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Hi! This is part of the Oxford Demystified book collated by Oxford Mum. All the other chapters can be found here: https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/sho....php?t=6100480

First of all, a little bit about me:

I’m going into my second year studying Materials Science at St Anne’s College, Oxford. I went to state school & at A Level I studied Maths, Physics, Chemistry & Further Maths. I went on to achieve 2A*s and 2As (these were the grades I applied with- you don’t need straight A*s!!).

I also applied to Manchester, Sheffield, Imperial and Birmingham for variations on Biomaterials courses. If you have any more questions, feel free to ask me!

What is Materials Science?
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To put it simply, we study the properties of materials, the science behind those properties and how we can use that knowledge to change the properties of the material.

If you’ve ever wondered why things break in different ways (and under different levels of force) or what causes a material to have certain properties (ductility, hardness, conductivity, resistance to high temperatures), Materials Science could be for you!

It really does explain the world around you and advancements in the world of Materials really do change the world (we name parts of history after the materials in use!). Understanding what gives rise to certain properties and what we need to do so that a chosen material suits its job is essential so that what we make doesn’t break & does its job to the best of its ability. For example, aircraft are made up of some of the world’s most engineered materials and combine some amazing materials. Another crazy figure to show you just how engineered materials are- there are over 3,500 grades of steel!. The world around you really does look a different way when you start to consider what things are made out of and why!



Why did you want to study your subject?
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Quite early on in sixth form I knew I wanted to study science at university, but I didn’t really want to study chemistry or physics by themselves. I looked into Natural Sciences courses and discovered that you could study something called “Materials Science” and decided after a bit of research I wanted to find out more so over Christmas I read a book called “Stuff Matters” & I was sold.

Materials combines my interests in both chemistry and physics (as well as biology & engineering!). Something about bonding has always interested me since GCSEs as well as one of my favourite parts about Materials: how stuff breaks. It brought together my interests and also inspired some new interests (in the amazing developments of biomaterials!!).

As you can probably tell from my introduction to what Materials Science is, this is a subject I could talk forever and ever about and I could see myself dedicating the rest of my life to it (which sounds really cringey but is true!). Now I’ve studied it for a year, I’m even more passionate about it and have discovered interests in parts of Materials Science I wasn’t that keen on before

Why Oxford?
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I went along to a department open day & just knew I wanted to apply! I loved the course structure, especially the 4th year research project. When I went, I was shocked by how chill and homely the department felt (despite being one of if not in the ugliest building in Oxford!). It was very much not what I was expecting & the staff were all really friendly!

Now I’ve been there for a year, the vibe I got on the open day is very much what it’s like in reality! I’m in a small year group of about 50 people which is big enough it doesn’t feel like a class at school but not too big (you know everyone’s name and there’s a bit more of a community spirit as a group compared to subjects with almost 200 in a year!). The support staff are really friendly as are the tutors and lecturers.

Another benefit of studying Materials Science at Oxford (and at many other universities) is that you graduate with an MEng which allows you to become a chartered engineer via IOM3 or go down the more scientific route of research (or just do something else entirely!!).



Did any of your teachers inspire you? Or any other expert?
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I have had some amazing science teachers throughout my time at GCSE and A Level that loved their subject and have shared that love with me!

However, my biggest inspiration was Mark Miodownik. You’ll struggle to find a Materials student that hasn’t read “Stuff Matters”. His book kickstarted my interest in Materials Science and ultimately helped me make the decision to apply to study it at university! He’s done plenty of documentaries and podcasts too!


Which resources did you use? Which books did you read? Which did you like best, and why? What did they teach you?
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I’m not much of a reader (which is probably something many STEM students can relate to!). I did read some books (although I tended to not put them on my personal statement).

The books I read were:

  • 1) Stuff Matters by Mark Miodownik. I’d really recommend this as an introduction book to help you find out what part of materials science you really like & then you can research that further. This book inspired my interest into biomaterials.
  • 2) The New Science of Strong Materials by J.E. Gordon. Good book which follows fairly easily from A Level Physics content. It covers a lot of the concepts I studied in 1st Year around deformation.
  • 3) The Gecko’s Foot by Peter Forbes. This book is all about how nature has inspired inventions of scientists and engineers and was really interesting!


I also read magazines such as the New Scientist (all for free from my local library!) which I’d recommend to read for more in depth content around what is going on in science right now. If you’re after a more materials specific magazine, IOM3 has a magazine online that you can read for free called Materials World. These are great because you can mention an article in your personal statement and it’s easy to quickly read over it before your interviews!

I personally loved listening to podcasts about Materials Science. The BBC Radio 4 Life Scientific (https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b015sqc7) podcast is really cool. I personally listened to and loved “Print me a new body” (https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08rq6dl) which was also a BBC Radio 4 podcast.

Other podcasts you might be interested in : Plastic Fantastic – Miodownik https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0b450ls

A podcast which goes through a new material every week by an ex-Oxford Materials student https://www.annaploszajski.com/podcast/ Recommended by a course mate!

A new podcast/YouTube series which has been started by another ex-Oxford Materials student: https://youtu.be/SlU21AGEaaE

Also, check out YouTube/tv documentaries!! There are loads of great talks out there on YouTube.



Did you attend any lectures or take part in any competitions? If so, would you recommend them, and why?

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I went to see Mark Miodownik talk at Cheltenham Science Festival. The talk was titled “Can Materials Science Save Us?” and I’d really recommend going along to talks. You can also find this talk on YouTube, I think!



Did you have any work experience? If so, how did you find it?

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I did work experience on a program run by a local engineering company in Year 12. I really didn’t enjoy it if I’m honest! It made me realise for sure that I would prefer to go into a science/research career than an engineering career, so I’d recommend taking on some work experience. Despite not enjoying it, I still put it in my personal statement as I had learnt a lot in that week!

It was advertised to all local schools and they run an application process for a large number of places.



Did you do any summer schools?

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I attended a STEM summer school at Robinson College, Cambridge. It was free of charge and I studied physical Natural Sciences for 3 days. This involved tutorial style learning as well as a lab in the Materials Department there! We also got to explore the city and got loads of advice from current students (and their food was amazing!!). It was an invaluable experience which almost swung me to the more general sciences courses, but I knew Materials Science was my passion (and I still study a lot of physics & chemistry in my degree now!).

QMUL did a day at Easter to experience Materials Science there which I really enjoyed too! I went to some lectures and got to do some labs which were both really informative experiences!



Did you have a specialist interest/EPQ?

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I didn’t do an EPQ at sixth form. Instead, I chose to study Further Maths A Level!


What did you mention in your personal statement and why?
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Pretty much everything I’ve put on here was on there! I made a bullet point list of everything I had done that possibly could go in my personal statement. I then wrote around all the bullet points and picked out those I could write loads and loads about.

I put Stuff Matters on my personal statement and went more into detail about my favourite chapter (the biomaterials one!). This is the spark of my interest in Materials, so it went first!

I also wrote about “Print me a New Body” podcast and going to see Mark Miodownik at the Cheltenham Science Festival. This expanded well from my first paragraph and I was very easy to speak more and more about them both.

I mentioned my day at QMUL, a visit to CERN and my work experience. This was more to do with my experience and why I wanted to go to uni/go into research.

I did a paragraph on my interests outside of Materials Science- I’m a keen musician and I also taught myself (very basic!!) Italian at 6th Form which I put in too. I wanted to put this in as language learning and music are a big part of my life which I linked back by saying I wanted to use certain skills during my degree.

As a conclusion, I wrote about what I wanted to do with my degree & I found that was a great way to end.



What techniques did you use for the entrance test (PAT)?

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Practise, practise, practise!!

First of all, check out the specification on the Physics website- there’s stuff on their you might not have covered yet which they will expect you to know.

I was lucky enough to go on a course run by Oxford University for the PAT (https://www2.physics.ox.ac.uk/events...r-the-pat-2020) which I’d really recommend for state school students to apply to!

In terms of practise questions, you can use the PAT past papers (you can find solutions easily online and on worked examples on YouTube) or Physics Olympiad papers (which have mark schemes!!). I’d also recommend this resource which separates PAT past paper questions by topic (which can help you plug any gaps in knowledge): https://oxfordpat.wordpress.com/



How did you choose your college? Did you go to an open day and if so, did it help you to decide?

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Materials Science is very different in that I had a choice of 7 colleges compared to bigger courses where you’ll have a long list of colleges to choose from. You can choose from Corpus Christi, Mansfield, Queens, St Anne’s, St Catherine’s, St Edmund Hall or Trinity. They all have their benefits and setbacks & I think they’re still quite varied so that you can get a college that suits you needs/wants.

On the department open day, I went to look around Corpus Christi and had lunch at Mansfield. I wasn’t really like woah this is the place for me at either and I almost made an open application.

However, I have a disability & had some requirements that were important to me so I decided it would be better to find a college that met those (and find a way around it if I was lucky enough to get a place at another college). One of those that not all colleges would be able to accommodate but was important to me was having a kitchen to cook in that wasn’t shared between all the undergrads (& had everything I needed).

As well as this, I honestly didn’t want to live in one of the older Oxford colleges. They’re beautiful don’t get me wrong but I love a good heating system and I found they just didn’t feel like a home to me. Even now, I find them overwhelming at times!

I’m also quite lazy (going to my local secondary school that you could walk to in less than 10 minutes meant that I really didn’t fancy a long walk to my lectures!).

When I found St Anne’s, it felt so right in a way you won’t understand unless you’ve had that feeling (although it’s not necessary for picking a college!). It had all that I wanted- amazing kitchens (I had a chest freezer last year ), modern buildings (although definitely not to everyone’s tastes- go google Wolfson and Rayne) and it’s like 2 minutes from the department!!

But it also had things I didn’t know I wanted until they offered it to me. Not 1 but 2 24/7 libraries as well as one of the biggest college library collections. An amazing history of allowing women from lower income backgrounds to attend Oxford. No tourists!!! Just a chilled-out vibe and not many of the Oxford traditions are followed. I could go on…

Now I’m here, I can tell you that I was shocked when I arrived here, and it was as chilled out as I was told online.



How did you find the interview process?

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The interview process for me was a mixed bag of emotions. After the PAT, I was convinced I’d failed so I wouldn’t have an interview. When I was emailed with an offer for interview, I was so shocked- I couldn’t believe it.

My interview experience at Anne’s was super chill, the student helpers were lovely, and all the students were very open about what went wrong in their interviews!! It was a really friendly atmosphere (something I wasn’t expecting!) and I met a lot of people just chilling in the JCR that I now study Materials Science with! My interviews themselves were pretty standard- I said a lot of stupid things but I kept going and I felt like, although I didn’t know everything, I gave it my best shot.

My interview at Teddy Hall (St Edmund Hall) was very different. It was a number of hours later and I was the last interview in the college of the whole interview process (maybe the whole university?!). I was very tired & just wanted to go home!! The helpers weren’t as friendly at Anne’s (they probably wanted to go home too!) and there were no other students around to talk to.

I messed up on the first question which didn’t help the mindset (don’t let one bad question put you down!!), even got a laugh out of the interviewer (admittedly, this was because I had got myself so confused on the first question that he asked me a basic question and I couldn’t hide my shock that he would ask me a GCSE question in my interview!) and I left crying on the streets on Oxford back to the train station. It really wasn’t great and left me feeling like I’d let myself down (which was the only feeling I wanted to avoid). I wanted to share this with you because it’s easy to think Oxford students just ace their interview when in fact a lot of us have had some crying post interview experiences! However, looking back now, they probably thought look here’s a student that managed to go from being completely stumped to the answer without giving up in a high-pressure environment & managed to hold it together. Which is what we do now- in tutorials I will have time to work through questions and will be asked to go through stuff that I had no clue how to do with hints along the way!

PS. I'm sure Teddy Hall would be a lovely interview experience it was just very lonely as the last person!


Any interview tips?

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Go into your interview looking to be taught. That’s the number one thing I think I’d say to any STEM student. They are testing whether they can teach you- that’ll be their job for the next 3-4 years! This ties in with listening to them- they are trying to help you.

Practise explaining your thought process-
  1. Try and get a mock interview if you can.
  2. If not (or as extra practise if you get one), ask a parent/friend to ask you A Level questions/PAT questions and get you to explain your methods as you go along.
  3. Help your mates out- if they’re struggling with a question try explaining it to them.

Annotate your personal statement- think of the 5Ws after every question. In my experience, if you’ve mentioned a material on your personal statement, they will ask you about it!

For Materials, I would recommend looking over any A Level Physics, Chemistry or Maths content- they might ask you on any of it (unless you’ve not done A Level Chemistry then they won’t ask you on that!).

If you haven’t learnt something yet, say! BUT always give it a go/offer an idea- can you link it to something you’ve already done?

Take time to think- don’t rush an answer but always give you thoughts- they want to know what you’re thinking.

You will get things wrong- they are trying to push you! They want to see how you deal with not knowing at first (because that’s what it’s like at uni!).



Where were you when you got your offer? How did you react?

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I was in a chemistry lesson when the email came through, sat next to my best friend. I opened up UCAS Track and, to my surprise, I got in! I was very shocked and overwhelmed. Every step along the way I felt like I hadn’t done well enough and, looking back now, I wish I had believed in myself! The shock took quite a while to go away (about 2 weeks) and then the hard work kicked in!

I would also really recommend opening it with a close friend- she put me way more at ease (& more importantly would have been there to celebrate with me/make me feel better after).



Extra info (in particular for those from state-school/underrepresented at uni backgrounds but also how to find out more!)
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I would recommend applying for UNIQ/ Sutton School (aka free) summer schools.

There are lots of mentorship programmes out there- like Uni Pear & Zero Gravity. I wish I’d had the opportunity to have someone help me with my application like that! There are lots of societies at Oxford and initiatives that are set up each year to help prospective applicants out- use them!

If you’re unsure about studying Materials Science, why not take a look at what we study by reading the course synopses here : https://www.materials.ox.ac.uk/teach...turelists.html

There is lots of info online and on YouTube which you can check out too!

Check out Miodownik’s website for what he’s done on TV & radio http://www.markmiodownik.net/?page_id=43

You can speak to students at various colleges on their websites:

https://www.ccc.ox.ac.uk/study-here/...ct-ambassadors

https://www.queens.ox.ac.uk/ask

https://www.st-annes.ox.ac.uk/chat-w...dergraduate%2F

https://www.trinity.ox.ac.uk/chat-to...ty.ox.ac.uk%2F

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Will look at this tomorrow.

Can't wait!!!
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Hi there, matscigal!

I have been waiting for a while for a materials science chapter, as I was intrigued. You certainly didn't disappoint!

Before you even wrote this chapter, you told me you were reading through all the other chapters to get the "vibe". This is a really important reason to read Oxford Demystified. Each chapter writer is like you, so keen on their subject (you said you could "talk forever and ever about it"). Every chapter writer then goes on to say why they love their subject and it's amazing. It's as if we have been seeing the subject in monochrome yet you see it in glorious technicolour.

The importance of such a chapter, is that it may draw undecided readers, who are interested in science, but don't want to study the classic sciences. It's interesting you went on several schemes and used it to eliminate the other subjects you thought you may have been interested in studying. It's really important to get out and about (sorry if Covid-19 is stopping you this year) and see what all the subjects you like offer. You have been to lectures, listened to podcasts, visited Cern and watched your hero give a talk at a festival. You can't get a place at Oxford by just doing your A levels and nothing else, and thinking this is OK.

Materials are something we take for granted, aren't they? If aircraft broke all the time, we would never want to set foot on a plane, or go to other countries to do business, would we? And look how important PPE masks have become in the current climate. Without masks we would not be able to do many of the things we do, without putting many more lives in danger.

It's incredible that one book took you down this exciting path to Oxford. What I would say to prospective applicants is, find your inspiration. Follow your star and keep relentlessly following it, so once you get to the interview stage, you feel, not exactly like an expert, but equipped to have a very interesting discussion with a tutor who understands your love for your subject.

Let's have a shout out to Materials World magazine, too:

https://www.iom3.org/materials-world-magazine

As for the entrance test (the MAT), that mantra, "practise practise practise" is what every single chapter writer tells me. Find some coping strategies and develop tactics, so once you get in the exam room, the test is not a total surprise.
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Now we move on to St Annes college. I have never visited, and this is a glaring omission of mine. If you feel intimidated by the so called "stuffy" Oxford with it's grand buildings and august heritage, this may be the college for you!

https://www.st-annes.ox.ac.uk/

Laid back and friendly, this is the Oxford many will be looking for. It's a modern college but also they have the same standard of world class tutors and a fantastic library to boot. It seems to have kitchens that other colleges can only dream of (check out that chest freezer!!) and a very valuable asset - good disability access. Many Oxford prospectives ask me about good access, so I know which college to recommend now, don't I?

In your personal statement section, you say you made bullet points before you drafted your PS. This is very important I feel. Whenever you have an important experience you want to use, write it down (like that festival talk and what it taught you), and save it all for later, otherwise you may forget it.

I know with the medicine PS you need to write a realistic view about medicine, for instance and not think it's all sunshine and daisies.

On to the interviews. Yes, you have made the same very valuable points as the other offer holders and students. But you make a new and exciting suggestion: act like you are "looking to be taught". This is crucial to success. The interviews mimic a tutorial, so act like you are already studying there. Listen carefully to the tutors, let them guide you and respect what they are saying. Enjoy, if you can, having the conversation, as that is what it is. Take your time answering the questions and really get into the challenges they pose. Try your best, show your workings, and don't worry if you got it wrong. They may still award you a place because they like the way you think.

As for crying afterwards, if the interviewees are not crying openly, believe me they are crying inside. Nobody, but nobody thinks they have got in. Let me revise that. Some people think they have got in, but these are the very people who tend not to get in.

Let's look at a really iconic (now graduate) student (Miss Varz) who cried after her interview at Brasenose:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iLvt3UMn2r0

Also please tell me what the 5 W's are? I guess I have just mentioned one of them.
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Other sources of information:

Thanks for pointing out how you can speak to students using the links you provide. I also hope that prospective applicants will come and ask you questions on this very thread (the shyer ones may end up PM'ing you)

As for Zero Gravity, thanks for mentioning that. I am a big fan. If you have 7 x 8/9s and go to a state school, you may be eligible. They offer free mentoring by real Oxford students, over the phone for one hour per week. So very Covid friendly.

https://www.zerogravity.co.uk/impact

Also, OP they are always looking for mentors, who can only be current Oxford students.

Thank you for your beautiful chapter, matscigal. I hope you will be a great inspiration and guide to anyone who reads this chapter.

Will now add this to the book
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Oxford interview questions and suggested reading

http://www.oxfordinterviewquestions....rials-science/

http://apply.oxfordsu.org/courses/materials/interviews/


https://stepmaths.co.uk/oxford/oxfor...ent-4-seasons/

https://www.researchgate.net/topic/M...nd-Engineering

http://www.synergy.ac.in/intranet/as...0BANK%20MS.PDF

Youtube interview videos:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fxwdXx6SOSY

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qE9CWzndlBY

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3rwnI_vTjMs
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(Original post by matscigal)
Hi! This is part of the Oxford Demystified book collated by Oxford Mum. All the other chapters can be found here: https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/sho....php?t=6100480

First of all, a little bit about me:

I’m going into my second year studying Materials Science at St Anne’s College, Oxford. I went to state school & at A Level I studied Maths, Physics, Chemistry & Further Maths. I went on to achieve 2A*s and 2As (these were the grades I applied with- you don’t need straight A*s!!).

I also applied to Manchester, Sheffield, Imperial and Birmingham for variations on Biomaterials courses. If you have any more questions, feel free to ask me!

What is Materials Science?
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To put it simply, we study the properties of materials, the science behind those properties and how we can use that knowledge to change the properties of the material.

If you’ve ever wondered why things break in different ways (and under different levels of force) or what causes a material to have certain properties (ductility, hardness, conductivity, resistance to high temperatures), Materials Science could be for you!

It really does explain the world around you and advancements in the world of Materials really do change the world (we name parts of history after the materials in use!). Understanding what gives rise to certain properties and what we need to do so that a chosen material suits its job is essential so that what we make doesn’t break & does its job to the best of its ability. For example, aircraft are made up of some of the world’s most engineered materials and combine some amazing materials. Another crazy figure to show you just how engineered materials are- there are over 3,500 grades of steel!. The world around you really does look a different way when you start to consider what things are made out of and why!


Why did you want to study your subject?
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Quite early on in sixth form I knew I wanted to study science at university, but I didn’t really want to study chemistry or physics by themselves. I looked into Natural Sciences courses and discovered that you could study something called “Materials Science” and decided after a bit of research I wanted to find out more so over Christmas I read a book called “Stuff Matters” & I was sold.

Materials combines my interests in both chemistry and physics (as well as biology & engineering!). Something about bonding has always interested me since GCSEs as well as one of my favourite parts about Materials: how stuff breaks. It brought together my interests and also inspired some new interests (in the amazing developments of biomaterials!!).

As you can probably tell from my introduction to what Materials Science is, this is a subject I could talk forever and ever about and I could see myself dedicating the rest of my life to it (which sounds really cringey but is true!). Now I’ve studied it for a year, I’m even more passionate about it and have discovered interests in parts of Materials Science I wasn’t that keen on before

Why Oxford?
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I went along to a department open day & just knew I wanted to apply! I loved the course structure, especially the 4th year research project. When I went, I was shocked by how chill and homely the department felt (despite being one of if not in the ugliest building in Oxford!). It was very much not what I was expecting & the staff were all really friendly!

Now I’ve been there for a year, the vibe I got on the open day is very much what it’s like in reality! I’m in a small year group of about 50 people which is big enough it doesn’t feel like a class at school but not too big (you know everyone’s name and there’s a bit more of a community spirit as a group compared to subjects with almost 200 in a year!). The support staff are really friendly as are the tutors and lecturers.

Another benefit of studying Materials Science at Oxford (and at many other universities) is that you graduate with an MEng which allows you to become a chartered engineer via IOM3 or go down the more scientific route of research (or just do something else entirely!!).


Did any of your teachers inspire you? Or any other expert?
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I have had some amazing science teachers throughout my time at GCSE and A Level that loved their subject and have shared that love with me!

However, my biggest inspiration was Mark Miodownik. You’ll struggle to find a Materials student that hasn’t read “Stuff Matters”. His book kickstarted my interest in Materials Science and ultimately helped me make the decision to apply to study it at university! He’s done plenty of documentaries and podcasts too!

Which resources did you use? Which books did you read? Which did you like best, and why? What did they teach you?
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I’m not much of a reader (which is probably something many STEM students can relate to!). I did read some books (although I tended to not put them on my personal statement).

The books I read were:

  • 1) Stuff Matters by Mark Miodownik. I’d really recommend this as an introduction book to help you find out what part of materials science you really like & then you can research that further. This book inspired my interest into biomaterials.
  • 2) The New Science of Strong Materials by J.E. Gordon. Good book which follows fairly easily from A Level Physics content. It covers a lot of the concepts I studied in 1st Year around deformation.
  • 3) The Gecko’s Foot by Peter Forbes. This book is all about how nature has inspired inventions of scientists and engineers and was really interesting!


I also read magazines such as the New Scientist (all for free from my local library!) which I’d recommend to read for more in depth content around what is going on in science right now. If you’re after a more materials specific magazine, IOM3 has a magazine online that you can read for free called Materials World. These are great because you can mention an article in your personal statement and it’s easy to quickly read over it before your interviews!

I personally loved listening to podcasts about Materials Science. The BBC Radio 4 Life Scientific (https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b015sqc7) podcast is really cool. I personally listened to and loved “Print me a new body” (https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08rq6dl) which was also a BBC Radio 4 podcast.

Other podcasts you might be interested in : Plastic Fantastic – Miodownik https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0b450ls

A podcast which goes through a new material every week by an ex-Oxford Materials student https://www.annaploszajski.com/podcast/ Recommended by a course mate!

A new podcast/YouTube series which has been started by another ex-Oxford Materials student: https://youtu.be/SlU21AGEaaE

Also, check out YouTube/tv documentaries!! There are loads of great talks out there on YouTube.


Did you attend any lectures or take part in any competitions? If so, would you recommend them, and why?

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I went to see Mark Miodownik talk at Cheltenham Science Festival. The talk was titled “Can Materials Science Save Us?” and I’d really recommend going along to talks. You can also find this talk on YouTube, I think!



Did you have any work experience? If so, how did you find it?

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I did work experience on a program run by a local engineering company in Year 12. I really didn’t enjoy it if I’m honest! It made me realise for sure that I would prefer to go into a science/research career than an engineering career, so I’d recommend taking on some work experience. Despite not enjoying it, I still put it in my personal statement as I had learnt a lot in that week!

It was advertised to all local schools and they run an application process for a large number of places.


Did you do any summer schools?

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I attended a STEM summer school at Robinson College, Cambridge. It was free of charge and I studied physical Natural Sciences for 3 days. This involved tutorial style learning as well as a lab in the Materials Department there! We also got to explore the city and got loads of advice from current students (and their food was amazing!!). It was an invaluable experience which almost swung me to the more general sciences courses, but I knew Materials Science was my passion (and I still study a lot of physics & chemistry in my degree now!).

QMUL did a day at Easter to experience Materials Science there which I really enjoyed too! I went to some lectures and got to do some labs which were both really informative experiences!


Did you have a specialist interest/EPQ?

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I didn’t do an EPQ at sixth form. Instead, I chose to study Further Maths A Level!


What did you mention in your personal statement and why?
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Pretty much everything I’ve put on here was on there! I made a bullet point list of everything I had done that possibly could go in my personal statement. I then wrote around all the bullet points and picked out those I could write loads and loads about.

I put Stuff Matters on my personal statement and went more into detail about my favourite chapter (the biomaterials one!). This is the spark of my interest in Materials, so it went first!

I also wrote about “Print me a New Body” podcast and going to see Mark Miodownik at the Cheltenham Science Festival. This expanded well from my first paragraph and I was very easy to speak more and more about them both.

I mentioned my day at QMUL, a visit to CERN and my work experience. This was more to do with my experience and why I wanted to go to uni/go into research.

I did a paragraph on my interests outside of Materials Science- I’m a keen musician and I also taught myself (very basic!!) Italian at 6th Form which I put in too. I wanted to put this in as language learning and music are a big part of my life which I linked back by saying I wanted to use certain skills during my degree.

As a conclusion, I wrote about what I wanted to do with my degree & I found that was a great way to end.


What techniques did you use for the entrance test (PAT)?

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Practise, practise, practise!!

First of all, check out the specification on the Physics website- there’s stuff on their you might not have covered yet which they will expect you to know.

I was lucky enough to go on a course run by Oxford University for the PAT (https://www2.physics.ox.ac.uk/events...r-the-pat-2020) which I’d really recommend for state school students to apply to!

In terms of practise questions, you can use the PAT past papers (you can find solutions easily online and on worked examples on YouTube) or Physics Olympiad papers (which have mark schemes!!). I’d also recommend this resource which separates PAT past paper questions by topic (which can help you plug any gaps in knowledge): https://oxfordpat.wordpress.com/


How did you choose your college? Did you go to an open day and if so, did it help you to decide?

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Materials Science is very different in that I had a choice of 7 colleges compared to bigger courses where you’ll have a long list of colleges to choose from. You can choose from Corpus Christi, Mansfield, Queens, St Anne’s, St Catherine’s, St Edmund Hall or Trinity. They all have their benefits and setbacks & I think they’re still quite varied so that you can get a college that suits you needs/wants.

On the department open day, I went to look around Corpus Christi and had lunch at Mansfield. I wasn’t really like woah this is the place for me at either and I almost made an open application.

However, I have a disability & had some requirements that were important to me so I decided it would be better to find a college that met those (and find a way around it if I was lucky enough to get a place at another college). One of those that not all colleges would be able to accommodate but was important to me was having a kitchen to cook in that wasn’t shared between all the undergrads (& had everything I needed).

As well as this, I honestly didn’t want to live in one of the older Oxford colleges. They’re beautiful don’t get me wrong but I love a good heating system and I found they just didn’t feel like a home to me. Even now, I find them overwhelming at times!

I’m also quite lazy (going to my local secondary school that you could walk to in less than 10 minutes meant that I really didn’t fancy a long walk to my lectures!).

When I found St Anne’s, it felt so right in a way you won’t understand unless you’ve had that feeling (although it’s not necessary for picking a college!). It had all that I wanted- amazing kitchens (I had a chest freezer last year ), modern buildings (although definitely not to everyone’s tastes- go google Wolfson and Rayne) and it’s like 2 minutes from the department!!

But it also had things I didn’t know I wanted until they offered it to me. Not 1 but 2 24/7 libraries as well as one of the biggest college library collections. An amazing history of allowing women from lower income backgrounds to attend Oxford. No tourists!!! Just a chilled-out vibe and not many of the Oxford traditions are followed. I could go on…

Now I’m here, I can tell you that I was shocked when I arrived here, and it was as chilled out as I was told online.


How did you find the interview process?

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The interview process for me was a mixed bag of emotions. After the PAT, I was convinced I’d failed so I wouldn’t have an interview. When I was emailed with an offer for interview, I was so shocked- I couldn’t believe it.

My interview experience at Anne’s was super chill, the student helpers were lovely, and all the students were very open about what went wrong in their interviews!! It was a really friendly atmosphere (something I wasn’t expecting!) and I met a lot of people just chilling in the JCR that I now study Materials Science with! My interviews themselves were pretty standard- I said a lot of stupid things but I kept going and I felt like, although I didn’t know everything, I gave it my best shot.

My interview at Teddy Hall (St Edmund Hall) was very different. It was a number of hours later and I was the last interview in the college of the whole interview process (maybe the whole university?!). I was very tired & just wanted to go home!! The helpers weren’t as friendly at Anne’s (they probably wanted to go home too!) and there were no other students around to talk to.

I messed up on the first question which didn’t help the mindset (don’t let one bad question put you down!!), even got a laugh out of the interviewer (admittedly, this was because I had got myself so confused on the first question that he asked me a basic question and I couldn’t hide my shock that he would ask me a GCSE question in my interview!) and I left crying on the streets on Oxford back to the train station. It really wasn’t great and left me feeling like I’d let myself down (which was the only feeling I wanted to avoid). I wanted to share this with you because it’s easy to think Oxford students just ace their interview when in fact a lot of us have had some crying post interview experiences! However, looking back now, they probably thought look here’s a student that managed to go from being completely stumped to the answer without giving up in a high-pressure environment & managed to hold it together. Which is what we do now- in tutorials I will have time to work through questions and will be asked to go through stuff that I had no clue how to do with hints along the way!

PS. I'm sure Teddy Hall would be a lovely interview experience it was just very lonely as the last person!

Any interview tips?

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Go into your interview looking to be taught. That’s the number one thing I think I’d say to any STEM student. They are testing whether they can teach you- that’ll be their job for the next 3-4 years! This ties in with listening to them- they are trying to help you.

Practise explaining your thought process-
  1. Try and get a mock interview if you can.
  2. If not (or as extra practise if you get one), ask a parent/friend to ask you A Level questions/PAT questions and get you to explain your methods as you go along.
  3. Help your mates out- if they’re struggling with a question try explaining it to them.

Annotate your personal statement- think of the 5Ws after every question. In my experience, if you’ve mentioned a material on your personal statement, they will ask you about it!

For Materials, I would recommend looking over any A Level Physics, Chemistry or Maths content- they might ask you on any of it (unless you’ve not done A Level Chemistry then they won’t ask you on that!).

If you haven’t learnt something yet, say! BUT always give it a go/offer an idea- can you link it to something you’ve already done?

Take time to think- don’t rush an answer but always give you thoughts- they want to know what you’re thinking.

You will get things wrong- they are trying to push you! They want to see how you deal with not knowing at first (because that’s what it’s like at uni!).


Where were you when you got your offer? How did you react?

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I was in a chemistry lesson when the email came through, sat next to my best friend. I opened up UCAS Track and, to my surprise, I got in! I was very shocked and overwhelmed. Every step along the way I felt like I hadn’t done well enough and, looking back now, I wish I had believed in myself! The shock took quite a while to go away (about 2 weeks) and then the hard work kicked in!

I would also really recommend opening it with a close friend- she put me way more at ease (& more importantly would have been there to celebrate with me/make me feel better after).


Extra info (in particular for those from state-school/underrepresented at uni backgrounds but also how to find out more!)
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I would recommend applying for UNIQ/ Sutton School (aka free) summer schools.

There are lots of mentorship programmes out there- like Uni Pear & Zero Gravity. I wish I’d had the opportunity to have someone help me with my application like that! There are lots of societies at Oxford and initiatives that are set up each year to help prospective applicants out- use them!

If you’re unsure about studying Materials Science, why not take a look at what we study by reading the course synopses here : https://www.materials.ox.ac.uk/teach...turelists.html

There is lots of info online and on YouTube which you can check out too!

Check out Miodownik’s website for what he’s done on TV & radio http://www.markmiodownik.net/?page_id=43

You can speak to students at various colleges on their websites:

https://www.ccc.ox.ac.uk/study-here/...ct-ambassadors

https://www.queens.ox.ac.uk/ask

https://www.st-annes.ox.ac.uk/chat-w...dergraduate%2F

https://www.trinity.ox.ac.uk/chat-to...ty.ox.ac.uk%2F
Wow - this post was amazing and incredibly interesting! I loved hearing about your experiences doing Materials Science.

I've actually read both of the books you mentioned (although I'm a NatSci applicant), and I loved Stuff Matters! Mark Miodownik had such an interesting - but weird life; how many people can say that being stabbed made them want to study materials science? Also, is it just me, or does he have an unhealthy obsession with chocolate? Every other chapter makes sense, but chocolate? Just why - chocolate is disgusting! I loved the biomaterials chapter - but my favourite one was the one about foams and aerogels! Those materials are so amazing and I'd love to have the opportunity to actually hold an aerogel at some point or see what they feel like. Sorry - I just loved that book! I found Stuff Matter kind of old-fashioned (although I'm not saying that in my PS), but the glass stuff and stuff about why materials weren't as strong as they should be was fascinating! Sorry about that - but I've finally found someone else who likes those two books!

How many lines did you spend on each one? (I'm applying to two different but similar interdisciplinary courses, so have a paragraph on materials, and two other ones on separate science interests - is that enough, do you think?)

Also, it's so cool that you taught yourself Italian! I'm half Italian (and half Spanish), and it's awesome to see people learning my language! Italian is so under-appreciated compared to Spanish, or even French.

Which instruments do you play?

Thank you so much again!!
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matscigal
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(Original post by Oxford Mum)
Also please tell me what the 5 W's are? I guess I have just mentioned one of them.
Sorry I should have been more clear! The 5Ws are the questions who? what? when? and more importantly why? and how?
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matscigal
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Wow - this post was amazing and incredibly interesting! I loved hearing about your experiences doing Materials Science.

I've actually read both of the books you mentioned (although I'm a NatSci applicant), and I loved Stuff Matters! Mark Miodownik had such an interesting - but weird life; how many people can say that being stabbed made them want to study materials science? Also, is it just me, or does he have an unhealthy obsession with chocolate? Every other chapter makes sense, but chocolate? Just why - chocolate is disgusting! I loved the biomaterials chapter - but my favourite one was the one about foams and aerogels! Those materials are so amazing and I'd love to have the opportunity to actually hold an aerogel at some point or see what they feel like. Sorry - I just loved that book! I found Stuff Matter kind of old-fashioned (although I'm not saying that in my PS), but the glass stuff and stuff about why materials weren't as strong as they should be was fascinating! Sorry about that - but I've finally found someone else who likes those two books!

How many lines did you spend on each one? (I'm applying to two different but similar interdisciplinary courses, so have a paragraph on materials, and two other ones on separate science interests - is that enough, do you think?)

Also, it's so cool that you taught yourself Italian! I'm half Italian (and half Spanish), and it's awesome to see people learning my language! Italian is so under-appreciated compared to Spanish, or even French.

Which instruments do you play?

Thank you so much again!!
He definitely has a much more interesting story than me! Chocolate surprisingly is similar in some ways to the more "real" materials but I do agree that he might be obsessed- at the talk I went to, we were all given a piece of chocolate to melt in our mouths!
Foams & aerogels are so cool- if you speak to many materials undergrads aerogel is their favourite material! Stuff Matters is very much more for the general public than most science books I've read - you don't need to know a lot about science to give it a read! I think it gives a great insight into materials without getting too technical but also then gives you the opportunity to be like I wonder why and research further if you want!
For your personal statement, I know just how hard getting the balance right was- my courses at Imperial & Oxford were much more you study Materials Science then specialise later whereas Birmingham's course was run out of the Department of Dentistry! I think the best way to go about it is try and link them so it looks like you're not applying to separate courses. For example, I wrote about Stuff Matters and then went on to say my favourite chapter was on biomaterials and because of that I've researched them by ...
My Italian now after a year of university not using it is awful but learning a new language is a great way to expand your mind- I did beginners Spanish this year at the university language centre which I really enjoyed!
I'm an oboist- I play a few other instruments but the oboe is my main instrument by far!
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Hi! This is part of the Oxford Demystified book collated by Oxford Mum. All the other chapters can be found here: https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/sho....php?t=6100480

First of all, a little bit about me:

I’m going into my second year studying Materials Science at St Anne’s College, Oxford. I went to state school & at A Level I studied Maths, Physics, Chemistry & Further Maths. I went on to achieve 2A*s and 2As (these were the grades I applied with- you don’t need straight A*s!!).

I also applied to Manchester, Sheffield, Imperial and Birmingham for variations on Biomaterials courses. If you have any more questions, feel free to ask me!

What is Materials Science?
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To put it simply, we study the properties of materials, the science behind those properties and how we can use that knowledge to change the properties of the material.

If you’ve ever wondered why things break in different ways (and under different levels of force) or what causes a material to have certain properties (ductility, hardness, conductivity, resistance to high temperatures), Materials Science could be for you!

It really does explain the world around you and advancements in the world of Materials really do change the world (we name parts of history after the materials in use!). Understanding what gives rise to certain properties and what we need to do so that a chosen material suits its job is essential so that what we make doesn’t break & does its job to the best of its ability. For example, aircraft are made up of some of the world’s most engineered materials and combine some amazing materials. Another crazy figure to show you just how engineered materials are- there are over 3,500 grades of steel!. The world around you really does look a different way when you start to consider what things are made out of and why!


Why did you want to study your subject?
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Quite early on in sixth form I knew I wanted to study science at university, but I didn’t really want to study chemistry or physics by themselves. I looked into Natural Sciences courses and discovered that you could study something called “Materials Science” and decided after a bit of research I wanted to find out more so over Christmas I read a book called “Stuff Matters” & I was sold.

Materials combines my interests in both chemistry and physics (as well as biology & engineering!). Something about bonding has always interested me since GCSEs as well as one of my favourite parts about Materials: how stuff breaks. It brought together my interests and also inspired some new interests (in the amazing developments of biomaterials!!).

As you can probably tell from my introduction to what Materials Science is, this is a subject I could talk forever and ever about and I could see myself dedicating the rest of my life to it (which sounds really cringey but is true!). Now I’ve studied it for a year, I’m even more passionate about it and have discovered interests in parts of Materials Science I wasn’t that keen on before

Why Oxford?
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I went along to a department open day & just knew I wanted to apply! I loved the course structure, especially the 4th year research project. When I went, I was shocked by how chill and homely the department felt (despite being one of if not in the ugliest building in Oxford!). It was very much not what I was expecting & the staff were all really friendly!

Now I’ve been there for a year, the vibe I got on the open day is very much what it’s like in reality! I’m in a small year group of about 50 people which is big enough it doesn’t feel like a class at school but not too big (you know everyone’s name and there’s a bit more of a community spirit as a group compared to subjects with almost 200 in a year!). The support staff are really friendly as are the tutors and lecturers.

Another benefit of studying Materials Science at Oxford (and at many other universities) is that you graduate with an MEng which allows you to become a chartered engineer via IOM3 or go down the more scientific route of research (or just do something else entirely!!).


Did any of your teachers inspire you? Or any other expert?
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I have had some amazing science teachers throughout my time at GCSE and A Level that loved their subject and have shared that love with me!

However, my biggest inspiration was Mark Miodownik. You’ll struggle to find a Materials student that hasn’t read “Stuff Matters”. His book kickstarted my interest in Materials Science and ultimately helped me make the decision to apply to study it at university! He’s done plenty of documentaries and podcasts too!

Which resources did you use? Which books did you read? Which did you like best, and why? What did they teach you?
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I’m not much of a reader (which is probably something many STEM students can relate to!). I did read some books (although I tended to not put them on my personal statement).

The books I read were:

  • 1) Stuff Matters by Mark Miodownik. I’d really recommend this as an introduction book to help you find out what part of materials science you really like & then you can research that further. This book inspired my interest into biomaterials.
  • 2) The New Science of Strong Materials by J.E. Gordon. Good book which follows fairly easily from A Level Physics content. It covers a lot of the concepts I studied in 1st Year around deformation.
  • 3) The Gecko’s Foot by Peter Forbes. This book is all about how nature has inspired inventions of scientists and engineers and was really interesting!


I also read magazines such as the New Scientist (all for free from my local library!) which I’d recommend to read for more in depth content around what is going on in science right now. If you’re after a more materials specific magazine, IOM3 has a magazine online that you can read for free called Materials World. These are great because you can mention an article in your personal statement and it’s easy to quickly read over it before your interviews!

I personally loved listening to podcasts about Materials Science. The BBC Radio 4 Life Scientific (https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b015sqc7) podcast is really cool. I personally listened to and loved “Print me a new body” (https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08rq6dl) which was also a BBC Radio 4 podcast.

Other podcasts you might be interested in : Plastic Fantastic – Miodownik https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0b450ls

A podcast which goes through a new material every week by an ex-Oxford Materials student https://www.annaploszajski.com/podcast/ Recommended by a course mate!

A new podcast/YouTube series which has been started by another ex-Oxford Materials student: https://youtu.be/SlU21AGEaaE

Also, check out YouTube/tv documentaries!! There are loads of great talks out there on YouTube.


Did you attend any lectures or take part in any competitions? If so, would you recommend them, and why?

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I went to see Mark Miodownik talk at Cheltenham Science Festival. The talk was titled “Can Materials Science Save Us?” and I’d really recommend going along to talks. You can also find this talk on YouTube, I think!



Did you have any work experience? If so, how did you find it?

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I did work experience on a program run by a local engineering company in Year 12. I really didn’t enjoy it if I’m honest! It made me realise for sure that I would prefer to go into a science/research career than an engineering career, so I’d recommend taking on some work experience. Despite not enjoying it, I still put it in my personal statement as I had learnt a lot in that week!

It was advertised to all local schools and they run an application process for a large number of places.


Did you do any summer schools?

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I attended a STEM summer school at Robinson College, Cambridge. It was free of charge and I studied physical Natural Sciences for 3 days. This involved tutorial style learning as well as a lab in the Materials Department there! We also got to explore the city and got loads of advice from current students (and their food was amazing!!). It was an invaluable experience which almost swung me to the more general sciences courses, but I knew Materials Science was my passion (and I still study a lot of physics & chemistry in my degree now!).

QMUL did a day at Easter to experience Materials Science there which I really enjoyed too! I went to some lectures and got to do some labs which were both really informative experiences!


Did you have a specialist interest/EPQ?

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I didn’t do an EPQ at sixth form. Instead, I chose to study Further Maths A Level!


What did you mention in your personal statement and why?
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Pretty much everything I’ve put on here was on there! I made a bullet point list of everything I had done that possibly could go in my personal statement. I then wrote around all the bullet points and picked out those I could write loads and loads about.

I put Stuff Matters on my personal statement and went more into detail about my favourite chapter (the biomaterials one!). This is the spark of my interest in Materials, so it went first!

I also wrote about “Print me a New Body” podcast and going to see Mark Miodownik at the Cheltenham Science Festival. This expanded well from my first paragraph and I was very easy to speak more and more about them both.

I mentioned my day at QMUL, a visit to CERN and my work experience. This was more to do with my experience and why I wanted to go to uni/go into research.

I did a paragraph on my interests outside of Materials Science- I’m a keen musician and I also taught myself (very basic!!) Italian at 6th Form which I put in too. I wanted to put this in as language learning and music are a big part of my life which I linked back by saying I wanted to use certain skills during my degree.

As a conclusion, I wrote about what I wanted to do with my degree & I found that was a great way to end.


What techniques did you use for the entrance test (PAT)?

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Practise, practise, practise!!

First of all, check out the specification on the Physics website- there’s stuff on their you might not have covered yet which they will expect you to know.

I was lucky enough to go on a course run by Oxford University for the PAT (https://www2.physics.ox.ac.uk/events...r-the-pat-2020) which I’d really recommend for state school students to apply to!

In terms of practise questions, you can use the PAT past papers (you can find solutions easily online and on worked examples on YouTube) or Physics Olympiad papers (which have mark schemes!!). I’d also recommend this resource which separates PAT past paper questions by topic (which can help you plug any gaps in knowledge): https://oxfordpat.wordpress.com/


How did you choose your college? Did you go to an open day and if so, did it help you to decide?

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Materials Science is very different in that I had a choice of 7 colleges compared to bigger courses where you’ll have a long list of colleges to choose from. You can choose from Corpus Christi, Mansfield, Queens, St Anne’s, St Catherine’s, St Edmund Hall or Trinity. They all have their benefits and setbacks & I think they’re still quite varied so that you can get a college that suits you needs/wants.

On the department open day, I went to look around Corpus Christi and had lunch at Mansfield. I wasn’t really like woah this is the place for me at either and I almost made an open application.

However, I have a disability & had some requirements that were important to me so I decided it would be better to find a college that met those (and find a way around it if I was lucky enough to get a place at another college). One of those that not all colleges would be able to accommodate but was important to me was having a kitchen to cook in that wasn’t shared between all the undergrads (& had everything I needed).

As well as this, I honestly didn’t want to live in one of the older Oxford colleges. They’re beautiful don’t get me wrong but I love a good heating system and I found they just didn’t feel like a home to me. Even now, I find them overwhelming at times!

I’m also quite lazy (going to my local secondary school that you could walk to in less than 10 minutes meant that I really didn’t fancy a long walk to my lectures!).

When I found St Anne’s, it felt so right in a way you won’t understand unless you’ve had that feeling (although it’s not necessary for picking a college!). It had all that I wanted- amazing kitchens (I had a chest freezer last year ), modern buildings (although definitely not to everyone’s tastes- go google Wolfson and Rayne) and it’s like 2 minutes from the department!!

But it also had things I didn’t know I wanted until they offered it to me. Not 1 but 2 24/7 libraries as well as one of the biggest college library collections. An amazing history of allowing women from lower income backgrounds to attend Oxford. No tourists!!! Just a chilled-out vibe and not many of the Oxford traditions are followed. I could go on…

Now I’m here, I can tell you that I was shocked when I arrived here, and it was as chilled out as I was told online.


How did you find the interview process?

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The interview process for me was a mixed bag of emotions. After the PAT, I was convinced I’d failed so I wouldn’t have an interview. When I was emailed with an offer for interview, I was so shocked- I couldn’t believe it.

My interview experience at Anne’s was super chill, the student helpers were lovely, and all the students were very open about what went wrong in their interviews!! It was a really friendly atmosphere (something I wasn’t expecting!) and I met a lot of people just chilling in the JCR that I now study Materials Science with! My interviews themselves were pretty standard- I said a lot of stupid things but I kept going and I felt like, although I didn’t know everything, I gave it my best shot.

My interview at Teddy Hall (St Edmund Hall) was very different. It was a number of hours later and I was the last interview in the college of the whole interview process (maybe the whole university?!). I was very tired & just wanted to go home!! The helpers weren’t as friendly at Anne’s (they probably wanted to go home too!) and there were no other students around to talk to.

I messed up on the first question which didn’t help the mindset (don’t let one bad question put you down!!), even got a laugh out of the interviewer (admittedly, this was because I had got myself so confused on the first question that he asked me a basic question and I couldn’t hide my shock that he would ask me a GCSE question in my interview!) and I left crying on the streets on Oxford back to the train station. It really wasn’t great and left me feeling like I’d let myself down (which was the only feeling I wanted to avoid). I wanted to share this with you because it’s easy to think Oxford students just ace their interview when in fact a lot of us have had some crying post interview experiences! However, looking back now, they probably thought look here’s a student that managed to go from being completely stumped to the answer without giving up in a high-pressure environment & managed to hold it together. Which is what we do now- in tutorials I will have time to work through questions and will be asked to go through stuff that I had no clue how to do with hints along the way!

PS. I'm sure Teddy Hall would be a lovely interview experience it was just very lonely as the last person!

Any interview tips?

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Go into your interview looking to be taught. That’s the number one thing I think I’d say to any STEM student. They are testing whether they can teach you- that’ll be their job for the next 3-4 years! This ties in with listening to them- they are trying to help you.

Practise explaining your thought process-
  1. Try and get a mock interview if you can.
  2. If not (or as extra practise if you get one), ask a parent/friend to ask you A Level questions/PAT questions and get you to explain your methods as you go along.
  3. Help your mates out- if they’re struggling with a question try explaining it to them.

Annotate your personal statement- think of the 5Ws after every question. In my experience, if you’ve mentioned a material on your personal statement, they will ask you about it!

For Materials, I would recommend looking over any A Level Physics, Chemistry or Maths content- they might ask you on any of it (unless you’ve not done A Level Chemistry then they won’t ask you on that!).

If you haven’t learnt something yet, say! BUT always give it a go/offer an idea- can you link it to something you’ve already done?

Take time to think- don’t rush an answer but always give you thoughts- they want to know what you’re thinking.

You will get things wrong- they are trying to push you! They want to see how you deal with not knowing at first (because that’s what it’s like at uni!).


Where were you when you got your offer? How did you react?

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I was in a chemistry lesson when the email came through, sat next to my best friend. I opened up UCAS Track and, to my surprise, I got in! I was very shocked and overwhelmed. Every step along the way I felt like I hadn’t done well enough and, looking back now, I wish I had believed in myself! The shock took quite a while to go away (about 2 weeks) and then the hard work kicked in!

I would also really recommend opening it with a close friend- she put me way more at ease (& more importantly would have been there to celebrate with me/make me feel better after).


Extra info (in particular for those from state-school/underrepresented at uni backgrounds but also how to find out more!)
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I would recommend applying for UNIQ/ Sutton School (aka free) summer schools.

There are lots of mentorship programmes out there- like Uni Pear & Zero Gravity. I wish I’d had the opportunity to have someone help me with my application like that! There are lots of societies at Oxford and initiatives that are set up each year to help prospective applicants out- use them!

If you’re unsure about studying Materials Science, why not take a look at what we study by reading the course synopses here : https://www.materials.ox.ac.uk/teach...turelists.html

There is lots of info online and on YouTube which you can check out too!

Check out Miodownik’s website for what he’s done on TV & radio http://www.markmiodownik.net/?page_id=43

You can speak to students at various colleges on their websites:

https://www.ccc.ox.ac.uk/study-here/...ct-ambassadors

https://www.queens.ox.ac.uk/ask

https://www.st-annes.ox.ac.uk/chat-w...dergraduate%2F

https://www.trinity.ox.ac.uk/chat-to...ty.ox.ac.uk%2F
Thank you for this great addition to Oxford Demystified! The way you talk about your love for your subject is really sweet, I’m sure you’ll have the best of times in Oxford and I wish you all the best! All of the podcast and YouTube recommendations seem especially helpful too, so I’m sure prospective applicants will be eager to check them out and find your recommendations helpful!
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Reality Check
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I got a notification to this thread, Oxford Mum, but I can't see where you've quoted me?
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Muttley79
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(Original post by matscigal)
Sorry I should have been more clear! The 5Ws are the questions who? what? when? and more importantly why? and how?
Don't you find St Anne's brutal architecture difficult to live in? The concrete spiral staircases and the rooms themselves are so dreadful. How do larger people actually get into the toilets? Rooms on the Banbury Road side are so noisy too, especially those near the traffic lights.
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(Original post by Muttley79)
Don't you find St Anne's brutal architecture difficult to live in? The concrete spiral staircases and the rooms themselves are so dreadful. How do larger people actually get into the toilets? Rooms on the Banbury Road side are so noisy too, especially those near the traffic lights.
I mean I think most colleges have ugly concrete buildings- they’re either hidden or way or on show like at Anne’s! I lived in the concrete building this year and at first I thought it was ugly but it felt like home very quickly. A huge plus to that building was the kitchen. The toilets were squished in but it meant we had more facilities so it worked out- college would be happy to move people who arrived in freshers who’s rooms didn’t fit their needs and there are plenty of rooms to meet requirements.
In terms of noise it’s always a toss up - having nearby roads means it’s really easy to move in. I didn’t have a problem with it at all but I live next to a busy road at home!
And it’s positioning by those traffic lights means being right by the materials department!! So really is swings and roundabouts
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(Original post by Reality Check)
I got a notification to this thread, Oxford Mum, but I can't see where you've quoted me?
I haven't Reality, I tagged you in because I just thought as a scientist, you may be interested in this thread, that's all. I think it's fascinating, personally.
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(Original post by matscigal)
He definitely has a much more interesting story than me! Chocolate surprisingly is similar in some ways to the more "real" materials but I do agree that he might be obsessed- at the talk I went to, we were all given a piece of chocolate to melt in our mouths!
Foams & aerogels are so cool- if you speak to many materials undergrads aerogel is their favourite material! Stuff Matters is very much more for the general public than most science books I've read - you don't need to know a lot about science to give it a read! I think it gives a great insight into materials without getting too technical but also then gives you the opportunity to be like I wonder why and research further if you want!
For your personal statement, I know just how hard getting the balance right was- my courses at Imperial & Oxford were much more you study Materials Science then specialise later whereas Birmingham's course was run out of the Department of Dentistry! I think the best way to go about it is try and link them so it looks like you're not applying to separate courses. For example, I wrote about Stuff Matters and then went on to say my favourite chapter was on biomaterials and because of that I've researched them by ...
My Italian now after a year of university not using it is awful but learning a new language is a great way to expand your mind- I did beginners Spanish this year at the university language centre which I really enjoyed!
I'm an oboist- I play a few other instruments but the oboe is my main instrument by far!
It's hilarious how he likes chocolate so much!

My younger son is passionate about art, so we went to the local art gallery to meet famous cow painter, Caroline Shotton

https://www.buy-fineart.com/artworks.asp?a=3608

She had just finished painting some cows with real chocolate in the background, in fact some of the chocolate was still drying.
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(Original post by Oxford Mum)
I haven't Reality, I tagged you in because I just thought as a scientist, you may be interested in this thread, that's all. I think it's fascinating, personally.
Oh, I see Thanks for tagging me - it is very interesting.
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(Original post by Reality Check)
Oh, I see Thanks for tagging me - it is very interesting.
Every time I get a new Oxford (or Cambridge) demystified chapter, I feel so elated. It's like meeting a new person rather than just a few words on a website. They are always interesting and worthy of any shameless praise I heap upon them.
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matscigal

Nearly 100 views of this chapter already...
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