Application

 Cambridge

 Queens’

 Natural Sciences (Physical)

 2002

 offer made

Applicant

 A-levels

 pre-qualification

 N/A

 N/A

 Comprehensive School

 yes (10 A*)

A-levels

(NA at AS)

(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)

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

Details about the offer

 conditional

AAA, excluding GS.

yes

Cambridge is my first choice, and as long as I can get 3 A s then that’s where I’m going.

N/A

 grades pending/unknown

Decisions about the application

Best reputation for subject (and possibly course/teaching also). The ‘Oxbridge experience’ is a once in a lifetime opportunity – why not give it a go?

Cambridge is supposed to have the better reputation for sciences, and I liked the Nat Sci. course – enabling combinations of science subjects.

Made a list of all possibles, then eliminated all but about 5. Looked around those, and, for various reasons (live in for whole course, extracurricular activities, atmosphere) chose Queens’.

Preparation

yes

One practise interview: fairly useless as I had had two real interviews already and knew sort of what to expect

The Forms: Dont worry too much about the standard forms: the interviewers dont seem to care a great deal. However, if you are required to choose topics to talk about at interview: choose very carefully topics which you will be able to say something about. My advice would be not to choose too vague subjects: you want to be able to direct the interview towards the subjects you know about.

The interview(s): Having read a brief history of time/ in search of schroedinger’s cat…etc. might sound useful, but my experience was that such extra research is not actually very useful for the interview. The basic A level syllabus stuff is what tripped me up in the interview, so my advice in the last few days before the interview, is to revise thoroughly all of your subjects.

Interview

no

no

no

First interview: Chemistry. Fairly informal – armchairs around fire. Half hour chat about chemical topics I wrote on the form. Second interview: Physics and maths. Slightly more formal: biggish, high ceiling room, at opposite ends of a table. Questions on general maths (some P4 curve sketching very useful), but could have been managed with single maths A level. Both interviewers were pleasant and helpful when I didnt know the answers.

Why, given the electron configuration of methane, are all the bonds the same length? You are in a lift which accelerates at 1g upwards: how does the period of the pendulum you are swinging change? Sketch (x^3)/((X^2)-1).

Smart trousers, shoes, shirt, tie. Not full suit, as the letter inviting me for interview suggested not to. Most others who were interviewed on the day dressed casually.

Impressions

Interesting mixture of architecture, and nice setting in the town. Didnt get much chance to meet current students, but seems a friendly place.

Generally very pleasant, if a little business-like

Didnt really see any.

Final stage

Surprise that it came so soon: shock when I read it – I was expecting rejection after the interview…

Looking back

yes – why not – I got an offer… having said that the period between interview and decision (christmastime) is hell – they should tell you before christmas like oxford.

The interviews are only part of selection procedure: if you muck it up dont worry too much about it : if your results are good then you still stand a chance.