On Saturday 22nd February I was luckily enough to attend a ‘Geography Subject Day’ at Jesus College, Oxford. The college had put together a fantastic programme that included a great mix of different information. The tutors explained some of their research as well as talking about the admissions process.
Below are some notes from the session; these are my notes and there may be errors and inaccuracies.
Geography Admission Statistics (for entry in 2014)
- 322 applications in October 2013, 77 places available. Success rate is 24%.
- Aim to interview approximately 3 candidates for every place (university policy).
Tools used to Evaluate Application
- UCAS form (including academic reference)
- Thinking Skills Assessment – this is used to deselect rather than to select. Used to get rid of approximately bottom 20%. It is not used in a systematic way after selection for interview. Though tutors have noticed a correlation between TSA score and interview performance. (more details about the TSA can be found at http://www.admissionstestingservice.org/our-services/thinking-skills/tsa-oxford/about-tsa-oxford/) [MUST register by October 15th; taken in school]
- Interviews for 64% of Geography applicants – used to find out how applicants think, not what they have been taught.
- Reason why the subject choice
- Work Experience
- Gap year information is useful if relevant to course.
- Students put more stress into it than is necessary.
- Extra curriculum activities are interesting but not part of the decision making process; admission is purely on academic basis.
- All personal statements are put through plagiarism detection software – any plagiarism and candidate is not interviewed.
- In addition to usual content should give information on support reds and personal circumstances.
- UMS scores are useful (but not required); and they are not a fundamental component.
- Do not write to the college separately; unless there are special circumstances.
Written Work – not required for Geography; however it is in some subjects.
- Approximately 70% of candidates invited to attend for interview (approximately 64% for Geography).
- Interview dates are published on-line (different for each course); food and accommodation provided by first choice college.
- Tutors are looking for:
- Academic ability and potential (important they have not peaked at school).
- Subject knowledge and skills – but don’t need to know everything.
- Commitment and motivation.
- Willingness to engage in tutorial systems – need to be able to contribute to tutorials.
- Ability to handle new material and to relate it to existing knowledge.
- Specifically Geography Tutors are looking for:
- independent thinking.
- Ability to follow an argument.
- Spirit of enquiry.
Students should not look at application statistics when applying for colleges; candidates are selected for interview on a university level; then some reallocation of applicants to colleges takes place.
Interviews in Geography
- 2 interviews with a pair of interviewers, each lasting 20 minutes.
- Interactive -as in a tutorial situation.
- Designed to see how candidates respond to new information.
- Candidates are given an article to read 20 minutes before each interview (this is the case in Jesus collect but not necessarily the case for every college).
- The interview will start with questions to settle and ease candidate in; this may be a very open question e.g. ‘tell me about the place you live?’, or refer to personal statement.
- May use very complicated diagrams to see candidates thinking process.
- It is perfectly acceptable for candidates to stop and change mind; or to ask for clarification.
- It is important that candidates show their thought process by thinking out loud.
- Standard A’Level ofer is A*AA, the A* can be in any subject taken.
- IB Standard offer is 40 points.
- Students would be crazy to do 4 A’Levels; however if they do the university reserves the right to specify which A’Levels the grades are in (e.g. may choose to discount a subject).
- Doing 4 subjects does not mean that students can drop a grade.
Students can find more information about applying here: http://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/undergraduate_courses/courses/geography/geography.html