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Entering Oxford from a Japanese High School: an interview with successful applicant Shu Ishida
Shu Ishida graduated from the Senior High School at Komaba, University of Tsukuba, and is currently an undergraduate student of Engineering Science at the University of Oxford. In this interview with the University of Oxford Japan Office in 2015 he explains how he made his successful application to Oxford.
Students wishing to apply to Oxford at undergraduate level need to have achieved one of the accepted entry qualifications, which include A-levels, the International Baccalaureate or the SAT. For the full list of qualifications and other entry requirements please check the International Qualifications pages on our Undergraduate Admissions website.
What made you want to apply to Oxford?
It all started when I went for a summer camp as a first year student at High School. At that time I took part in an English language summer school held at a Sixth Form College and I really liked Oxford as a city.
How did you get all the information you needed to make an application?
I got most of my information from the University of Oxford website. Where there were things I did not fully understand I got in touch with the Undergraduate Admissions office and asked them directly myself.
When and how did you prepare your application?
I really started preparing in earnest from the January of my second year in High School. I started taking IELTS and SAT, and then in the April of my third year I decided on my subject and wrote my personal statement. In June I asked my teachers for references. Looking back, I think that the fact that I took part in internationally recognised events, such as the International Biology and Chemistry Olympiads provided a big impetus for me. Also I feel it is really important to talk to your high school teachers about your plans well in advance.
As a Japanese High School student applying to Oxford, which exams did you have to take and how did you prepare for them?
I needed SAT and IELTS and could take both of these in Japan. It is really hard to get good scores, so I used SAT study guides and made my own vocabulary book and things like that. I also put a lot of effort into essay and academic writing skills and worked hard on my Writing scores. For both SAT and IELTS I think it is important to plan your studying, and to start applying for the tests early. To prepare for the Aptitude Test they use in Oxford, I found that studying Japanese university entrance exam materials was very useful, not just relying on SAT preparation.
Did you have any problems when you were applying?
I was told that I needed a Foundation Course to study at a UK university at undergraduate level, and that preconception made me feel uneasy.
What happened between submitting your application and getting your offer?
I put my application into UCAS by the October deadline, and took an Aptitude test at the beginning of November. The Aptitude test is a special test the University requires – which paper you have to take depends on your subject. After that they did the shortlisting, and then I was invited to interview. In December I had interviews in two Colleges. I was given the option of taking the interviews by Skype, but I thought it would be better to be there in person, so I actually went and took them in Oxford. There were two academics to one candidate in the interview. It seemed that one was asking the questions, and the other was observing. Most of the questions were directly related to my choice of academic study. I was really nervous and think I gave rubbish answers. In the following January I got the news that I had been given a conditional offer. I satisfied the condition by sending my SAT score report.
How do you feel now?
Before I applied, Oxford seemed totally out of reach. My parents gave me a lot of encouragement and the confidence to apply. I am really relieved that I got a place and am feeling very excited.
Congratulations to Shu on his successful application. If you are interested in applying to Oxford for an undergraduate degree, please check the Undergraduate Admissions pages on our website carefully for full details on all entry requirements and how to apply.