Application

 Cambridge

 Downing

 Natural Sciences (Physical)

 2009

 offer made

Applicant

 Other qualifications

 pre-qualification

 EU

 Slovenia

 Grammar School

 yes

Other qualifications

I will be taking Slovenian Matura examinations in June 2009. I will have to take exams in three compulsory subjects (Mathematics, English and Slovene) and in two of my choice (Chemistry and Physics).

Details about the offer

 conditional

I will have to achieve the best grade, which is a 5 (on a scale from 1-5; you get a 5 if your exam score is 90% or higher) in Chemistry, Physics and Mathematics in my Matura exams.

yes

no

 grades pending/unknown

Decisions about the application

I was encouraged to do so and I thought it would be a great experience to be able to study at one of the world’s best universities along with other students who are as passionate about the subject as I am. Living and studying abroad will surely contribute to improving my English, becoming more independent and meeting lots of influential people in the world of science.

I knew I wanted to study Chemistry but the Chemistry course at Oxford wasn’t exactly what I was looking for.

Because a broad selection of subjects in the first year leads to a degree in Chemistry, which is what I’d like to do as a profession in my life.

Downing college is very spacious, has an excellent location for NatSci students, the staff and the current students seem incredibly nice and supportive and I also like its facilities. I made the decision based on reading through the Cambridge Alternative Prospectus and lots of current students’ opinions on the internet.

Preparation

no

It’s wise to revise what you’ve studied about the subject so far. Just be confident about yourself because interviews are far away from being a scary experience (at least how it was for me). You shouldn’t judge yourself on how well you did because it’s impossible to tell. Be sure to be polite and respectful.

Interview

no

no

yes

I had to take a 30-minutes exam in Mathematics. I got a paper with 10 different tasks, each of them testing one of the basic skills like differentiation, graph sketching, integration, solving equations, dealing with fractions… We were encouraged to solve less problems and give a clear path towards the solution rather than solving more and giving humble answers. No calculators were allowed, of course.

One was rather a pleasant conversation than a nervewracking interview because the interviewers were so kind, patient and relaxed and the other was fine, a bit more formal but still not unpleasant even when I struggled answering one of the questions. I felt very welcome there so it was a nice experience for me.

I had two subject interviews: one was about Maths, Materials and Chemistry (all mixed up) and the second was more or less Physics with a bit of Maths.

I had been given two tasks in Maths and questions about viscosity, differences and similarities between diamond and graphite, three Newton’s laws of motion, electromagnetism and its use in a microwave-oven, drawing graphs of motion and I had to describe what I understood as mass.

I wore black skinny trousers, a smart white blouse, a black jacket, black shoes and decent make-up.

Impressions

I’d never been to Cambridge before but the impression I got when I came for the interviews couldn’t possibly be better. Everybody is amazingly friendly, the college is big and beautiful and it feels very inspiring to be there.

My room was a single-study bedroom with a table, a table lamp, a chair, a bed, a wardrobe, a sink and an armchair. It wasn’t exactly spacious but it was OK.

The food was great. I ate about 5 meals there and everything I had (pasta, chicken, salads, sweets…) was delicious.

As I already said, very warm and kind, giving you an impression they really pay special attention to every applicant.

They were outgoing, relaxed, happy to thoroughly answer any questions related to the University and to help if you needed anything.

Final stage

I was only nervous around the 3rd of January when I expected the decision letter because I really wanted to get in.

I was ecstatic, I couldn’t believe it. It was such an honour for me to receive this offer and a great boost of confidence at the same time. It has also given me enormous motivation to study hard for my final exams in order to meet my offer conditions.

Looking back

Absolutely. I wouldn’t hesitate for a second.

The first step towards getting an offer is making an application. Don’t be afraid you aren’t good enough, maybe you’re wrong and you don’t know it yet. Give it a go. You’ve got nothing to lose.