Student Stories

Celine University of Oxford, Physics

She is from Westminster School. She failed in her initial application to Cambridge, but she was determined, reapplied with the help of Blue, and finally get the offer from Oxford.


Story of Celine


1. Education experience


School: Westminster Public School

Awards: (Physics) BPhO Top Gold

(Math) Top of year in Maths Olympiad for girls; Senior Maths Challenge full mark

(Chemistry) Cambridge Chem Challenge Gold


2. What is the reason for the failure of the first application for Oxbridge?


I applied to Cambridge, IC, UCL, Durham, and St Andrews for the first time, and got accepted by all of them except Cambridge.


After I failed to apply to Cambridge University last year, I concluded that the reason for my failure might be my mental attitude. I was a little nervous because I had not taken such a large exam before. Although my parents encouraged me a lot, there was extra pressure on me and the psychological burden was heavy.


In addition, before the exam, I always imagine a series of consequences if I fail, which leads to insomnia. The whole night before the written test, I didn't sleep much. The next day, I drink a lot of coffee. Unexpectedly, I was allergic to caffeine.


So to sum up, I think ability is, of course, important, but your attitude before the exam and your improvisation in the exam will also affect your final result. In fact, I was in very good condition during the week before the written test, and I did quite well in the two big competitions (Bpho and SMC), so I felt there was no big problem with my ability. The biggest problem with losing, in the end, is the mentality of not dealing with it well.


3. Why do you choose to reapply with Blue's help?


First of all, I don't think I was weak last year, but the pressure I put on myself led to failure. So I think if I can overcome that this year I have a chance. In addition, I am so fond of physics and have my own obsession with Britain and Oxbridge, so I choose to reapply.


Secondly, although I hesitated before reapplying, there are many people who are better than me who were rejected by Oxbridge. Some of them chose IC as the next best thing because they were afraid of being rejected again. I understand and respect it very much, but in order to avoid regretting this experience in my later life, I decided to take a gap year and apply again.


I chose Blue is because my senior school sister Suzie in Westminster, got a Cambridge offer with Blue’s tutoring. When I choose Gap year after being rejected, she recommended contacting blue for help with the reapplication. 


4. Why did I choose Oxford Physics again?


Because I was rejected by Cambridge University, I was still a little unconvinced. Then I decided to apply for Physics at Oxford University with the advice from the academic director of Blue and my own consideration.

In addition, I did not do well in the written test of NSAA in Cambridge last year. I thought that the interview could give me a chance to make up for the shortage of written tests. I thought that there would be many difficult questions to challenge me so that I could show the interviewer my real level. However, last year's questions were generally very simple, and I fear the same will happen this year.



5. Physics at Oxford is something many Chinese students apply for. Are you worried about fierce competition again? How is it prepared?


There is definitely some competition, I think the competition for Physics will be very fierce. But I also believe in my own abilities, so I don't worry too much. My academic director has given me a lot of help in choosing the college this year. After careful comparison and research, I chose my current college.


In addition, I was still in school when I applied last year, so I was busy with some courses and didn't have much time to prepare well. This year I have more time and I feel more relaxed. Because what should be learned last year is finished, this year is about consolidating. Last year, I focused on depth of knowledge, this year I am able to go much broader in what I learn.



6. What did help did Blue provide for your PS?


The main content of PS this year is still based on the foundation of last year, and Blue's teacher also gave me suggestions for modification. My tutor was very fastidious throughout the process. Even when I thought my PS was perfect, the teacher could still dig out the details for me to improve, which made me feel more artistic after the modification of PS.


7. How did you prepare for your application this year?


My tutor from blue taught me about some university concepts and helped me reframe the content I was already familiar with. It became clear that I still had much to learn and after a while I was able to place my existing knowledge within the general framework of Physics. Reviewing the old and learning the new are both important parts of preparing for a test.

My teacher also prepared a course outline based on my current situation. I was given books to read, questions to answer, and exercises to improve my skill. Every piece of the process was tailored to me peersonally and I would like to thank my teachers for their patience and tuition.



8. What happened before the written test and how did you adjust it?


On November 4th, I took the PAT exam. On November 1st, I thought that I was almost ready, so I wanted to relax and go out cycling. However, because I was too carefree, I didn't pay attention to the stones on the road, which caused me to fall and land myself in the hospital.


Although the doctor suggested an operation as soon as possible, in order not to miss the most important exam in my life, my family and I decided to delay the operation and finish the PAT exam. Even though I have to face a lot of problems after such a decision, I think it was worth it.


After making up my mind, I immediately contacted my supervisor and asked how to deal with it. The teacher comforted me and gave me advice on which departments I should contact. Because I was unable to write, the teacher also helped me write a draft email to communicate with The British Examinations Authority and the College. 

This enabled me to obtain permission to be accompanied by a doctor on the day of the examination. My hand was in pain throughout the test but this had an almost sobering effect and helped me keep my focus throughout the test.

9. How did you prepare for the interview.


Blue had me tutored by several different teachers. The first took me through the basic process of how to answer different types of questions. She had been my tutor throughout the process and I always appreciated the effort she lavished on my lessons. My next tutor mainly conducted mock interviews. He gave me many useful suggestions and was always able to notice an opportunity for improvement I had never heard of before.

I found the Cambridge interview to be an odd experience. I felt the questions were simple enough and I was able to easily answer them and the extra questions within the time limit, yet U was not accepted. By contrast, the Oxford interview was more what I was expecting. The questions were more difficult, like those of a competiton, and this was to my advantage as I could better demonstrate my understanding of the subject.



10. How do you feel about the help Blue has given you?


The academic director and progress advisors responsible for helping me were very careful and gave me plenty of suggestions, and the subject teachers were very responsible and professional. The team at Blue helped me arrange my Gap Year in a very orderly way so that I need not worry about what I was going to do. Even when I had my accident, I did not panic because I knew I had the support of Blue behind me.

My director also gave me very scientific and effective suggestions based on the admissions data and was a great help in selecting which university and course to apply for. Tremendous thanks to all the team at Blue who gave me help this past year.


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