Application

 Cambridge

 Christ’s

 Mathematics

 2003

 offer made

Applicant

 A-levels

 pre-qualification

 N/A

 N/A

 Comprehensive School

 yes (12 A*)

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)

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

Details about the offer

 conditional

1 in STEP II, 1 in STEP III

AAA

yes

Cambridge firm, Warwick insurance. 😉

N/A

 grades pending/unknown

Decisions about the application

Cambridge is the best place to study maths in the country. It is widely considered the finest uni overall. I like the collegiate structure and atmosphere. The geographical location suits me too.

I had been to Oxford on a shadowing scheme. I preferred Cambridge, because it had a better reputation for maths. I like the fact that Cambridge is dominated by the Uni, while Oxford is a city in its own right. Camrbridge is nearer for me. Cambridge guarantees accommodation for longer. My gut instinct was for Cambridge.

I visited two Cambridge colleges at Open Days. John’s was cordial and the staff were far more helpful than at the other one. I wanted a large, rich, central college with a good number of mathmos. Accommodation is good.

Preparation

no

I was mainly on my own. We had an access officer give us a session on interviews, of limited help. I also coerced them into giving me a last minute mock interview (the day before the real thing!), which was handy. But I did lots of my own preparation.

Interview

no

no

no

Had lunch in the buttery, met a fellow applicant there.

Then proceeded to three interviews, each 30 minutes after the other. So I was only around for 3 hours.

First Interview was General, with a non-mathematician. He asked the usual “Why Cambridge? Why maths? Why should we take you over the next person?” then went on to discuss how I would deal with time commitments. He also asked a question about the philosophy of maths, and to explain the development of complex numbers. Was very friendly.

All the interviews went very quickly and were rather colloquial. The second ended with “Okay, I think I’ve seen enough” so can’t have been too bad. 😉

hen came the academic ones: Interview 2 was with a maths fellow. I was asked about how much help I was getting with STEP preparation, and also how I was coping having studied my whole maths and further maths syllabus alone. Then came the maths. The first bit was an extended decision maths and geometry question. Then I had to sketch a function, which became quite complicated and involved lots of tools. Interview 3 was with the Maths DoS. I first had to sketch a function, which i dawdled over a bit too long, but oh well. Then he defined a law which I had to show was true for a given expression. Then he defined a new differentiation law, which linked into the previous bit, and I had to implement it.

Casual top, jeans and trainers. Be yourself, because this isn’t your graduation day.

Impressions

Superb. It looks stunning, has a greater presence than most colleges. The staff were warm and approachable, the students I met were helpful. The college is competitive yet laid back in it’s attitude towards students. No nasty exam tactics and expulsions.

Cripp’s is a grisly looking 1960’s tower block round the back of St. John’s where all the first years seem to be housed. However, the rooms in there are large and it seems like fun. The older accommodation is spacious and splendid. The facilities are excellent, with a good gym and new library. It’s good to be in a large college, I think. The grounds are beautiful, the playing fields are just across the road at the back, and the city centre is just outside the front. Toursist hotspot though…

Excellent

I got a lunch ticket, so was able to choose what I wanted from the Buttery. There was choice and quality, so i’m not complaining! The vegetarian option was fine. 🙂

Extremely friendly, made me comfortable. Sharp and probing all the same, which is what it should be.

Varied. Can’t really judge them in such a short space of time. The people I know there are great.

Final stage

Received it on New Year Eve. Opened it calmly, and got no surprises. Went out and celebrated that night.

Looking back

Obviously. It’s the place for me. High standards, great setting, balanced life and superb prospects. What more could you ask for?

Who dares wins. Remember, getting in doesn’t mean you’ll enjoy it. Make sure it is THE place you want to be. Find out as much as you can, as early as you can. :-/

And contact me, I’ll be happy to help. 🙂