Application

 Cambridge

 Queens’

 Archaeology & Anthropology

 2003

 offer made

Applicant

 A-levels

 pre-qualification

 N/A

 N/A

 Grammar School

 yes (10 A*)

A-levels

(A at AS; predicted A; gained NA at A2)

(A at AS; predicted A; gained NA at A2)

(A at AS; predicted A; gained NA at A2)

(A at AS; predicted A; gained NA at A2)

Details about the offer

 conditional

A in History

AAA

yes

yes

yes

I will put Cambridge first, with a backup choice of UCL

 grades pending/unknown

Decisions about the application

I felt that the academic atmosphere would appeal to me and that i would thrive under the challenge that a course at Oxbridge would offer. I also felt that i would find as diverse a range of people as possible at Oxbridge – which also appealed.

The Tripos scheme at Cambridge seemed to suit my feelings for the course more, and after visiting both unis, i was impressed more by Cambridge, especially its museum of anthropology.

I wanted to go to a college with lots of history and impressive buildings – the thought of actually living in Queens’ still fills me with disbelief! – so i looked at the older colleges. I found Kings slightly too formidable, and so looked more at the colleges still in the centre of town, but slightly less imposing. In the end, my shortlist was Caius, Sidney and Queens’ and the strong theatre at Queens’ settled the decision.

Preparation

yes

Head of 6th form gave helpful advice with personal statement and the like, and another teacher gave me a mock interview.
Did you ahve help filling in the forms?
Lots – in total, i wrote about 5-6 drafts of my personal statement, all of which were heavily scrutinised by head of 6th form.

The interview: Showing an interest is far more important than knowing details about the subject.
Make sure that you can confidently and convincingly explain why you want to do a subject that you have probably never studied before.
Show a willingness to analyse what you hear and draw conclusions from this – be confident enough to suggest what you think, even if it disagrees with the interviewer!

Interview

no

yes

2 history essays for a week before the interview – i had to send two essays, and history is the only essay subject i do – so i had little choice. I sent two essays from the same A2 unit of my course – but with different styles of question. I think the admissions people thought they were pretty good, because my strength in history was emphasised in the interview.

no

I arrived the night before for an early start of 9:30 the next day. This gave me a great chance to get a feel for the place and to prepare mentally for the interview. I also got to meet lots of people also being interviewed (all of whom were thoroughly pleasant people). I am very glad that i did choose to come for the night before, as it allowed me to calm myself quite well. I doubt the interview would have gone so well had i arrived in the morning.

I was asked why i had chosen not to take a gap year (a standard Queens’ question this year i hear). Then the conversation turned to my interest in history – i was asked why i wanted to do arch and anth and not just history. The conversation was very much dictated from this point on by the subjects i had chosen to talk about on the Cambridge Supplementary Questionnaire Form – so i would advise you to remember what you wrote and have something to say about each topic! This was mostly about kinship and religion and ritual – the first of which also brought in the admissions tutor in the room, who happened to specialise in biology. Altogether very friendly and interesting!

Smart trousers and shirt – but no tie and no jacket

Impressions

All the colleges i visited blew me away – all very friendly and impressive

The room i stayed in was huge and in the older group of buildings in Queens’. There was a living room and a bedroom with a bathroom shared with the room next to it. The bedroom had a sink and the living room had desks, chairs and closets (but i dunno how much of that belonged to the person occupying).

Edible but not great

Very friendly and forthcoming – there was no evasiveness and straight before the interviews, they helpfully reassured us by telling us that most of us wouldn’t get in.

Most of the applicants i met were from state schools which surprised me – i expected more public school people. All very friendly and seemed to be as nervous as i was.

Final stage

The letter was really thin, so i thought it must be a rejection, so my heart was filled with dread when i opened it, but when i read that i had received an offer, i was in a state of happiness and disbelief for the rest of the day.

Looking back

Yeah, it was less stressful than i thought and its certainly worth a shot – i found the experience itself enjoyment.

Try to enjoy it – the experience itself is worth it.
Interest is the main thing – not knowledge.
Its not as much extra work as you think it will be.
Forget any horror stories you have read – i was almost put off by ones i had heard, and although there probably are real cases like them, there are probably far more like mine, where things went pretty smoothly.