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Meet the girls with offers from Oxford and Cambridge

January 26th, 2016

HMSGoxbridge(l-r) Ellena, Stephanie and Cass – Jess is working in Newcastle and sadly could not make the photo-shoot

Twelve talented pupils from Haberdashers’ Monmouth Schools have been offered the life-changing opportunity to study at Oxford and Cambridge universities.

Focus and determination have paid off for four girls from Haberdashers’ Monmouth School for Girls and eight boys from Monmouth School, who are stepping up their revision to secure conditional offers from the world-renowned institutions. Jessica Macdonald, who left HMSG last year, has been on a work placement in Newcastle and has an offer from Oxford to read chemistry at Somerville.

The clever cohort have received offers to read subjects as varied as computer science, classics, chemistry, medicine and psychology. We asked the girls how they were feeling about the exciting news.


Q&A with HMSG’s Oxbridge candidates


Ellena, 17, has an offer from Oxford to study psychology and philosophy at St Edmund Hall.

ellenaQ. How did you feel when you received your offer?

A. When I opened the envelope it was certainly a pleasant surprise. After lots of hard work and preparation, it was very emotional and rewarding to be able to read my acceptance letter.

Q. Which A levels are you taking?

A. Psychology, English literature, religious studies and German

Q. How do you think HMSG helped you to secure your offer?

A. We had lessons and lectures on interview technique, which helped prepare us for the rigorous admissions process, and we were also encouraged to read widely and have intellectual discussion with anyone and everyone.

Q. What are you most looking forward to about studying at Oxford?

A. I am looking forward to fully immersing myself in my subjects and nurturing my understanding of them in the intellectually stimulating and challenging environment Oxford provides.

Q. What do you hope to do in the future?

A. I aim to tailor my studies in order to gain British Psychological Society accreditation, which would allow me to become a psychologist in the future. I would currently like to go on and do a master’s in forensic psychology after my degree.

Q. How do you plan to achieve the grades needed to secure your offer?

A. Our recent trial exams have helped me to see what I need to focus on improving, with lots of hard work and revision required between now and the summer.

Q. What will you miss most about Monmouth?

A. I have made some great friends who have been a great support to me through my time in Monmouth. I know we will keep in touch, but I will certainly miss seeing them every day.


Stephanie, 18, has an offer from Cambridge to read engineering at Robinson, as well as an offer from Imperial College.

Q. How did you feel when you received your offer?stephanie

A. It was absolutely elating when I saw the email informing me about the offer from Cambridge. As I attended two interviews, the application process is slightly more tiring than usual. However, receiving the offer serves as the best recognition of all the effort and it strengthens my confidence further.

Q. Which A levels are you taking?

A. Maths, further maths, physics, chemistry, and taking EPQ as an extra qualification.

Q. How do you think the Schools helped you to secure your offer?

A. I went to a few maths preparation classes at MS and attended an Oxbridge Engineering preparation class at HMSG weekly. These helped me to think on my feet and improved the accuracy of my responses. I also had two mock interviews at MS, and a mock interview with Dr Harper at HMSG. These mock interviews helped me become more comfortable at the actual interviews and perform better.

Q. What are you most looking forward to about studying at Cambridge?

A. To be honest, I am struggling with whether to study at Cambridge or Imperial at the moment. However, there are obviously great things about Cambridge attracting me. I am looking forward to the unique college culture the most. I really like how the large university is further divided into smaller communities with very diverse cultures. I believe this is something that can hardly be experienced at any other universities in the world.

Q. What do you hope to do in the future?

A. I am hoping to become a civil engineer after I graduate.

Q. How do you plan to achieve the grades needed to secure your offer?

A. I will study hard to ensure I meet the offer. As the A2 syllabus is quite a lot harder, I will also start practising past paper questions earlier than I did last year. I will also make more revision notes to make sure I completely digest the knowledge.

Q. What will you miss most about Monmouth?

A. Being a quiet town, Monmouth is a very decent place for studying and I’m sure I will miss this nice environment.


Cass, 18, has an offer from Oxford to study theology at Trinity.

cassQ. How did you feel when you received your offer?

A. Receiving my offer from Oxford felt like the culmination of years and years of hard work, as it has been my dream to go there ever since I knew what university was. Every day at school, and every piece of work, from prep school to sixth form has brought me one tiny step closer, so to open my letter and find it one of acceptance was the best feeling in the world.

Q. Which A levels are you taking?

A. Religious studies, Latin, history and mathematics

Q. How do you think HMSG helped you to secure your offer?

A. I feel that certain activities during form periods – particularly debating – helped hugely in preparing me for interviews. I should definitely say that, if nothing else, any student hoping for Oxbridge ought to get involved in debating; interviewers are looking for students who can both expand arguments and refute them, and don’t want to be agreed with all the time, so interviews were actually a lot like debates. The Oxbridge preparation sessions run by Mr Arrand were also extremely helpful and equipped me with an invaluable structure for working through difficult questions – I actually did find myself repeating this structure to myself in my head when faced with questions such as “Is God a woman?”. In terms of help with the written application, the feedback I was given hugely improved the quality of my personal statement and helped me to ‘tidy up’ any sections of my statement which might have invited difficult questions or rebuttal at interview (for this in particular I was most grateful).

Q. What are you most looking forward to about studying at Oxford?

A. In truth, I am most looking forward to simply living and being in the city of Oxford, since it is a place which holds special meaning for me. In terms of studying, however, I am looking forward to doing so in one of the world’s most prolific academic communities, and alongside students whose cultural backgrounds, beliefs and views differ vastly from my own.

Q. How do you plan to achieve the grades needed to secure your offer?

A. From now until my summer exams, I shall be revising, even if it’s only a little each day. My trial exams have shown me the areas on which I particularly need to concentrate, and I intend to work on them (partial fractions, quake in fear!) until they no longer tie down my grades.

Q. What will you miss most about Monmouth?

A. I believe I shall miss the people I have come to know in Monmouth since, having also spent five years at Monmouth Comprehensive, I have made many friends from all three of the town’s secondary schools. I shall particularly miss those here at HMSG who welcomed me so warmly at the start of last year, and who made me feel as though I had never left (I was a pupil for two years in Inglefield House). I shall be sad to leave my teachers too, thinking especially of those to whose endless patience and optimism I owe my success in their subjects and confidence in my own abilities.

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