Application

 Cambridge

 Trinity

 Mathematics

 2002

 offer made

Applicant

 A-levels

 post-qualification

 N/A

 N/A

 Comprehensive School

 yes (6 A*,3 A,1 B)

A-levels

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

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

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

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

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

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

Details about the offer

 conditional

1 in STEP II, 1 in STEP III

If by luck I don’t make the STEPs, then LSE (maths&economcs) would be nice, but I doubt they want anything to do with me since I haven’t mentioned even a word economics in my personal statement!

yes

N/A

 grades pending/unknown

Decisions about the application

I was taking gap year anyway. So thought why not have another go at it?

I was rejected from Oxford last year.

Seriously, I was open-minded to both and it was mostly matter of which college tickled my fancy. Trinity happens to be in Cambridge…

Well…in Russia and here every scientists, etc. I know who happen to be from Cambridge seems to be always from Trinity, so it got into my imaginaion first…and when on Open day I wandered into it from St John’s, it blew me away…but it seemed too beyond me so I applied to ‘less sought after’ Brasenose last year. Suddenly my brave friend got in which was very reassuring, so this year I wrote down “Trinity” immediately. But my career advisor gave me new form again, reminded me how tough Trinity is to get in and urged me to be more sensible about other colleges. Which initiated rather exhausting elimination process which left me with still 15 lovely sounding colleges…then bloody hell, go for it! (in cambridge there is Pool, so applying to the top college in Maths is hardly tempting fate anyway)

Preparation

yes

I had one mock inteview with lecturer from nearby univesity. You might like to know what it is like to be rushed to find answers with him scrutinizing your mind.

Interview

no

no

yes

Yes, we had 1 hour written test. It was really ideal, because it gives me time (and breath) to assimilate the questions let alone to come up with ideas how to attack them. I am glad I stuck with Trinity, I wonder how on earth I’d make to other colleges that rely on interviews alone. (St john’s has 3 interviews!)

I had written test first, then ran to the interview room, where we waited for the lipspeaker, who arrived duly. From there we cotinued on the untried and partially attempted questions with two tutors taking turns on them. My nerves weren’t exactly conductive to the smooth logical processes as you shall see….

Oh, so what you’re doing this [gap] year? have you been to Cambridge before? You are done with all A-levels? Good…do you still remember Maths? 🙂 here we go… 1) Sketch the curve (y^2-2)^2+(x^2-2)^2=2. I told them i thought there were 2 ‘rings’? and they pressed on me until actually 4 rings were found…phew… 2) 3 girls and 4 boys were standing in a circle. What is the probability that two girls are together but one is not with them. After flawed reasoning i told them answer…”yes, but…” was response, it got bit blank and intolerable, until they made me draw all possible arrangements…but worse was about to come 3) Guessed algorithm right…but had to show why it was a solution to x^4+….i fiddled with graphs showing them how it converged…They set me straight again, but I had no frigging clue to what their hints were leading to…messed binomial theorem up…Oxford history repeats itself! 4) Is there such number N that 7 divided N^2-3? Tried contradiction, nowhere…Then I asked them another expression for N, which turned out to be N=7r+s….Then i blurted out “oh no the question just repeat itself!” until they they led me to see that s had only values between 1 and 6. hence… Oh dear… 5) prove 1+1/2+1/3+…+1/1000<10. I said “hey, that’s 10=e^ln10 and then Taylor series!” “Oh no” the prof winced and it was quickly seen that geometric series was needed….then fiasco again with simple mental arithmetics, could hear them he-he-he…whilst i desperately tried to find the product… Ok..Who is helping you with preparations for STEPs? Any questions?

A coat, which they told me to get it off. then simple sweater and a skirt, and many others wore similarly casual. it’s only a jolly interview wih tutors, not stiff job interview…

Impressions

Wow!

I was probably in ‘lower’ type room – which was similar to my friend’s – huge space, basin, armchair, rug, mock fireplace, a fridge, etc. to ask for…And there are still ‘medium’ rooms, and how Hilton-like is the ‘higher’ room is left to be conjectured…And cheapest in Cambridge as well! What lucky escape I had from Brasenose!

Excellent

Nice really of Trinity to be able to afford a cook can treat our taste buds with a little bit of respect, which’s a first for a canteen. (no that’s huge grand hall, with 10W lamps just about enough to see my own food)

Determined to bring out best in me!

Most left for home before i could do my proper pesonality survey of them. I met Martina (great girl, her Trinity profile is well worth a look at) and a few others through my friend…And out of maths candidates, I met two normal regular guys who were in International Physics Olympiad, huh! Yes, a few in Trinity are scarily brainy…but majority probably thought they’d never get in.

Final stage

Astonished! then quietly pleased they still gave me chance to prove myself in STEPs after all…There are so many similarly able people after few places, I do feel for those who weren’t lucky due to probably random decisions.

Looking back

well…I had envisaged a somewhat very colourful life with “oh God, I have been rejected twice again! he-he-ho” when it was rudely interrupted by the letter saying that’s not to happen…

Go for it, rejecion is not that nasty. And don’t treat interview like The Last Judgement – if you slip, not all is lost.