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The Idiot's Guide to Getting into Oxbridge watch

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    To Scum,

    I would love to read your personal statement as an interested observor.

    BUt I think you make some good points, although I doubt that one can activley advise students to adopt the approach that you did so successfully.
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    i'm not advising anyone to **** around. Getting into Oxbridge is a prize target for anybody, and one not to be thrown away by being immature. I only arsed about because i figured my tutor would appreciate it, which he did. Obviously if your tutor turned out to be as straight laced as they come, you wouldn't deviate from the straight and narrow. My whole point, and it is one that cannot be stressed enough, is that 10 A* GCSE's, 5 A A-levels and a Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award do not automatically an Oxford student make.
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    they grade your written work? I didnt realise that - duh!!! - anyone know why we had to send in two copies of each? anyway of finding out what they graded us? (jus intereseted thats all!) also do you know if you get feedback if your application was successful?
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    (Original post by emzie)
    they grade your written work? I didnt realise that - duh!!! - anyone know why we had to send in two copies of each? anyway of finding out what they graded us? (jus intereseted thats all!) also do you know if you get feedback if your application was successful?
    Well at least you read the instructions on the leaflet..i only sent the original copy of my work!
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    they want two copies cos they stick one in a filing cabinet and write all over the other one.

    The level of feedback varies between college. Most don't give you any feedback if you were successful, some will tell you your test score. Feedback is generally more widely used when the applicant fails to get in.
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    (Original post by scum)
    they want two copies cos they stick one in a filing cabinet and write all over the other one.

    The level of feedback varies between college. Most don't give you any feedback if you were successful, some will tell you your test score. Feedback is generally more widely used when the applicant fails to get in.

    Scum, may i ask what college you go to?
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    (Original post by scum)
    you can, but i wont tell you.
    Okay, no probs! Just wondering! I wonder why you are being so secretive...
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    (Original post by ancien)
    To Scum,

    I would love to read your personal statement as an interested observor.
    The main reasons behind any student applying to the University of Oxford are ones most likely repeated indefinitely by numerous gibbering sycophants about the quality of degree, the quality of teaching, the university’s academic standing, ad infinitum. I cannot think of any unique way of repeating these endorsements, so I shall not bother to attempt to. The fact is that a university degree is so much more than a piece of paper with a couple of numbers written on it, underneath a lavish college crest, accompanied by a few letters to stick after your name on your new business card. Some may consider an Oxford degree to be a meal ticket to a Porsche and a pinstripe suit; I do not.

    So why [college], why even Oxford? However enticing the fact is that “all rooms are centrally heated,” ([college] Prospectus) there are more reasons than the thought of toasty toes on a cold Oxford night. The primary factor is the idea of a libertarian, open-minded, forward-looking living environment that is most conducive to learning, a hotbed of free-expression, and a springboard to further academic study. It matters not a jot to me which ground-breaking genius, or indeed C-list celebrity, was spawned by the college or the university, what is far more important is the practical fact that most students can take up college accommodation for all three years of the course. I want to live and study in an unprejudiced, inclusive and diverse environment, and feel that Oxford is well-placed to provide this prerequisite.

    Before taking my education to onto the next step, I feel that a gap year provides me with a unique opportunity to better myself and increase my capacity to succeed in study. The year contains everything from slavish, full-time, capital-accruing employment, to English teaching, (a chance to see the world from the other side of the desk) and hedonism in ten different countries of the world. I feel that the chance to explore so many different cultures and peoples will give me an advantage over students fresh out of school, and will make me a better, more mature student.

    The fact that I exploited the changing features of the post-16 curriculum in order to study a greater range of subjects is indicative of my desire to gain all-round knowledge, rather than being pinned to a certain direction. It is for this reason that I am attracted to a PPE degree, the “very wide range of possibilities” ([college] Prospectus) provided by the fusion of three subjects excites me. The international geopolitical events of the past year mean that at this moment in time the study of Politics, Philosophy and Economics has become highly relevant to world affairs. No other degree presents such a diverse and encompassing understanding of the current and future geopolitical climate, an enticing reason for wanting to study PPE.

    At the moment I intend to go onto post-graduate study, most probably in America, although I am not burning any bridges as yet. I am reassured by the amount of possible avenues a PPE degree opens, and know that with such a degree I will never be channelled towards a particular vocation or expected career path.

    [Note to self: Phew! Managed to get through it without pretentious quote or explicit September 11 reference.]
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    *******.
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    (Original post by emzie)
    they grade your written work? I didnt realise that - duh!!! - anyone know why we had to send in two copies of each? anyway of finding out what they graded us? (jus intereseted thats all!) also do you know if you get feedback if your application was successful?
    They wanted two copies of each? I only gave them one
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    (Original post by way2go)
    What is more important: good grades or good references?
    A good reference isn't going to be worth much without good grades, whereas if you have good grades then a good reference will be important to differentiate yourself from the other applicants.
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    (Original post by tagzt)
    i would agree with that 100%, i don't think i've heard it expressed better than that actually. people listen to this, it is the 100%, undiluted truth!



    ermm i would have to disagree with that, i don't know about your experiences but that sounds like a load of crap based on mine. if that were true then oxford would be full of public school boys have spent years writing then re-writing their Personal Statements and have collected baskets of A*'s as though they were boy scout badges! (despite what the media try and portray this is rubbish)

    Are you a law student?



    ermm..ok

    P.S. im on oxford student and was really involved in the interviewing process at merton this year.
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    i think you were trying to ask me if im a law student...in which case yes
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    (Original post by scum)

    When the tutors receive your application, with reference, personal staement, oxford specific personal statement, and written work, they sit down and have a meeting. A preliminary set of intake is decided according to the information received. At Oxford, the very weak candidates are "deselected," but not at Cambridge, as i said above.

    The personal statement is a curious thing in itself. Usually found stuffed full of mentions of extra-curricular helping grannies across the road, duke of edinburgh gold awards, grade 5 flute playing, etc, all of which they dont really give a flying f*** about. At Oxford, many people dont get asked a single question referring to their personal statement, as it's so meaningless. The reverse is true at Cambridge, which tends to have a "personal interview" based around you yourself. The only particular things they care about are if you have any exam board awards for exceptional performance, or if you are very good at rowing. In arts subjects a gap year is a good thing to have on your form.

    The muppets who spend years writing their personal statements (mine took me literally 15 minutes on deadline day) are not doing themselves too many favours. Just like the rich kid who's been coached extensively to help him with his interview, the tutors can see through it instantly. You must remember that most of the tutors have been interviewing for 20 years or so: they can and they do see right through over-coached pupils and *******s personal statements.
    this just goes to show the MASSIVE differences between colleges. at Merton personal statements are barely looked at, especially not for law where my tutors told me they skimmed the statements the night before interviews began. This is probably typical of the "academic" colleges, the selection process rests heavily on the interview and your intelligence rather than your "well-rounded character" so to speak.

    However other colleges do things differently e.g. at LMH the law interviews focused quite extensively on the Personal Statement and there was a lot of discussion about hobbies/interests, etc etc.

    What this means is that at the academic colleges, you will end up with a lot of very intelligent people of whom a fairly large number are quite simply geeks...this means high position in norrington table but not such a great social scene. at other colleges you will end up with quite intelligent people who are not so geeky and will not spend so much time working, hence low positions in norrington table but great social scene.

    what i would say to people thinking of applying is that just because your college might not have a great social scene, doesn't mean you can't have a great social life. you can join universities societies and meet people across the uni, whilst still having a good friend base at your college...at the end of the day being a dosser in an academic college is better than being a dosser in a dossing college!
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    (Original post by scum)
    Take it from an Oxford student and someone who's been very involved with the interview process. Oxbridge candidates are judged on two criteria and two criteria alone. The tutors let you in if:

    1. You are intelligent.
    2. They think they would enjoy teaching you.

    Point no. 1 is the most important. The intelligence required is not the intelligence of the "i got 10 a stars and 5 a's at a-level" kind; it is a raw, base intelligence rather than a booksmart, swotty, revise-a-lot cleverness. They want people with a spark in them, innate brilliance.

    Point number two is less important, but still incredibly useful. At the end of the day the same tutors will be in close personal supervision of you for at least a year; they want to be able to enjoy your company.

    The only reason that point 2 is outweighed by point 1 is the "******** factor". That is someone who more than fulfils the criterion for intelligence set above, but carries with it an inflated ego and an arrogant, stuck up personality. Having had numerous conversations with tutors regarding candidates, the scenario they most fear is when the said ******** is being considered. 90% of the time they feel that the superb intellect of the above mentioned a-hole is enough to merit a place.

    It is also worth bearing in mind that the tutors already have about 75% of their intake selected before the interviews actually take place, and use them as a kind of "tidying-up" exercise to quality-check.

    To hammer home the point, in my interviews, I told one tutor not to sleep that night as I was planning to shoot him as he lay, and turned up to another interview drunk, after less than 3 hours sleep. In my entrance exam i wrote about s&m fetishists.
    You make it sound so easy. I guess the moral of the story is just to let your inner person shine through and you'll be fine.
 
 
 
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