Oxcentric - YouTube channel thread

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NemesisRider
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Report Thread starter 11 months ago
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ImageHey! I'm Sam. In October I should be starting at the University of Oxford studying engineering. I'm starting a new YouTube channel, Oxcentric, to help share some of what I've learned and document my experiences in Uni.

My first video is about personal statements and my top 10 tips. I really hope this will come in useful to some of the Year 12's starting to write their personal statements soon! If you like what you see, please like and subscribe!

TOP 10 PERSONAL STATEMENT TIPS VIDEO: https://youtu.be/snxAqKXqeYk
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NemesisRider
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Video number 2 is out now and it's on super-curricular activities that will set apart your application!

10 SUPER-CURRICULAR ACTIVITIES VIDEO: https://youtu.be/NikFjD_gaz0
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NemesisRider
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Report Thread starter 10 months ago
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Video number 3 is my guide to pre-reading for current Year 13s. If you're looking for motivation and advice before you start prereading, this may prove invaluable!

PREREADING IN 5 STEPS VIDEO: https://youtu.be/WfFqwY1qxdo
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NemesisRider
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Two new videos today, as part of an exploration of the Cambridge ENGAA. First is my tips and tricks, and secondly is some past questions.

TIPS VIDEO: https://youtu.be/sZbxmgU2unM
QUESTIONS VIDEO: https://youtu.be/Xmln23-p2Sg
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NemesisRider
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This week on Oxcentric: my experience applying to Imperial College London, including some tips on the mechanical engineering interviews!
APPLYING TO IMPERIAL: https://youtu.be/M9giaMhg9JM
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NemesisRider
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Study music is a big part of modern student life. But is it good or bad, and can you use it to better your study? This and more (AKA me failing to be funny for 7 minutes) in this week's Oxcentric video.
STUDY MUSIC: https://youtu.be/9ynMjWnR3-E
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NemesisRider
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This week on Oxcentric - a dive into the newly released Oxford admissions stats, the trends we see and how access is improving. Featuring many G R A P H S.
OXFORD UNI STATS: https://youtu.be/C17rPUFHQME
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NemesisRider
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Report Thread starter 9 months ago
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COVID-19 poses big challenges to admissions at Oxford and beyond. What are the new problems and how can we solve them? Analysing the current situation and speculating in this week's Oxcentric video. I'm quite proud of this one and hope I can provide some insight into a messy situation.
COVID-19 RESPONSE: https://youtu.be/1PVn9xpHro0

Last week saw the debut of my occasional off-topic series, Misc. Nerdery, the first being a foray into the band My Chemical Romance.
MCR TOP 10: https://youtu.be/ZH3CS7WotMY
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NemesisRider
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I've talked a lot about how to get into Oxford. But how do you NOT get in? Let's talk about that in this week's Oxcentric video!
HOW NOT GET IN: https://youtu.be/dRw1vBBQFZg
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nataliem.piano
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Hi Sam! I find your videos extremely helpful and please do keep making them I just wanted to ask, I watched your video on super curricular activities and you mentioned wider reading and the Very Short Introduction book series but you said not to mention it in our personal statements. Why should we not?

Thanks!
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NemesisRider
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Hi!

There's nothing you stopping you mentioning the "Very Short Introduction" series if you *really* want. Mentioning it in passing as the beginning of an exploration of your subject would be valid, though arguably the characters could be better used (imo). The reason I advised against it was the ones I've read (engineering, philosophy) are a great recap and introduction - as they should be - but are not particularly detailed. In an academic personal statement, being specific and detailed is definitely a perk; the Very Short Introduction series are probably not ideal for this. As I probably said in the video, if you see a certain topic in the Very Shrt Introduction book that piques your interest, doing more research online or reading more literature can help you to find more specifics to discuss which will definitely look better. Additionally, I think it's there's an element of perception on the part of an academic, as the title itself states that this isn't the same level of thorough investigation of a topic that you might get in a different book. Again, I still think they're a fab series, but I think they may lack the academic "clout" to explicitly mention in a statement.

That's my personal take on the issue, hope that clarifies!
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nataliem.piano
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Thanks so much for replying Sam!
Also, I just wanted to ask, how many books would you recommend I read/mention? I've read 4 and mentioned in my personal statement detailed things I found interesting for each one already. With a month till school starts, would you recommend I read another book or direct my time to other ways of strengthening my application? I know this is a pretty subjective question but I'd love to hear what you think.

Thank you again!
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NemesisRider
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What subject are you applying for? Regardless, 4 books which you've written in detail about definitely should be plenty! I think your time would probably best be spent on other things, since it sounds like you've done some good work there, though obviously if you would enjoy reading another book I'd not discourage it. If you haven't already thought about it, starting some preliminary admissions test preparation would probably be what I'd recommend about now - when you start again in September you'll have less time (I assume) so having the groundwork laid for that is definitely sensible!

On a more general note, how many books to read is an interesting question that a lot of people have. It's quite hard to make any generalisations on what is the best number of books to talk about since it's incredibly variable and subjective. Personally, I'd always try to mention at least one book in passing (or some other reading), even for the most practical Oxbridge subjects, just to demonstrate you have those skills. Similarly, there must be a maximum where you mention so many books it becomes impossible to evaluate what you learned in any depth. I'd probably guess that lies around 7-10, if your personal statement was basically *all* books? I'd find it very interesting to do some data analysis on the subject, though it'd require a lot of personal statements.
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nataliem.piano
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Hi again thanks so much for your reply! I will definitely keep those things in mind!

I'm applying for the Human Sciences and yes I do need to sit an admissions test- the TSA and I've been doing past papers for I think 2 months now... fingers crossed it goes well!

I just have one more question, now having been accepted and going to Oxford in a few weeks, if you could say something to your past self during those months of applying, waiting for decisions etc, what advice would you now retrospectively give yourself or someone in that situation?


Kind of random but I'd love to hear what an Oxford offer holder would say!! Thanks
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NemesisRider
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I think the one extra piece of advice (or more reassurance) I needed was "don't worry if your admissions test felt like it went badly". It took me probably 48 hours to rationalise exactly what had happened with the PAT; it felt like, out of nowhere, I'd been hit with this insanely hard exam that none of my practice had prepared me for. I only really stopped panicking about it when I realised that, if I'd found it that bad, other people probably had too.

The Oxford application process is very unpredictable and I believe every year there will be some people who lose out on pure bad luck, maybe due to just getting the wrong questions at interview or their GCSEs being a grade worse than someone else's. However, in the run up to results day, I felt I could not have done any more work or feasibly expected myself to do any better than I did in the interviews and such. That brings me to the second reassurance - "if not me, then who?". Basically, if you've prepared all you can and performed to the best of your ability in each element, then the admissions tutors will see this and hopefully reflect it in their response. I seriously believe that it's not the most "naturally talented" people that succeed, it's those willing to work hard and improve.

Last thing, a genuine piece of advice this time! "Any time you spend worrying you could spend studying". Nervousness is natural when it comes to something important to you, as applying to university probably will be. However, if stress is impacting you to the point where it's affecting your work and wider life, then you have to take a step back and think that it's not a helpful mechanism. Studying is a distraction from this, but also helps alleviate the stress as you're bolstering your odds of success with each hour you spend improving your skills.
(For the record, this isn't an endorsement of just working as many hours as humanly possible and missing out because of it. Working smart is important too, but generally I feel I and my peers usually err on the side of too little work than too much.)

That got quite wordy, but that's what I would probably have told myself!
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nataliem.piano
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Hi Sam, wow thank you so much for your advice, really needed that! I absolutely agree with what you're saying and definitely, anytime spent worrying could be spent studying/working towards what you're worrying about! I am going to share this with my friends applying too

Best of luck at Oxford this September!
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NemesisRider
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Thank you very much!

In other news, I've now uploaded two videos relating to the Oxford PAT. The first covers my tips and tricks, and the second explores 5 examples to showcase how to approach the questions you get in the exam. These videos were quite laborious to make, but I hope they will be a useful resource! If you're taking the PAT, I'd also recommend this chapter in my How To Get An Oxford Engineering offer, which does cover similar content in a written form and a little more detail.
PAT TIPS VIDEO: https://youtu.be/TIfusf50d_g
PAT QUESTIONS VIDEO: https://youtu.be/HpvZb4Tc2Fs
How To... PAT chapter: https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/sho....php?t=6459250
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NemesisRider
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Report Thread starter 8 months ago
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Just a small update from me. Grades were lower than I expected - A*AA - however, I'm still into Oxford! Official requirements were A*A*A. It's been a tiring morning but I'm aiming to try and film something when I've ordered my thoughts a little more later.
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This week on Oxcentric: this is A-Level results day as I experienced it, including my reaction to missing my grades and a discussion of this year's broken system.
RESULTS DAY VIDEO: https://youtu.be/9TNiHOiL9DM
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Today: a bonus update vlog about my new grades and the fact the government suck.
RESULTS UPDATE: https://youtu.be/w4GXMqtsGJw
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