I’m Arthur, and I’m a first-year Mathematician from North Dorset.
One of my favourite things about studying Maths is the sense of satisfaction you get when a question or theorem suddenly makes sense, especially when you found it really challenging before. Either that, or the fact the Andrew Wiles building is without doubt one of the nicest subject buildings in Oxford – something I don’t let my friends forget!
The course is very well structured in my opinion, with departmental lectures supported by tutorials in College, at least in the first two years. We have to submit problem sheets, with about five-seven questions on, which our tutors mark and then go through with us in our tutorials. Sometimes one of us (normally two-four of us have a tutorial together) will present our solution on the board for the others, and often our tutors will extend us beyond the work on the sheet, touching on topics in the following week’s lectures! The tutors here in Queen’s couldn’t be any more friendly and helpful, and I really enjoy being taught by them.
It doesn’t actually matter which college you apply to within Oxford; in fact, I didn’t apply to Queen’s. My offer was an open offer, meaning if I got the grades then I was guaranteed a place at Oxford to study Maths, but my college would depend on where there were spaces. I had never even visited Queen’s before Freshers' Week, but I now love it here and cannot even dream of being at another college! Queen’s is a wonderful college, with friendly people, and in the best location – not too close to the centre to get crowds of tourists swarming the College, but still on the High Street and only a few minutes’ walk away from Cornmarket Street!
Life at Queen’s is great too, and I feel that I swiftly settled in. I still find it crazy to think that a year ago I hadn’t even met some of the people who are now my closest friends! Meals in Hall are always a good chance to see everyone, and there’s a really welcoming atmosphere. As well as this, the College family system pairs every fresher up with one-three second-years – their “college parents” – who are there to answer any and all possible questions that come to mind. And later on, us first-years can also get “college married” and have our own children!
There’s a huge variety of societies, clubs, and groups to get involved in too, both within College, and more widely within the University. I play clarinet in the College orchestra, but we only rehearse one evening per week, which gives me the time to also be in the University-wide Ceilidh band! I hadn’t really had the opportunity to play much folk music before coming to Oxford, so it was great to be able to get involved and discover how fun it is. Through the band, I now have friends at lots of different colleges, and in lots of different subjects too!
Finally, I think the best thing about living and studying in Oxford is the amount of independence I have. I can choose where I want to go each day, what I want to do, and most importantly, what I’m having for dinner! It may be just that I’m not normally used to city life, but I do find it pretty amazing that I can actually walk to the shops here, or play sports I’d never even heard of, or go to a concert or a play or a society on pretty much any evening of the week. Oxford is simply an incredible place to be!
Advice for Applicants
In terms of preparing for the admissions tests and interviews, I found it very helpful to do intense, targeted revision on every topic of the MAT syllabus over the summer of year 12, as well as grabbing anyone who would listen to me talk through a solution to a problem as I was doing it. As well as the past papers online, I also found past BMO questions to be quite helpful for revising.