Application

 Cambridge

 Trinity Hall

 Social & Political Sciences

 2006

 offer made

Applicant

 A-levels

 pre-qualification

 home

 United Kingdom

 Comprehensive School

High acheiving state school.

 yes (10 A*,1 A)

A-levels

(A at AS (266 UMS))

(A at AS (241 UMS))

(A at AS (286 UMS); predicted A; gained NA at A2)

(A at AS (263 UMS); predicted A; gained NA at A2)

(A at AS (267 UMS); predicted A; gained NA at A2)

(A at AS (286 UMS); predicted A; gained NA at A2)

Details about the offer

 conditional

AAA, 3 A’s from 4 A2’s, excluding General Studies

yes

yes

yes

 grades pending/unknown

Decisions about the application

I acheived highly at GCSE, and had the aspiration to study at the best institution i could – this is Cambridge.

SPS vs. PPE. I didn’t want to study A Level Maths, and without this I feel I would have been disadvantaged at Oxford for PPE, plus SPS looked more interesting.

Diverse range of subjects, allowing you to try lots of different things. A current undergraduate told me its the subject everyone wishes they were doing, so I investigated it, and came to agree!

I chose Trinity Hall for the age and traditions, the central location etc. I liked the atmosphere when I looked around, and the way it seemed close to the city centre, river, departments etc… It just seemed “right”

Preparation

yes

Very slightly – we went to a free conference run by Oxford and Cambridge together, which was fairly informative – gives you a basic understanding. We also had a mock interview, but that was of no real benefit.

Talk to admissions tutots before hand, get an idea of what they want to see, be it at open days, the touring conference things, or by email. It may help you choose a college, see how they feel if you have slightly odd subject choices (maybe less traditional subjects like Sports Studies etc).

I know it’s said a lot, but you need to read. For SPS, it’d be great if you read a few (not 100’s, maybe 2/3) tradition texts like Machiavelli (the Prince has lots of talk about and is fairly short lol), Marx, Mills, something like that. a) it’ll help you see if you actually like studying politics etc. b) In interview, they seem to love “what have you read recently”…

Also, for SPS, you need to keep up to date with current affairs, it will form a significant part of your application. As with everything, you don’t need to be an expert, but if something big has happened, you need to know the outline – BBC is great for getting overviews, or real newspapers for more analysis. Have at least one story on the tip of your tounge – i froze when my interviewer asked me for one!

Finally, make sure you’ve studied the course details, so you can say what you think looks interesting. Also, ensure you know everything about yourself (i.e. about things you’ve wrote in your personal statement).

Interview

no

no

yes

I had to write an essay (1000) on a book i had recently read that had a sociological, political or pyschological theme.

I chose to write about the world energy crisis. Personally, if they ask for a similar exercise again, remember you have a carte blanche – so pick an interesting and diverse topic (i was wary of choosing Iraq – too obvious). Then just make sure it throws up lots of questions you might like to try and answer.

no

no

An experience! Before hand, I was terrorified (while sitting in Cafe Nero, just round the corner, i felt awful). However, once i got there, i began to feel quite confident and relaxed. I must say, i REALLY enjoyed the whole experience.

I had 2 intereviews – one with the Director of Studies, one with a Law Fellow, who was on the admissions board. Both were really relaxed, and placed me at ease.

1st Interview – Director of Studies

We talked about such a diverse range of topics. Firstly, we talked about issues arising from my essay, so the first question was “how would you solve global warming” !! Then we talked about international relations between Russia and the West, energy security, the growth of China, touched on Iraq. We also talked about the current Bush administration, and their attitudes.

We then talked about the news – at the time it was the death of russian spy Alexander Litvinenko.

Then we talked about how you would study at Cambridge, and about books I’d read (traditional texts) – I talked about the Prince. We talked about his ideas, and how the relate to modern society. This lead to him asking about how you know if your interpretation is correct.

Finally, he asked about other aspects of SPS that interested me, and i said class, so we talked briefy about class in modern Britain.

2nd Interview – Admissions (general)

This was based from my personal statement. It was all centred around topics that led from my A Level subjects – as judged from my supplimentary application. We talked about transport and development economics, how my sutdy of economics and geography worked together, and any queries from my PS (what an activity i did was all about)

See Above

Suit tie etc… I wanted to make a profession and smart impression. You can’t overdress for these things, and I would have hated to feel underdressed. However, i appreciate you CAN be more casual, and I don’t think they’ll be any less receptive to your ideas.

Overall, its something we all get very concerned about, but it doesnt really matter.

Impressions

It felt historic and beautiful, yet welcoming. I liked the location and the people i met. All positive.

Interesting and welcoming. Relaxed, but ofcourse incredibly knowledgable.

They seemed like cool and amiable people. All the students there (although they all did different courses, and were in different years, they all seemed to get on together, which i liked)

Final stage

It seemed like an incredibly long wait! I was very apprehensive. I have another offer, from a unviersity i’d be more than happy to study at, but i really wanted Cambridge, more than the others.

I got the letter, and i could read through that I said “we hope you will accept this offer…” and then there was much celebration etc.

Looking back

Ofcourse!

Just to note my experiences above – read around the subject, maximise your UMS at AS, choose your subjects wisely (traditional subjects are best) – and just try to do what you can – its all a bit of a lottery in the end