Application

 Cambridge

 Christ’s (open application, allocated college)

 Mathematics

 2006

 rejected

Applicant

 Other qualifications

 pre-qualification

 EU

 Ireland

 Comprehensive School

 yes

Other qualifications

I did Irish Leaving Certificate.

Other universities

no

Decisions about the application

Only Oxbridge guarantees you will be pushed to your limits. In other universities you will get dragged down by the less talented kids.

Cambridge>Oxford

Mathematics is the only thing I know well.

I guessed it would be easier to get into Cambridge via open application.

Preparation

no

Irish schools really are not the best when it comes to doing any extra work for the students. Moreover, in Ireland, everybody thinks that with 600 points in the LC you can do anything in life, so there is no need to develop any other skills than those which are need for the LC.

Everyday when you wake up, the first thought that goes through your mind should be: “I’m the best!”. In that way after 2 months, your confidence will grow immensly and you won’t be intimidated at the interviews.

Interview

no

No.

no

No.

no

No.

As usual: 1 general, 2 subject specific. I went from one the next straight away.

Nothing particular, really.

I didn’t sign any form saying I can’t reveal the questions, so this is for you guys. From what I know, those questions were asked for a couple of years, so pay attention:
1. Draw the graph of tan(x).
2. Draw the graph of y=x.
3. Prove the two graphs have only one point in common in the interval [-pi/2, pi/2].
4. Differentiate tan(x).
5. Integrate log(x).
6. How many zeros at the end of 30!. (I would recommend to learn off the number of zeros at the end of 10!, 20!, …, 90! and 100!. Then, if they ask you this question you can answer without working out the answer and they’ll be impressed.)
7. Prove that every odd number can be represented as a difference of two squares.
8. How many numbers satisfy conditions:
a) they have 3 digits
b) all digits are even
c) digits are distinct
9. If a+1/a is an integer, prove that so is a^2+1/a^2.
10. Sketch y=x^2/(x^2-2x-3)
11. Sketch y=x^x. (that obviously involved logarithmic differentiation).
12. Simple mechanics problem with a bead on a wire sliding down at some angle. Really, everybody can work this out on the spot, it doesn’t require thinking.

I wore a black suit. I wasn’t very confident back then, so I figured it would help me. Apparently, it didn’t.

Impressions

Christ’s was OK. Pretty old, etc.

Rooms are big enough, bigger than usual campus accomodation. There was one small toilet/shower for per three rooms on the corridor and also one small kitchenette.

Good. They even had vegetarian stuff which pleased me. But they really should change those 10W light bulbs to stronger ones. People will get blind soon.

I am biased cause I got rejected.

I didn’t meet any. I was invited for the interviews very late.

Final stage

I knew the interviews weren’t a disaster, but I also knew I didn’t show anything exceptional, so overall I didn’t expect much. Christ’s is also a weak college (they don’t even supply candidates to the pool) so I wasn’t expecting to get pooled.

The letter came somewhat late and was very thin. I was so excited and the letter was so not-straightforward I had to read it three times before I figured I was rejected. I loved this line: “Due to severe competition we regret to inform you we are unable to give you a conditional offer… blah, blah, blah”. I framed the letter and it is hanging now in the most apparent spot on the wall in my room to remind me to work harder.

Looking back

Yes, of course. I mean, who wouldn’t?! At least you go through a very tense interview, probably the most stressful in your life, which is a very good preparation for the future ones.

1. Keep repeating: “I’m the best!”
2. Learn the questions I mentioned above by heart.
3. When you see a problem at the interviews you haven’t encountered before, don’t think it must be a hard one. It is almost certain it will be some easy-peasy one. Tutors don’t want you to get bogged down.
4. Mention 2 or 3 books in your personal statement.
5. Send some weird photo, preferable without a smile on your face. In that way, you will be remembered.