Home » Q & As » Katy: English, Clare College Cambridge

Katy: English, Clare College Cambridge

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Clare College

Q. What should applicants put in their personal statement?

A. For English, specific details about a few texts they are interested in ,beyond  that what they study at school. Also say why they want to study English, briefly. Include what they enjoyed about texts at school and outside of the syllabus.

Q. What should they read?

A. As much as possible that isn’t on school syllabus. If you find one book interesting, maybe research similar texts or authors of a similar period and look into their work.

Q. What is the best thing about your course?

A. The coverage. You really cover a lot of authors and periods, more so than in most English Literature courses at other universities.

Q. Was it hard to make friends?

A. It is easier than at others universities perhaps, as the college system means you probably meet more people  in the first few weeks and months.

Q.  How can you prepare for interview?

A. Make sure you have a few things to say about each of the texts you have mentioned in your personal statement (even two would suffice, but try and develop your thoughts and have them fully formed before the day so you can  talk confidently about them. Reading introductions to the texts can often help here as they might spark thoughts or just highlight things you hadn’t already thought about. Likewise, don’t forget to have a few comments about the texts you are studying at school ready: I was asked about a set text ‘King Lear’ which was something I wasn’t really expecting! And be ready to say something that isn’t completely standard and expected: consider talking about a recent performance you watched and why you liked or didn’t like the director’s interpretation.

Q. What was the interview like?

A. I had two interviews: both were made up of two parts. Before the first I was given a poem to look at for about ten minutes then was asked to give some thoughts. The interviewers probed and wanted to see how I reacted to the text in terms of overall content and ‘impression’ and also its structure and composition. I was then asked about the texts on my personal statement, about the characters in some of the novels to which I referred as well as the morality of characters in a play I studied at school. The second interview was similar but used a different poem from a later period; this one was modern-TS Eliot’s ‘The lady of the Porcelain Department’ . I was also asked about  what I liked about  texts  mentioned in my personal statement. (Please note the interviews obviously vary in format but as long as you have some interesting things to say on some texts you have enjoyed you will be fine!)

Q.  How do you prepare for the admissions test?

A. I practised by looking at a previously unseen poems and extracts from  novels and thought about what the interesting features were in terms of form, structure and language and if possible, tried to form an argument or have an angle on the text. I Looked at past exam questions and attempted them, often bullet pointing answers or simply doing a plan )

Q. How did you choose our college?

A. I looked around many but just chose the one that felt right,that I enjoyed walking around. I wanted a medium size one with  gardens and a nice bar!  Finally, I decided on Clare which also had a reputation as a friendly college.

Q.  What grades did you get?

A. At AS: English Literature A;  History A ;  Religious Studies A;  General studies A;  French B.    At  A level:  EngLish Literature A*;   History A*; Religious Studies A*;  General Studies A*

Q.  What grades were you offered?

A. AAA*

Q.  What is the best piece of advice that anyone gave to you?

A. For the interview, make sure you have interesting things to say or prepared about texts that aren’t on your school syllabus. Show that you are very interested in the subject and will be very keen to learn!


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