Application

 Cambridge

 Peterhouse

 Natural Sciences (Physical)

 2003

 offer made

Applicant

 A-levels

 pre-qualification

 N/A

 N/A

 Comprehensive School

 yes (8 A*,3 A)

A-levels

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

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

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

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

Details about the offer

 conditional

A in Chemistry, A in Mathematics, A in Mathematics (Further), A in Physics

Four As – high, but in a small college for a difficult course who can blame them?

yes

Cambridge first choice, Durham second

N/A

 grades pending/unknown

Decisions about the application

Again, the outstanding course opportunities able to cater for everything I’d want (about 50+ course at third year specialisation I believe…) – and an unsurpassed reputation.

Perfect course – Natural Sciences gives me both the possibility to maintain ALL of my interests AND gives me more time to make an informed decision on which subjects I would like to continue studying in later years.

Small, cozy, incredibly friendly and above all an amazing atmosphere and social life (not viewed as a completely academic college – and so gives the opportunity to really enjoy uni life – isn’t that what everyone wants after 13 years of full-time education?!)

Preparation

yes

Two invaluable practice interviews – helped me realise how relaxed I could be … if no one suggests them to you … ASK!

The Forms: TELL THE TRUTH! It’ll take about 30 seconds in an interview to find someone … ‘distorting reality’! Believe me, if you do tell lies you’ll have to work twice as hard to get in – NOT find it easier. Include ‘the book’ too – a major work in a field you really enjoy – I read ‘The Elegant Universe’ by Brian Greene – it not only helps in interviews, but coursework and exams as well!

The interview(s): Again, don’t lie. Read books on the likely subjects and revise basic principles and the mathematics behind them. Finally, and MOST IMPORTANTLY, do something no one else seems to ever have done…research the interview professors! You’ll receive their names through the post before interview – look them up on Google – find out their interests and where these tie in with your own – I don’t think I’d have got an offer without it and it only took about 20 minutes. You’ll find it’ll focus things – the practice interviews are also good for this – showing you how YOU can gently nudge the CONVERSATIONS (it isn’t a test) in the right direction.

Interview

no

no

no

Two interviews – the first by subject tutors – they push you to the limits of your knowledge (in my case that turns out to be around 2 minutes) and then extend it to allow you to answer more detailed questions. The other was with the head of department – a laid back interview in their private rooms talking about books and interests – oh, and basic mathematics

See above. Basic physical ideas, with proofs and mathematics (integration and differentiation with respect to gravitational slingshots) … and some really simple chemical questions.

Suit – not actually that important as long as you’re smart, but it made me feel more confident and relaxed – and there’s no better time to buy one – with the number of formals ahead!

Impressions

Beautiful, so much smaller than the others – and the undergrads actually took an interest – I made a couple of good friends on the interview day alone!

Your choice – depending on how much you want to spend. The most expensive (Ł3000+ per year) allow you to have chandeliered rooms and loan paintings apparently … not my scene, but there you go. Also one of the few colleges to guarantee accomodation near the grounds for a full three year course – although this is of course optional.

Good

Fresh – a little stodgy but this may just have been a bad day – perfect for the nerve-wracking day that it was though!

Friendly and accomodating. For once, they actually seemed interested in ME…and not just ‘another prospective undergrad…’

Kind, respectful and above all SO friendly!

Final stage

New Year’s Eve – I collapsed more or less – can’t remember much after that – alcohol was my chosen relaxant/reward that evening! Although I did have to comfort quite a few people on rejections … it isn’t the best evening to send them.

Looking back

Yes – I think my description above pretty much explains why!

Again, see above! Be honest, yourself – but do some reading on the fields you AND your interviewers are interested in – and the parts of the course already covered with fall into place.