Application

 Cambridge

 King’s

 History

 2002

 offer made

Applicant

 A-levels

 pre-qualification

 N/A

 N/A

 Comprehensive School

 yes

A-levels

(NA at AS)

(NA at AS)

(NA at AS)

(NA at AS)

(NA at AS)

Details about the offer

 conditional

A

yes

N/A

 offer met

Decisions about the application

During my time at school, it had always been put to me that there was no way on Earth a person like me would stand a chance of getting near an Oxbridge college, I believed them (for a while.)

Instead I decided to go for London colleges as I thought they were more likely to take a person like myself. My predictions also did me no favours whatsoever, but to be honest much of that was my own doing.

After some serious soul searching (of sorts) I decided I’d always wanted to go Oxford/Cambridge and I need not sell myself short.

Initially, I was going to go for Oxford as I thought I’d have a better chance of getting in there (dodgy GCSEs and all!) Visited a friend of mine at Oxford and was not as taken with the place as I thought I’d be.

Spent some time in and around Cambridge and gradually realised that it was the place for me, so agonised over which college to go for and eventually applied.

Very much an informed decision.

After some careful thought, I decided it was between Peterhouse, Trinity and King’s. An odd combination I know, but those were the three that seemed to strike a chord.

In the end felt Peterhouse would perhaps be too small for me, Trinity was perhaps a bit too traditional (although I liked the size). It was actually on the day I went to look around Trinity that I passed King’s (in the middle of June, birds singing, sun shining) and was absolutely taken with it.

I don’t think it was a particularly spiritual experience, more a case of the place being absolutely stunning and John Maynard Keynes had been there.

Preparation

yes

Application form advice, though nothing substantial.

Don’t prepare or predict or hope, the odds are that you will answer questions you weren’t expecting better than those you were.

There will be unexpected questions, but they won’t be impossible, just questions that require you to think. You are not hurried.

Interview

no

yes

I submitted 2 essays largely because they were the only 2 History essays I had finished to a particularly high standard. One was on America during the 1960s and the other on Britain in the 1930s.

yes

WARNING! King’s as of 2002 have introduced tests in all Humanities subjects, these last approximately 1 hour. One cannot revise for these, just trust that if you can think (and write) analytically you will get through it, they will be general questions related to the subject you have applied to read.

‘Is political history the history of government?’ was the one I chose of three options.

There were four History fellows in all, I had two interviews with two fellows in each.

The first was intitially painless I was allowed to speak for some time on the US Civil Rights Movement and thought I sounded fairly clever until I was interrupted and asked about the class system in Britain.

Questions about class in Britain can take 2 directions, one is fairly straightforward where one can talk about class barriers diminishing in recent times, the other will allow you to claim class barriers have broken down, but you will then be asked to elaborate on that. I was asked to elaborate at length.

The final question was ‘So how would a Marxist view your opinions on class?’ At that point I very nearly confused Marxism with Fascism and all of the nerves I hadn’t felt (suprisingly) up to that point came flooding in.

The second interview was however, more intimidating with both interviewers looking like stereotypical Cambridge professors. I was actually asked easier questions, but was MUCH more nervous.

The first interview has been mentioned above. The second interview asked all the questions I had been hoping for on International Relations following WW1, but I couldn’t answer them properly despite knowing plenty about the period. I saved myself in the end by talking at length about Jews and Blacks in America, obviously a wild question that they thought I wouldn’t be able to answer. Thank God I have random areas of interest!

Funked up all the way. They don’t care at all.

Impressions

Cool people, wonderful place, very Hogwarts.

Basic, scholarly, but en suite and clean.

Edible but not great

Not Nobu

Pleasant, intelligent and not deliberately intimidating.

Funky fresh dressed.

Final stage

I was away when it arrived, but had been phoned to be told it was there. Left it until I got home a few days later and was relieved, eventually very happy. I had been told it was a big envelope and so had an idea it might be good news.

Looking back

Yes, a good experience all round.

Don’t try to adhere to what you think they want, be yourself, King’s really is not the place for stereotypical ‘nerds’.