Application

 Cambridge

 Emmanuel

 History

 2009

 pooled, rejected

Applicant

 A-levels

 pre-qualification

 home

 United Kingdom

 Comprehensive School

 yes (7 A*,4 A,1 B)

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)

Advanced Extension Awards

(predicted Distinction; gained Distinction)

Completing an Extended Project, predicted A*. Predicted A* for all A-levels.

Other universities

no

Decisions about the application

Loved atmosphere, wanted to be intellectually stretched, thought the buildings were beautiful.

Family members have attended Cambridge so had more of an idea about colleges, prefered the Cambridge History course.

Favourite subject throughout my life, have always wanted to study it at University, also liked employment prospects with a history degree.

Emma has a long standing reputation as a ‘friendly college’ and has a free laundry service…I also loved its beauty.

Preparation

yes

One mock interview, nothing like my real interview, very tame. Was also advised to research some historiographical movements by an interested teacher.

Get a mock interview with the most unpleasant teacher you have heard of but have never been taught by, and make sure they are an expert in your subject. Make sure you know your personal statement and any submitted written work back to front and think about questions you may be asked about them. Most importantly though, RELAX- I was let down by last minute nerves.

Interview

no

yes

Two Essays written in class, in no way corrected for Cambridge- tried to find the best ones I’ve written, which in my case were the two most recent.

no

I had two interviews. I became very nervous during my first, and also had a nervous interviewer, this lead to me having to focus very hard on what he was saying, and in general a lot of the questions were meandering and difficult. This first interview concerned my submitted work and I did not feel this interview went well. My second was focused on a challenging text I’d been sent a week before to read- I felt this one went far better, with many of the questions being focused on the writers intentions, which I felt I cut through well. My two interviewers for this second interview were also far more positive and friendly. So, my interviews were polar opposites- one rather poor, one quite good.

One interview on submitted work and questions raised by this, as well as some brief questions on my personal statement.

Another interview on a piece of writing I was asked to read, linked to my areas of study, with a few more brief questions on my personal statement.

I can’t remeber a great many but here are a couple-
‘Why is it important for historians to have a concrete definition of “resistance” when writing about Nazi Germany?’
‘How can we connect History with Anthropology?’
‘How would the writer persuade you of his point of view’ (I disagreed with the writers opinion)

On the whole I’d say its pointless trying to predict the questions you’ll be asked, as you’ll just be proved wrong.

Shirt, jumper, trousers and smart shoes- I considered a suit but felt it would be overkill- this is what most guys were wearing for interviews at my college- at the end of the day you’re not being asessed on your clothes, but looking well presentable doesn’t go amiss.

Impressions

The college was as lovely as I remebered, although the Porters seemed distinctly cold, probably due to me getting to the college a bit late in the evening (about 10pm)- he gave me very vague terse instructions to my room and I was then just left there until I was registered in on the morning- I didn’t feel particularly well looked after.

The rooms were very skanky, although set in a beautiful building. Showers were freezing and had a fine carpet of human hair. The room I stayed in was reasonably sized but I am aware room sizes vary considerably.

I only had breakfast, which wasnt anything special but was perfectly edible.

The tutors in my first interview were both a bit nervous and were friendly enough, although had the typical ‘Cambridge aloofness’, and were both wearing suits. The tutors in my second interview were far more open and seemed to enjoying what I said, and were dressed far more informally.

They seemed a mix between very quiet ‘geeky’ people, friendly open people, and rather annoying, arrogant rahs, but on the whole the students were very friendly!

Final stage

I semi forgot about it over christmas and new year, but then remebered on New Years day and felt a bit panicky- I was very unsure how my interviews had gone.

I got my letter on a Wednesday, saw it was quite small and assumed it was a rejection, I opened it and found out I’d been put in the pool, which was the one thing I really hadn’t wanted to happen.I nervously waited to hear but after not getting anything from any other colleges for a few days, assumed no place had been found, and lo and behold recieved a letter a week later from Emmanuel saying no college had been able to offer me a place. I felt pretty disappointed, and couldn’t work out what I’d done which was so wrong- I’m still waiting on getting my feed back from the college which is ‘constructive criticism’

Looking back

Definately, would perhaps apply to a different college,and would try not to get so nervous. I’d also try to get a better mock interview.

Don’t get nervous, to be at Cambridge for an interview you’re already proven exceptional- just have a good chat with the tutors about a subject that interests you- this is what my second interview was like, and it made me feel positive. Don’t try and prepare too much- just go there and be yourself. If you are put in the pool, don’t lose hope- you are ‘cambridge material’, and may well get an offer, but at the same time don’t spend all your time checking emails and waiting by the phone, as only about a sixth of those pooled do get an offer.