Oxbridge: Play the game, win a place

Watch
This discussion is closed.
theone
Badges: 0
Rep:
? You'll earn badges for being active around the site. Rep gems come when your posts are rated by other community members.
#1
Report Thread starter 18 years ago
#1
"OXBRIDGE ENTRANCE: the real rules. By Elfi Pallis. Tell Books £10.99.
Sixth-form teachers often tell their pupils Oxbridge entry is a lottery.

They are wrong. It is a game, played to obscure and unwritten rules, osmotically understood by those with a lifetime's exposure to them, but baffling and intimidating to those who have never met them. That is why "access" schemes, as operated by the two universities, will never work.

They just bring a few new horses to the water. They don't make these strange waters more palatable. Elfi Pallis is angry about this, and lists steps these ancient institutions must take if they seriously want to attract bright students from across the school system.

But that is an afterthought. Most of this lively, fascinating book is spent teaching bright kids from ordinary schools how to play the Oxbridge entrance game.

Pallis, a sociologist and journalist whose daughter is at Oxford, has conducted extensive interviews with students, teachers and admissions tutors. She guides readers through the process, from deciding if Oxbridge is worth trying for, to what happens if a student does - or doesn't - get in. And she does it with wit, flair and the kind of down-and-dirty detail students, teachers and their families need.

She looks at what applicants must have in their "kit bag" to show they are well-rounded people (arts, drama, music and volunteering are all good), and which A-levels are best for which subjects. Choosing a degree subject is dealt with in detail. Few people know, for example, that fewer than one in five applicants are accepted to do economics or law, while more than half get in to do chemistry or classics. Picking the right college can also be crucial. It might be a good idea, says Pallis, to hunt down one that has not traditionally welcomed state school applicants, but is now being pressured to do so.

Then there is the interview. Oxbridge loves fast mental footwork, which is a disaster for anyone from a culture where it is seen as impolite to challenge elders, or who has spent the past seven years at school hiding their intellect for fear of ridicule.

Pallis explains it all. What type of questions might be lobbed your way.

How to treat the interview like a conversation, rather than a quiz. How to explain why you hold the views you do. How reading a single "key book" - she lists some that have worked for others - can tip things your way.

She talks about dress, accent (don't change it) and even table manners, including instructions on how to deal with a whole Dover sole. "Oxbridge dons keener on wider participation," she observes tartly, "might also wish to learn something new. Fish is eaten by most of the population in the form of easily dissected, breadcrumb-covered fillets without bones. Perhaps the hall menu in interview week could take account of this fact."

She moves on to look at medicine at Oxbridge, and to questions of race, class and gender. She also examines what unites "non-traditional" students who have navigated their way into Oxbridge. Interestingly, many have teachers for parents. From this Pallis extrapolates that parents who understand how schools work, and who can help their children get the most out of what's available, are the ones who lay the firmest foundations for confident, high-aspiring children.

There are some slips - not all private schools are single-sex, for example, or even most of them - but overall it is excellent. It makes no false promises, and it makes available to everybody the kind of information private schools have had at their fingertips for generations. It is bound to make for more clued-up teachers and parents. And it strips bare the enduring snobberies and arrogance of Oxbridge, in a way Pallis clearly hopes will make many more "ordinary" students determined to step forward and take them on."


My teacher gave me this article a week or do back.

What do people think of it? I personally thought it was a bit exaggerated and looking for attention.
0
loftx
Badges: 7
Rep:
? You'll earn badges for being active around the site. Rep gems come when your posts are rated by other community members.
#2
Report 18 years ago
#2
Sounds like whoever gave it to you in on comission - are you intending to buy the book?
0
theone
Badges: 0
Rep:
? You'll earn badges for being active around the site. Rep gems come when your posts are rated by other community members.
#3
Report Thread starter 18 years ago
#3
Definitely not, it's a review found the Times Education Supplement
0
RetiredAccount89
Badges: 18
? You'll earn badges for being active around the site. Rep gems come when your posts are rated by other community members.
#4
Report 18 years ago
#4
See I got bored halfway through the review, but I'd like to point out the obvious
1) The odds of eating dinner with your interviewer BEFORE getting in are minimal, neigh - zero.
2) I'm so raaaa, im at Corpus in cambridge. Thats why I can speak about table etiquette. There ain't none...We use a standard knife and fork, talk whilst we eat, and most of the stuff from the canteen is lathered in bread crumbs, from beef, to fish, to even the potatoes!
Since I've been here I've only had about 4 posh dinners, and you can kind of pick up the etiquette for those as you go along. (or in my case, from having waitered in a plush restaurant lol)
J
0
tagzt
Badges: 4
Rep:
? You'll earn badges for being active around the site. Rep gems come when your posts are rated by other community members.
#5
Report 18 years ago
#5
its a load of rubbish...just go into your intervire and be yourself. there is no "game", if you are good enough to do well enough in your subject you get in, if not then you don't.
0
not1
Badges: 15
Rep:
? You'll earn badges for being active around the site. Rep gems come when your posts are rated by other community members.
#6
Report 18 years ago
#6
(Original post by tagzt)
its a load of rubbish...just go into your intervire and be yourself. there is no "game", if you are good enough to do well enough in your subject you get in, if not then you don't.
im heartened to hear that. i would be so disappointed if i wasnt offered a place just because id chosen the wrong college/eaten with the wrong piece of cutlery lol.
0
loftx
Badges: 7
Rep:
? You'll earn badges for being active around the site. Rep gems come when your posts are rated by other community members.
#7
Report 18 years ago
#7
(Original post by foolfarian)
1) The odds of eating dinner with your interviewer BEFORE getting in are minimal, neigh - zero.
Has anyone ever eaten with interviewers at their open day - I had a three day interview and didnt see any of them at any of the meals.
0
Unregistered
Badges:
? You'll earn badges for being active around the site. Rep gems come when your posts are rated by other community members.
#8
Report 18 years ago
#8
I havent read it but the stats pallis uses are wrong- according to the prospectus the odds of getting a law place are one in four, not five. And economics depends on what one chooses to study it with, PPE being less competitive then E&M. Not major points but it shows she hasnt checked her research and undermines her credibility somewhat.
0
Bumblebee3
Badges: 8
Rep:
? You'll earn badges for being active around the site. Rep gems come when your posts are rated by other community members.
#9
Report 18 years ago
#9
(Original post by foolfarian)
See I got bored halfway through the review, but I'd like to point out the obvious
1) The odds of eating dinner with your interviewer BEFORE getting in are minimal, neigh - zero.
2) I'm so raaaa, im at Corpus in cambridge. Thats why I can speak about table etiquette. There ain't none...We use a standard knife and fork, talk whilst we eat, and most of the stuff from the canteen is lathered in bread crumbs, from beef, to fish, to even the potatoes!
Since I've been here I've only had about 4 posh dinners, and you can kind of pick up the etiquette for those as you go along. (or in my case, from having waitered in a plush restaurant lol)
J
Yep, the food at Newnham has led people to refer the buttery as the s***tery. They tried to serve muscles the other night. When they can't do potatoes. lol. Have given you rep - why the hell are you in minus points when idiots that bash the disabled and the poor seem popular?
0
RetiredAccount89
Badges: 18
? You'll earn badges for being active around the site. Rep gems come when your posts are rated by other community members.
#10
Report 18 years ago
#10
(Original post by Haz)
Yep, the food at Newnham has led people to refer the buttery as the s***tery. They tried to serve muscles the other night. When they can't do potatoes. lol. Have given you rep - why the hell are you in minus points when idiots that bash the disabled and the poor seem popular?
Haz dear, point of note. When you eat meat, it's muscle. What you are referring to are mussels (sea food). A very dangerous thing to try in a canteen. Anyone heard of Norwalks virus..? nasty stuff.

And I'm mainly in neg points because someone had a vendetta some time back. I do have several blank points though. Dunno how i get those, they arent red or green, they just...are.
J
0
Unregistered
Badges:
? You'll earn badges for being active around the site. Rep gems come when your posts are rated by other community members.
#11
Report 18 years ago
#11
what is this point system to which i am referred to? Can anyone tell me?
0
Mentally Ill
Badges: 0
Rep:
? You'll earn badges for being active around the site. Rep gems come when your posts are rated by other community members.
#12
Report 18 years ago
#12
(Original post by theone)
"OXBRIDGE ENTRANCE: the real rules. By Elfi Pallis. Tell Books £10.99.


My teacher gave me this article a week or do back.

What do people think of it? I personally thought it was a bit exaggerated and looking for attention.
I read the article and bought and read the book. Once you accept that the book hasn't been proof read very well - and stop trying to count the typos (who the hell are Tell Books anyway?) - you begin to adapt to her style, and can appreciate some of her points. The book is actually written for working class parents of 'gifted' students (despite the synopsis on the back saying "Designed to help pupils succeed').

There is some useful general information in the book, especially on the overall process. Her 'kitbag' analogy seems to be convincing to me. However, for applications for the next admission, it's too late to read this book with the expectation of getting much advice on interviews (as I was hoping to do). The little advice she does offer is useful. I don't know about anyone else but every one keeps telling me "its not what you know, but how you think on your feet....etc...they will ask questions that will test how you think" and then when I ask "such as?" they seem to waffle and never give me an example, but this book actually provides some example questions - and suggested possible responses.

I would say that the book is divided into two parts. In the first part Elfi offers useful advice on the application procedure - and demonstrates why she thinks it is a game, and in the second part she constructs an argument to review the admissions process.

I only bought the book to get some last 'tips' before my interview next week; the book didn't really help me much. In fact, I am quite worried now

( but I'd probably agree with her about it being a game.)
0
Surfing Hamster
Badges: 1
Rep:
? You'll earn badges for being active around the site. Rep gems come when your posts are rated by other community members.
#13
Report 17 years ago
#13
(Original post by loftx)
Has anyone ever eaten with interviewers at their open day - I had a three day interview and didnt see any of them at any of the meals.
I had breakfast with a History interviewer the morning of my Law interview. I was trying so hard not to splash myself with milk and drop rice crispies down my front! I don't think it's normal for interviewers to eat in the butteries, though, as dinner is served for them in halls (well, that was the case at Clare yesterday).

I asked him what counted most: interviews or tests - he said they all count equally.
0
Helenia
Badges: 20
Rep:
? You'll earn badges for being active around the site. Rep gems come when your posts are rated by other community members.
#14
Report 17 years ago
#14
(Original post by Surfing Hamster)
I had breakfast with a History interviewer the morning of my Law interview. I was trying so hard not to splash myself with milk and drop rice crispies down my front! I don't think it's normal for interviewers to eat in the butteries, though, as dinner is served for them in halls (well, that was the case at Clare yesterday).
What did you think of Clare then? Did you meet any of the current students?
0
Surfing Hamster
Badges: 1
Rep:
? You'll earn badges for being active around the site. Rep gems come when your posts are rated by other community members.
#15
Report 17 years ago
#15
(Original post by Helenia)
What did you think of Clare then? Did you meet any of the current students?
Clare was lovely; they had a nice JCR, too!

Didn't meet any current students, though..
0
theone
Badges: 0
Rep:
? You'll earn badges for being active around the site. Rep gems come when your posts are rated by other community members.
#16
Report Thread starter 17 years ago
#16
(Original post by Surfing Hamster)
Clare was lovely; they had a nice JCR, too!

Didn't meet any current students, though..
Were there none there? I met a few in the Trinity JCR on the night after my interview...
0
bunnywabbit
Badges: 0
? You'll earn badges for being active around the site. Rep gems come when your posts are rated by other community members.
#17
Report 17 years ago
#17
WELL.... I MUST SAY I FIND THE WHOLE THING totally bloody ridiculous. I have never found any cambridge don to behave in the manner described- That being one of a masogynistic pompous intellectual perspective and social demeanour that simply does not exist. Try using a more comprehensive or discursive style of analysis that seeks to extrapolate both a positive observation and a negative one, suitably and convincingly justified of course.
0
Surfing Hamster
Badges: 1
Rep:
? You'll earn badges for being active around the site. Rep gems come when your posts are rated by other community members.
#18
Report 17 years ago
#18
(Original post by theone)
Were there none there? I met a few in the Trinity JCR on the night after my interview...
I only got chance to peer through the JCR's window!
0
theone
Badges: 0
Rep:
? You'll earn badges for being active around the site. Rep gems come when your posts are rated by other community members.
#19
Report Thread starter 17 years ago
#19
(Original post by Surfing Hamster)
I only got chance to peer through the JCR's window!
Unlucky - I ended up spending an evening in the college bar
0
hattori
Badges: 0
Rep:
? You'll earn badges for being active around the site. Rep gems come when your posts are rated by other community members.
#20
Report 17 years ago
#20
(Original post by tagzt)
its a load of rubbish...just go into your intervire and be yourself. there is no "game", if you are good enough to do well enough in your subject you get in, if not then you don't.
I think it's a bit arrogant to just totally dismiss anyone who doesn't get into Oxbridge as not good enough, because if you're good enough to get the interview you definetely have the potential to get in. Being able to put forward a good argument will get you in, which is what the book is saying. The book also tells you to act naturally, how to dress, and how to approach the admission tutor. Why is that rubbish?? Surely these are questions that everyone who goes for the interview thinks about and these questions put people off trying for Oxbridge. You got in to Oxford, are you telling me you didn't practice the interview, speak to people who do the same course as you in oxford or prepare yourself as far as dress code went? I don't think so buddy, you played the game too (i know that's a stupid way of phrasing "doing some research"). You would play the same "game" if you were going for a job interview.

So what is wrong with putting the answers in a book if it helps people forget the old ideas about class and elitism, and helps them do the best they can for themselves. The only problem is that the book is a waste of money because you could just find out the answers yourself, but if your willing to pay then I don't see anything wrong with it.
0
X
new posts
Back
to top
Latest
My Feed

See more of what you like on
The Student Room

You can personalise what you see on TSR. Tell us a little about yourself to get started.

Personalise

How would you describe the quality of the digital skills you're taught at school?

Excellent (34)
10.06%
Okay (99)
29.29%
A bit lacking (122)
36.09%
Not good at all (83)
24.56%

Watched Threads

View All