Application

 Cambridge

 Girton (open application, allocated college)

 Mathematics

 1999

 offer made

Applicant

 A-levels

 pre-qualification

 N/A

 N/A

 Comprehensive School

 yes (9 A*,2 A,1 C)

A-levels

(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)

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

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

Details about the offer

 conditional

A in Mathematics, A in Mathematics (Further), 2 in STEP II, 2 in STEP III

AAB

yes

N/A

 offer met

Decisions about the application

I wanted to gain the best possible tuition, learn with the best, from the best. It was a childhood dream to study maths at Cambridge, and I wasn’t going to let anything stand in my way.

In my opinion, Cambridge is the better university for studying maths. I wanted to learn from the best at the best institute that I possibly could for my chosen subject. I also loved the city and got a real feeling of being home when I visited.

It was recommended to me as one to carefully consider by my school, and when I visited, I soon decided that this was the college for me. On the outskirts of the city, it’s rural and peaceful feel suited me to the ground. I simply loved it. It also had it’s own basketball court, which I loved the idea of, although ironically in my first week there I was playing the game and dislocated my knee, it’s a good job that this wasn’t my only reason to chose Girton!

Preparation

yes

They did what they could, which I must admit was very little. I was unwilling to have a mock interview, although they were keen. Support with application was very good however. Basically, I got the help that I required, and little more.

Know your subject and why you want to do it. If you’re not passionate and sure that you want to study at Cambridge, I don’t feel it’s worth applying. Interviewers know who wants to be there and who deserves to be there, and both need to present for you to get there. Don’t get too worked up, and relax, be yourself, it makes a big difference.

Interview

no

no

yes

I had three one to one interviews one morning following a written paper the night before. The paper was horrendous and I had a sleepless night after it, although I didn’t feel to nervous about the interviews themselves. The paper consisted of three questions, and each interviewer covered one the next day. Interviews were relaxed and extremely focused on maths, which was a good thing. I felt at ease and really enjoyed all of the interviews. I was quietly confident, or at least hopeful, and the only thing I regretted was wearing a suit. It was uncomfortable to sit at a table working on maths restricted in my movement by an unessential suit. Unless you feel completely at ease in a suit or it is requested, I would recommend that smart casual is the way to go.

I sat the paper the night before, and the only preparation that I did was to learn all my formulae thoroughly on my way to the interview on the train, and even that was totally unneccessary.

Many maths questions, and very few about myself. I was asked the background of my school and about the maths courses at my school. The interviewer was interested in the estimated grades of all those studying two maths A-levels and was keen to know how much help I would receive for STEP papers. Another focused on Young Enterprise and my experiences in the scheme. The third focused on my family background and was anxious to know that I had considered the problems that my family faced upon my leaving.

I chose to wear a suit because I felt that it was appropriate and was keen to make good first impressions, but as mentioned before, that was a mistake for me.

Impressions

I visited many colleges in Cambridge, mostly because I attended a summer school at Cambridge in 1999 and had the opportunity to visit colleges. I went to Cauis, Kings, St. Johns, Jesus, Queen’s, Newnham, Corpus Christi, New Hall, Emmanuel and Girton. Girton was by far my favourite, I had a real feeling about it, and still do now. I really liked most, especially Queen’s, but in the end, the extensive grounds and cute squirrels won me over!

Rooms vary larger, but I live in one of the smallest at the moment, and it is ample. They are warm and nicely furnished. Kitchens, laundry and bathrooms are good. The bar is lovely, but the cafeteria is not my favourite place to visit.

Edible but not great.

They are fantastic. In interviews they seemed lovely, and I’m glad to say that that was not an act.

I barely saw any as I spent much of my time in Cambridge with friends from the uni, but they seemed pleasant and helpful. Being in college now, they are all really nice, and the feeling of community is very strong, it’s a great place to be.

Final stage

Mum cried, Dad was hysterical, sister was overjoyed, I was calm. The letter came earlier than expected, and it was probably more relief than anything, my childhood dream lived on.

Looking back

YES. My first term has been the best time of my life, nothing can compare.

Be sure, be confident (but not too confident) and be yourself.