Application

 Cambridge

 Trinity

 Natural Sciences (Physical)

 2002

 pooled, rejected

Applicant

 A-levels

 pre-qualification

 N/A

 N/A

 Comprehensive School

 yes (7 A*,3 A,1 B,1 C)

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)

Other universities

yes

yes

I have 3 offers (Exeter, Southampton, York) and my other two unis have told me that I’ll probably get offers (Birmingham, Nottingham), so it’ll be between them.

Decisions about the application

Reputation mainly. I figured I might as well give it a go.

I live fairly close to Oxford

Big college in the centre of town. And that I felt I could live in Trinity more than at St. Johns.

Preparation

yes

A mock interview with a careers advisor, using questions from this site. I also have a few friends who’ve applied to Oxbridge before – and told me about their interviews.

The Forms: Photocopy it before starting to fill it in so you can have a practice. Find a photo that doesn’t make you look too criminal.

The interview(s): Know your subject, know what you put in your PS, and make sure you can answer questions on it.

Interview

no

no

yes

Yes – so that they had something to talk about. I used questions from the Trinity college website to practice on.

I arrived at the test about 5 minutes early, having already found it earlier that day. The test lasted an hour, and, since I was due to have my interview 15 minutes after it finished in the room practically next door, I had time to have a chat with the tutor/student that was supervising us for the test. The interview then lasted 45 minutes.

First, why Trinity, and what subjects I would choose in the first year. I said that I wanted a big college in the centre of town, because I thought there would be more opportunities at a larger college, and that I felt I could live in Trinity more than at St. Johns. Also because they’d given me lots of chocolate on an open day. For the first year I said I would choose Physics, Chemistry, and either Biology of Cells or Geology. I then got asked why a hammer and feather fall at the same rate on the moon (no air) – I was ready for that as it was on my PS. Then some questions I got wrong from the test. One was about carboxylic acids and the bonding of -OH and -SH groups. Another was about relative gravitational fields of the Sun and Earth, and their effects on the tides, then I was asked to draw the line (sinx)/x, which I got completely wrong. The (sinx)/x question was one that I hadn’t answered on the test. Then they asked me if I had any questions. I asked about the weighting of the individual years in the degree (all hangs on the last year, but you have to pass the first two), and then if there was a skiing club (almost definitely).

Navy blue jumper, a blue shirt and some black trousers. I don’t like dressing up smartly, but I didn’t think I could really go in in T-shirt and jeans or equivalent.

Impressions

Good. And rich. I preferred Trinity to St. John’s, which I also visited, but there wasn’t much, apart from chocolate, between them. They’re fairly similar places, really.

Reasonably large, en suite.

Good

Friendly. Though my interviewers were the only ones I really saw.

Friendly, and willing to talk to us. One person in the JCR just before my interview thought I was a fresher, because I’d been to an open day for state school students (who are underrepresented at Trinity). I was amazed she recognised me, and she was pleased that people actually applied after going to this open day.

Final stage

When I got the first one, telling me I was in the pool, I read it – and at first thought it was an outright rejection. Then I read on a bit and saw that I was in the pool. Fine.

The second one, telling me I’d not got in came while I was at school. Mum told me she didn’t think it was good, since it didn’t have a college stamp on it, and I hadn’t been phoned up for an interview. It said that the other colleges wouldn’t be following up from the pool – which I’d pretty much worked out anyway since none had rung me up.

Looking back

Yep. I got close, and I probably learnt more than I have before about interview technique ;-).

Give it a go, but don’t think you’re sure to get a place. As they told me in my rejection letter, a lot of good people don’t get in. Don’t get too disappointed as there are lots of other good unis – that are very keen to get good physicists.