Application

 Cambridge

 Trinity

 Medicine

 2006

 offer made

Applicant

 A-levels

 pre-qualification

 home

 United Kingdom

 Comprehensive School

 yes (9 A*,1 A)

A-levels

(A at AS (300 UMS))

(A at AS (292 UMS); predicted A; gained A at A2)

(A at AS (275 UMS); predicted A; gained A at A2)

(A at AS (274 UMS); predicted A; gained A at A2)

(A at AS (288 UMS); predicted A; gained A at A2)

(A at AS (289 UMS); predicted A; gained A at A2)

Details about the offer

 conditional

A in Biology, A in Chemistry, A in Mathematics

yes

yes

yes

Offers from UCL (insurance) and GKT

 offer met

Decisions about the application

Because of the science-based course and the opportunity to transfer after year 3; I wanted to be in a really academic environment; the traditions of Oxbridge appealed to me and also just to see if I could get in.

I changed my mind several times but eventually the location of Cambridge (it’s slightly closer to where I live) and the more varied options in the third year of the course persuaded me. Also, Cambridge interview a higher proportion of candidates.

Two reasons:
1. Even though I want to be a doctor I’m still a science geek and I want to study the scientific basis of Medicine before I am let loose on patients.
2. There’s a divide between pre-clinical and clinical which gives me the option of moving back to London after year 3.

I had several criteria in mind for a college – central, old, big, pretty – and there were several colleges that I liked. However, when I went to the General Open Day, I felt I had the friendliest reception at Trinity, and decided to go for it.

Preparation

yes

1 mock interview with a teacher from another school which was very unlike the real thing. Also some help with CAF and UCAS form. And I was advised not to apply to the college I got an offer from because it would be too competitive…

Pay attention in year 12 – make sure you know your AS syllabuses inside out. Look up what the BMAT involves and have a little practice before you take it. Also, before the BMAT I think it’s advisable to get a GCSE science revision guide covering all the exam boards, because there are topics included in one course but not in others, etc.

Interview

yes

BMAT – 3 sections, one on ‘general skills’ (ie Logic, thinking, etc), one on science, one essay. My score was 7.3, 5.3, 10.5 = 23.1. The first section is alright and was easier for me as I had done AS Critical Thinking (good practice if you can get any multiple choice questions from this). The second section is impossible to do in the time limit, and even though it’s GCSE, it’s not obvious stuff. Spend time planning the essay before you write it, you’ve got half an hour and only one side to write on.

no

no

I had one interview, and I don’t think it lasted any more than 20 minutes. It was held in a room at the top of a staircase. I had two interviewers, one man, one woman, who took turns to ask me questions.

I see you’ve written a paper on xxx (in my personal statement), tell me more about it. What ways do we have of looking inside the body? (I waffle incoherently so she moves on). Here’s a graph of rates of two forms of an illness in a certain area. Describe them. How would you tell if this point was signficant? (More incoherent waffling). Why might the rate of this form have increased while the other stays constant? How would you test this? What genetic diseases can you name? What would be the chances of you getting xxxx if your dad had it? Here’s a drawing of a microbe, what’s this? What does it need it for? When someone’s hyperventilating, what do you get them to do? Why? What would happen to blood pH then? Asked to describe the experiment which proves that DNA replicates semi-conservatively. If you were an explorer and you found the same animal on two islands, what might you conclude? Any questions you would like to ask us?

A grey trouser suit and a purple blouse, as I didn’t want to be underdressed. However I was so nervous I forgot to take off my coat…

Impressions

Trinity: big, grand, beautiful, friendly.
Fitzwilliam: More modern, lovely chapel, friendly students but it wasn’t for me.
Newnham: lovely grounds & nice atmosphere.
I saw lots of other colleges, but these ones I actually officially visited. For me, the best way to find out what colleges I liked was to run round madly at a general open day. I went for Trinity because the people I met there were friendly.

It was edible, I think, but despite having lunch after my interview I was too nervous to really eat properly.

Friendly and seemed keen to meet me and find out what I knew, rather than what I didn’t know.

I didn’t really meet many of the college students, but the other applicants I talked to were all approachable, normal people.

Final stage

I didn’t think about it for a while afterwards but as it got closer to the time I hated waiting, simultaneously trying to convince myself I’d been rejected and hold on to a shred of hope. Unfortunately we had some postal problems in our area so I didn’t get the letter the day it was due to come, and I spent most of the day in a nervous, can’t-do-anything daze.

I didn’t find out until my Head of Sixth Form congratulated me on the first day of term in January (a letter gets sent to your school, at least from Trinity and Christ’s) – initially I was sort of stunned, but I was delighted when it sunk in.

Looking back

Yes, it was an interesting experience and I would have regretted it if I hadn’t tried.

Be confident, believe in yourself – if you think you can do it, go for it. In the interview remember that they’re not trying to trick you, instead smile, breathe, don’t be scared to say ‘I don’t know’, but make sure you talk and express yourself and your thought processes, which I think is what they’re looking for.