An interview with an A Level student: Imogen Rafferty
Imogen (RHSB 2021), achieved a full set of A* in her A Levels and is heading for Exeter university with an Army Officer Scholarship to study Classics. We asked her about her experience studying at the Royal High, and about the coveted Army scholarship she has secured.
How did you find your A Level courses?
"For my A Levels I chose History, Geography and Latin as well as completing the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ). I had wanted to study Classics at University before entering Sixth Form and the subjects I chose worked really well together to prepare me for a Humanities and Linguistics-based degree. I thoroughly enjoyed each of my A Level subjects, especially as they complemented each other really well in terms of essay writing and evaluative analysis. My A Levels gave me the opportunity not only to develop my analytical and evaluative skills, but also taught me to arrive at my own interpretations and to support these views in my essays."
What skills for the future have you learnt thanks to your A Level courses?
"The last two years have been challenging for everyone, to say the least, and studying A Levels under these conditions has definitely taught me several lessons. Time management and organisational skills have always been important for me, due to swimming at a national level throughout my course while juggling deadlines which, at times, was very demanding. As a result, I have learned to become efficient with my time. Additionally, I have also become more selective with my time as it has forced me to refine my working and revision techniques to a level that I will continue to use in higher education. In addition to this, being dyslexic means languages and spelling have always been a challenge for me. My A Level courses taught me how to approach certain topics more confidently, combined with better note-taking and developing exam strategies to overcome challenges.
"My EPQ also taught me essential lessons for university such as how to conduct intensive research on a topic that I was passionate about. I decided to research the links between 5th Century Greek Warfare and The Iliad. The EPQ has also taught me practical essay writing skills, for example, how to reference a vast array of information across various categories and to catalogue them logically to ensure I could retrieve facts easily and finally, how to write a sustained and logical argument through a 5000-word essay."
What will you miss most about RHS Sixth Form?
Hands down it will be the teachers that I will miss most. Their dedication, support and most prominently their passion for their subjects that was unwavering whether it was delivered through ‘Teams’ or face-to-face, is what I will miss. It is down to their efforts that I thoroughly enjoyed my Sixth Form journey despite half of it being online. I will miss the energy and atmosphere of the Sixth Form. Finally, of course, I will miss Danny, the Sixth Form dog. I will miss playing with him during my free periods or at lunch. He never failed to make all of us laugh and relax no matter how many assignments we had!
What excites you most about the future?
"The future is an open book. The world is more connected now than any other time in history allowing for so many personal, national and international opportunities. Many advances in technology help us to see the past in clearer focus, something which is extremely exciting as a Classics student. It should make the past even more accessible, understandable and exciting to people of all ages. Globalisation also allows far more international relationships and communication. As I am planning to go into the Army, I am excited to be able to experience and to play a fulfilling role in this rapidly changing world."
What would you say to someone considering coming to RHS Sixth Form?
"Sixth Form is slightly like walking into Narnia: it is entirely different from GCSEs with lessons taught in smaller groups similar to university seminar-style classes. You also have a different relationship with your teachers due to these smaller class sizes. This makes lessons even more engaging and enjoyable, and the incredible passion which every teacher has for their subject is infectious. The Sixth Form staff and teachers are so supportive: everyone is so approachable, and it is easy to voice your concerns or struggles. No matter how stressful A Levels can get, I found myself laughing about something different everyday, because of the special atmosphere that exists in the Sixth Form. It also offers you much more freedom, you have more responsibility over your own work and interests. There is a switch from just learning, to learning how to agree (or disagree) with scholars and academics. You learn how to create and support your own interpretations independently through your own individual research. I would recommend Royal High School Sixth Form to anyone who wants to enjoy their A Levels or IB in a fun, supportive, but hard-working environment."
Tell us more about your Army scholarship.
How did you find out about it?
"In Mid-2019, I arranged a meeting with an Army recruitment officer. A female officer visited the School and I explained my interest in joining The Army. We discussed my predicted grades, sporting interests etc. During our discussion I asked her about the Army Officer Scholarship scheme. From there, it was a simple matter of starting the scholarship process."
What was the recruitment process?
"The process started with me initiating an application on the Army website. I had to submit my GCSE grades and list my hobbies and interests, such as my sporting achievements, Duke of Edinburgh, Ten Tors, and any examples of leadership. Next was an interview with my regional recruitment officer, where I answered general questions about my motivation, hobbies, interests, and leadership skills. Then I had to pass the Army Medical test.
"Having passed the interview and medical, the Army scheduled me for a Pre-Army Officer Selection Board (AOSB). This was 2 days at Okehampton Camp on Dartmoor in July 2020, designed to give candidates experience of the tasks and challenges to be faced at the real Selection Board Westbury. These were two rigorous days filled with constant assessment, physical, leadership and team challenges, plus a planning exercise, interviews and psychometric testing.
"After AOSB each candidate is looked at individually and around 100 scholarships are awarded each year. Due to Covid, this year’s AOSB was divided into five waves, each with around 40 candidates. In my wave we had a ratio of 1:6 female to male candidates. From 400 applicants, the Army takes forward 100 potential officers into their scholarship program. I am lucky enough to be one of only 26 girls who got through this year."