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Sheffield High School Higher Education

Entry Guide for Students and Parents


Contents Page Section A • Sixth Form Careers Advice • Calendar for Application

4 5-7

Section B: Making Your Application • What help the school offers • Maximising your chances • Writing your personal statement • Making changes to your application • Instructions for UCAS Application Form • UCAS Points/Tariff • Useful websites • Making an offer • Interviews • Interview questions • Helping us to help others in interviews

9-10 11-12 13-16 17-18 19 20-21 22 23-24 25 26-29 30

Section C: Oxbridge Applications • First Considerations • Oxbridge Entry Procedure • What you have to consider • Past Oxbridge students • Useful addresses

31 32-33 34 35-36 37




Sixth Form Careers This is a continuation from the decisions you made on entry to the Sixth Form. The calendar for applications explains the stages of decision making which occur during the Sixth Form. You will be required to set up for yourself a work placement which has some relevance to your Higher Education programme or career aspirations. The Careers department will help you to do this. Your tutor and the careers department will help you with all the decisions you have to make, he/she will interview you during the Sixth Form and be there to help you at all stages of the application procedures. The Sixth Form Careers library is found close to your common rooms and is a valuable research tool which you should use for information, watch the notice boards for information about university open days, sixth form courses, gap year information, summer job opportunities and new degree courses. In the library you will find computers to access the UCAS website During your Sixth Form you will visit at least one university to learn how a modern university functions and to learn how life as a student will be different from that of a high school pupil. Various speakers will give you advice on career areas, how to sell yourself, which course to choose, whether to take a year out and the importance of work experience and community service. You will have the opportunity to experience running you own company through Young Enterprise programmes. Every year we visit the education fair at the Arena and take our Oxbridge hopefuls to visit either Oxford or Cambridge. Remember all that you do outside of the classroom is important for your future and you should try to develop as many skills as possible, which will help you to achieve your ambitions. You may also complete the coursefinder programme on Futurewise, This helps you choose your higher education course by offering suggestions for investigation. ISCO advisors are always available to help those involved in the ISCO programmes of career advice, and help with our careers programme alongside the school’s liaison from Sheffield University. In your A2 year, you will experience mock interviews in order to prepare you for any university interviews. We try to arrange interviews with friends, parents and colleagues from both in and out of school who have expertise in the particular course or career area which interests you. I hope that this shows you how much help is available if you need it in the sixth form and beyond. Post A level we are always available to help with problems which may arise, and many girls come back for advice much later as well.


Year 12 UCAS Preparation Suggested timescale Apply for work experience as soon as possible Update your CV to send with your application letter. Include your GCSE results, work experience from Y11 and any responsibilities or outside interests which may be relevant to your application. Start the reference information sheet with your tutor. Apply for community service. Join Young Enterprise. Decide what you are going to do in order to back up your application e.g. IT, sport, music, drama, magazine editing, duties etc. Take enrichment seriously – it may mean the difference between getting accepted or rejected. Remember these will allow you to develop your personal skills and increase your chances of a university place. Try to use your extra-curricular activities to fill in any gaps i.e. areas not covered by your AS level subjects. October

You should have settled into your AS levels and sorted out any changes to your choice of subjects. First assessment of your achievement by staff.

December Work Experience applications should begin. January

Initial Oxbridge advice.


Advice about UCAS applications begins. Apply for taster courses and open days. Your tutor will advise you about your application, and you can ask for additional help from Mrs Ashby, Dr Raymond or Dr McGregor-Jones. 2nd assessment of achievement – examination results. Compare these with your ALIS predictions – are you achieving your predicted grades? Personal interviews start with your tutor. Use the information on the notice boards, careers library and websites. Oxbridge applicants submit forms applying for approval by subject staff.




Advice about writing your personal statement. Sheffield Schools Oxbridge conference. Start of extra advice to Medics, Vets, Physios & Law applications. A2 choices


Arrangements for your 1st work placement should be completed by now and insurance letters given to Mrs Ashby. Have you arranged your summer work placement yet?


AS external exams


Y12 Conference – UCAS preparation Talk to admissions tutors and collect the new prospectuses. Summer work placement insurance/permission slips should be handed to Mrs Ashby. Open day visits to universities. Oxbridge visit. Predicted grades given out by staff. UCAS information evening for parents. Complete the reference information for Mrs Dunsford. Begin writing your personal statement.


UCAS Higher Education Fair, you should have written the first draft of your personal statement. 2nd work placement. Start of electronic application to UCAS – complete personal details. Check if you will need to complete an aptitude test.


Module results. Early applicants should check their personal statements with Mrs Ashby. You can register for aptitude tests and complete the exams anytime from September – January. Check dates on the websites for registration and the tests.

Year 13 September Review of course choices after module results. UCAS applications completed by Oxbridge applicants, Medics, Vets & Dentists by end of September at the latest. Check if you have to register for Tests. Tutors review personal statements and give advice. Medical and Veterinary Medicine statements reviewed by Dr Raymond. October

Oxbridge, Vets, Medicine, Dentistry completed by 15 October deadline. BMAT LNAT CAT and other Tests need to be completed Completion of all applications by October half term. 7

November Start of the Oxbridge and Medicine interviews. Start of the offers for places at other universities. Interview workshop LNAT, BMAT & UKCAT exam deadlines. December Oxbridge offers made by the end of this month. January

Start of your decisions about firm and insurance places. Ask advice from your tutors. Applications to Art Foundation courses take place. Students should contact the college directly for application forms. Student loan arrangements do not apply to these courses.


You can add to your existing application if you have no offers by using UCAS Extra.


All offers for places complete. You can add into your existing application after completion if you have spare spaces on your form. Deadline for student loan applications.


All final decisions about firm and insurance places made. 6th May is the deadline for decisions for most courses.


External examinations.


Results and start of clearing procedures. Ask for help if you need it.


Go to university. Hooray!!! You made it. Summary of UCAS Deadline 1 September: Opening date for receiving applications th 15 October: Closing date for Oxbridge, Medicine, Vets, & Dentistry st

Oxbridge 1 October closing date Interviews in December st




What Help the School Offers • An ongoing sixth form careers programme (Mrs Ashby) • • • • •

Two personal interviews: March & July of Y12 (your tutor) To establish your qualifications, motivation, and career intentions. To advise you how to proceed. To discuss your examination results and predicted grades. To confirm and finalise your application details.

• Assistance with form filling (your form tutor) • School trip to Oxford or Cambridge • We visit both universities. We combine the trip with a specific college’s open day and visit other colleges by private arrangement. You get the chance to talk to admissions staff and current students. • The Sheffield school’s partnership will offer you the opportunity to attend a conference in April and talk to admissions tutors about Oxbridge. They will also provide transport on the visit days to Oxford and Cambridge. • Coaching (subject teachers) • If you ask nicely. • Interview practice (November Workshop) • We help you identify useful strategies, ways of handling the interview, getting used to what will be expected of you. You might also discover that thinking can be fun. • Proofreading (your tutors) As many times as it takes, but preferably not at the very last moment. particularly useful when it comes to personal statements.

This is

• Mock interview workshop (Dr McGregor-Jones) This is in November of Y13 and is advisable for those students expecting to be interviewed. It will be invaluable practice because we arrange interviews with specialists from outside the school. Their feedback is enormously helpful, often very encouraging and, of course, objective. • Information (Mrs Ashby, Dr Raymond & Dr McGregor-Jones) Up to date advice on what other students’ experience has been of interviews, types of questions asked and the use of written material sent to the college etc.


Art foundation applications These are done by contacting the colleges directly and not through UCAS. The application deadlines will vary from college to college. Applicants will be interviewed and be asked to take along work they have completed for A- level Art. Students normally live at home during this year. Students will need to check if the Art or design degree course has this as a requirement for entry. Art and Design applications, these are completed through UCAS for degree courses.


Maximising Your Chances Your successful entry to any course depends on several factors: 1. Your GCSE results 2. Your predicted A2 grades 3. The Head’s reference 4. Your UCAS application form 5. Aptitude test results 6. Written work requested by a college 7. Written test at college before interviews 8. Interview(s) 9. A level results 1. GCSE results: These are an indicator of what you have achieved. Good AS grades also indicate your ability to sustain the effort and to achieve at a higher level. 2. Your predicted A2 grades: These are very important. They show what your teachers think of your ability. They are nonnegotiable. The best way to good predictions are: • Excellent results in AS modules • Playing a full and active part in lessons • Demonstrating your ability to work by yourself – do extra, wide reading/extra papers or essays/ find an area you can be genuinely enthusiastic about, and set yourself a mini research project. Show that you have an appetite for scholarship. 3. The Head’s reference: This will be based on drafts prepared by either your sixth form tutor or a teacher who knows you well. Make certain that they have all the necessary information about any special achievements or extenuating circumstances and any special ambitions/future plans. 4. Your UCAS/OXBRIDGE application: Applications are made through the APPLY scheme for UCAS. Start gathering and entering information for these forms sooner rather than later. (Much of it can be done before the summer holidays of Y12). Make certain that you give staff enough time to check your application before we get to deadlines. You may be asked to send additional information to Oxford and Cambridge separately.


5. Written work requested by colleges (for Oxbridge applications only): This is likely to be essays written or work done “in the normal course of your A levels�, so consistently high standards are needed to give you the option of selecting your best work to send. 6. Aptitude Tests: These are focused on the quality of your thinking and your ability to express your ideas effectively, rather than upon what you already know. Sample papers are available on the internet, familiarise yourself with them. Help is available in Critical Thinking lessons. It is important to attend them. 7. Interviews: Use forums like debates, interview workshop and discussion in lessons to get used to thinking aloud/making your ideas clear. Interviews are at least in part about your mental agility, your ability to take on new ideas, your teachability. An interview should be an opportunity to enjoy debate rather than a trial. 8. A level grades: These have to be the highest you can achieve. So work hard. Useful websites: Most university websites are the university name followed by


Writing Your Personal Statement • You are trying to sell yourself as an outstanding student. More than half of your personal statement should be devoted to this. • Start with why you want to read the subject you have chosen. Try to say something eye-catching about the subject. • Then talk about you as a student of that subject – what have you enjoyed about it at A level and why? Or if you have not studied it at school, what makes it attractive to you? What steps have you already taken to studying it? Be specific; cite particular areas/writers/ideas/ and demonstrate how you have gone beyond the work needed for A level, and suggest ideas/critical responses or extensions to experimental work you could enlarge on at interview. (This is one sure-fire way to take some of the unpredictability out of the interview). • Then write briefly about what you have learned from relevant work experience, community service, courses etc. Be specific about the relevant skills you have developed. Young Enterprise fits in here. • Responsibilities held within school, participation in the life of the school should be included to show your willingness to be part of a community – after all, that’s what a college is. • Add any outside activities, interests etc. that you think will tell an admissions tutor something important about you as a potential student – anything unusual or out of the ordinary that you have done; things that show initiative and so on. • Finally you need some way of summing up what you have to offer and what you want to get out of the course. Your personal statement will go through several drafts. Start it early and give it a lot of thought. Take advice from your form tutor. Fill in your UCAS form online. Add your personal statement. After initial registration this can be done at home. Remember you must provide your tutor with your final draft of your personal statement by the end of the first week of Y13 if you are applying for courses with 15 th October deadline.


Writing About Your School Experiences Aim This exercise will help you write a few sentences about your relevant educational experiences. A position of responsibility you gained when you were in Y9 will not be as relevant as more recent experiences. You should be trying to give the impression that you have what it takes to cope with a degree course and the ability to survive in an independent environment. Hence you should try to show yourself as being self-motivated, sociable, self-disciplined, independent and able to balance your academic workload with other pursuits university life may offer etc. Example Being nominated as a tutor group representative in the sixth form provided me with the opportunity to represent others in a responsible and fair manner. I had to extend my communication skills by speaking and listening to a large group. In addition, I have been involved in a number of drama productions as a technical assistant working as part of a team and ensuring stage management was kept working to deadline. I have also performed a lot of charity work for a local hospice and intend to maintain my involvement in the community whilst pursuing my degree in environmental sciences‌ State what experiences you have gained within school and what you have skills you have obtained from them. Experience What have you gained? e.g. Form representative Communication skills, trust, independence etc. Drama production


Musical instrument


Prefect roles


Library assistant


Voluntary work


Events organised


Sports roles







Reflecting on the skills you have developed For each relevant experience you have identified on the previous page now consider in more detail the skills you have developed through it. You may feel with more reflection that each role has allowed you to develop further attributes. For example: Independence



Good organisation Approachable






Now use this reflection to begin to write extracts for your personal statement. To help you try to adapt the following introductory sentences: 1. A regular period of voluntary work with…………………………provided me with the regular opportunity to …………………………………………………(state skills or tasks carried out). 2. Being a member of the cast for…………………………….was extremely rewarding. Acting has improved my self-confidence and public speaking skills. I hope to be involved at university. 3. Playing……………………………….(musical instrument) at grade……….has been extremely rewarding. I hope to continue my interest at university and look forward to joining the orchestra. 4. Speaking in front of large audiences as part of debating has been an excellent opportunity to develop my public speaking skills. I have taken part in a number of debates including…………………………………………and I hope this should be valuable when I go to university. 5. Raising money for……………………………….was a valuable experience. The event involved……………… which meant that I needed to……………………………………………… 6 Taking responsibility for………………………… the sixth form has enabled me to…………………………………


Using the information about your interests outside of school, begin writing your personal statement Write your passages using the examples below as a template to highlight significant activities you pursue outside of school and which strengthen your application. 1. “My part time job as…….. (state title of job and who you work for) has provided an opportunity to……… (say what experience it has allowed you)……” 2. “My interest in cinema……... (explain what interest this is in particular)…… is a passion of mine and has led to me broadening my interests in world literature.” 3. “My involvement with a local amateur dramatics group…… (give details of your involvement)…… has led my involvement backstage with a national touring company when they visit Sheffield in…….” 4. “I wished to pursue my interest in textiles at a practical level and applied to a touring theatre company to help make costumes for their production which include………. This opportunity gave me practical experience of pattern cutting and………….” 5. “I have particularly enjoyed my involvement with a local self-defence class. In…….. I was given responsibility for running the groups meetings which gave me invaluable opportunities to develop my skills of organisation and communication as I was responsible for the quarterly newsletter.” 6. “Given my interest in Physiotherapy is not covered by my subjects I have endeavoured to take part in classes held at a local college which cover the basics of the specialism. This has proved invaluable and has led to me actually gaining work experience on the reception at a local clinic during holidays.”


What to do if you need to make changes These are the Guidelines from UCAS – always check the website for any changes. Your address and phone number If you change your address or phone number permanently, you must pass on your new address to your chosen universities or colleges, but if you are expecting any urgent letters from them, you may also want to tell them yourself. Don’t forget to make arrangements to redirect your mail so that you receive any correspondence that has already been posted to you. If you are studying away from home, please make sure that you change your address to your home or your new address at the end of the summer term. You email address If you change your email address, please let us have the new one and inform UCAS. Choice of university or college You cannot normally change your choice of college or university after we have received your form. But if there are exceptional reasons, such as a change in your family circumstances or any personal problems, you should ask your school or college (or your academic referee if you have already left) to write to us, explaining the situation and recommending that you are allowed to change. Extra choices If you originally applied to less than five choices, you can add more as long as you have not chosen your firm and insurance offers yet or turned down all your offers. You must add any extra choices by 30 June. Please write to us with the Institution code and Course code for the additional courses and add them to your application via track. Single-choice applications If you only made one choice on your original application and paid the reduced amount, you can add more choices and go through clearing later if your pay us an extra fee, as long as you have not already accepted or turned down an offer. You must make any extra choices by 30 June. Please fill in the form with your acknowledgement letter.


Choice of course, year or point of entry If you are happy with your choice of college or university but you want to change your choice of course, defer your application for a year or change the point of entry, you should write to the college or university directly, not to UCAS. If the college or university agrees, it will tell UCAS about the change. If we have already sent you an offer for your original choice, we will change it and send you a new one. Changes in exams and course arrangements You must write to UCAS immediately if your exam subjects, modules or units, awarding or examining board, centre number or any other details change. You must also tell the colleges or universities where you hold offers or those that are still considering your application. Universities or colleges base their conditional offers in your exam details. If your details change, they may change their offers or decisions. If a university or college cannot confirm your exam results because it does not have enough information, it may have to turn down your application. Remember to tell us and the college or university immediately if anything changes. Accident, illness or personal problems that affect your exam results If you suffer an accident, illness or a personal problem that could affect your results, you should write to each college or university that is considering your application and ask them to treat you sympathetically. You should send a supporting letter from your school or other authority and, in medical cases, from your doctor. You should send the details as soon as possible after the problem has happened. Do not wait until your exam results arrive. Withdrawal You can withdraw you application at any time by using TRACK. If you withdraw, you cannot submit another application form during this academic year and you cannot go through clearing. If you have withdrawn from the scheme but, for exceptional reasons, you want to re-enter it, you should write to UCAS with full details and ask for advice. Tracking your progress You can make changes to your application or track your offers using the internet track system in the UCAS website.


Instruction for UCAS application forms Your A and AS grades are pending because they have not been cashed in so the date is 06/2010 02 LEA is the funding you need unless you are an international student The student support arrangements are given by the LEA for the area in which you live All A-level subjects need the names of the 6 modules taken. These are found in the Student pages/sixthform/ucas , as well as the GCSE specifications The AS (first tested2001) is where you put your 4 AS subjects and their modules plus AS General Studies and Critical thinking if you taking the exam. These modules go in both AS and A level sections for your 3 A2 subjects. You should have 3 or 4 subjects in the advanced level section and 4 or 5 subjects in your AS section Look carefully for the other exams you need to add in the other sections listed Music, IT, Drama, Dance, EPQ Nominated Access section : You need to name someone as a nominee who will handle decisions for you if you are too ill to do it yourself. You should have your personal statement checked by 2 members of staff only Your Tutor A subject teacher who teaches the subject you are applying for and you. When your tutor and only your tutor have approved this you can paste it into the form and print off a copy for your tutor to check. Only your tutor can give you permission to transmit after your form has been checked. Then 1 copy must go to Mrs Ashby for the file and a final check 3 copies to Dr McGregor -Jones if you are attending the interview workshop You need to pay ÂŁ19 either by cheque to the office made payable to Sheffield High School or preferably using a debit or credit card when you transmit . 20

Payment is the trigger to transmit your form Please tick all the boxes on this sheet to say you have completed all the section and sign below to say that you have checked the form for mistakes and you are happy with it and ready to transmit to UCAS


Name (printed)



The UCAS Tariff Single Units

GCSE & VCE A level/AS

Key skill


1-unit award

GCSE & VCE A level



Level 4 Level 3

Level 2





VCE double award AA AB BB BC CC CD DD DE EE

Scottish Framework Qualifications Score

Advanced higher

240 220 200 180 160 140 120 100 80 72 60 50 48 42 40 38 35 30 28 20 17 13 10 7


Intermediate 2

Standard grade credit

Core skills

A B C A B C A Band 1 B C

Band 2 Higher


A* will carry 140pts at A Level and 70pts at AS Level. Advanced Extension Awards – Distinction 40pts, Merit 20pts.

How does the points score system work? The following will help you to understand some of the principles on which the Tariff will work: • Points scores can be aggregated from different qualifications e.g. GCE A level; Advanced Subsidiary and VCE A level. • There is no ceiling to the number of points which can be accumulated, thereby recognising the full breadth and depth of students’ achievements. • There will be no double counting – students cannot count the same or similar qualification twice. • Advanced Subsidiary scores will be subsumed into A level scores in the same subject. • Scottish Highers scores will be subsumed into Advanced Higher scores in the same subject. • Scottish core skills scores at intermediate 2 will be subsumed into the scores for Higher core skills. • Key skills achievement at a lower level (level 1or 2) will be subsumed into the highest level of achievement in that skill e.g. level 2, 3 or 4 according to the circumstances. • Points scores for key skills achievement will normally be reported separately, although individual HEIs may wish to accept a key skills points score in part fulfilment of points score offers.


• Following detailed investigation, it has been agreed that all certified key skills achievement in Application of Number, Communication and IT, whether achieved through proxy qualifications or not, will attract the points scores indicated on the chart and proxies will not be regarded as double counting. What other qualifications will be included soon? The Tariff will be developed in due course to include other qualifications and entry routes. • Work has started in incorporating CACHE qualifications, Level 3 Diploma in Foundation Studies (Art & Design), and the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music – Grades 6-8 in the new Tariff. • Work will start on the inclusion of BTEC National qualifications once they have been accredited within the National Qualification framework. • Further qualifications are likely to be included in the Tariff in due course, e.g. the International Baccalaureate, the Irish Leaving Certificate and the wider key skills.

How will HE use the Tariff? • The Tariff is offered by UCAS as a facility to assist HE in expressing entrance requirements and making conditional offers. • It is not obligatory for HEIs to use the Tariff, although they are encouraged to do so. • HEIs’ policies over the use of the Tariff are still emerging. At this stage it seems likely that a significant number of institutions will use the new Tariff; however, its usage may vary from department to department within an institution, and may in some cases be dependent on the programme being offered by the individual applicant. • Entry requirements and conditional offers expressed as points scores will often be qualified to require a minimum level of depth, for example, two A level passes and/or achievement in a specific subject, e.g. 100 points or grade B in Mathematics A level, or to exclude any qualifications which cannot be counted in fulfilment of the requirement. Any more questions? For further information please consult the UCAS website ( or contact UCAS’ Curriculum and Development Department:


Top Post-16 Websites Starting Points,uk advice and links to most useful post-16 sites Searching for courses Choosing universities/student life

‘official’ site for course details, clearing etc. Morrisby interest questionnaire for subject ideas

quality assessments

Money Year out

voluntary work year in industry


graduate careers; what do graduates do graduate jobs in Yorkshire


site for disabled students study in America nhs careers and courses


MAKING AN OFFER How Admissions Tutors Decide Higher Education has never been so popular, so it is going to be hard to get a place. If you are determined to go to University, then it’s important to think carefully about completing the application form and to know something about the admissions tutor - the person who will eventually decide whether or not you are going to be offered a place. The decisions about the grades needed and the combination of subjects is usually decided by the course team, of which the admissions tutor is a member. It is then up to the admissions tutor to apply these decisions to your application form. A University’s prospectus will give you a good indication of what A level or AS level subjects are required, but it is important to consider what else the tutor is looking for. Motivation to succeed is important especially if you are proposing to study a course in a new area unrelated to your previous subjects. Your ability to complete the application form correctly is also important as it is an indication of your character and commitment. Once you have completed the application form and returned it to UCAS, it is sent to each of your chosen institutions. The admissions tutor receives a photocopy of the form which is reduced down to almost half the original size. Remember to double-check your spelling and grammar. Each form has an academic reference and a prediction of your A level. There is no such thing as a typical admissions tutor. Some tutors make automatic offers to students who are predicted to get the required results. They may then spend longer considering those application forms that are borderline. This is why it is important to make sure that your referee knows why you are applying for a particular course and understands your motivation. Other tutors will read every form and make an offer based on their interpretation of what is written. From past experience your teacher or adviser may know about a particular University. If not, you can ring the institution and ask to speak the admissions tutor before you complete the form. You will then know what they are looking for. The admissions tutor has a hard job to do. Many more people apply to do the course than there are places. More people are made offers than there are places and most people will hold offers from two institutions. Tutors are looking for ability and enthusiasm. The whole of the application form can throw light on these qualities.


Ability A levels or AS levels are not the only way to judge a candidate’s ability. An admissions tutor may also look at GCSE and other examinations. Some University courses will require specific A level subjects - Mathematics for Engineering, or Chemistry for Medicine, for example - and a tutor will look carefully at your capability in these areas. Tutors may well be impressed by an ability to establish connections between distinct subjects such as English and Art, or History and Biology. If you have taken up a new subject at A level and have made significant progress in it, then this too will help you. Oxbridge will require you to give information about modules you have taken. Enthusiasm Tutors perceive enthusiasm for a subject as a genuine, constant curiosity in a subject. If you have complemented your studies by reading, discussion or travel - write it on the form. Most tutors are looking for students who will do more than just study. They are looking for students who will contribute to the group they study with and have a range of personal interests and activities. A student with good ideas, initiative and self-confidence, is often preferred to the brilliant but unsociable student. Don’t forget to include membership of clubs, societies or organisations, and any hobbies and activities, prioritise those which are the most relevant to your application. The application form contains so much information on pages three and four, that many University departments will make conditional offers on the basis of what they read. However, for some degrees - especially teacher training, law and medicine, for example - a personal interview may still be necessary. Whatever subject you are hoping to study at University, we wish you the best of luck.


YEAR 12 INTERVIEWS TIMING Please arrange an interview with your tutor during the Spring/Summer term. Mrs Ashby, Dr Raymond and Dr McGregor-Jones are also available to give advice on request. Topics to be covered use the file information for interview Discuss: 1 Achievement in the recent examinations. 2 Problems with achievement. 3 Ideas about degree courses. 4 Are they achievable? 5 Work experience placements. 6 Extra-curricular activities and interests. Targets to set in the interview 1 Look at possible courses. 2 Choose possible universities. 3 Reduce the list down to the 8 - 10 most likely choices. 4 Record the grade requirements. 5 What add on value will be required. 6 Prioritise what you need to do to enhance your application 7 Set a date to be completed and a 2nd interview.

Recording your offers When you hear from an institution you have applied to, tell your form teacher and fill in the appropriate information on your sheet in the file. 1 2 3

offer and conditions interview and date any rejections

Do not make any decisions about UCAS until you have heard from all the institutions you applied to. Consult your form tutor, Mrs Ashby, Dr Raymond or Dr McGregorJones about your decisions. YOU MAY KEEP 1 FIRM OFFER AND 1 INSURANCE OFFER, THE INSURANCE OFFER SHOULD BE LOWER THAN THE FIRM OFFER AND AT THE LEVEL OR LOWER THAN YOUR PREDICTED GRADES. DO NOT PANIC IF YOU DON’T HEAR EARLY, SOME INSTITUTIONS WILL NOT REPLY UNTIL MARCH/APRIL NEXT YEAR. 27

INTERVIEW QUESTIONS Extracted from Interview files GENERAL • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

How do you think you have benefited from a single sex education? How are you taught? How do you like to be taught? Have you ever failed anything? How did you react? Why this university? What is important to you in a (Medical) course? Why do you want to do this course? What do you think of the course? What are the disadvantages of this course? Are all the courses you have applied to the same? When did your interest in this subject first arise? How will you bring in your other interests? Why did you choose these A Levels? What part of you’re A- Levels do you enjoy? Talk about them. What work have you done in (specified area of A Level)? What do you derive from school work? What more is there to getting in to this university than getting good grades? Why do you want to do a Year in Industry? How do you cope with stress? If you could only keep one hobby going, which would it be? Are you aware of our sports facilities? What career plans do you have? How will you spend your GAP year? Why should we accept you? Tell me in depth about your work experience. What did you like about working there? Tell me the bad points about it. Did you talk to any of the (staff/solicitors etc) while you were there? What did you think of them? Are there any issues in the news which have interested you lately? What were the headlines in today’s newspaper? How would you persuade someone to do something they did not want to do? Tell me about your job. How do you deal with (difficult customers/unruly children etc) at work? What can we learn from the old people in our society? Which is more important, intelligence or communication skills? Who do you think is a good communicator and why? What helps a documentary communicate information well? 28

• If you gave a lecture on something very technical, how would you make it easy to understand? • Previous experience of problem-based learning or working in groups for prolonged period. • What books have you read in the last 12 months which have influence your thinking? • Do you read (scientific/medical etc) journals? • What do (physiotherapists/lawyers etc) find hardest in their job? • What have you done to further your investigation into this career? • What do you think about job prospects in Europe? • What will be the headlines in the media about this job in 10 years time? • What did you learn from doing Young Enterprise? • What positions of responsibility have you held? • Do you have any questions? • Is there anything to add you think might influence whether you are accepted here? BIOCHEMISTRY • Draw a graph of the results of a Chemistry practical and explain the graph. MATHEMATICS • • • •

Too complicated to represent on computer: see Interview file! Often don’t need you to state the answer but explain how you would find it. Why must the answer to this (specific question) be wrong? I have a 6 digit number ABCABC. Prove it is divisible by 13.

ENGLISH • • • • •

Questions about authors, novels, plays mentioned on the UCAS form. Which is your favourite Jane Austen novel and why? What do you think of her style? Is there anyone who avoids her ironic comments in the novels? ‘The Tempest’: What do you think of the theory that it is supposed to represent colonialisation? • Make comments about a poem, which I was given in the interview. What is it about, are there any interesting features? • Showed me some essay titles and asked what I thought of them. • What issues are there in eighteenth century literature which are relevant today?



Asked about fieldwork and the metamorphism in mudstone. (At Manchester) Tell me about old industry in Manchester. Look out of the window and give a geographical analysis of everything you can see. What do you think about global warming? What do we mean by a global market place?

MEDICINE • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

What problems do you foresee in a medical career? What is an ECG and how does it work? What are the bad points of medicine? Tell me about your visit to Gambia: what vaccinations did you have? Do you think sport is important as a doctor? Do patients exaggerate symptoms and why? What important advances have there been in Medicine in the last 100 years? Which doctors are in the front line of developing Medicine? What speciality would you like to follow: how important is it? How would you tell a patient they have a terminal illness? What are your views on Euthanasia? Do you appreciate that as a doctor you won’t have any time to talk to your patients? If you have 3 patients and you can only treat 2, how and who decides? Should management/consultants decide what to spend money on? Genetic engineering: how will it help medicine realistically? Why not nursing, physiotherapy or pharmacology? If you have money to spend in (x country) how would you improve people’s health?

HISTORY • • • • • • • • • •

Why did Disraeli oppose the repeal of the Corn Laws? Why was Disraeli concerned with sanitation? To what extent did the Empire contribute to the success of the Conservative Party? What did ‘patriotism’ mean to Disraeli? Why was prestige so important to him in his Imperial policy? Is the concept of a programme too modern to be applied to Peter the Great? Questions comparing Louis XIV, Joseph II and Peter the Great. What do you think of Prime Ministers who write novels? What other periods of history are you interested in and why? Discuss Tolstoy from a historical point of view?


LANGUAGES • Tell me about your visits to Germany/Spain etc. • Questions about Spanish Monarchy, Tony Blair, American Democracy, Spanish, Politics, Comparisons between English and American Government. • Would you abolish the Monarchy and why? • Passage to read in (French), then answer questions on it in French. • 10 minute conversation in French. LAW • Given a case study and an hour to prepare: 2 reports on theft. General questions about what exactly they were charged with, did I agree with the judge’s decisions, were the two cases comparable, did the nature of the valuables stolen make a difference? • Is breaking the speed limit justified? • Should cigarettes be banned? • If not, should drugs be made legal? • No case study before interview but 3 interviews leading me through hypothetical situations (freedom of the press) and trying to catch me out; making me contradict myself and defend my views but also be able to see when I went wrong. • Should health care be given to a smoker? • What is a contract? • Is promising to give someone a meal a contract? • If you agree to sell your car, then sell it to someone else, have you broken the law? • Given a case study with a list of questions: interviewer got me to discuss the questions, argued against everything, then tried to get me to argue myself out of the corners she has trapped me in. • Ethics of fox-hunting.


Interviews/University Visits Could you help us to help future students by completing this form for any interviews or post offer open days that you have attended. Please return to Dr Raymond or Mrs Ashby. Thank you for your help. (Forms can be found on the desk outside Dr Raymond’s office.) Name_________________________________________


Course____________________________________________________________________ Name of University/College/Institution_________________________________________ Form of the interview e.g. one to one/several interviews/group interview of candidates/formal/inform ___________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________ Details of anything you had to do e.g. presentation/test/essay/audition ___________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________ Your impression of the University/course/accommodation/city/town etc. and anything you think that might interest a fellow sixth former ___________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________ 32






Past OXBRIDGE students OXFORD 2000

Alice Marsden Heather Pople Hannah Brown Brintha Selverajah Emma Whiteside Geetu Bhan

Law Geography Biological Sciences Medicine Engineering Economics

Corpus Christi Hertford Lady Margaret Hall New College Pembroke Trinity


Gayti Islam




Hannah Garnett

Modern Languages

St Hilda’s


Clodagh Corbett Kerry Horne Pia Tapley

English Language & Literature Medicine Law

Corpus Christi New Hall Magdelene


Sophie Bolsover Heather Storey

Modern History Modern History

Pembroke Somerville


Helena Heaton Georgina Weetch

German History

St. Edmund Hall Pembroke


Eleanor Bentley Mary Li Collette Warden

Politics, Philosophy & Economics Economics Mathematics

Trinity Pembroke Balliol


Rosemary Henry Kate MacCarthy Elspeth Payne Sophie Norman

History History & French History Chemistry

St. Edmund Hall New College Queen’s Merton


Katherine Payne Taj Tomouk Alicia Morton

Modern Languages Medicine Law

Sydney Sussex Jesus Homerton



Jean Wang

Natural Sciences



Rebecca Handbury Emma Handbury Janet Wang

Archaeology & Anthropology Classics Computer Science

New Hall Newnham Newnham


Hibba Abdulkarim Victoria Locke

Medicine Veterinary Medicine

Girton Girton


Lilly Li Eleanor Smith

Medicine Engineering

Robinson Queen’s


Kerry Bloxham Charlotte Forrest Rebecca Low

Engineering Natural Sciences Natural Sciences

New Hall Emmanuel St. Catherine’s


Katie Howe Lucy Stephenson

Natural Sciences English with Education

Pembroke Homerton


Emily Whitelock Andrea Dower Sivasakthy Selvakumaran Clare Sutherland

Modern & Medieval Languages Law Engineering Engineering

Sidney Sussex Trinity Sidney Sussex Clare


Angela Bradbury Megan Croft Alicia Danks Sophie Sawicka-Sykes

Natural Sciences Religious Studies Anglo Saxon, Norse and Celtic English

Corpus Christi Homerton Jesus Magdelene


Victoria Chia Charlotte Craven Amy Holroyd Jemima Stephenson Rosabelle Teo

Mathematics Medicine Natural Sciences Natural Science (Physical) Law

Homerton Queen’s Trinity Hall Queen’s Selwyn


Katherine Payne Taj Tomouk Alicia Morton

Modern Languages Medicine Law

Sidney Sussex Jesus Homerton



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UCAS Entry Guide

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