I'm heading for Mansfield, which was my first choice but which regularly more or less props up the Norrington table. According to its latest newsletter, Mansfield thinks that the table calculation is unfair but feels that they need to get further up the table under the current system before they complain about it, for 'sour grapes' reasons. Not a mathematician myself, but think it is something to do with the points being skewed towards Firsts, particularly in the context of a small cohort. If the question was 'at which college are you least likely to end up with a 2.2' rather than 'at which college are you most likely to end up with a First', the results might be different and, it may be argued, more pertinent for most of us! But the maths is such that the table exaggerates what are really very similar results; half a dozen additional Firsts (which could of course mean half a dozen extra exam marks!) would sometimes have raised colleges many places further up the table.
The rapid journey of some colleges up and down the table must cast doubts on its reliability, yet it can't be denied that a handful are almost always at the top and bottom. For a number of reasons, I don't think that this is due to the intake (he says modestly) at each college, nor the quality of the tutorials. Funding may have some bearing, but I suspect that college ethos and culture would be the main factors. At Mansfield we have a new, high profile Principal starting soon (Dame Helena Kennedy) so it will be interesting to see if anything changes in this respect.
I feel incredibly lucky to be going to Oxford and have never really understood some of the TSR posts one reads, about not wanting to accept an offer from a 'pooled' and perhaps less well known college or PPH. All of the colleges will be presenting us with the chance of a lifetime and we will have no-one to blame but ourselves if our final result disappoints.