Application

 Cambridge

 Sidney Sussex

 Natural Sciences (Physical)

 1999

 offer made

Applicant

 A-levels

 pre-qualification

 N/A

 N/A

 Comprehensive School

 yes (2 A*,6 A,1 B)

A-levels

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

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

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

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

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

Advanced Extension Awards

(predicted NA; gained Merit)

A in Chemistry missed by 3 marks.

Details about the offer

 conditional

AAA, excluding GS.

yes

N/A

 offer missed, still accepted

Decisions about the application

Because, lets face it, there isn’t really another university in the UK that can compete is there? I was tempted by Edinburgh there.

I never really considered Oxford. I was enticed by Cambridge’s reputation for scientific excellence.

wanted to progress from Natural Sciences (Physical) to Chemical Engineering

My aunt went there and on the open day it appeared to be all that I was looking for – small, friendly, historic and away from the main drag (ie King’s Parade).

Preparation

yes

Not really – I had something that I guess could best be described as a mock interview with my head of sixth form.

The Forms: Be honest. Don’t try and bullshit your way in – it doesn’t work. Other than that try and show a balance of genuine interest in your subject and other broader interests.

The interview(s): You need to brush up on the subject that you are being interviewed for and expect a lot of questions that won’t refer to your A-level material as such but will be based upon material that you should have encountered. Don’t be scard, it sounds clichéd I know and I must admit that I was terrified as I walked up to the Porter’s Lodge but do try to avoid information overload – you’ll only confuse yourself and sound muddled in your interview.

Interview

no

no

no

I turned up at the Porter’s Lodge where they gave me a list of security codes a mile long so that I could get into the rooms that I needed to visit. I then wandered off and found the places that I needed to go (my interviewers’ accomodation).

General Interview – The usual why do you want to come to Cambridge/why do you want to do this course? questions. The rest of the interview was about my plans for the future and my gap year.

Subject Interview – A lot of questions about an imaginary satellite orbiting the Earth and the gravitational effects that it feels. I managed to muddle my way through this with a bit of help. Some questions on spectroscopy and how it works. There was a bit of confusion about whether we were talking about an absorbtion or emitance spectrum.

A pair of smart trousers, a yellow shirt and a tie that stayed firmly in my pocket.

Impressions

Sidney is lovely. It is small and situated just off the town centre. Apparently it has a reputation for 3 things.
1) Being really friendly
2) Being about 5m from Cambridge’s only supermarket
3) Having the best May Balls.

I can’t really remember. I’ll be able to tell you next week though.

They gave me a map… No, seriously, everyone that I spoke to was really useful and approachable. I’ve just been a through a funding crisis this morning and the college staff were very helpful in untangling the web of fees that all of my college stuff talks about.

Tall, or Welsh. They seemed to be very approachful and were really informative when they showed us around.

Final stage

I was shocked. I didn’t think that I really stood much of a chance but it appears that I did quite well. I was really chuffed and I think it was probably all I talked about for the rest of the day at school. Cambridge was (is, in fact) where I really wanted to go so it was a dream come true for me.

Looking back

Definitely. But then I was successful. Maybe those who put in as much of themselves as I did towards the date of my interview and didn’t get in would regret it.

Only apply if you really want to. Don’t feel pressured into it. My family tried to convince me to look at it but I refused point blank. As time passed and I matured and learnt more about my chosen subjects I decided that it was where I wanted to go.