Admissions criteria for Classics and Classics Joint Schools
1. Criteria by which decisions not to invite candidates for interview are taken
Candidates will normally be invited
for interview unless the first-choice college believes beyond reasonable doubt
that they are 'disqualified', i.e. that the candidate would find the Oxford
Classics course too demanding and too difficult for it to be of value to
them. All applications are viewed sympathetically, but grounds for
considering a candidate 'disqualified' may include:
- poor results in GCSE and/or equivalent examinations,
- poor results predicted for A Level and/or other impending examinations,
- poor results at A Level and/or equivalent examinations (if an application is made after A-Level or equivalent examinations),
- a negative school report,
- submitted written work that shows a lack of intellectual coherence or power of analysis, or serious inaccuracy, or a poor command of expression in English,
- an absence of any indication of interest in the subject in the candidate's application,
- poor results in written tests (other than the Language Aptitude Test) sat in the course of the candidate's application,
- failure to submit the required written work, or to sit the required written tests.
It should also be noted that the
standard offer made to candidates is AAA at A Level: if a candidate is
predicted, or has been awarded, grades lower than AAA, that will under normal
circumstances constitute grounds for not inviting a candidate to interview in
itself. The college of preference (or allocated college in the case of open
applicants) will consult other colleges and will only take the decision not to
interview an applicant if all colleges agree.
In some cases a college other than the college
of preference (or allocated college) may decide to invite the candidate to
2. Criteria for written work submitted
Assessors shall take note of the
declared circumstances under which the written work was done, and assess it
accordingly. A very different standard of content and presentation should be
expected from a piece of highly prepared course work than from a piece written
for homework with a short dead-line, or written under exam conditions. Taking
these differences into account, assessors will be looking for signs of good
basic knowledge, powers of analysis, powers of expression, ability to construct
a coherent train of thought, and to shape an argument. The quality of English
expression and of presentation may also be part of the assessment, according to
the circumstances under which the work was done.
3. Criteria for assessing the written tests
Translation Tests of passages of Latin and/or Greek
These tests are being used as
indicators of linguistic potential in Latin and/or Greek, rather than simply as
assessments of the level already achieved. This means that the ability to
grapple with constructions, and to recognize the idiomatic characteristics of
the languages are more important than knowledge of uncommon vocabulary.
Knowledge of relatively common
vocabulary and idiom are also being tested (vocabulary and idiom that is judged
to be relatively rare or difficult will be glossed on the question paper).
Errors and short-comings may be
assessed very differently, depending on how far the candidate has made a
commendable effort to grapple with the problems of the translation.
The tests are centrally marked,
but individual tutors also have the opportunity to check them for themselves.
Language Aptitude Test
This test has been specially
devised to assess a candidate's aptitude for learning Greek and/or Latin.
Candidates are not expected to know any language other than English, nor are
they expected to be familiar with any grammatical terminology. The questions
are designed to test the candidate's ability to observe regular patterns of
variation in sets of words and sentences (some from real languages, others from
an invented language, all with English translations) and to work out how these
are correlated with differences of meaning; there are also questions that
invite the candidate to recognise nuances of meaning in English sentences and
to identify patterns within familiar English usage. Candidates are supplied
with a copy of the previous year's test so that they can see what sort of
questions are asked and can have some practice in advance.
4. Criteria for interview
The interview is aimed primarily
at assessing the candidate's potential for independent thinking, ability to
follow an argument, skill in communication, and adaptability for tutorial
teaching. It is not a test of knowledge in isolation from context; nor is it a
test of verbal facility or social charm.
Interviewers will be looking for
evidence of ability to respond in a thoughtful way to unpredictable questions
and ideas. They will also be looking for evidence that the candidate's interest
goes beyond a mere formal submission to their academic training, and that they
are able to deploy their knowledge in ways that show initiative.
To conclude, those responsible
for Classics admissions will be looking at all the available information - from
past and predicted examination results, school reports, personal reports,
written tests and interviews - with a view to assessing the individual
candidate's potential to benefit from the academic courses provided by Oxford
in Classics, and to assessing the candidate's potential to be a good tutorial student,
and to attain good results in examinations. The weight given to the different
criteria will vary according to the individual background and circumstances of