Application

 Cambridge

 Gonville and Caius

 Natural Sciences (Physical)

 2007

 offer made

Applicant

 A-levels

 pre-qualification

 home

 N/A

 Grammar School

Attended a Comprehensive school up till my GCSEs then moved to a grammar school.

 yes (8 A*,4 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)

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

Details about the offer

 conditional

A in Chemistry, A in Mathematics, A in Physics

yes

no

 offer met

Decisions about the application

Because I want to go into research when I graduate, and where better to learn than the place that has so many leading experts in the research fields.

I’ve always had the impression that Cambridge was slightly more biased towards the sciences (maths, science, medicine…) whereas Oxford was more biased towards the Arts (history, English, law…)

Because whilst a straight physics degree appeals to me, I think being able to do a little bit of other subjects within the NatSci degree will broaden my interests and also complement parts of the physics course.

For the simple reason that Stephen Hawkin’s a fellow here.

Preparation

yes

Yes, the school organised a headstart day for all Oxbridge applicants and we were given mock interviews.

Read up on the subject! I cannot stress how vital this is, and if there’s any particular topic(s) of interest to you, mention it in your personal statement, but make sure you do know what you’re talking about if you get asked.

Interview

no

no

yes

I had to sit the TSA, however I’m under the impression that many colleges do not put a lot of emphasis on the TSA since it’s a relatively new exam.

The first interview was a lot more serious than the other two, probably because the first interviewer was more senior in position compared to the other interviewers. They didn’t try to catch me out, in fact if you get stuck you could always ask for hints and they’d try to lead you around to tackling the questions in the correct manner.

First interview: I was asked to explain about quantum mechanics in terms of absorption/emision spectrum, then I was asked to talk about an area of physics that interested me, finally finishing with a very brief discussion about a recent physics practical I undertook.
Second interview: half chemistry and half physics, physics question was about the difference in force and energy of two objects. Chemistry question was about bonding and bond angles.
Third interview: General interview. Asked me to justifiy doing Spanish A-level and about my future asprations as well as ‘Why Cambridge’.

Suit, shirt and trousers, no particular reason other than the fact that it looked smart.

Impressions

The Stephen Hawking Building rooms all have en-suite facilities, but during interviews season everyone stayed at Harvey Court (rooms without en-suite) but they do have large, shared balconies, great for socialising.

Average, although at dinner we were served and waited on which is always a plus.

Very friendly and nice.

Final stage

Nervous and impatient, just wanted to get it over and done with.

Was straight on the phone to all my friends/family, had to read the letter 3/4 times to make sure I didn’t mis-read it.

Looking back

Yes definitely, there’s nothing to lose and everything to be gained. Even if you don’t get accepted in the end, the interviewing process is very very useful, it’s a wonderful opportunity to brush up on those interviewing skills.

Go into your interviews with confidence and don’t be afraid to ask for help/hints if you get stuck.