Application

 Cambridge

 Peterhouse

 Mathematics and/with Physics

 2008

 offer made

Applicant

 A-levels

 pre-qualification

 home

 United Kingdom

 Grammar School

 yes (8 A*,2 A)

A-levels

(A at AS)

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

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

(A at AS (282 UMS); predicted A; gained NA at A2)

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

(A at AS (247 UMS); predicted A; gained NA at A2)

Cambridge STEP Maths

(predicted NA; gained NA)

(predicted NA; gained NA)

I also achieved a B in AS level Critical thinking.

Details about the offer

 conditional

1 in STEP II, 1 in STEP III

I don’t know if the ommission of A level requirements on my letter was an oversight, or on purpose yet.

undecided yet

Probably will accept it, but I’m going to let it sink in first, so I’m thinking rationally.

yes

yes

I probably will accept Cambridge, but I might check out Durham first (with another high offer, so I daren’t risk putting it as insurance).

Decisions about the application

I didn’t know I wanted to apply this time last year (Jan 08), but my mother told me it was worth a shot, because I had a chance. So I applied, thinking if it wasn’t for me, I could drop out, and I wouldn’t regret not going for it. As I got further through the process, the more the university appealed to me, until I fell in love with the place when I arrived there. And that’s when I knew I couldn’t back out.

It was easy- Cambridge offered Maths with Physics in the first year to help me choose between pure Maths or a NatSci degree. Initially I preferred Oxford because they were rumoured to look at GCSE’s, I think…

It seemed a Natural Progression from my A levels and what I enjoy. Last year, I took Maths, Physics, English Lit and Spanish. This year, I took up full Further Maths, and dropped Spanish, because I enjoyed it.

And last year I pretty much knew it two- I’ve enjoyed Maths as far back as I can remember, and love physics with a passion thanks to my year 7 phsyics teacher.

Choosing a college was a bit of a farce for me. I knew I wanted one that accepted guys as well. Then I figured a small college would be best- I like knowing people. And older buildings are prettier (yes, I am that immature- though to be fair, they seem more inspiring, so it is semi-mature), so I was looking at old colleges. Peterhouse fit the bill perfectly- oldest and smallest college in Cambridge, which looks amazing (just look at pictures of Gisborne court).

Preparation

no

They offered help, but I was on a physics summer school that day…

Just read around the subject. If you’re genuinely interested, it’ll help you more then anything else, and getting the proof of your interest provides an interesting talking point. When I went down for interview, I sat behind a guy who was obviously applying for maths- he just answered maths questions on some paper, and tried to memorise answers to questions he though might be asked, whilst I sat behind him munching Pringles and feeling distinctly unorganised in comparison. When we got to interview, I just tried to be myself- I gave completely honest answers about why I wanted to do the subject, and though I stumbled with it a little, it showed it was genuine. Plus, if I came off track, I could just pick-up where I left off, instead of getting flustered because I couldn’t remember what came next. Then, in my physics interview, I was interviewed by a guy who had never done an interview on his own before, and we ended up having a mini-gossip about University of Birmingham and my experience at the aforementioned summer school there. Then he realised we should probably talk about Cambridge.

Anyway, I don’t know how the guy in front of me on the train did, but I got an interview, in all my on-the-spot glory.

NB- I did go to a summer school, read New Scientist Magazine, A Brief History of Time and Zero: A biography of a Dangerous Idea in preparation, so IO had something to talk about.

Interview

no

No, I didn’t.

no

Again, no.

no

Once more, no.

My first interview with the science admissions tutor was relaxing, and quick, with a difficult question that set the bar for the rest of my interviews (which the other intervewers had no issues with raising).

The maths interview itself was just maths questions, and if I hadn’t covered a topic, they simply changed question when I said so eg, I haven’t done circular motion, and when they asked a question on this, I told them, and it wasn’t a problem. Oh, but if I was silent, they just watched me… I had to tell them if I didn’t know, and they would try and help me when I did so. One of the interviewers only said hello however, and made notes instead of interacting with me.

The physics interview was, as I have said before, very sociable. The interviewer was very chatty, and really helped me when I needed it, but would chip in whenever I seemed unsure. He was really nice, and asked me about my summer school experience.

Overall, I got asked no trick questions, and fund it interesting, to say the least ( I came back and asked my maths teahcer some of the questions I was asked. He spent half an hour knelt in front of my desk puzzling over them, and I got to tell him if he was right :D)

I think I just did… oops.

I had to draw a couple of graphs, let me check though… Then I’ll update this.

I wore jeans and a casual top, and a jumper with a matching scarf from Millets.

Why? Because they were comfortable clothes, and they recommend wearing what you’re comfortable in. I saw a guy there wearing a suit. It;s just whatever you feel you can give your best in.

On a slightly different note, despite being told to expect interviewers in jeans in front of roaring fires, I had interviewers in suits in front of empty fireplaces.

Impressions

Oh my… It was beautiful. It took my breathe away, and every time I thought I might never return, I’d get a lump in my throat. It was so amazing. And the city itself was beautiful, and everything was within walking distance. Bear in mind I am from Birmingham, so distances are a lot larger hear by comparison.

The college accomdation was HUGE! Seriously, it was massive. I had a desk, chair, giant corkboard, bed, bookshelf, fireplace, wardrobe, cabinet, coffee table, and two chairs at coffee table level. However, it was a little chilly. The bathroom on the floor was miniscule, but very warm by contrast.

The food was very nice, and we ate in the dining hall, unfortunately, with dim electric lighting as opposed to candles as they do normally, but it was still amazing.

To be frank, I was paying more attention to my fellow applicants (and competition) then the food.

They were lovely- very smiley, and very helpful. They were honestly amazing, and I can’t say much more then that.

Again, really nice. Before going to my last interview, I spoke to an under-grad who was so kind, and asked me about other options. She made me feel really good about myself- something I needed before I went to my last interview.

Final stage

I didn’t really know I was worrying- I went on my laptop so I was completely immersed, plus I had christmas presents to entertain me.

But then at night, I couldn’t sleep, and I realised the night before results that I was sub-consciously assessing all possible outcomes of opening the letter- where might I get pooled, where would I want to, how would I cope with rejection, how amazing it would be if I got an offer, etc.

I recevied a letter, that told me they would like to offer me a place. When I got the letter, I showed my dad, who woke my mom up. I was very quiet, and made gestures instead of words- it seemed safer because I didn’t know if I could speak. When I read it, my eyes widened, and I merely pointed to the acceptnace on the letter whislt showing my parents. We were all very calm, and it didn’t sink in all day.

Looking back

Yes, definately. If I could go back now, I’d tell my previous self that I should apply, because I so nearly didn’t, and I know I’d only have regretted it if so.

Just go for it. If you think you might have a chance, you do. Try your best, and just let your enthusiasm show, because you’ll always have that, whereas pre-learnt lines only look too effortless to be sincere, and wont help you when you get there.

And don’t stress about it. If it happens, it happens, if it doesn’t- there are plenty of other good unis out there (for me, it was Durham). If you don’t worry too much, you’ll actually find you have a clearer head, and this can help make a better impression.