Tutor suggest that they aren't even trying to do any research on it. Most people tend to disagree with me on this though, so perhaps I don't know what I'm talking about.
    Yes, Noble confirmed [http://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/show...#post52189711] Oxford do have research (unpublished) showing interviews to be effective predictors, but it is surprising Camb haven't shared anything similar about it. Especially given the cost (and not just monetarily) it incurs on both the university and applicants.
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    (Original post by jneill)
    Yes, Noble confirmed [http://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/show...#post52189711] Oxford do have research (unpublished) showing interviews to be effective predictors, but it is surprising Camb haven't shared anything similar about it. Especially given the cost (and not just monetarily) it incurs on both the university and applicants.
    The problem with such measures for interviews comes from the fact they cannot reasonably collect data for low interview scores as those candidates are rejected and don't sit tripos and tripos grades aren't necessarily comparable to those at other institutions. What use would a measure of we take the bulk of our students with scores of 7/10+ subjective to interviewers and they got these grades be? one interviews 7 could be another's 8 and so you're statistics would have huge about of data error fluctuations perhaps to the extent it was a pointless measure.
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    (Original post by Goods)
    The problem with such measures for interviews comes from the fact they cannot reasonably collect data for low interview scores as those candidates are rejected and don't sit tripos and tripos grades aren't necessarily comparable to those at other institutions. What use would a measure of we take the bulk of our students with scores of 7/10+ subjective to interviewers and they got these grades be? one interviews 7 could be another's 8 and so you're statistics would have huge about of data error fluctuations perhaps to the extent it was a pointless measure.
    I'm not saying it's easy - at the very least they could see if, for accepted students, a higher av. interview score leads to a higher Tripos performance. As per the existing predictive effectiveness research for UMS / STEP / etc https://www.admin.cam.ac.uk/offices/..._admission.pdf
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    (Original post by Goods)
    The problem with such measures for interviews comes from the fact they cannot reasonably collect data for low interview scores as those candidates are rejected and don't sit tripos and tripos grades aren't necessarily comparable to those at other institutions. What use would a measure of we take the bulk of our students with scores of 7/10+ subjective to interviewers and they got these grades be? one interviews 7 could be another's 8 and so you're statistics would have huge about of data error fluctuations perhaps to the extent it was a pointless measure.
    Well presumably most people with low UMS are rejected, but they've still done research into that? Perhaps if low interview scores are rarer than low UMS, then that would present additional challenges for interview research.

    If one interviewer's 7 is another's 8, then surely the interview system is unreliable anyway? Anyway, research could be done within a single college, for example. Earlier in the thread, the Admissions Tutor posted something like "People with 4A* at Christ's are [insert number] times more likely to get a First, compared to those with under 2A*". So clearly, when it comes to A Level grades, research is conducted at an individual college level. Surely the same could be at least tried for interview scores? One would hope there would be consistency within a subject within a college to enable research to be done.
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    (Original post by Chief Wiggum)
    An interview does give the opportunity for subconscious bias to arise though. I admit I'm biased when it comes to this, but if Cambridge are really trying their hardest to be "fair and open", then why don't they do some research into the utility of interviews? I don't really think that's too much to ask. Cambridge spends huge amounts of money on the interview process each year, and we are told that they've done no research into whether or not it's value for money?

    I don't for one minute think that academics would be intentionally choosing better looking applicants etc. But I'm fairly sure that there's been research done that shows that good-looking people are more likely to be thought of as having other positive characteristics, such as truthfulness, intelligence etc. Even then, it's unlikely that there is subconscious bias going on, but still, it's an interesting point to consider.
    I haven't bothered to respond to parentlurker because frankly I'm still astounded by their incredible ignorance and rudeness, and I'm mightily impressed by the restraint of the Christ's Admissions Tutor in responding!

    However, my own thoughts on the points that parentlurker and yourself (more rationally) have put forward are as follows:

    1) the comments about potential 'bias' apply equally well to any sort of interview - job interview, mortgage interview, application for benefits, etc. I don't see that just because a bias could arise within a particular process, that that would be a reason for abandoning that process altogether. In fact, I've been privately wondering whether parentlurker intends to 'police' their offspring's job applications in future and will be giving feedback to potential employers complaining that the interview was patently unfair and that their son/daughter had to pay transport costs to get to the interview

    2) One point which no-one has yet touched on (as far as I can see) is that the interview is two-way process - it's an opportunity for the applicant to question the interviewer in a face-to-face situation, in just the same way as a job applicant can use the opportunity to ask questions about a particular company. Regardless of whether the interview process can be proved to be 'effective' in statistical terms, I don't think any potential Cambridge applicant should (or would want to) deny themselves the opportunity (a) to give an account of themselves in front of an interviewer; and (b) to ask as many questions as they can about the nature of the course, the student environment and any other matters they may not have thought of beforehand or may not have wanted to commit to a formal written question format!
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    (Original post by Christ's Admissions)
    Yes, it is true that school background makes little difference to success at Cambridge, unlike (iirc) the general picture in the UK where state school students tend to do a bit better than private school students with the same grades. This, hopefully, suggests that we are doing ok on this measure.
    I think the above quote indicates Cambridge's aim to admit students who are suitable for the courses regardless of background is on the right track which is encouraging.

    Well done Christ's Admissions guy for all the work you do in communicating with students. Here is my feedback - our children have both been through the admissions system in the last 5 years. I feel the various colleges did their best to be transparent about the process. And very helpful too. I normally resist temptation to post on this forum for fear of embarrassing my children. However I am finding this discussion fascinating and here are my observations on the process:

    I'm pleased Cambridge has improved the pooling system. It was quite brutal in the past and I know some students' A2 module preparation/performance (no longer so relevant!) was affected by the long wait. I think the change shows that concerns are listened to.

    My two children both applied for Science/Maths subjects with almost identical UMS but had different experiences. One got a "harsh but fair" offer which he met. He was told a few years later by his interviewer that they put no weight at all on the interview for that particular subject in that college (his response: I wish I'd known that at the time!). The other one came out of the interviews looking as if he'd been savaged by a Rottweiler (minus the blood). I’m guessing that college put a lot of weight on the interview - he was subsequently given an "easy" offer which meant, given he'd already done loads of modules, he only needed 2 Es and a U in 3 summer modules which made the A level period more relaxing than usual. I gather the interviewing fellow is equally robust in the context of supervisions! They had no idea (and the information wasn’t available) about their chosen colleges’ approach to interviews which with hindsight seemed rather different. But did it really matter in the end? Probably not! Maybe the experience was character building…

    The admissions process was stressful at times for them but I do feel the admissions people were all trying very hard to be honest and helpful. I was once told they reckon it costs around £1000 to recruit an undergraduate.

    The most stressful bit was the interview. I'm not sure what can be done to alter this. In the end the pressure of the interview is, “Am I good enough? Will I be rejected?” which are questions teenagers (and older) have been asking themselves for ages. I don’t think there is a way to choose students in a manner which doesn't put them under intense pressure but it seems (as evidenced by this thread) there is a will to make the process as good as it can be. More of those mock interview videos (maybe for all subjects?) would dispel some fears/myths about interviews. Everything seems so much more intense and involved compared to when I was young. We didn't have to do a PS and the application process was simpler – no Open Days, no internet – you just looked at brochures and picked your 5 universities.

    Our children had some, with hindsight, poor advice from well meaning people outside Cambridge. The answer I think is to take note of advice from Cambridge admissions people and ignore the rest! Our experience was that they were breathtakingly frank whatever they were asked. When emailed (lots of different colleges), they answered promptly and fully.

    I get the impression there are many people at private schools who feel discriminated against and many at state schools who feel the same way. Does this mean Cambridge has more or less got the balance right? I would agree with the comment “Oxbridge admissions is a political football which all sides feel is weighted against them”. All I can say is that I have not come across any academic involved with admissions who is not trying very hard to get it right.

    I would agree with those who say there should be uniformity between colleges as regards the timing and manner of delivery of decisions so further improvement in this area would be good. I think all colleges should email on the same day. However the explanations here about why it is not easy for some “fishing” colleges to get through the workload do make a lot of sense. At least opinions are being asked for and listened to. Maybe one day there will be a perfect system .
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    (Original post by davros)

    1) the comments about potential 'bias' apply equally well to any sort of interview - job interview, mortgage interview, application for benefits, etc. I don't see that just because a bias could arise within a particular process, that that would be a reason for abandoning that process altogether. In fact, I've been privately wondering whether parentlurker intends to 'police' their offspring's job applications in future and will be giving feedback to potential employers complaining that the interview was patently unfair and that their son/daughter had to pay transport costs to get to the interview
    Yes, I agree. The same potential drawbacks would apply to interviews in other situations as well. That's why I think objective data is more "reliable" - less chance for subconscious human bias to play a role. I'm not suggesting it does play a role, but just that it potentially could. Let me make it very clear that I am not accusing the Cambridge admissions procedure of being biased.

    Regardless of whether the interview process can be proved to be 'effective' in statistical terms, I don't think any potential Cambridge applicant should (or would want to) deny themselves the opportunity (a) to give an account of themselves in front of an interviewer;
    Well, if interviews weren't found to be good predictors, then I wouldn't want to do one. Why would I want an assessment that played no useful role to be used for my selection? I would want my selection (or rejection) to be based on methods which were known to work. If interviews weren't found to be effective, one might as well use a random number generator, and have the number generated affect your chances of getting in.

    and (b) to ask as many questions as they can about the nature of the course, the student environment and any other matters they may not have thought of beforehand or may not have wanted to commit to a formal written question format!
    In an interview, you're realistically going to be able to ask one question. If an applicant has lots of questions, I'd say emailing them to the college/department would probably get a better quality of response.

    Again, this is hypothetical. Perhaps interviews are great predictors - I just haven't seen any evidence. Apparently, evidence at Oxford shows that they're useful in Oxford admissions.
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    (Original post by Chief Wiggum)
    Again, this is hypothetical. Perhaps interviews are great predictors - I just haven't seen any evidence. Apparently, evidence at Oxford shows that they're useful in Oxford admissions.
    I think interview are more useful at oxford for two reasons they do not have UMS to judge from and the average applicant has more interviews. More interviews will always produce a more reliable impression which in theory would show better correlation to tripos. I had 3 interview one at robinson two at kings. At kings i had a good interview and a terrible one what lets say averages to mediocre if you add my third interview which went very well that might shift my overall back too good. Ive heard lots of other candidates give this tale of two interviews-esque story as well as people who get the right questions and overperform




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    (Original post by Chief Wiggum)
    An interview does give the opportunity for subconscious bias to arise though. I admit I'm biased when it comes to this, but if Cambridge are really trying their hardest to be "fair and open", then why don't they do some research into the utility of interviews? I don't really think that's too much to ask. Cambridge spends huge amounts of money on the interview process each year, and we are told that they've done no research into whether or not it's value for money?

    I don't for one minute think that academics would be intentionally choosing better looking applicants etc. But I'm fairly sure that there's been research done that shows that good-looking people are more likely to be thought of as having other positive characteristics, such as truthfulness, intelligence etc. Even then, it's unlikely that there is subconscious bias going on, but still, it's an interesting point to consider.

    I assumed that Cambridge has been doing research into interviews (apparently Oxford does so), but just not published it, but from the comments from the Admissions Tutor suggest that they aren't even trying to do any research on it. Most people tend to disagree with me on this though, so perhaps I don't know what I'm talking about.
    Have u seen the people studying at cambridge and oxford. If anything theyre selecting those who arent good looking. So i dont think theres a problem here...
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    (Original post by Josb)
    Could you ask Oxford to create a similar thread? There are several things I would like to tell them.
    (Original post by Goods)
    They could. They haven't.

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    There's a few of us with accounts on here - although mostly subject specific. If we can't help we'd be happy to point you in the direction of the right people to talk to.
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    (Original post by Oxford Computer Science Dept)
    There's a few of us with accounts on here - although mostly subject specific. If we can't help we'd be happy to point you in the direction of the right people to talk to.
    So Oxford is watching Cambridge's thread.

    Thank you for your answer. In fact my questions were about the university and the colleges, not the departments (and I'm in history). Do they have accounts on TSR?
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    (Original post by Josb)
    So Oxford is watching Cambridge's thread.

    Thank you for your answer. In fact my questions were about the university and the colleges, not the departments (and I'm in history). Do they have accounts on TSR?
    I don't think history does. I don't want to take up to much space on Cambridge's excellent thread, so do you mind dropping me a PM or email me at <[email protected] ac.uk> and I'll see what we can do to help.
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    (Original post by Oxford Computer Science Dept)
    I don't think history does. I don't want to take up to much space on Cambridge's excellent thread, so do you mind dropping me a PM or email me at <[email protected] ac.uk> and I'll see what we can do to help.

    This thread isnt about asking questions. It is about gaining feedback from applicants regarding the last admissions round. Oxford currently doesn't have anythin to cater to this, certainly subject-specific TSR accounts does not satisfy that. It might be a nice idea for you, or one of the other Oxford accounts, to follow suit and setup a similar thread.


    I have to say Cambridge have been excellent in the outreach they have made on this website, and indeed in general. Big thanks to the Christ's admissions tutor: it is reassuring to know that there are some very willingly helpful and people who are doing their best to make the right decisions.
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    (Original post by chloe--)
    Thank you for your reply!

    I found out today that unfortunately I've been unsuccessful, which is fine (upsetting, but fine), but the way I was informed of the decision, I don't think is okay. I found out the final decision through a track update. I don't think this is the way that applicants (especially those who have been for a second round of interviews) should find out the result of their application. I don't know whether my original college have sent me a letter (I haven't received one - it could possibly be lost in the post), but I think every effort should be made so that a track update is not the initial communication of the outcome.

    On this topic, I think the reinterviewing college should first contact the applicant explaining that they were unsuccessful, and then the original college could then simply update track. I think the idea of a letter being sent through the post from the original college at this stage is not acceptable - if an applicant is aware that if they are rejected, that it is their original college who will contact them, then from the return address on the front of the envelope, they will know their decision without needing to read the letter.

    Lastly, a quick question (which you've probably answered a lot already) - how do I go about requesting feedback from Cambridge? Do I contact my original college or the reinterviewing college?
    I am sorry to hear that your re-interview was unsuccessful, it is always very hard to be called back and then for it to not work out. I am very sorry also that you found out the way you did, track is not the way it ought to be done. I hope that your original college have sent you a letter or email as well but it is good practice and manners to let you know directly.

    You should contact your original college about feedback. The re-interviewing college is not obliged to providde feedback and won't do so but the origial college may do so on their behalf using the interview report forms.

    Best of luck for your other applications.
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    (Original post by Chief Wiggum)
    Well presumably most people with low UMS are rejected, but they've still done research into that? Perhaps if low interview scores are rarer than low UMS, then that would present additional challenges for interview research.

    If one interviewer's 7 is another's 8, then surely the interview system is unreliable anyway? Anyway, research could be done within a single college, for example. Earlier in the thread, the Admissions Tutor posted something like "People with 4A* at Christ's are [insert number] times more likely to get a First, compared to those with under 2A*". So clearly, when it comes to A Level grades, research is conducted at an individual college level. Surely the same could be at least tried for interview scores? One would hope there would be consistency within a subject within a college to enable research to be done.
    I know that some colleges do conduct internal research on their interviews and, unsurprisingly, I think they find that some interviewers are good at predicting and some less so. An experienced Admissions Tutor or a college with a good institutional memory is able to judge the reliability of his or her interviewers pretty well. Generally there has been much less reliance on interviews in recent years than in the past and this is a good thing given the well-known problems that interviews have.

    It is easier for Oxford to conduct research into interview effectiveness because they operate a much more centralised admissions process and therefore strive for co-ordination in what they are loooking for. There are strong arguments for better co-ordination across interviews in Cambridge and this may well be something that we aim for in the post AS Level world.

    Given the way in which we run a much centralised admissions process than Oxford then full-scale research into interviews simply isn't possibble because it would not be robust in the way research into data about UMS, the TSA, GCSEs and other admissions tools is.

    Overall, no one in Cambridge would think that the interview system is perfect or that interviews should be the sole or even the most important means by which we select students but it serves a useful role in a lot of ways. Like anything, though, it needs to be used carefully and in conjunction with the rest of the data we have. I hope and believe that this is how we use it.
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    (Original post by supamum)
    I think the above quote indicates Cambridge's aim to admit students who are suitable for the courses regardless of background is on the right track which is encouraging.

    Well done Christ's Admissions guy for all the work you do in communicating with students. Here is my feedback - our children have both been through the admissions system in the last 5 years. I feel the various colleges did their best to be transparent about the process. And very helpful too. I normally resist temptation to post on this forum for fear of embarrassing my children. However I am finding this discussion fascinating and here are my observations on the process:

    I'm pleased Cambridge has improved the pooling system. It was quite brutal in the past and I know some students' A2 module preparation/performance (no longer so relevant!) was affected by the long wait. I think the change shows that concerns are listened to.

    My two children both applied for Science/Maths subjects with almost identical UMS but had different experiences. One got a "harsh but fair" offer which he met. He was told a few years later by his interviewer that they put no weight at all on the interview for that particular subject in that college (his response: I wish I'd known that at the time!). The other one came out of the interviews looking as if he'd been savaged by a Rottweiler (minus the blood). I’m guessing that college put a lot of weight on the interview - he was subsequently given an "easy" offer which meant, given he'd already done loads of modules, he only needed 2 Es and a U in 3 summer modules which made the A level period more relaxing than usual. I gather the interviewing fellow is equally robust in the context of supervisions! They had no idea (and the information wasn’t available) about their chosen colleges’ approach to interviews which with hindsight seemed rather different. But did it really matter in the end? Probably not! Maybe the experience was character building…

    The admissions process was stressful at times for them but I do feel the admissions people were all trying very hard to be honest and helpful. I was once told they reckon it costs around £1000 to recruit an undergraduate.

    The most stressful bit was the interview. I'm not sure what can be done to alter this. In the end the pressure of the interview is, “Am I good enough? Will I be rejected?” which are questions teenagers (and older) have been asking themselves for ages. I don’t think there is a way to choose students in a manner which doesn't put them under intense pressure but it seems (as evidenced by this thread) there is a will to make the process as good as it can be. More of those mock interview videos (maybe for all subjects?) would dispel some fears/myths about interviews. Everything seems so much more intense and involved compared to when I was young. We didn't have to do a PS and the application process was simpler – no Open Days, no internet – you just looked at brochures and picked your 5 universities.

    Our children had some, with hindsight, poor advice from well meaning people outside Cambridge. The answer I think is to take note of advice from Cambridge admissions people and ignore the rest! Our experience was that they were breathtakingly frank whatever they were asked. When emailed (lots of different colleges), they answered promptly and fully.

    I get the impression there are many people at private schools who feel discriminated against and many at state schools who feel the same way. Does this mean Cambridge has more or less got the balance right? I would agree with the comment “Oxbridge admissions is a political football which all sides feel is weighted against them”. All I can say is that I have not come across any academic involved with admissions who is not trying very hard to get it right.

    I would agree with those who say there should be uniformity between colleges as regards the timing and manner of delivery of decisions so further improvement in this area would be good. I think all colleges should email on the same day. However the explanations here about why it is not easy for some “fishing” colleges to get through the workload do make a lot of sense. At least opinions are being asked for and listened to. Maybe one day there will be a perfect system .
    Thank you very much for your comments and suggestions. As you say, we are trying hard to get it right though we don;t always succeed. I think the interview videos are helpful and I agree that we can and should do more on that front. I hope that we will improve the timing and manner of delivery further. It's a new system this year and I think with 29 colleges involved there were bound to be teething problems. Hpepfully we can identify what went wrong and put it right next year and move slowly towards that perfect system which, I fear, will always remain out of reach!

    I hope your children enjoyed their time at Cambridge and thank you again for your comments.
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    (Original post by newblood)
    This thread isnt about asking questions. It is about gaining feedback from applicants regarding the last admissions round. Oxford currently doesn't have anythin to cater to this, certainly subject-specific TSR accounts does not satisfy that. It might be a nice idea for you, or one of the other Oxford accounts, to follow suit and setup a similar thread.


    I have to say Cambridge have been excellent in the outreach they have made on this website, and indeed in general. Big thanks to the Christ's admissions tutor: it is reassuring to know that there are some very willingly helpful and people who are doing their best to make the right decisions.
    Thanks for your thanks, much appreciated!
 
 
 
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