Application

 Cambridge

 Selwyn

 History

 2007

 offer made

Applicant

 A-levels

 pre-qualification

 home

 N/A

 FE College

 yes (11 A*)

A-levels

(A at AS (256 UMS))

(A at AS (259 UMS))

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

(A at AS (266 UMS); predicted NA; gained A at A2)

(A at AS (286 UMS); predicted A; gained A at A2)

(A at AS (265 UMS); predicted A; gained A at A2)

Advanced Extension Awards

(predicted NA; gained Merit)

Details about the offer

 conditional

AAB, General studies excluded. the grades must be achieved in 2008 exams (so excluded history A level from previous year)

yes

N/A

 grades pending/unknown

Decisions about the application

Top in the country. Liked the collegiate system. Quite fairytale like with all the punting and old colleges!

top university for my subject. Liked Cambridge on open day.

I went round some of the colleges on the open day, and Selwyn was my favourite. It seemed really friendly and welcoming and was in a good place right next to the arts faculty and only 10 minutes walk from the city centre

Preparation

yes

I had 2 practice interviews, one with a college governor, the other with a history teacher.

Read some general books about the study of history (eg, EHCarr’s ‘what is history’) as this will help you think about some of the issues you’ll be asked about. Don’t try and learn loads of facts, most of my questions were very theory/thought based. They’re more testing how you think than what you know – although you will need some examples to demonstrate your point.

Interview

no

yes

I had to send one essay that i’d done as part of my normal A level work. I sent off an essay about the impact of ideological rivalry on Cold War relations.

yes

An hour long essay on a general historical theory type question. There were six to choose from but all of them were pretty tricky. Take a look on the college website for the practice paper cos it might come as a bit of a shock if you’re not expecting it. (Only for Selwyn)

I felt like they went quite well at the time, but then when i was coming back on the train, i realised how stupid some of the stuff i said was. The general interview was to calm you down (they said it was a practice interview) and then the other two were more difficult.

they were mainly thought/theory based rather than factual. The general interviewer went through my personal statement, another interview was about my essay and the other about a source they gave me. The source was about comparisons in history; it was a page long, and i had half an hour to look through it.

Can we condemn the societies of the past?
Does human nature change over time?
How malleable are our thoughts?
Does state control have the consent of the masses? – i didn’t really get this one, he asked me several times.
How helpful is it to group things under terms such as ‘baroque’, ‘renaissance’ etc?
Can music teach us about society?
Is it useful to compare Hitler and Stalin?

For my general interview i wore a smart top, jumper, waistcoat and jeans (i meant to change into a skirt, but didn’t have time after my exam). In the other interviews, i wore a long skirt instead of jeans. i dont think what you wear is that important, so long as you look clean and neatish!

Impressions

Selwyn seemed really friendly and welcoming, andthey had clearly made an effort to attact new students. At some of the other colleges there was nothing or very little going on, which was a bit offputting.

I stayed in a really big room, with a separate bedroom and sitting room (someone told me later that it was meant to be a study, but nevermind). There was a bathroom between about 5, but i couln’t find a kitchen at all. Apparently first years have a bathroom between 2.

Good. There was lots of choice.

They were nice…they seemed genuinly interested in the interviews, and weren’t trying to trip you up…they got on well with the current students.

Friendly, not at all arrogant or stereotypically Oxbridge-like.

Final stage

Still waiting for the decision…feel a bit nervous, but i’ve got offers from the other universities i applied to…so its not the be-all end-all.

?

Looking back

Whether or not i get in it will have been worth applying. I had a good time when i was at the interviews and met lots of people. Preparing for interview will have been good prepatation for a degree course, where ever i go, and also made me completely sure i’d chosen the right subject.

If you’ve got the right grades, you should definately go for it. The interview is scary but a good experience. If you get an interview, make the most of it – try and meet lots of people, rather than swotting up in your room…by that time its probably too late anyway.