Application

 Cambridge

 Gonville and Caius

 Economics

 2006

 offer made

Applicant

 A-levels

 pre-qualification

 home

 China

 Comprehensive School

 yes (10 A*,2 A)

A-levels

(A at AS)

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

dropped geography for a2

Details about the offer

 conditional

A in Chemistry, A in Mathematics, A in Mathematics (Further), A in Physics

letter detailed grades that needed to be achieved in specific subjects

yes

yes

yes

received offer from lse, but chose cambridge for its reputation and learning environment

 offer met

Decisions about the application

reputation, teaching quality, learning environment, resources, supervision/tutorial system

oxford did not do a straight economics degree

became interested in social sciences through geography AS and current affairs. read a number of books including ‘captialism and freedom’, ‘undercover economist’, which furthered my interest.

college is good academically (ranking); did not have a ridiculous ratio of offers vs applicants for economics; looked favourably on further maths; did not think economics a2 was important.

Preparation

no

school did not provide me with a mock interview, although i was informed a few weeks afterwards (after my interview) that i could have asked for a mock interview with my head master who went to cambridge.

keep up to date with economics related current affairs; read lots of relevant books; make sure the all of the economics AS course is fresh in your mind, if you don’t do economics then read through a revision guide, as some knowledge is expected (you’re supposed to have enthusiasm).

Interview

yes

thinking skills assessment, which is a bit like a critical thinking test. its multiple choice.

no

no

my two interviews were very relaxed and informal (although i was extremely nervous). the interviewers (director of studies and assistant director of studies) were very friendly; i certainly did not feel like i was being interogated.

i had two interviews. in the first interview i was asked an economics related question. you’re not supposed to know the answer, the idea is for you to work it out; if you know the answer, then they’ll just ask another one. if you get stuck the interviewer will give you hints to help you on your way. the idea is for the interviewer to get an insight to how you think and tackle problems. i personally felt i did not perform very well in this interview as i did not do economics AS and lacked what seemed to be some basic knowledge, but i guess the interviewer takes this into account as well, as i was given an offer. more importantly the interview is about how you tackle problems, so i guess that mattered more.

the second interview was a more general interview, i was asked ‘why economics’, what i liked about it etc; however, i was never asked ‘why cambridge’ or ‘why caius’. i was also asked about some things i mentioned in my personal statement, my interests within economics etc (know your personal statement well because you are very likely to be asked about it). why certain subjects were chosen for a levels was also asked. the interviewer then expanded from my answers and asked more economics related questions on market failures, monopolies etc. the questions i was asked did not seem very hard, probably because i did not do economics and was not expected to know much. i was finally asked thow to find the highest profit on a curve through calculus (differentiate and find max on curve) – i think this was to see if i could apply current knowledge to new problems.

see above

nice shirt, trousers, and a smart jumper outside. didn’t want to seem a try-hard with a suit and tie (which a lot of people wore – maybe i was underdressed), but still wanted to show that i cared.

Impressions

nice college, very central location in the city, easily missed as the outside/door is very modest. if you didn’t know it’s next to trinity.

1st years will most probably be in harvey court/stephen hawking building. harvey court is mediocre, shared toilets/showers (i think), 60’s/70’s style architecture. stephen hawking building is new, ensuite. you get drawn by lot which room you get, then academic results give you more choice.

didn’t have any, but rumoured not to be very good

very friendly, helpful

wide variety of people, can’t really stereotype. really what you expect the average student to be.

Final stage

nervous, then very nervous, then very very nervous to the point of feeling sick when i was opening the letter. although i was told letters containing offers tend to be quite thick, so i was slightly less nervous when i picked it up.

received it when i got home from school. called parents, felt excited, then the excitement wore off after 2 days.

Looking back

yes, but looking back, i partially resent the interview system for the pressure it puts a lot of people through. but, on the other hand, it is an effective way of chosing students.

know your subject well, be alert, don’t be too nervous (mind going blank isn’t great during interview).