Application

 Cambridge

 St John’s

 Natural Sciences (Physical)

 2009

 rejected

Applicant

 A-levels

 pre-qualification

 overseas

 Hong Kong

 Independent – selective

 yes

A-levels

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

(A at AS (281 UMS); predicted A; gained A at A2)

(A at AS (272 UMS); predicted A; gained A at A2)

(A at AS (297 UMS); predicted A; gained A at A2)

(A at AS (295 UMS); predicted A; gained A at A2)

Other universities

yes

yes

Decisions about the application

Reputation and the quality of the degree?

At first I thought I might feel too bored if i just take a physics degree and chose Nat. Sci. at Cambridge, but then I realized I’ve lost my interest in the other science subjects and had lost confidence on subjects other than physics

I thought I would like to study in a wide range of science subjects, but seemed to have changed my mind after/near submitting the application

Size and its beautiful settling, considered Trinity but heard that it loves mathematicians where maths isn’t the subjects I really like though I’m okay at it.
And because they do a written test at interview
So St. John’s was chosen at last.

Preparation

yes

Some extra sessions on physics by the school investigating at harder problems

Try to get some oxbridge interview questions and think about it, congratz if u got asked on it, but u’ll never know wt u’ll be asked in your real interview
Get a good night sleep! Be prepared to think about completely new problems.

Interview

no

no

yes

A 60-min written test after 3 interviews.
Got some VERY weird questions in it, at least that is what I thought, and my performance was awful
‘Estimate the time taken to travel from London to Sydney by direct flight’,’Estimate the no. of main courses that a chef in a busy 100-seat restaurant would have to prepare at one night’
If you had the same feelings as I do perhaps apply to another college(assuming their tests from each year are similar)

Others include, plotting a graph in y and x axis from one which is given in y and x^2 axis.
Integrate tanx with respect to x
Some simple physics questions

Interviewers are nice, they’ll guide you if u’re stuck.
3 interviews, 1 general, 2 subject.
1 interviewer in the general one.
2 in each of the subject ones.
Each lasted for abt 25 mins.

First one is general, relaxed and kind of like a warm up for the real ones.
Followed by two subject specific interviews. (both mainly on physics, may be because I implied my main interest is in physics in my personal statement.

General:
‘Tell me sth u feel about science.’
‘Tell me some recent scientific developments that has caught your interest’

Subject:
Estimate the no. of gaseous atoms in the room.
Then I was given an equation related to energy and distance between two nucleus and told to plot it.
What will happen if we pull two nucleus apart and let go? (I’m not phasing this question well sorry, but the answer should be they’ll oscillate(in simple harmonic motion))
How does force between the two nucleus and their potential energy relate to each other then? (Eventually I manage to say when we differentiate the energy we got the force, they I got asked ‘So force is the ______ of energy, fill in the blanks(he did say that)’, but I didn’t say derivative as I thought he was asking for sth else, what a shame)

Did better in the 2nd interview, where I was first asked to elaborate on a book that I’ve read. And I talked about bits of string theory. Then I was asked to talk about any experimental proof for quantum mechanics, perhaps I got asked because sth similar has been mentioned in my personal statement. I manage to answer the question with the double-slit with electron experiment, and with the professor’s guidance.
Then a typical integration problem integrate (e to the power x) over some constant, I’ve made minor errors but it seems the professor didn’t know what I was actually doing as I didn’t show many of my steps. He told me to work that out from the beginning with his method and it was done.
At last I was asked to estimate the power needed to keep a helicopter hovering in the air, which I think is simple and can be completed step by step.

Suit as a sign of respect to the occasion.

Impressions

Huge and beautiful, Trinity looks even better actually imo

was okay. slightly worse than those provide at school

Nice and friendly really

Very friendly and nice, the atmosphere in the junior common room was excellent. They gave advices and also calm ppl down a bit.

Final stage

I went back home outside UK to spend my Christmas, but there wasn’t any reply during the holiday which I checked my email everyday.

I got back in UK on 5th of Jan, very early morning. Haven’t got a letter yet, but I kind of felt that it would arrive on that day and it did on that afternoon!
Took it back to my room, opened it, ‘after careful consideration, I regret to tell you that…’.
Depressed and disappointed really, I thought my interviews, especially the 2nd one could have got me pooled, but it seems my performance in the written test is not that satisfactory, or perhaps I showed that I couldn’t learn new things that quick in my first interview. Anyway, there would be a reason for them to reject me. But I was already only asked physics in my interviews which was already the best that I could have got.

Looking back

I probably would, but I might apply for physics@Oxford, or another college@ Cambridge if I knew that the questions in the written test sounds that weird to me.

As I have said, watch out for the questions in the written tests. You might be unlucky and got some unfamiliar topics in your interview, but try your best to LISTEN and THINK about the hints that are given by the professors such that you’ve no regret.