Application

 Cambridge

 Fitzwilliam

 Computer Science

 2001

 rejected

Applicant

 A-levels

 pre-qualification

 N/A

 N/A

 Independent – selective

 yes (7 A*,3 A)

A-levels

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

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

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

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

Other universities

N/A

Decisions about the application

I wanted the challenge.
Cambridge has an excellent rep.
Teaching excellent.
Tutor system of about 2 students per teacher is excellent.
Oxbridge grads get paid Ł2000 more on average on starting work.
Teaching quality very high.
Students, except for flukey ones and latin undergrads, are v. smart.

Cambridge has better rep. for computing.

I was ill-prepared. I went to the college advisor at school and asked him which I should go for. He took the Cam. college Guide and looked for which college had the most Computer Science teachers, assuming that would be the best and then I listened.

Preparation

yes

We had ‘interview trainers’ come and paid Ł30 to have them give us a mock interview and crappy question. They sucked.In fact it was wholly agreed they sucked. 🙂

Write [your personal statement] eloquently guys- get English teachers to edit it if your writing skills are weak. It is the first impression the tutors will have of you. It’s essential it’s as good as poss. Don’t be long-winded. Write crisply. It makes for a more impressive Personal Statement. Get help and use every school department that can help in writing it. Be sure you know why you applied to Ox or Cam and why you chose ur college b4 u start writing. Somehow show that you DID research the possibilities b4 choosing. E.g. drop in a fact that can only be found on the college website.

Brush up on your maths boys. Check out some Maths Step papers – even if u don’t have to take step. They help you understand maths on a deeper level. One that will help when taking the interview. Forget ur a-levels like Chemistry etc, maths, especially pure is the thing they care about.

The questions on Computer science on the churchill website – the ones that were there is 2001 – are too hard for what I, and friends, have experienced. Don’t bother. Additionally the q’s don’t really follow their pattern or topics.

If you’ve mentioned doing any programming in the past be prepared to give a BRIEF description of it.

Know why you wanna go to the College/University. They will probably ask.

Be calm. Don’t build it up too much b4 hand. On the train to Fitz. I was still studying. Studying walking up to the college. Looking over my maths outside the College, waiting til I had to go in. Consequently I wasn’t in a flexible state of mind.

Go to the OPEN DAYS. If you missed them go by yourself. It is important you see it in person. – they even ask on the form.

Interview

no

no

no

First: I had my techinical interview. 2 Teachers sitting in front of me. Table between us. They asked me to answer the questions on the question sheet. My answers went terribly. I was soooo nervous and had built Cambridge and this interview up too much in my head. As a result I couldn’ think clearly. I messed up the first – I was soo nervous at one stage I had trouble with my timestables! then a second Q. which I also messed up.

The second interview was informal. But I was asked some q’s. Mostly simple but once again nerves kicked in and I fluffed a few major ones! At one stage he tried to engage me in a debate by contradicting my point but I neither disagreed, agreed nor backed down. Dunno if this is good/bad.

Technical Interview: Question 1: It was all ‘pattern spotting’ and their techniques. Firstly I was asked about the towers of Hanoi. If I had 64 blocks How many moves required to move the pyramid. I didn’t know where to start. They then suggest I try just 1 block. Then 2. Then 3. Then.. as far as I wanted til I spotted a pattern. I didn’t really. I didn’t know how and was too nervous. Question 2: Similar to 1st. Pattern spotting. I was given a sequence and asked to figure out a general formula. I didn’t know the tricks to spotting patterns. e.g. if you take the differences between the numbers and they become constant after the first attempt then the general formula is N to the power 1. etc. – a method based on differentiation I think. ‘INFORMAL’ INTERVIEW: I was asked about what I had learned in Maths so far. I told the teacher without thinking first. Consequently from the list of topics I told him he picked some and asked q’s bout them. If had been calmer I coulda told him ones that I found easier. One topic I remember was mechanics – a projectile, best angle of fire for distance. and The equation of a circle. How it changes as the circle is moved etc.

A smart shirt. Smart Trousers. Black, new shoes. Obviously I dressed this way to give a good impression to the teachers. But I didn’t wanna look too posh/stuck up etc.

Impressions

Fitzwilliam is nice. They have good a nice courtyard area. The ppl seemed friendly. I DIDN’T check it out b4 my interview – something which hurt my chances no doubt.

Edible but not great

Final stage

I felt a little sad. But hardly depressed. I knew the interview had been an utter disaster so I had prepared myself for the worst – not even hoping for the best. 🙂

Looking back

Yeah. Cambridge’s reputation alone justifies it.
In asia everyone knows Cambridge as Cambridge, but the next best – teaching wise- is Imperial and no1 knows that as ‘imperial’ in asia. Nor does it have the rep.

Don’t build it up too much – it’s just a couple of interviews. It’s important – true. But if you are soo nervous coz u care too much you wont be able to perform in the interview.