Application

 Cambridge

 Downing

 Engineering

 2007

 pooled, offer made (New Hall)

Applicant

 A-levels

 pre-qualification

 home

 N/A

 Grammar School

I go to a (quite highly selective) girls’ grammar school.

 yes (7 A*,3 A,1 B)

A-levels

(A at AS (279 UMS))

(A at AS (267 UMS); predicted A; gained NA at A2)

(A at AS (273 UMS); predicted A; gained NA at A2)

(A at AS (273 UMS); predicted A; gained NA at A2)

(A at AS (289 UMS); predicted A; gained NA at A2)

Details about the offer

 conditional

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

English Literature doesn’t count as one of my three As. I don’t need to achieve any specific module grades/points.

yes

yes

yes

I don’t know whether other people consider my other universities to be close to Oxbridge, but I also applied to Imperial, Bristol, Durham and Manchester (as a back up). I applied to these for variations of Aeronautics, and so far have received AAB offers from Imperial, Bristol and Manchester, all post interview. Bristol will be my insurance, regardless of whether or not I get an offer from Durham.

 grades pending/unknown

Decisions about the application

Cambridge is consistantly ranked first or second in the UK and generally in the top ten universities for the world. I love learning and want to be around people as enthusiastic and motivated as myself. I want a degree that will push me to my maximum, and also am in love with the city, and the university’s traditions and grandeur.

I originally was going to apply for Natural Sciences and prefered this course to the Oxford Physics course. Through researching NatSci, I fell in love with Cambridge, and so when I changed to Engineering, it seemed natural that I studied it at Cambridge.

I went on a HeadStart Engineering course and really enjoyed it. I found the sample lecture really interesting. I entertained the idea of reading Maths and NatSci (Phys) at uni for a while, but decided to settle for an applied subject that seemed more relevant to everyday life.

I like the size, location, architecture, state/private school make up, and general feel of Downing. I was disappointed not to recieve an offer from there, but now that I have an offer from New Hall, I have begun to see the beauty in a college I originally thought was horrid.

Preparation

no

My maths teacher gave me some questions that previous maths applicants had been given in Cambridge interviews and I had a mock interview with my Chemistry teacher, but no real help. I did all of my preparation by myself.

Try and familiarise yourself with your syllabus as early as possible. Try not to resort to scribbling out formulae on the journey up there, as it does nothing for your nerves. I wasn’t really asked anything that wasn’t on the curriculum, although a few of the questions required me to think about maybe formulae I’d learnt, or topics I’d studied and relate them to new situations.

Interview

no

no

yes

I had to take the TSA (Thinking Skills Assessment).

I came out of all of my interviews (I had two at Downing and one in January at Queens’ before being fished to New Hall,) thinking that parts had gone well and others abysmally.

All of my interview were subject based.

Why Engineering? What was HeadStart like?

I had mentioned building a small wind turbine on HeadStart and so I was asked how much energy would be produced from it if 1m^2 wind blew through it (using the efficiency, radius and wind speed I told them it worked at/was tested with). I answered this terribly.

Simple differentiation e.g. d/dx 2x(x+1)
Come up with a rule for nth derivative of 1/x
Draw graph of e.g. (2x+3)/(x^2+1)
Why is copper red and aluminium white(ish)?
Argon and Helium, same amount of moles, both heated, which moves more quickly?
How do metals conduct heat?
Why do aeroplanes tilt to turn corners? (again, abysmal.)
Some integration, resolving forces, differential equations of first order…

There were probably more questions but I just can’t remember them. This was across all three interviews. They varied from half an hour to about 40 mins.

Downing: Black trousers, Dark blue smart top, black mary janes, back/silver necklace and small black stud earrings. (lots of black…) It looked quite smart.

Queens’: Brown checked (sort of plaid) skinny trousers, a blue and white round neck top, black cardigan, black leather ankle boots. This outfit was a lot more relaxed but didn’t look too casual, but I do wear it out with friends. I felt a lot more comfortable in this outfit and would recommend comfort over supersmart clothes. Just don’t go in trackies.

Impressions

Downing was beautiful, but I have only walked through it, not actually seen it properly. Peterhouse had superb accomodation and was lovely too, but a bit too small for my liking. In general all of the colleges are nice.

I haven’t been to New Hall yet, or inside Downing (except to my interview rooms, which were in lovely buildings.

Didn’t try it.

All of the tutors I spoke to in both Downing and Queens’ were absolutely charming.

I haven’t really spoken to any.

Final stage

When I thought back to my interviews I felt sick. I know I’d at least be auto-pooled though.

When I found out that I’d been pooled it was bittersweet. I was happy not to be rejected, but thought that I had been autopooled, and not pooled because I did particularly well in the interview.

I heard form New Hall over the phone 6 days after my Queens’ interview, which was a shock, as I didn’t know they had expressed an interest (they had wanted to interview but Queens’ get there first). The woman called me at 8am as I was running late for school and explained all of this to me. I didn’t quite know what to do and cried because I was a bit sad about it being New Hall, but then got over it very quickly.

Looking back

100% yes.

Try not to freak out pre-interview. They help you of you’re stuck. And also I wasn’t asked about any of the books that I mentioned in the questionaire they send once they’ve got your CAF. If you know your syllabii and can adapt to new situations you will be absolutely fine.