Application

 Cambridge

 Trinity

 Philosophy

 1999

 offer made

Applicant

 A-levels

 pre-qualification

 N/A

 N/A

 Grammar School

 yes (1 A*,7 A,1 B,1 D)

A-levels

(NA at AS)

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

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

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

Details about the offer

 conditional

A in Mathematics, A in Philosophy, A in Physics

AAA, Excluded Electronics

yes

N/A

 offer met

Decisions about the application

Because I could. There are 5 other places on the UCAS form, and I thought there was a reasonable chance I would get in. I chose the offer once I’d got it because it would have been a bit silly not to – it’s one of the most respected universities in the world, and the teaching quality is high. Etc, etc. Same reasons as most other people, essentially.

Only Cambridge do the single-subject philosophy course, which I wanted to do.

Nice grounds, large, rich, conveniently located, and someone from my school had already got in there to do philosophy, and he recommended it.

Preparation

yes

I did get a mostly unhelpful practice interview from the chaplain of a neighbouring girls’ school, whose main claim to philosophical expertise was that the A-level RE syllabus includes the Philosophy of Religion module from A-level Philosophy. Apart from that, no specific interview coaching or tuition was given; just general advice on applying and general hints on how to do the interview.

Make sure you know at least one or two areas of philosophy in detail (more if you’ve done A-level, less if you haven’t). Know general terms as well, and have read a fair number of books to discuss.

Interview

no

yes

Two essays were required; I submitted two philosophy essays (since I don’t do any other essay subject, although I would have anyway). I just thought that they were the two best I had written, and they focused on the two main areas that I was (at the time) most interested in – epistemology (in the guise of a discussion of Plato) and philosophy of mind (in the form of a critique of Cartesian dualism).

no

Two interviews – both ‘technical’ as opposed to personal. They lasted about 20 minutes each.

In the first interview, it was stuff like: why did I want to study philosophy, what was I most interested in in philosophy, how did I find philosophy A-level, etc. There was then a discussion about how the mind related to the body, and personal identity. The second one went into more detail on that, and was followed by a series of logic questions, which were quite easy.

A suit, because it seemed like the thing that was least likely to have any negative impact.

Impressions

Nice. Nothing much I could say that others haven’t.