tag:blog.oxbridgeadmissions.com,2013:/posts Oxbridge Admissions Blog 2019-12-11T01:08:24Z About tag:blog.oxbridgeadmissions.com,2013:Post/1487538 2019-12-10T19:12:00Z 2019-12-11T01:08:24Z Daily Life at Cambridge University

Congrats to all applicants that have persevered and made it through the Cambridge interview process. That is no easy feat, and you should be proud of yourself for making it this far! 

If you're wondering what life is like at Cambridge University, make sure to browse our archive of Cambridge specific information. Learn from current and former students from Trinity College, Queens' College, Homerton College, St. Catharine's College, and numerous others.

Another worthwhile read comes from this Cambridge Admissions blog which showcases the diverse stories of Cambridge students:

The Fetcher who became keeper to millions of books

The political scientist motivated by a desire to understand the world

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To view more Cambridge stories, click here.
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tag:blog.oxbridgeadmissions.com,2013:Post/1487514 2019-12-01T18:08:00Z 2019-12-10T18:16:26Z Interview Tips Direct from Oxford Faculty

December is officially upon us, which means INTERVIEW SEASON! Students around the globe are preparing for their Oxford interviews. If you’re looking to get an upper hand in your quest for Oxford admissions or Cambridge admissions, remember to browse our full archive for first-hand accounts from applicants that have already gone through the process.

And for additional tips, directly from Oxford faculty, check out this post from a blog dedicated to Oxford admissions:

“We look for potential wherever we can find it, whether in excellent exam results, a really good performance in an aptitude test, a great reference from a teacher, or interesting submitted written work. A student who’s really good on paper but then underperforms a bit at interview due to nerves is still a really good student, and they might still get a place at Oxford and go on to do really well here.” (Andrew Bell, Senior Tutor at University College)

“We go to great lengths to try and ensure that the interview process gives each candidate the best chance to show their ability, whatever their background. We agree on questions that will provoke interesting discussions, similar to a tutorial setting, and try to make students feel comfortable and at ease. We always start the interview by outlining how it will work and what we expect candidates to do” (Helen Swift, Director of Undergraduate Studies for Modern Languages and a tutor at St Hilda’s College)
Read the full story here: Oxford Interview: 5 Tips from Oxford Faculty Members]]>
tag:blog.oxbridgeadmissions.com,2013:Post/1471543 2019-10-29T18:23:07Z 2019-10-29T18:23:07Z Applying to Jesus College, Cambridge University

Jesus College is on a single large site on a quiet side street in the centre of Cambridge. It was established between 1496 and 1516 on the site of the twelfth-century Benedictine nunnery of St Mary and St Radegund whose buildings, which included a huge church, were adapted to house it. These buildings remain at the College’s centre, and beyond them there are 24 acres of sports fields and gardens. 

Jesus College works with a range of international partners to support cutting edge research and innovation in its state-of-the-art West Court development. Initiatives include the Intellectual Forum, the Cambridge Peking University China Centre at Jesus College and many other academic conferences and events.

Why did you apply to Jesus College?

Was asked by school what i'd like, replied medium size, old and new, good facilities, off tourist route large ground so they suggested jesus because it met that and seemed strong for arch and anth (Profile 155)

The Theology faculty at Cambridge is one of the best in the world. Also, the way the course is structured means there is a lot of flexibility with room to explore pretty much whatever most interests you. Jesus is well situated and is a large, friendly college. I know some people that go there and it was recommended to me. It is also consistently one of the most applied to colleges for theology. (Profile 767)

Jesus is the best college! It's absolutely gorgeous. Visited it and knew it was the one - I love the incredible library and modern accommodation, and the location just out of town is great. (Profile 719)

Neither too big nor too small; lovely spacious site; relaxed, unpretentious feel to it :) (Profile 310)

What was your general impression of Jesus College and any other colleges you visited?

Nice, large, friendly college with beautiful, expansive grounds. Really helpful admissions staff who were always happy to answer my questions and were patient when I was late with submitting written work and other forms. (Profile 767)

Clean, tidy and larger than i expected. very pretty. (Profile 155)

Jesus is gorgeous, and the people are great. I also visited Fitz, which is very friendly but not so visually impressive and the location's a bit awkward. (Profile 719)

Thought Jesus was quite grand looking untill I met up with my friend who was applying to St John's and had a look around there- it's huge and feels like a palace. Definitely prefer Jesus. (Profile 735)

The college is beautiful and picturesque, and though it is traditional, I didn't feel like I was an imposter or that everyone was pretentious, so it's a good mix I think. (Profile 165)

Describe the day-to-day aspects of living in the college. If you stayed in college, how was the accommodation? How about the food?

- Accommodation: The room I stayed in was big and had a nice view over one of the quads. Not en-suite but had a sink and the showers and toilets were close enough. 

- Food: Coffee was good, didn't really have the food. (Profile 767)

- Accommodation: Jesus has huge rooms that are the envy of the other colleges! They're modern and furnished well. Most are en-suite with gorgeous views of the college grounds.

- Food: Great! A big choice - I had a huge jacket potato with beans and cheese, obviously. (Profile 719)

- Accommodation: My room was twice the size of my bedroom at home, had loads of storage, a huge desk, coffee table, comfy chairs, bookcases, sink, mirror with light over it, windows all along one wall and loads of floor space left over. I was very impressed, but apparently these are the cheapest rooms and the others are all far better. Shower next door, seemed to be shared with only one other person although other corridors may not have had a shower so not sure, nearest toilet on the floor above, which was a bit of a pain. Room got quite cold in the middle of the night although I realised in the morning that the radiator was switched off so presumably this is not usually a problem. 

- Food: Much like good school dinners only you get three times as much.Choice of two hot meals in the evening, and cereal/pastries for breakfast. (Profile 735)

Any thoughts on the tutors/students at Jesus College?

- Tutors: Only spoke to one (in interview) but was extremely nice and kind. (Profile 767)

- Students: Didn't really speak to the helpers there as I was always in a rush but one or two always willing to help out, all friendly. (Profile 767)

- Tutors: relaxed, easy to talk to and seemed to want me to do my best. they were very likeable and made me keen to get into the college. (Profile 155)

- Tutors: I was told my first interviewer, Professor Dowdeswell, was a very friendly man - he was, incredibly! And helped me through all of the questions, especially when I got stuck. I was told that my second interviewer, Dr Keans, was cold and unhelpful, that he played the 'bad cop', so I thought 'Right, well if he won't talk, I will' and just charged right into my answer after he asked the first question. But soon we were chatting comfortably and he was recounting little anecdotes and we were laughing quite a bit! 

- Students: They were very friendly, though I wasn't with them long. My friend, who does Economics at Selwyn, said that the people from Jesus are renowned for being intelligent but down to earth, and he said they're all really nice. (Profile 719)

- Students: Really friendly. Chatted to quite a few while hanging around for my interview (we were using their common room, so they came and went quite a lot) and they were all welcoming and took us to dinnerand sat with us even though it wasn't their job. Students from different years and subjects all seemed to get on well. (Profile 735)

Do you have any advice for future Jesus College applicants in terms of preparation?

[Music] On Cambridge Application Form: Well mine was quite succint, so I would avoid being pretentious, express yourself well and say why you want the course you've applied for.

Interview: Have a general overview, and concentrate on learning about the Classical period as most of my interview focused on this, even though I stated on my form that my main interest was in later music. Also, brush-up on what you've studied at A-level, and try to have an idea of how many symphonies etc prominent composers composed as I was asked how many Haydn wrote and didn't know! (Profile 165)

[Theology & Religious Studies] When preparing for interview make sure you practice articulating your thoughts, maybe every day if necessary. You only have half an hour to prove yourself so giving clear reasoned answers is very important. Read a few books and familiarise yourself with basic concepts such as good and evil etc but what you should get from this is the ability to think about all new ideas not just specific ones that you have read about. For me, the most important preparation was learning to answer questions clearly and intelligently without going off on random tangents that took up more time and that the interviewer does not want to hear.

Also, make sure you know your submitted work inside out, not only because you might get asked on it, but because you may be able to use some of the content in these essays to answer different questions, and if one of your interviewers haven't read them, then an extensive knowledge of something can be impressive. (Profile 767)

[Economics] Don't write down books you've supposedly read on your PS before you've read them. I had to quickly read Wealth of Nations because of this. Find a topic in Economics you enjoy or find most interesting, and read up on that. It's more pleasurable than reading a massive Economics tome and more productive. It also means that you can show a real passion for the subject in the interview, by displaying an in depth knowledge of a specific area which interests you. (Profile 242)

[Mathematics] The practice interviews really are useful, but only if you prepare for them as if they are the real thing. It doesn't matter how good your interview skills are if you can't remember the formulae for circular motion or whatever the question is on. Revise all your AS work becuse this is probably what the interview questions will be based on- they don't know how much of the A level course you will have studied. I think I made the mistake a couple of times in my interview of trying to do things the hard way when all the questions required was basic C1/C2 knowledge. Most interview questions involveapplying old knowlege in new ways so maths challenge/BMO questions are quite useful preparation for this. Trying out STEP questions can also be a good thing and Oxford admissions tests are good because they are theright standard and questions aren't too long. But the best preparation is definitely practice so badger your school/teachers/family friends/anyone you know who is already at oxbridge to give your a sort of mock interview. Even if you just try to solve a problem in front of a few friends this can be useful as it gets you over the barrier of being embarrassed to say what you're thinking (not sure if boys have this problem but most girls seem to). (Profile 735)

What questions were you asked during your Jesus College interview(s)?

[Engineering] Tutorial: Why engineering Why Cambridge Math: SHM Calculus Derivation of golden ratio other equation formation and manipultion Physics: Projectiles up a slope mechanics of a pull-string car zero gravity combustion (Profile 405)

[Geography] Physical - focused on climate change and the mechanics of it.

Human - focused on the book on global politics I had read, talking mainly about terrorism and religion. Then some questions focused around my human essay, which was about development and culture. Then a little discussion about our favourite authors! It was so funny, Dr Kearns asked me who my favourite modern author was, and I told him thinking he won't have a clue as he's not very well known, and turns out he loves his books too! (Profile 719)

[Mathematics] First Interview (with two maths fellows: one who spoke, one who wrote):

At the time, felt fine about it. Actually after waiting for 3 hours in the Marshall room (JCR), I quite enjoyed it just because it was something to do. The interview went really quickly and I was worried about how few questions I answered and also some of the stupid things I'd said/done, including twice missing a incredibly obvious answer and doing things a much harder way. However, was reassured that I could see the notes one of them was writing and although I only dared take brief glances, I saw he first word was "excellent". So all in all, went to bed feeling quite happy. 

Second interview (with Dr Siklos, director of studies or some other important title):

Was quitely confident after the first interview had gone OK, and even more so after I'd seen the problem we were left to do beforehand and found I could actually do all of it, which I hadn't been expecting. But when I got in, Dr Siklos gave me quite a hard time, questioning everything I said. I couldn't tell if this was because he was trying to push me or because I was getting everything wrong, but it did stress me out more than I would have anticipated and I spent a particularly panicked 2 minutes trying to explain why a straight line crossed the graph y=sin x only in the twice in the range 0-pi/2 when all that was in my head was "because that's what sin x looks like". The only thing I could say was "because it bulges up a bit" which he repeated back to me in a slightly sarcastic way and then let me sweat for a few minutes before saying "I think the word you were looking for is convex". He also asked me one question about Music of the Primes, which I'd put on my personal statement, because apparently everyone does. Annoyingly, I've read the book several times and still didn't answer the question very well. Overall, didn't enjoy that interview as much as the first. (Profile 735)


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tag:blog.oxbridgeadmissions.com,2013:Post/1471021 2019-10-25T16:00:00Z 2019-10-28T14:34:47Z Applying to University College, Oxford

The history of University College, the oldest of all Oxford colleges is not without intrigue. Most people believe that University College, colloquially known as “Univ”, was founded in 1249 by William of Durham. However, there was a long standing rumour that the college was founded long before that, all the way back in 872 by King Alfred. Regardless of its true finding date, Oxford college remains the oldest college in the Oxford system. 

For those wanting to find out more, A History of University College Oxford, written by Oxford archivist Robin Darwall-Smith and published by Oxford University Press, can be found on Amazon

Why did you apply to University College?

I chose Univ because it's one of the larger colleges, I liked the fact that it's the oldest college, and one of the tutors is an expert on Shelley. (Profile 798)

I had visited it a couple of times and felt comfortable there. I liked the location (High Street), the size, the people and the facilities. (Profile 1089)

Supposed to be one of the best for PPE; central location; and it's mid-sized so hopefully won't be too claustrophobic or too impersonal. (Profile 147)

I went to the open day, which helped immensely. I had made a list of those colleges I wanted to visit in advance, based on the website and advice of a family friend who works in Oxford. I visited all of them, there were a couple I really liked, then back home I re-read all prospectuses and picked one. (Profile 1071)

Nice size, location and feel (Profile 207)

What was your general impression of University College and any other colleges you visited?

I really liked Univ - it's a beautiful college and the students were friendly and helpful. However, despite the fact that I was initially upset about being interviewed at St Catherine's (I didn't realise it was a good thing being interviewed at multiple colleges) when I got there, I loved it. Once I got over my initial reaction to the architecture (not the prettiest college), I realised that the atmosphere was actually much friendlier than Univ, the JCR was nice and big, and I got on well with the tutor who interviewed me. (Profile 798)

I really liked the atmosphere, right from when I first entered on the Open Day and during the interview period. I'm very happy with my decision. (Profile 1071)

Nice (but not impressive like Magdalen etc), quite a historical feel though - apparently it's the oldest college. Which is cool in a way. (Profile 147)

Friendly, a number of activities like watching movies were put on by the JCR. (Profile 1085)

A nice, impressive couple of quadrangles with a very convenient location. I didn't see anything of the JCR as I think it was closed when I visited. (Profile 464)

Describe the day-to-day aspects of living in the college. If you stayed in college, how was the accommodation? How about the food?

- Accommodation: The accommodation at Univ was fine - large room with a sink, desk, cupboards, chairs etc. An en suite bathroom would have been nice and the room was quite cold at night, but it wasn't too bad.

- Food: Not very nice. I'm a fussy eater, though, and at least there was a decent range of food. (Profile 798)

- Accommodation: Larger rooms then I expected, all rooms have a sink and a fridge plus standard stuff. Kitchens were okay, there were plenty. Shower and toilets were fine as well and again enough.

- Food: Food was better then I expected, plenty of choice and good quality. (Profile 1071)

- Accommodation: I had a large large room during interviews - it was a bit of an anomaly but I was lucky, not all rooms are that size at all. In general, rooms are a fairly good size at Univ.

- Food: I seem to remember it being fine while I was there… (Profile 1089)

- Accommodation: Room was big (compared to London Uni rooms anyway) but so cold I woke up shivering every morning (I think my heating could have been messed up though). Had a washbasin, desk, couple of chairs, standard stuff really.

- Food: Edible but not great (Profile 147)

Any thoughts on the tutors/students at University College?

- Tutors: I liked the tutors at Univ but I don't think I got on as well with them as I did with the tutor at St Catherine's. Which is just as well, really...

- Students: I didn't talk to many of them, but they seemed friendly and willing to help. (Profile 798)

- Tutors: Fairly pleasant. I was too nervous myself to really interact with them, but in general they were understanding and co-operative during the interviews.

- Students: The only students around were the JCR helpers as the students had gone home for christmas. They were very pleasant and very helpful, and helped you settle in quickly. Most useful was asking them where the nearest Pizza Hut was of an evening :) (Profile 464)

- Tutors: The tutors were nice during interviews, not at all intimidating. During the talk with all PPE applicants they gave us plenty of time to ask all questions and they really tried to make us relax a bit.

- Students: Those I met were great, as were all other applicants. (Profile 1071)

- Tutors: Really friendly and approachable. They organised a meeting for all of us with as many of them as could make it the morning of the first interviews so we could see their faces beforehand which I think put a lot of us at ease.

- Students: Friendly as well and eager to be of assistance. They looked after us well and were keen for us to enjoy the experience. (Profile 1089)

- Tutors: Friendly, approachable, clever, enthusiastic. No wonder Univ has such a good rep for PPE.

- Students: The students that stuck around to help us were called "sea-daddies" which was a bit off-putting and just seemed like the typical Oxford weirdness I was hoping didn't exist - but they were all nice enough , so I can't really complain. (Profile 147)

Do you have any advice for future applicants in terms of preparation?

[English Language and Literature] READ READ READ. Know the writers you've mentioned on your personal statement as well as possible (ie: don't mention Virginia Woolf if you've only read Mrs Dalloway) and read widely. Don't stick exclusively to certain genres or eras, because you'll feel silly if they ask you what Victorian novels you've read and you can't answer. 

Enthusiasm - you may feel the need to restrain yourself at school or at home because you're worried about looking like a nerd, but Oxford want people who are genuinely enthusiastic about their subject. Don't worry about getting carried away or digressing a bit if it means you're showing your enthusiasm.

Be prepared to justify your arguments. Some critical reading might help to give you a few ideas (although remember to avoid regurgitating someone else's argument), but if you have a strong opinion on a certain text or writer, consider /why/ you feel that way. I struggled in one of my interviews when I tried to justify liking Heathcliff. (Profile 798)

[Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE)] For PPE specifically, prepare for the TSA test! Practice really helps, it made a huge difference for me. For interviews, try to relax a bit (I know it's hard) and just explain what you're thinking. I found my debating experience came in really handy because it had trained me to explain thoughts analytically, so you might try that. (Profile 1071)

[Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE)] Read widely around your subject and, most importantly, read actively: what is the author trying to say and why? are there holes in the author's argument? what is your own view?

For the TSA: practise, practise, practise...find as many past papers as you can and do them timed. Some of the question types will begin to seem familiar. Do a couple of the essays in one hour to get a sense of how long you have and then I recommend jotting down some ideas for the others or doing essay plans timed (say, five mins?). (Profile 1089)

What questions were you asked during your interview(s)?

[English Language and Literature] The first interview (poem analysis) was all right, the second interview (general interview) was slightly stressful because the tutor didn't seem to respond that positively to my answers, and the third interview (poem analysis and general interview at St Catherine's) was really enjoyable.

In the second interview I was asked what I'd read recently - I started rambling on about Victorian literature, and for half the interview I talked about Wuthering Heights. I was asked a rather challenging question on Middlemarch, but then the tutor asked me about my thoughts on Shelley, and we discussed Ozymandias and a few other poems, before finishing with a discussion of Eliot's The Waste Land. (Profile 798)

[Law] Not going to lie, it was HELL I think that they tried to get the best out of me. I cried buckets afterwards, but it was those of us who had the bad experiences that were offered places and not the over confident ones. Some were called for secondary interviews which we thought at the time was a good sign, but it wasn't, one of my friends (us interviewees all made friends and keep in touch) had a second & third interview and was rejected. DON’T PANIC, BE NATURAL

Only questions on the case study I was given, quite in depth, wanted recall and analysis I think. (Profile 207)

[Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE)] Two interviews, one on economics (4 interviewers) and one on politics/philosophy (2 interviewers). In each interview we were given some questions or a passage 20 minutes before the interview to prepare. Asked about the questions/passage. In the case of economics it was game theory. With politics/philosophy we had a discussion on the passage in relation to politics (about jingoism) and then talked through an informal logic problem. (Profile 1085)

[Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE)] Politics: Given an article 25 mins before and I had to discuss the author's opinion and why I thought this. I had to then come up with a potential solution to the problem and state what some of the issues with this would be.

Philosophy: Given a problem in the interview concerning a group of people. I had to reason what the best course of action for a particular person involved would be and then discuss any assumptions I had made and how the situation could be different.

Economics: I had to work through a game theory style questions 25 mins before concerning two people. The interview consisted of me discussing my answers and the ones I hadn't done yet I did on the spot, with guidance where it was needed. (Profile 1089)

What advice do you have for potential applicants based on your experiences?

[English Language and Literature] I tried to come across as willing to learn, and aware of my limitations particularly academically. I made a joke with the interviewer about my spelling and tried to set a relaxed tone. Don't be over confident, be humble!! However bad or awkward it gets (and it might do as they push you harder) stay calm and DON'T CRY IN FRONT OF THEM!! (Profile 798)

[Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE)] I really liked the atmosphere, right from when I first entered on the Open Day and during the interview period. I'm very happy with my decision. (Profile 1071)

[Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE)] Be genuinely interested in all that PPE has to offer and read introductory texts to any of the subjects you haven't studied before, and try to read some more in depth texts as well, there are plenty of appropriate reading lists on the web. You want to show them that you are passionate about these subjects, and reading up on them off your own back, doing it actively and forming reasoned opinions, can only help at interview.

Don't set your heart on it: that way you feel less pressured so are more likely to perform well in the interview.

Be genuinely passionate about the course and do lots of reading (ideally the two should go hand in hand). (Profile 147)


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tag:blog.oxbridgeadmissions.com,2013:Post/1471015 2019-10-25T16:00:00Z 2019-10-28T14:25:23Z Applying to St. Catharine's College, Cambridge University

Founded in 1473, St Catharine's College is a welcoming community of students, staff and Fellows in the heart of Cambridge. As a College of the University of Cambridge, we are dedicated to academic excellence and to recruiting the most able students, whatever their backgrounds, to join our teaching and research community.

St Catharine's is committed to academic excellence and success, while maintaining a relaxed and sociable atmosphere. We are fortunate to be located in the centre of Cambridge - within short walking distance of most University departments and numerous historic buildings and collections.

Click here for more information about St Catharine's vast number of clubs and societies.

How did you decide between Oxford and Cambridge?

Only Cambridge offered straight economics and all economics people in the past from my school had applied to Cambridge. Furthermore, I had visited Cambridge a few times and really liked it (Profile 255)

I was attracted to the individual teaching provided through the supervision system, and I think that the average intelligence and enthusiasm among both lecturers and students there will be greater than other universities. I wanted to study natural sciences rather than pure physics. (Profile 984)

I really liked the atmosphere of the university and the town when I looked around. The Cambridge Nat Sci course offers an unusual amount of flexibility and I liked the idea of the college system (Profile 246)

Why did you apply to St. Catharine’s College?

Because I knew someone who went there, it was really friendly and pleasant to visit, and its close to the engineering department! (Profile 395)

It was a bit random really. It's middle sized, mixed, in the centre of town, did not ask for 'Step' papers, had an even balance of state/private school boys/girls. It also has nice old buildings! Although I still think I have made a good choice, with hindsight, I would have looked around a few more colleges, found out about accommodation and eating arrangements. Catz also has a really cool prospectus. (Profile 246)

Great location - right in the centre of town. Friendly atmosphere and nice building. Also knew someone there already who was doing Economics and had formerly been at my school. (Profile 255)

It's got a good reputation for music, it's medium-sized, on the riverbank and in the centre. Mainly though, I looked up the directors of studies for ASNaC and matched my interests with the director at St Catz (Profile 107)

Location - central cambridge; Size - Small, community feel; Specifics - Very good for Economics (Profile 637)

I had visited the college and met my potential tutor and liked him. I also thought it had an informal atmosphere and it is opposite the English faculty. (Profile 451)

What was your general impression of St. Catharine’s College and any other colleges you visited?

It was small but friendly, just what I was looking for (Profile 395)

I didn't actually go into Catz before I applied, but i really liked it when I went up for the interview. I looked around Corpus Christi, which was a bit too small and antique. I thought that Kings was too big and austere. Clare looked really nice, but i was told that it's a popular college. St.Catz has a very small site which makes the college seem really cozy, and it is very pretty from the front. The road that it is on looks lovely in the dark with all the colleges lit up. (Profile 246)

St. Catharine's was not too big and was very nice overall. I had also visited Selwyn but I thought that it was too far away from the centre of the city. (Profile 255)

It seemed very friendly and the students were lovely. It was also really clean in the rooms that I saw. It is overshadowed a bit by Kings, Queens etc but in some ways I think that's a good thing! (Profile 277)

From what I saw of St. Catharines (I didn't go to an open day there) it seemed really friendly and welcoming - not at all intimidating. Everyone, including the other applicants seemed really nice. I also went to an open day at Peterhouse which I didn't really like - it seemed really traditional and the other people there at the open day didn't seem as friendly. (Profile 234)

Friendly, slightly old-fashioned, but I'm used to that! (Profile 620)

Describe the day-to-day aspects of living in the college. If you stayed in college, how was the accommodation? How about the food?

- Accommodation: Saw one room on open day, it was above average and looked more cosy than some other student rooms I'd been in.

- Food: Edible but not great. Both times I visited I was given the same meal - Chicken with new potatoes and gravy! (Profile 395)

- Accommodation: A lot of the rooms in the main St. Catharine's building have en suite bathrooms. The rooms themselves are not that big and probably measure about 4 x 4 metres. (Profile 255)

- Accommodation: I have a very small room at home, so even though I was allocated the one of the smallest rooms in the college, it was still comfortable to me.

- Food: Fairly standard although not amazing. (Profile 546)

- Accommodation: Didn't see any unfortunately. I would advise all applicants to stay in college accommodation if it is offered - I didn't and I wish I had. (Profile 234)

- Accommodation: I stayed in modern accommodation. Ugly but en-suite and good facilities.

- Food: Edible but not great. Curious and fairly unidentifiable. Apparently they recycle the same stuff day after day. (Profile 259)

Any thoughts on the tutors/students at St. Catharine’s College?

- Tutors: they were friendly and made me feel relaxed - mostly.

- Students: only met 2, but they were both lovely. (Profile 395)

- Students: I know one person there already so I can't really comment on them but I did meet another student there. He seemed pretty normal - just a run-of-the-mill guy. St. Catharine's doesn't tend to have many snobby students apparently. (Profile 255)

- Tutors: I found my first tutor very talkative, charming and likeable. The second was a bit shy and didn't talk much (however that could have been deliberate).

- Students: Casual, friendly and helpful. (Profile 451)

- Tutors: Distracted but like they could be nice. They seemed really interested in their subject and in thinking deeply into things.

- Students: Really nice and a bit less geeky than those I've met in other colleges. (Profile 277)

- Tutors: The ones that I spoke to were very friendly, although my second interviewer was really tired!

- Students: Nice, friendly, normal people. They didn't have 'I'm a genius' writen all over them and made me feel at home. (Profile 246)

Do you have any advice for future applicants in terms of preparation?

[Anglo-Saxon, Norse & Celtic] The form: Write as much as you can in the extra information box - it makes them feel special.

The interview: Try and relax, it is an enjoyable experience, particularly for such an obscure subject, as it's hard to find someone who is interested in and knows what your talking about, but these people do. Also they're really encouraging and not out to get you. Know your personal statement back to front and be prepared to discuss any books you mention in depth. Get the booklist and read as many as you can. Show enthusiasm, as its the main thing they're looking for. Oh and go to an ASNaC open day. (Profile 107)

[Economics] Definitely read The Economist as often as you can and a daily newspaper. Try to read one, two or three books about an area in Economics you are interested in and be sure they know about this so they ask you about it and you can show off some of your knowledge. (Profile 255)

[Engineering] The forms: Try to have something different from everyone else, especially when writing about why you chose the university/course.

The interview(s): There's not much preparation you can do, but mathematically you need to be on the ball, so make sure you are well awake and ready to think! (Profile 395)

[Anglo-Saxon, Norse & Celtic] Don't underestimate the importance of the interview, if your grades aren't all As it's still worth applying. Also go to an open day (did I mention that already?) (Profile 107)

What questions were you asked during your interview(s)?

[Anglo-Saxon, Norse & Celtic] I had two 20 minute interviews. In the general one I got all the obvious ones like why my subject, why cambridge etc etc. Also a basic review of everything i'd written in my personal statement, such as detaield discussion of a book which i had studied at AS level English lit. Current affairs came up (the firefighter's strike) as well as questions about my hobbies, like what do you think you've gained from being n an orchestra and what's better about classical music than the charts?! In the academic interview I had 2 professors who were both really nice and encouraging. They asked me so much, about how French and German relate to the subject and why dead languages are relevant today. Also discussions about books I'd read, like Beowulf and icelandic sagas and something about archaeology. (Profile 107)

[Economics] How do interest rates affect exchange rates? Is globalisation a good thing? Apply game theory to an economic context? (I brought this up) (Profile 637)

[Economics] In the general one I was asked about various things on my personal statement such as my extra curricular activities. Was also asked about rail privatisation, tackling Cambridge's traffic problems and, strange as it may seem, how water boiled! That last one caught me off guard and there was no way I could have prepared for it. In the economics interview, I was asked various questions about globalisation (such as a definition for it and the issues surrounding it - I had said I was interested in globalisation in my PS). I was also asked: why are rich countries rich and poor countries poor, would more doctors or more lawyers be better in the world, how do you measure happiness, what role should the state play in the economy, what is the political stance of The Economist and what are the arguments for and against the minimum wage? In neither interview was I asked why I wanted to go to Cambridge. Also, in the economics interview, no questions were asked about current affairs (which I thought was quite strange) or about the books I had read (again strange considering one was on his desk at the time and another on a reading list the tutor usually gives out to his undergraduate students). Oh yeah, I was also given a passage to read right before the interview but wasn't asked a thing about that either! (Profile 255)

[Engineering] I was given an article beforehand on telescopes, and asked some questions on the article, mostly mathematical things. Was also asked some questions about my school, my A-levels and the Engineering Education Scheme (which I did in year 12) (Profile 395)

[Natural Sciences, Physical] The 'general' interview was actually completely subject based. I was asked mostly mathematical questions. In the second interview, I was asked to choose an area of maths to talk about. (Profile 984)

[Natural Sciences, Biological] In my general interview I was asked about novels that I had read, and the historical background to the books. I was also questioned on scientific articles that I had read. A few general questions about, why Cambridge, why Catz etc. My second interview really surprised me as it was so short, but my interviewer seemed really happy with it. I was asked about evolution and various causes and results. We didn't really get on to anything very difficult, and I felt that I wasn't really given the opportunity to show what I could do. (Profile 246)





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tag:blog.oxbridgeadmissions.com,2013:Post/1471018 2019-10-25T16:00:00Z 2019-10-28T14:29:06Z Applying to St. John's College at Cambridge University

St John’s is one of 31 Colleges at the University of Cambridge. Colleges are where students live, eat and socialise, and where they receive small group teaching sessions called supervisions, which are regarded as one of the best teaching models in the world. Colleges are also self-governing; while they are part of the University (subject to University regulations) they select their own students and have their own internal procedures. Although students receive the same outstanding education whichever college they attend, each has its own unique history, environment and identity.

St John's was founded in 1511 and is one of the largest Colleges in Cambridge. Its former students include Nobel prizewinners, Prime Ministers, scientists, artists, and leaders in business and industry. Today it has more than 150 “Fellows” (resident academics who teach and research at St John’s), about 900 students (a mix of undergraduates and postgraduates), and about 250 staff. 

For more information, visit: St. John’s College, Cambridge University

Why did you apply to Oxbridge?

For Law, an Oxbridge education means a lot, given the degree of competition for the top jobs. Cambridge topped the Times league table for Law as well, so it seemed worth a try. I was in two minds about applying though, because it does affect your applications to other institutions when you're applying for the most popular subjects. (Profile 232)

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. (Profile 1081)

Cambridge appears "better" for maths than Oxford. I'd done well in my A/S UMS marks so felt that I would be able to apply to Cambridge. If I had lower UMS I would have applied to Oxford, as they cannot see UMS marks. (Profile 702)

Why did you apply to St. John’s College?

All the usual reasons - big, old, rich, central, large number of Law students. Actually it was pretty much a random choice, made the night before I sent off my form, but it's probably worth thinking about carefully since there is a great deal of difference between the colleges. (Profile 232)

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. (Profile 1081)

It's a big friendly college, I went on an open day and really liked the students at the college, and the tutors. It's well located, brilliant accommodation, loads of facilities and looks awesome. Also it has a really good college spirit. (Profile 702)

Highest number of economics fellows, big, pretty, liked it at open day. Also had very good accommodation and food and was rich (Profile 172)

What was your general impression of  St. John’s College and any other colleges you visited?

On open days I got the impression that the students were friendly, and I genuinely just liked everything about it. It was a little intimidating to visit, but I'm glad I did! (Profile 702)

I saw most of the colleges while I was in Cambridge. The ones in the centre were all fairly similar.

- John's: Gorgeous, old, lovely architecture. The friendliest when I came to look around (I didn't go to an open day). Large - but that's what I wanted. Attracts a lot of tourists, which can be a pain.

- Caius: Beautiful again, and friendly when I went to an open day. Decided it wasn't for me because you have to eat in hall 5 times/week or something, which didn't appeal.

- Queens: Stayed here for a week. Lovely - very friendly, the right size, next to the river. Lots of things going on there, beyond academic stuff. (Profile 232)

It looked really nice, the students were very accommodating and although the porter gave me the wrong key to my room initially, everyone was very helpful. (Profile 87)

I found that St. John's was very pretty and the people were all incredibly friendly. I liked the fact it was so big. I also stayed in Gonville and Cais for a week for the Sutton Trust summer school which also seemed friendly. I wasn't keen on Trinity when I looked round though. (Profile 185)

I really liked my college. It seemed big but friendly which was what I wanted. (Profile 172)

Describe the day-to-day aspects of living in the college. If you stayed in college, how was the accommodation? How about the food?

- Accommodation: 

- First year - Cripps. 1960s building but you learn to love it. 4 rooms on a landing (usually single sex with opposite sex on the adjacent landing) sharing kitchen (well 2 hobs, sink and fridge), toilet, shower and bath (all separate). Some of the best accommodation in Cambridge - very big rooms but also quite expensive.

- Second year - much less predictable. If you want to stay in college (as in within the actual walls) which most people do you have to share. You can be a jammy git and get separate bedrooms and sitting room and kitchen (smiles to herself) but you will more usually have to share bedroom and sitting room with one person sleeping in the sitting room. All rooms have kitchens. Some are ensuite. You pay according the the facilities offered. If you don't want to share you have to live out of college but generally only about 5 mins at the most outside college gates and it's college owned accommodation so there's not water rates or electricity bills to pay.

- Third year - Second year accommodation is balloted. Some tutor's reverse this ballot and some don't. Ours does. Basically the majority of people chose to have single rooms in college (3rd years or returning 4th year language people have preference on the ballot) which range from lovely ensuite palaces to penthouses (at the top of and two levels) in Cripps to bedsits above the chaplin. People choosing to share get better double rooms than in the first year but are not guaranteed two bedrooms. You can also live out of college in your third year if you wish.

- Fourth (+) years - accommodation is outside college but in college owned accommodation and I think most people chose to share a house with friends.

- Food: Good. Meant to be some of the best in camb but a bit stody for me so I cook for myself (Profile 172)

- Accommodation: 1st year, big rooms, sharing bath, shower toilet, kitchen with 3 other people. Not the prettiest building, but warm and you're with all the other first years. 2nd and 3rd year, awe inspiring accommodation, a ballot, often shared (if you choose to) in New Court or other places around the college. Option for houses.

- Food: Lovely, got a Christmas dinner on my interview day. (Profile 702)

- Accommodation: The rooms were huge compared to bristol, they were comfortable and had a great view.

 - Food: Excellent. Perfectly edible, quite a wide range available... but you couldn't understand the cooks. (Profile 87)

- Accommodation: My accomodation for my interview was great - sitting room, bedroom, bathroom and kitchen, but that was a third year room! I stayed in a first year room on the open day, and these were fairly big, especially in comparison with what I'd seen in other universities. 

- Food: Good (Profile 185)

Any thoughts on the tutors/students at  St. John’s College?

- Tutors: Enthusiastic, seem to really like teaching, and are passionate about their subjects. Brilliant tutors.

- Students: Friendly, a strong college spirit, very jokey. Generally outgoing and fun. (Profile 702)

- Tutors: Quite informal, accommodating and since i was nervous at first, they accommodated for this and i was soon at ease.

- Students: Brilliant guys and gals. The were very truthful, although they didn't slag anything off really. One or two were paid to stay in the JCR and tlk, but others stayed too and were nice. (Profile 87)

- Tutors: Very friendly, the physicist was a little eccentric.

- Students: I didn't see many students, but those I met seemed very down to earth. (Profile 185)

- Tutors: My personal tutor isn't really interested in your welfare which isn't too much of a problem as the senior tutor's great. Basically they're just a mix of people some nice and some not.

- Students: Sporty. Argh. But there are a significant number of people who play no sport. Then there are the people in my year I still haven't seen (Profile 172)

What questions were you asked during your interview(s)?

[Classics] Parse 'rebus'? How many declensions are there? How many latin cases are there excluding the vocative? Hence deduce how many were in Proto Indo European? Give a few meanings of the word 'Quibus'? What peculiarity does this word possess in the respect of its relation to a certain preposition? Which personal pronouns share this wonderful property? On the subject of personal pronouns, name two intensifying enclitics affixed thereto? Why shouldn't we stack enclitics? What detrimental effects does this have to our Latinity? What do you feel about the lack of distinct aorist form in Latin? "Latin is far from the pristine, perfect, sanctified tongue it is portrayed to be" - using your knowledge of defective verbs, obsolete particles and lack of perfect active participle, comment on this statement? Compare the use of Chinese particles, particularly "ma", "ba" and "le", to that of Latin? Iulius Caesarne invented a particular form of "sum"? Hence deduce this formerly wanting form? Why did you pick St. John's college? (Profile 292)

[Computer Science] My first interview was very informal, he was tired and we just talked about where i was from, why i chose cambridge, extra-curricular activities and the odd thing off my personal statement. The second interview was based on fairly simple P2 maths... such as logs and sequences. I was then asked to spot a pattern and that was pretty much it. I was asked lots of questions which got progressively harder - which is apparently a very good thing.

log(base 2) of 8 = ? + some other equally unchallenging questions. Mathematical induction style qu. Logic/sequence spotting qu'. (Profile 87)

[Economics] In my first interview I was asked to talk about an area of Economics that I was interested in, and to explain an argument from an article I had been sent beforehand. I then had to do a logic question. In my second interview I had to answer all the usual 'Why Cambridge?', 'Why St. John's?', 'Why Economics?'. Then about what I read, what I do in my spare time, and how my friends would describe me. Finally I had to describe a mug! (Profile 185)

[Engineering] Got the 'set' question (a question which was sent out a week prior to interview; for students to solve and show and explain to the interviewers at interview) WRONG!! I was able to get it right after a few prompts however but the fact i got it wrong in the first place does show that they do allow for mistakes (Profile 1063)

[Law] First interview was with two Lawyers. Firstly they wanted to know why French and English were good subjects to prepare for he study of Law. I didn't know. After that we moved on to Law - who should get compensation for the Hillsborough disaster. I made a few comments, they built on that, and I made a few more inane remarks. Then we talked about land rights for natives - e.g. whether aborigines should be compensated for the land that was taken away from them. I went down the wrong track completely, but they took me back and sent me in the right direction. Again, more waffle. Finally they asked a question about the law of homicide, which was legal reasoning - no knowledge assumed. That one was probably the easiest of the three, but in all cases they led you into a trap - watch how they use your words in replying, and think before you speak. The personal interview wasn't informal, but was more relaxed. The tutor (Anglo-Saxon Norse and Celtic) asked me about why I wanted to do Law, and my future plans. I didn't actually have many so I waffled a bit more about how a Law degree is excellent for a wide range of careers, etc. We also talked about the hobbies I listed on my UCAS form, and my interest in languages, which was fine. We then moved on to some legal/political issues seen from a layman's point of view. I think I was asked what is the greatest injustice in the country at the moment - things like that. I was also very unlucky in that my interview was on the day which the Guardian chose to launch a legal attack on the laws of succession based on the HRA - my first priority that morning had not been to buy a newspaper, so I had to think very quickly. (Profile 232)

What advice do you have for potential applicants based on your experiences?

[Engineering] Become as confident and passionate about the subject. Read lots about it and make the interviewers centre about what YOU like within what you wish to read. Enjoy the time there and don't hide in your room all day revising. I looked at the computing departments website and found something interesting and wrote about that on the form.... but it didn't come up in the interview so it didn't do me any harm... (just make sure if u do this, you know what u wrote down and can expand on it in an interview!) (Profile 1063)

[Computer Science] Know your maths! Although it wasn't too difficult (for someone who's done further maths), if u only do normal maths then you might want to brush up on logs, series and proof by induction. (Profile 87)

[Law] Remember Law is very, very competitive. Try reading a few books beforehand, so that you have some idea of what you may be asked. "Learning the Law" by Brian Simpson was recommended to me, and it's worth skimming through. "How to do Things with Rules" is good as an introduction to legal reasoning.

Get lots of work experience, at courts and with lawyers - it's not difficult to organise. I would also suggest applying to some sort of pre-university taster course - many places run them (I think Nottingham does a weekend every January). I went on the Sutton Trust scheme, and spent a week in Cambridge in the July before applying. It was excellent - if you go to a state school, it's worth looking into. (Profile 232)


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tag:blog.oxbridgeadmissions.com,2013:Post/1471020 2019-10-25T16:00:00Z 2019-10-28T14:32:13Z Applying to Trinity College, University of Cambridge

Trinity College, University of Cambridge, was founded by Henry VIII in 1546, when he combined two existing colleges (King’s Hall and Michaelhouse) and seven hostels (Catherine’s, Garratt, Gregory’s, Ovyng’s, Physwick, St Margaret’s, and Tyler’s). Since then, Trinity has flourished and grown, and is now a home to around 600 undergraduates, 300 graduates, and over 180 Fellows.

If you are interested in applying to be a student at Trinity, visit Study at Trinity, where you can find information about the admissions process (for both Prospective Undergraduates and Prospective Graduates).

Before we jump into tips across all courses at Trinity, we wanted to highlight one intrepid applicant, who was kind enough to share a very detailed account of their Economics interview: 

How did you decide between Oxford and Cambridge?

Oxford did not offer straight Economics. That was the main reason really, I have no problem with Oxford and was considering applying to Merton for a bit. Also my Head of Sixth Form said that I would be "better suited to Cambridge." (Profile 01)

I like the city of Cambridge more than I like Oxford. It's smaller, everything's close together and everything's really beautiful. Besides, Oxford only offered PPE or E&M and I wanted to do Economics; anything else means you only get to do the basic modules (ie Macro/Micro and maybe a bit more) and I really wanted to do the more interesting stuff we get to in 3rd year. (Profile 189)

I changed my mind several times but eventually the location of Cambridge (it's slightly closer to where I live) and the more varied options in the third year of the course persuaded me. Also, Cambridge interview a higher proportion of candidates. (Profile 247)

The Cambridge maths tripos generally seems to be faster and more advanced than the Oxford maths course. I also prefer Cambridge location-wise, due to its smaller size. (Profile 339)

I took to Cam; better reputation, nicer surroundings. I thought that because of my dodgy GCSEs i would have a better chance at Cam, because they wouldnt REALLY look at my potential rather than grades (which i was sure that Oxford would do) (Profile 365)

Why did you choose Trinity College?

I had several criteria in mind for a college - central, old, big, pretty - and there were several colleges that I liked. However, when I went to the General Open Day, I felt I had the friendliest reception at Trinity, and decided to go for it. (Profile 247)

Well it was one of the few that did not require a Thinking Skills Assessment or written work. The history surrounding the college also greatly appealed to me...Newton, Byron, Marvell, Nehru...what more could one look for?! Also, Trinity admits a large number of students (around 15) for Economics. Students in the past have performed very well there, and I saw that as a reflection of the College's high standards. (Profile 01)

I wanted to be at a big college, and Trinity takes lots of mathematicians. Also a very beautiful and grand college. (Profile 339)

I first decided that I wanted to go for one of the older colleges in town, mostly because I love the architecture there, and then I got the impression that Trinity was the most famous of those, and very beautiful indeed, so I went for there. (Profile 624)

Largest college (size matters). Very impressive, beautiful buildings. Rich (although I didn't know this at the time...). (Profile 235)

What was your general impression of Trinity College and any other colleges you visited?

Trinity: big, grand, beautiful, friendly. 

Fitzwilliam: More modern, lovely chapel, friendly students but it wasn't for me.

Newnham: lovely grounds & nice atmosphere.

I saw lots of other colleges, but these ones I actually officially visited. For me, the best way to find out what colleges I liked was to run round madly at a general open day. I went for Trinity because the people I met there were friendly. (Profile 247)

Grand. Spacious. Impressive. Go visit them yourself, you can't really describe Cambridge colleges in a few lines of text. (Profile 339)

Trinity seemed to be the most beautiful and impressive college. Some others had really nice aspects, often very beautiful too, but Trinity won for me at the end, lthough I did initially have a tough time choosing from my college "shortlist". (Profile 235)

It felt like really grandiose place, especially in daylight. Everybody I met seemed nice and friendly. (Profile 624)

Trinity is grand, and Cambridge itself has a very good student atmosphere. (Profile 503)

Describe the day-to-day aspects of living in the college. If you stayed in college, how was the accommodation? How about the food?

- Accommodation: Rooms vary enormously, but are seemingly bigger and better than at other universities; speaking from personal experience, since I have seen rooms in Nottingham, London, Leicester and some others. Some is in new halls, some in medieval buildings. All rooms (I think) will have a wash basin, some have fridges, all have access to cooking facilities that are half decent. Showers and baths generally shared between 5 or so people, but there are also en-suite rooms. At Trinity, college accommodation is guaranteed for the entire duration of your course, and is among the cheapest in Cambridge.

- Food: Good. I don't eat in hall (except the social gatherings that are formal halls) as I like cooking and cater for myself. (Profile 235)

- Accommodation: I was provided accommodation by the college. The bedsit I had seemed okay.

- Food: I actually thought it was quite good. Many people I spoke to said that Trinity's food is generally not so good, but that was not my impression from the food in the days of my interview. (Profile 624)

- Accommodation: The accommodation is basic, but ample. Good-sized desk (could be useful!). The room I stayed in has a shared bathroom, but I believe an en-suite is available. (Profile 503)

- Food: It was okay, I guess, not as nice as the food they provided at the Open Day though! Although, I felt sick with nerves this time, so maybe I can't judge. (Profile 1051)

- Accommodation: Seemed similar to accommodation in halls in other universities. 4/5 individual rooms on a floor, with shared kitchen, bathroom, toilet. Room had a sink, bed (seemed uncomfortable), desk, seating...

- Food: Edible but not great. Runs on ticket system. Ticket for 3 course meal, orange juice counts as a course. (Profile 95)

Any thoughts on the tutors/students at Trinity College?

- Tutors: Friendly and seemed keen to meet me and find out what I knew, rather than what I didn't know.

- Students: I didn't really meet many of the college students, but the other applicants I talked to were all approachable, normal people. (Profile 247)

- Tutors: Well, I only met my two interviewers and then only during the interview, but my impression from there was that they were nice and friendly people.

- Students: Just like any all other university students, I guess. None of the stereotypes I've heard about Trinity students proved true. (Profile 624)

- Tutors: Well, I only met one, my interviewer! e seemed like a real thinker and I remember saying to myself, I wish I could have him teaching me. 

- Students: Very academic, seemed a bit like me! (Profile 01)

- Tutors: Generally very helpful, some really go out of their way to assist you.

- Students: Didn't see any at the time of my interview, but now I'm here, we are great! (Profile 235)

- Tutors: They put me at ease and were very friendly. They even offered me tea and cake when I came in (but I declined)!!

- Students: Helpful, friendly, everything they should be. (Profile 503)

How was your interview, in general?

[Economics] I had two interviews for Economics. The first one involved reading and analysing an article which I received an hour prior to my interview. The article was largely concerned with an analysis of the impact of price listing websites e.g. Kelkoo on consumption patterns. The article contained a screen shot of a list of prices and a graph. Although no prior knowledge was assumed, the questions did give you the opportunity to use any economic knowledge that you might have had. 

However, the questions that my interviewer posed were very searching. One of the questions I was initially asked was "What factors do you think influence consumption patterns?" I began by listing the typical factors which affect demand e.g. income, tastes and fashions and the prices of substitute and complementary goods. However, my interviewer, a PhD student, did not appear particularly interested and so I decided to move away from the mundane and discuss some other factors that perhaps would not appear on the first page of a textbook. At this point I received several vigorous nods. At numerous points, my interviewer threw maths questions at me which were related to the article, but which required a more novel approach. I was asked at one point "How much do you think that consumers would save by using such websites?" My initial response was "200 pounds", since this was the difference between the highest and lowest prices listed. I argued that consumers, who would now have access to such websites, would be aware of the high prices that some firms placed upon identical products. I went on to say that price-listing websites would provide consumers with greater knowledge, thereby helping to reduced market imperfections. However, I also stated that perhaps the figure consumers could save would be even higher since they would no longer have to pay for transport, e.g. from the high street shop to their home, and would instead be able to carry out their purchases online. This led my interviewer to comment very favourably, which set an enormous grin on my face!!

I was then asked a question about whether or not I felt it would be correct to state that the existence of such websites led to greater competition in the market. I replied in the negative, citing the article which stated that only 7% of consumers used such websites. I commented that 93% of the market either had no access to such websites or were not interested in using them. By the end of the interview, my interviewer was grinning like a Cheshire Cat, and appeared pleased!!

The interview concluded with an opportunity for me to ask questions. I declined. However, there was a VERY embarrassing final moment, when I failed miserably to open the door, and succeeded in locking myself in!! Nonetheless, I was very pleased and I remember being quite dazed.

However, my second interviewer had something nasty in store for me. This supposedly general interview was with one of the teaching Fellows at the College. He was young-ish. This interview was an utter nightmare, mainly because the interviewer chose to grill me for the full 25 minutes. No questions were asked about my personal statement. I had anticipated a discussion on general economic issues, as Trinity had informed me before hand that this was to be the case. However, my interview was far more technical. I'm not sure why this was, but it could have been because I had specified I was doing AEA Economics on my UCAS form and my interviewer wanted to stretch me. I was first asked "Why Economics?", a question I had anticipated would come up and consequently had prepared a good answer for. This was followed by some questions relating to efficiency and equity, the main microeconomic objectives of the government.

We then went on to discuss whether government intervention was beneficial in the economy. He asked me to cite examples. I decided to talk about whether it would be beneficial to split up a natural monopoly, e.g. coal company owned and operated by the government, given that productive efficiency would not be achieved since a natural monopoly would already be producing at the lowest point on its Long Run Average Cost Curve. In the vast majority of the questions he posed, however, my interviewer seemed far more interested in the "how and why" rather than he what. He asked me what I thought were the main reasons for the market failure caused by monopolies. I replied that I thought it was mainly a problem of information, but he didn't let me stop there, replying "a problem of information on the part of whom?", a rather tricky question since under pressure one may be tempted to say "consumers", when in fact the problem lies, I think, with the government as it possesses inadequate knowledge about consumer tastes. It would therefore fail to achieve allocative efficiency. 

There was also quite an in-depth discussion on the theory of the firm (price/profit maximization, the goals of firms, divorce of ownership from control - manager and behavioural theories - William Baumol). We then moved on to discuss the US current account and fiscal deficits. However rather than allowing me to regurgitate information I might have heard on TV or read in a text book, he proceeded to ask a number of strange questions: "You have just stated that a fiscal deficit is undesirable because it is unsustainable, but people often take loans to finance their education, thereby creating a deficit for themselves; why is that not considered to be a negative thing?" I was stumped here, and proceeded to give a very daft answer "If a person obtains a good university education, then they can get a good job and pay back the deficits that they have created for themselves." This was a VERY stupid thing to say, especially since the interviewer seemed to want to stifle a laugh. (In hindsight I should have seized the opportunity to talk about the importance of savings, consumption and expenditure in the economy.) He then stated that my theory would collapse if he were to cite another example. However, I retorted emphatically, citing my own examples. Strangely, here my interviewer seemed pleased.

The final part of my interview concerned a discussion on externalities. I got the distinct feeling, however, that at this time, he had already reached his decision about me, but didn't want to send me out early in case I took that as a sign of failure and burst into tears. (Profile 01)

What Questions Were Asked During Your Interview?

[Mathematics] Graph sketching, relationships between primes and other number, integrating things like 1/(1-lnx) (Profile 511)

[Medicine] Something about hyperventilating affecting the pH of blood, I was asked to give proof of semi-conservative replication of DNA in an experiment, whose results were drawn out for me by my interviewer. Another question on bacteria and a bowl of soup (sort of weird). Something about furry animals on islands in the pacific, and how would I investigate if there was any relationship between them, and how they might have got from one island to another.(the other weird question). Then my next interviewer asked me something on membranes and the passage of substances across, and an experiment to measure the speed of transmission of nervous impulses along a nerve. Then I was asked something about the HIV virus, in response to something I wrote in my personal statement. Throughout all of this I was actually very much at ease(which surprised me and continues to do so, especially because I was worried they might not understand my accent, but they did), the interviewers were very nice and actually guided me along and got me out if I got a little blank. It was invigorating when it was all over. (Profile 350)

[Medicine] I see you've written a paper on xxx (in my personal statement), tell me more about it. What ways do we have of looking inside the body? (I waffle incoherently so she moves on). Here's a graph of rates of two forms of an illness in a certain area. Describe them. How would you tell if this point was significant? (More incoherent waffling). Why might the rate of this form have increased while the other stays constant? How would you test this? What genetic diseases can you name? What would be the chances of you getting xxxx if your dad had it? Here's a drawing of a microbe, what's this? What does it need it for? When someone's hyperventilating, what do you get them to do? Why? What would happen to blood pH then? Asked to describe the experiment which proves that DNA replicates semi-conservatively. If you were an explorer and you found the same animal on two islands, what might you conclude? Any questions you would like to ask us? (Profile 247)

Do you have any advice for future applicants in terms of preparation?

[Mathematics] I think it is a good idea to rather focus on get an idea on how to solve all the questions on the test, rather than write out perfect solutions to a few of them. The reason being, that unless you really mess up the questions you think you have solved on the test, you'll be asked on the questions you didn't solve. And, no matter how nervous you are during the test, you'll be much more nervous during the actual interview (okay, that might be too broad a generalisation to make, it depends on what kind of person you are I guess, but at least it was so for me), so it will be much harder to think properly during the interview, and thus it will be better if you have at least looked through the question during the test when your mind was reasonably clear. Just my two cents! (Profile 624)

[Mathematics] Make sure you're comfortable with the applications procedure, it makes everything easier if you know what you've got to do when. Also, interview-wise, practice a bit of maths (STEP, AEA, whatever) in the few days before, to get your brain into gear. (Profile 339)

[Medicine] Pay attention in year 12 - make sure you know your AS syllabuses inside out. Look up what the BMAT involves and have a little practice before you take it. Also, before the BMAT I think it's advisable to get a GCSE science revision guide covering all the exam boards, because there are topics included in one course but not in others, etc. (Profile 247)

[Mathematics] Practise doing tests and talking someone through it. This can be daunting so the more practise the better!! If you come across something you haven't covered in school; tell them. They won't expect you to know everything! (Profile 503)



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tag:blog.oxbridgeadmissions.com,2013:Post/1469723 2019-10-22T16:00:00Z 2019-10-24T18:33:24Z Applying to Christ Church College, Oxford University

With Oxford’s busy town centre on one side, and the peaceful, green spaces of Christ Church Meadow on the other, Christ Church is a vibrant and diverse academic community where over six hundred undergraduate and graduate students explore a wide range of subjects. Uniquely among Oxford colleges, Christ Church has an important collection of Old Master paintings and drawings, housed in the purpose-built Picture Gallery. It is also home to Oxford’s Cathedral, which has its own world-famous choir.

Christ Church is one of the oldest colleges of Oxford University and sits in the heart of the city. Originally founded in 1525, today it is a key part of a very modern university, offering a home, undergraduate teaching and graduate supervision to over six hundred students. Its academic staff cover almost all subjects taught at Oxford. It stands out for its size, the beauty of its buildings, and its welcoming atmosphere, as well as the distinguished research and teaching that goes on within its walls. It is unique in another way too: it is a cathedral as well as a college.

Why did you apply to Christ Church?

Was able to meet a tutor and just got a wonderful feel for the college. Christ Church is really amazing especially the history of the college. (Profile 858)

I wanted to do to a large college and Christ Church is pretty big. It also has a huge amount of history which I found appealing. There was also the 'comfort' factor of being guaranteed accommodation in reasonably big rooms for all four years. (Profile 469)

I just walked in on the Oxford open day and fell in love with Christ Church! (Profile 791)

Christ Church seemed very beautiful, has a reputation as one of the 'great Oxford colleges' (whatever that means...) and has lots of tutors for my subject, excellent resources + accommodation etc. Central location, as well. (Profile 639)

Having made a bizarrely hasty switch to Oxford, Christ Church was the only college I could remember when visiting the city earlier in the year. The buildings were gorgeous and it has an impressive music reputation. Although after I'd applied, I half-regretted my decision because people reminded me that it was a well-known, rich college and as a result would probably be over-subscribed. Grreeaat. (Profile 491)

What was your general impression of Christ Church and any other colleges you visited?

It was very big and opulently built and steeped in history but not intimidating and was in fact reasonably friendly. I went to an open day there, and there wasn't really anything that put me off. (Profile 469)

I visited Trinity which was very pretty, Christ Church is very grand and Harry Pottery with tom tower, a cathedral and the hall where they filmed for Harry Potter. (Profile 979)

I arrived at Christ Church for interview in the dark on my own, and so the grand buildings which had looked gorgeous before in daylight seemed rather imposing at first. But in the morning the grandeur of the (Harry Potter!) hall was awe-inspiring, and the Nerve Centre (where the interview times are posted) was warm and buzzing with animated applicants. (Profile 491)

Christ Church was great; i really enjoyed the interviews. The people were really nice and the buildings are amazing, i can't wait to start there in October. (Profile 858)

Christ Church was very big and a bit overpowering at first, but the people were all nice and friendly. Queens was also quite big, with a good location. Exeter (had some friends apply there) was a bit on the small side, but seemed okay. (Profile 489)

Describe the day-to-day aspects of living in the college. If you stayed in college, how was the accommodation? How about the food?

- Accommodation: Choosing a rich college definitely had its advantages, the rooms were unbelievably spacious - mine was better than my room at home! All the rooms I visited had a lounge and a bedroom, all old and therefore grand. Be warned though, the rooms are freezing at night (especially if it takes you a couple of nights to discover one of the heaters, ahem).

- Food: Good. A couple of the courses at dinner over the course of my three-night stay were admittedly slightly dodgy, but I for one don't get three-course dinners at home! I thought there was an impressively wide choice of dishes at breakfast and lunch - I can see how easily you can put on a good few pounds eating as I had done while I was there! (Profile 491)

- Accommodation: Rooms were big and some had ensuites. Beds were made by maids. 

- Food: Dinner was a big occasion - grace was said in Latin. This was one of my favourite experiences at the interviews. (Profile 858)

- Accommodation: Rooms were ENORMOUS but really cold, my room was in the attic and the showers were in the basement! and lots and lots of stairs but the place was very pretty. 

- Food: As a vegetarian, [food was] not great. breakfast was nice however. I am quite fussy though! Proper 3 course at dinner, lunch was a variety of things. (Profile 979)

- Accommodation: The room I was put up in for interview was really big. I had a huge sitting room, with sofas, a desk, a table ets. and tea making facilities!! Coming off that I had a small bedroom. Using a bathroom did however, involved coming out into a freezing cold quad, which isn't too much fun in your pyjamas at three in the morning! Most of the rooms at the the college were quite big, though not as big as the room that I had which was second/third year accomodation. (Profile 469)

- Food: Generally okay, and agreed that it was better than many other colleges. The dining hall was a bit oppressive and dark (and yes, it is the Harry Potter hall!) The only downside was that there was no kitchens, so it was food in hall or eating out! (Profile 489)

Any  thoughts on the tutors/students at Christ Church?

- Tutors: Friendly, bit crazy. Helpful in the interview and they aren't scary or trying to trip you up. 

- Students: Really friendly and nice especially the Chemistry ones. Very normal. (Profile 979)

- Tutors: The two tutors who interviewed me , both male, were perfectly friendly, both slightly eccentric! The younger one was quite pushy with his argument but that only prompted me to answer back with more gusto - with retrospect that must have been exactly why he had been like that! 

- Students: I didn't really get to know them, but they seemed very friendly and approachable. (Profile 491)

- Tutors: They were very accommodating and tried to make the interviews as painless as possible!

- Students: They were mostly friendly, helpful, approachable and confident. (Profile 469)

- Tutors: Great, some of them are quite eccentric which makes the interviews more fun. They were all nice and most of them weren't intimidating at all.

- Students: Seemed nice and were there to support you. (Profile 858)

Do you have any advice for future applicants in terms of preparation?

[Mathematics] Review curve sketching and basic calculus. Make sure you know a little about the area of mathematics that you are going to say that you are interested in. Wear what you are most comfortable in to your interviews. (Profile 469)

[English and Modern Languages] Know your written work well and don't pretend to like a poem/novel/play which you hate. Being honest about your opinions is the best way to go. Also don't focus on extra-curriculars... these seem to hold little or no importance. (Profile 639)

[Law] There isn't really much you can do...just make sure to read newspapers/watch the news and be ready to answer questions on current affairs.

[English Language and Literature] The form: Sell yourself with genuine enthusiasm, and be sure to like and have opinions on any books/texts that you mention in your personal statement. In my second interview, the interviewer literally went through the authors I'd mentioned one by one, linking questions. Very nerve-racking!

The interview: Have a genuine interest and enthusiasm for the texts you write about, and talk to anyone who will listen (or even those who won't!) about your opinions so you get used to actually vocalising them. Rather than trying to manicly lengthen your reading list, it will be a lot more beneficial to find a few types of poetry/novel/drama that you enjoy and have a couple of examples up your sleeve - I personally was relieved to find that everything that came up in the second interview I could at least comment on because I had mentioned them in my personal statement (although it was no less interrogating!) They may ask you about your A Level texts so make sure you can talk about them intelligently!

Apart from that, enjoy the interviews, because they are the only occasions when you can 'be a boffin' as it were and talk 'literature' to people who love it even more! Don't be intimidated, of course they'll know more than you, they've devoted their lives to literature, but because of this no amount of enthusiasm will be too much! Wave your arms around, nod/shake your head, smile/frown, laugh. After all, they'll be teaching whoever they choose for the next three years, and they won't want to be slogging away with someone who hardly reacts! (Profile 491)

What questions were you asked during your interview(s)?

[Mathematics] Apart from reviewing the test I was asked questions on curve sketching, which appears to be a very common area of questioning. Its probably worth going over that before your interview. I was asked about an area of mathematics that I was particularly interested in, so it important to have an area of specialism before you get there. (Profile 469)

[Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE)] politics- something from personal statement i was asked to expand on a concept.

economics- discussion followed by an AS/top GCSE level maths question. 

philosophy- discussion on moral dilemma/laws. (Profile 791)

[Economics and Management] Were some fairly basic questions about Macro in my Econ interview. In my management interview was asked to give management based advice on several case studies. (Profile 1065)

[English and Modern Languages] I was asked about my written work a lot, and some wider reading. Was not given a poem to look at or anything like that, which I was expecting. (Profile 639)

[English Language and Literature] The first one with the tutors was purely on the Corelli and Browning. Basically they gave me a different point of view to what I had expressed in my essays - a couple of times I asked them what they thought after I had given my own opnions so it took the form of a lively discussion. I was rather bemused when I realised they were actually doing most of the talking - at times I even had to interrupt them! If I made a link to another novel/poem/author we made brief diversions. In the second one, they asked me what I found interesting about the argument and the structure of the argument of a Virginia Woolf literary criticism passage. Then, that line of argument was discussed (as I've mentioned earlier) in reference to all the texts and authors I had mentioned in my personal statement - and Shakespeare. (Profile 491)


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tag:blog.oxbridgeadmissions.com,2013:Post/1469721 2019-10-22T16:00:00Z 2019-10-24T18:33:58Z Applying to Balliol College - Oxford University

Founded in 1263, Balliol is one of Oxford University’s oldest colleges; the oldest academic institution in the English-speaking world still on its original site; and almost certainly the oldest co-founded by a woman anywhere. Balliol is also one of Oxford’s largest colleges. Led by the Master, the Balliol community consists of about 70 Fellows. Many of these are Tutorial Fellows who, with the College Lecturers, teach around 370 undergraduate students; about the same number of students read for graduate degrees. There are also about 120 non-academic staff. The College is run by those Fellows who form its Governing Body, through a system of committees composed of Fellows, students and staff.

Why did you choose Balliol?

For my subject (Law), I had the impression that Oxford had a better reputation and record of results. In addition, after visiting Oxford I found I liked the atmosphere of the city and university. Looking at the information available for the various colleges, and decided what I was looking for (old or new college? large or small? etc). After that, I felt Balliol suited me best. I had heard that applying to a specific college doesn't negatively affect your chances and so I thought it best to make a choice, rather than submit an open application and leave it to fate. (Profile 799)

I made a list of colleges and looked at the following criteria: location [OK, so it may seem superficial - but who wants to be miles away from civilization in LMH?]; number of tutors for my course [more tutors means more tuition can be done in college - more convenient]; number of places [wouldn't like to be the only person doing my course]; applications per place [no point in making things unnecessarily hard; case in point is Keble, which (since it's right next to the Maths Institute) has a stupidly high ratio, totally undeserved by the college as a whole]; size of college [personally, I'd avoid the very small ones]; library [size and opening hours - nothing more frustrating than starting an essay at night and being unable to get the books out]; accommodation [how many years can you live in college? living out can be a hassle (and more expensive, too)].

Having considered all that lot, Balliol emerged at the top. It's great for Philosophy (we have 3 people doing Maths & Philosophy, 5 doing Physics & Philosophy, and many many PPE-ists - about 13, I think.) I have, of course, since found out that Balliol just /is/ the best college. (Profile 472)

I stayed here during the week of the open days. My maths teacher went to Balliol and on my work experience I spoke to the physics tutors and to some students, one in particular who went to my school, he was loving it there and recommended it to me. (Profile 447)

Has the reputation for being the best at PPE and among the top few academically - also has excellent facilities (although the state of the website last year nearly scared me off! Thankfully they've changed it...a bit.) (Profile 114)

What was your general impression of Balliol and any other colleges you visited?

The colleges were very pretty and quaint and I loved the cozy feel of the town. My [mom] dropped me off for my interviews as I'm an international student, and she roamed around the stores while I socialized and interviewed. There were lots of nice coffee shops, some fast food chains and a small shopping centre. Balliol and Hertford are both very close to each other, located right in the centre of Oxford. Balliol was about 100 metres from what seemed to be the main shopping district. (Profile 1044)

Balliol is a good looking college - not as beautiful as Magdalen or Christ Church, but attractive in its own way. The people are very friendly, and there's a nice feeling that just sort of permeates the place. (Profile 114)

A really strange experience being right in the heart of the city, being able to hear the bustle of the street, but being completely blocked from it until you step out the college gate. In general, lovely. Nice comfy JCR, tasty food, big open grassy areas. (Profile 820)

It was a lot more friendly and less intimidating than I had expected. It wasn't cliquey or formal and the atmosphere was pleasant without being condescending. (Profile 799)

Balliol is really cool, JCR is nice and the layout of the grounds is different from most colleges. Balliol is in a great place, really central. Other colleges I liked were Queens and Exeter (Profile 447)

Describe the day-to-day aspects of living in the college. If you stayed in college, how was the accommodation? How about the food?

- Accommodation: My room at Balliol was quite big, but basic. It had a large desk, a book case, wardrobe, handbasin, bed, a couple of chairs and a notice board. The shower was on the same floor. Balliol doesn't make you pay for your meals up front, which is good if you're on a tight budget (as most students are!) (Profile 183)

- Food: Canteen service at meal times. Everyone ate together in the big hall (like Harry Potter!). (Profile 820)

- Accomodation: My room was comfortable with a desk, chair and bed - a bit bigger than my room at school and with a sink. There was a shower and loo up the corridor. (Profile 1082)

- Accommodation: From talking to people, it seems that it varied quite a lot. The room I stayed in was slightly larger than an average hotel room, and wasn't en suite but had a wash basin. The bathroom was shared with out five other rooms, and there was also a shared pantry. Some of the other rooms are apparently quite a bit better, and worse. There was a modern canteen next to the main hall, which had a number of choices for every meal, including a vegetarian option. 

- Food: food there was very good. In the Junior Common Room there was another 'pantry' which was open for most of the day. (Profile 799)

- Accommodation: Freshers are mostly housed on the 3 staircases in the crappy-looking 60s-built addition to the college (to make room for which they demolished a Victorian part of the college, methinks). Rooms there are OK, but nothing to write home about. Facilities: the JCR and TV room are being entirely refurbished this Easter at a cost of about £20K, so they should be excellent when that's done. There are three washing machines and three tumble dryers, which doesn't sound like a lot but is actually enough. Our bar is one of, if not the, best in Oxford. It's student-run, so it's not run by tight money-grabbing bar stewards [groan...] like many other college bars are. (Profile 472)

- Food: Apparently it's quite expensive to eat in the halls.. and if you’re like me and you dont think money grows on trees it might be worthwhile to think about other catering choices. (Profile 447)

Any thoughts on the tutors/students at Balliol?

- Tutors: All of the interviewers were very welcoming, eager to listen to my ideas, and supportive in case I wasn't sure how to approach a question.

- Students: Very relaxed and welcoming. Happy to chill and have a chat with you. (Profile 1044)

- Tutors: I think the Balliol interviewers (one main tutor along with two lecturers) did everything they could to make the interview process as painless as possible. They were friendly and engaging and were kind enough to be encouraging throughout the interviews. I asked to be reminded of particular passages I couldn't recall immediately and, though I was embarrassed, they were understanding and did not dwell on my mistakes.

- Students: Helpful and informative. (Profile 1082)

- Tutors: Really friendly and easy to get on with. Obviously very enthusiastic about their subject, as all Oxbridge tutors will be! 

- Students: They seemed friendly, although I didn't really see a lot of them. They were all happy to help, or answer any questions. (Profile 183)

- Tutors: Friendly when you saw them around the college and friendly at the beginning and end of the interview, but as soon as we started talking economics, it got serious! 

- Students: Chatty and fun. A real mixture of people. (Profile 820)

Did you have to sit any pre-interview exams?

[Medicine] Yes, BMAT. Any questions I didn't know, I guessed, I ticked all of the ones I didn't know as A, or B etc (even though some of them have more options than others) I think it's better to do that as opposed to randomly ticking boxes, as you're more likely to get some of them right (probability wise). You won't have time to go back to consider any questions you missed out properly so work efficiently and move on if you can't answer a question. Also, do a plan for your essay as you only get one sheet of paper and I ended up filling mine with lots of crossing out! (Profile 882)

[Mathematics and Philosophy] I had to send in two pieces of work, so I gave an essay on Book 1 of Plato's Republic (which I wrote specifically for my application) and an essay I'd written for Greek on the Battle of Thermopylae. I was going on the assumption that my Maths would be OK, and that I needed to show them that I could think and write too. I have since learnt that they admit or reject joint schools Maths people on the basis of their Maths, because you can always change from (say) Maths & Philosophy to straight Maths if you can't hack the Philosophy. But I'd still recommend a couple of decent essays rather than a Maths coursework, so the Philosophy tutor puts in a good word for you. (Profile 472)

[Law] LNAT (National Admissions Test for Law) (Profile 799)

What questions were you asked during your interview(s)?

[Medicine] I had 4 interviews in total, and on the whole, I thought they had gone ok. This might sound sad, but the interviews are actually really fun, especially problem solving questions. I found my interviews at Balliol a lot more enjoyable and relaxed. They were more 'hands on', giving me graphs to analyse and instruments to look at and play with. My interviews at Worcester (randomly allocated college) were more formal and "interview-style".

I was asked questions to do with respiratory system (Balliol tutor Piers Nye is doing research into things involving respiration) and it involved analysing ECGs and graphs. I was also asked about X rays and how they work. At my second college, there were a few questions about genetics related diseases (tutor specialised in genetics and molecular biology, i think) and about the different types of diabetes and how you might increase your chances of getting it. In terms of ethics, there was a question about whether the NHS should operate on fat people, and what would I say to a patient who needed an operation but was overweight. (Profile 882)

[Biological Science] At Balliol I was questioned as to my favourite area of biology and the discussion centred around that, so I was fortunate in being able to lead the discussion into an area I knew a lot about. I was also given an article the previous night - in the interview I had to sum up the main points of the article. At Keble I was given electron microscope pictures to look at and was questioned on recently featured areas of biology such as BSE. (Profile 183)

[Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE)] Asked about I book I had read and something I wrote on my ps. Politics, my interests based. Second one was about the economic crisis. (Profile 1004)

Do you have any advice for future Balliol applicants in terms of preparation?

[Mathematics & Philosophy] Maths: Know your A-Level stuff. Be prepared to work things through in the interview - don't be afraid to write or say something because you think it might be wrong, because they want to see your thought processes: they want to see that you can go about problem-solving. They will handhold you a fair bit, and this doesn't mean they think you're an idiot. And do something outside the curriculum. Perhaps the easiest thing to do would be to find a first-year textbook on Analysis from a library and work through a couple of proofs in it. Make sure you know them thoroughly, so that when it comes to interview you can produce them - but don't, for God's sake, just memorize them. They want to see you /thinking/ as you do it. (The one I happened to have done is the convergence of (1 + 1/2 + 1/3 + 1/4 +... + 1/n) - ln n to 'gamma', which is about 0.577 IIRC.)

Philosophy: Do whatever you like. If you've done Philosophy A-level, they /will/ ask you specific questions (as happened to a friend of mine). If you haven't, just do some reading (Descartes is very readable, as is Plato's Republic (don't try to read it all; it'd be a waste of time)) to show that you have an interest. ["But," the cynic sneers, "surely if you're that interested in the subject you'll read books on it anyway?" Well, quite.] (Profile 472)

[Law] Look up all deadlines and course requirements well in advance, and comply with them as soon as possible.

If possible, arrange a mock interview with someone you don't know well personally, perhaps a head of Sixth Form. This will prepare you for the format of the interview and should make it easier to deal with the real thing. Unless your mock interviewer has specific knowledge of the Oxbridge admissions system, the actual questions will probably be nothing like the real thing, but it should get you into the right mindset.

Before the interview: Set generous margins for error in all travel arrangements to avoid panic. If you have a long journey it may be best to travel the day before and stay overnight.

Don't worry too much about doing reading in preparation. From my experience, the interviewers don't expect any specific subject knowledge (although this may only apply to subjects like Law that are not commonly done at A-Level) and you won't get much of a chance to use it. Try to relax so you can think clearly.

Have answers ready for 'stock' questions like "Why do you want to study ____?" These are normally asked at the start to put you at your ease, and won't make or break you, but giving a good answer will help calm you down and do better.

For the interview itself: Don't rush. Always allow yourself a little time to think about what you're going to say.

On the other hand, don't be so afraid of being 'wrong' that you don't say anything! You're allowed to change your mind. (Profile 799)


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tag:blog.oxbridgeadmissions.com,2013:Post/1466008 2019-10-22T16:00:00Z 2019-10-24T18:35:20Z Applying to Homerton College, Cambridge

Founded in London in 1768, Homerton moved to Cambridge just before 1900. Once an academy for the Nonconformist Church, then a renowned teacher-training college, Homerton has been, since 2010, a full College of the University of Cambridge, offering a full range of academic subjects.

Homerton is one of the most attractive Colleges in Cambridge, with a mixture of old and new buildings set in spacious wooded grounds away from the noisy centre of town. It is also the largest College in terms of student numbers, with a thriving and diverse community.

Education Studies is one of the more popular courses at Homerton College. The historical connection between Homerton and Education remains strong – as is the geographical connection: the College is next door to the Faculty!  Homerton has the largest number of students for the Education Tripos, and it has considerable depth of support for the course. Homerton offers teaching across three tracks, including practical drama, and have Fellows with both local and international links in the Education sector.  It also co-sponsors the Cambridge/Homerton Research and Teaching Centre for Children’s Literature – where some of the world’s leading experts in the field are based. 

Why did you choose Homerton College?

I chose Homerton because it seemed the most friendly, it has the best facilities in terms of accommodation, and it is a pretty building. (Profile 568)

It is where the main body of Education applicants are. (Profile 524)

Homerton is right next to the Education Faculty, which would make it easy to move back and forth between my place of living and place of study. It's also further out from the city center and quieter, which suits my work habits just fine. (Profile 911)

Nice en-suite bedrooms :) for all 1st yrs (and perhaps 3rd yrs) , friendly, non super-religious. (Profile 145)

Most Education studies students are at Homerton; they specialise in Education studies and Homerton was really friendly and beautiful when I went to look around on the open day. (Profile 569)

Homerton just seemed real nice. It’s difficult to decide when you are applying for a subject you're not sure you want to study (Profile 291)

What was your general impression of Homerton and any other colleges you visited?

The education building is a bit naff (and is on the grounds of the college) but the college itself is pretty. It is very far from the rest of the university. (Profile 524)

I visited Homerton in the summer before I applied. I loved it - the people were friendly and the grounds were spacious. The architecture is lovely, too. (Profile 911)

Homerton was extremely friendly, new and so nice! The buildings are huge, modern and the library was impressive. I also visited peterhouse and pembroke, they gave me a pressurised and old-fashioned impression. (Profile 145)

I stayed in Homerton overnight; some students were very friendly, but when I was trying to find my way around people weren't too helpful. Overall it was really nice; it definitely made me want to go there for uni. (Profile 568)

Homerton was very friendly and had beautiful architecture and grounds. (Profile 569)

Very friendly and modern. Didn’t seem as stuffy as the older colleges. (Profile 291)

Describe the day-to-day aspects of living in the college. If you stayed in college, how was the accommodation? How about the food?

- Accommodation: Good. rooms had just been built within the last ten years. The dining hall was fantastically old and classrooms were well equipped and the library was real big...if slightly empty looking. 

- Food: Dinner was pretty bad as there wasn't much choice and the students were not interested in serving at all which was incredibly annoying. However the breakfast was great and the staff really nice (Profile 291)

- Accommodation: Good size and ensuite bathrooms! (Profile 524)

- Accommodation: En-suite with internet connections. kettle. nice long practical tables lamps etc, rooms are well heated. New. (Profile 145)

- Accommodation: The accommodation was very nice; seemed very new and I had an ensuite. (Profile 568)

- Accommodation: Size of rooms about average, many appeared to have en suite facilities though :) (Profile 569)

Any  thoughts on the tutors/students at Homerton?

- Tutors: I didn't meet many. The first guy I didn't like but the second was really friendly and passionate about his subject.

- Students: Apart from the lazy sods in the canteen, everyone was happy to help friendly and surprisingly normal. No one had been driven mad by overwork and all of them seemed to have a good work-life balance (Profile 291)

- Tutors: Very friendly, not at all stuffy, very interesting to talk to

- Students: Friendly, they appeared to really love Homerton! (Profile 569)

- Tutors:  Very helpful and friendly. Supportive.

- Students: Friendly, down to earth. (Profile 145)

- Students: Friendly and not the typical Cambridge type. (Profile 524)

- Tutors: I really liked them; they made me feel at ease and were nothing like what I imagined. (Profile 568)

What questions were you asked during your interview(s)?

[Economics] I was asked some typical questions, like : why economics, lots of current affairs and my views, some stuff on the research i was doing in my gap year, and i was given a math/iq question. (Profile 145)

[Education Studies] why education studies? why biology? Lots of questions about my personal statement (Profile 569)

[Education Studies] Education interview went really well, they were just interested in your opinion on and awareness of Educational issues. English and Drama interview was slightly more iffy but they really helped to make me at ease. Had a drama workshop which was really fun and helped you to relax with the interviewers. (Profile 524)

[Law] Umm...human rights mainly; some stuff about jury systems; questions about the LNAT essay; some questions about my A level subjects. (Profile 568)

[English] In the first interview he asked about the extracts I'd just written about and why the poem I’d written had influenced me so much. The second was more on general interests, what Id written in my personal statement plus some questions on wide issues around novels I'd mentioned (themes, ideas, writing styles, the effect of context etc) (Profile 291)

Do you have any advice for future applicants in terms of preparation?

[Education Studies] Read in depth about the course and know why you're applying. Understand and explore various aspects of education that interest you - this will help for both the personal statement and the interview. 

Try to get the balance right between unique and conservative writing (on the personal statement and Cambridge Overseas Application Form). You need to be interesting and avoid offering standard answers, but at the same time, retain some conservativeness in your answers because there is some expectation/criteria for what goes on these forms. (Profile 911)

[Education Studies] The form: Be honest, and interesting. Don't make any spelling or grammatical mistakes. (There are more important things in life, but most Oxbridge tutors will notice these mistakes, and many will consider them an indication of lack of thoroughness.) Have attractive handwriting or choose a good font. Mention things which you have done which are to some degree relevant to the subject for which you are applying, rather than saying that you have always been interested in it.

The interview: It's not really the same as all the others. You'll obviously have done some work experience in a school and will hopefully want to talk enthusiastically about that. Be sure to have talked to the teachers there about the things that concern them. No harm in reading the T.E.S. (Profile 299)

[Law] There isn't really much you can do...just make sure to read newspapers/watch the news and be ready to answer questions on current affairs. (Profile 568)

[Education Studies] Don't panic at any stage of the applications phase! Read up as much as you can about interviews and the characteristics they're looking for in a potential student. Go to the Faculty of Education website. Lastly, go for it if you have decent grades. It's definitely worth a try. (Profile 911)

[English] Don’t kill yaself...if you haven’t read 'that classic' or seen 'that play' don't worry. What they want is breadth, depth and variety. So what if everyone else has read war and peace and you just watched the film? get over it. Apart from getting some tuition in literary criticism and interview technique the best thing you can do is just be yourself. If you can bore your friends silly about one paragraph in a book. If all you ever do is read or watch plays and if you break into a cold sweat when the library shuts and you liked writing your coursework then you'll ace any interview you get. preparation is individual too so don't worry if you get the impression others are doing more then you and also be familiar with the specialties of the person interviewing you. If you share the same interest, it'll make the interview more comfortable and if not showing your aware of it is sure to get you brownie points (Profile 291)

+++

International students applying to Homerton can check out (Profile 911) for a unique perspective from an overseas applicant. While the process is different for every applicant, it’s always nice to get a first-hand perspective:

How was/were in general your interview(s)?

[Education Studies] Easier than expected. Then again, perhaps my interviewer expected me to give a more elaborate answer, and I was merely skimming the surface! For an international applicant, interviews tend to be short, so mine was fairly short and sweet. Most of the questions I anticipated came up. (Profile 911)

What questions were you asked during your Education Studies interview(s)?

- Why Education? 

- What do you understand about the Education degree? (What do you understand by the philosophy of education?...psychology, sociology...etc)

- Lots of questions on the books mentioned on my personal statement 

Nothing on recent education issues in the news, but this seems to be a fairly common question in other interviews. (Profile 911)



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tag:blog.oxbridgeadmissions.com,2013:Post/1469732 2019-10-22T16:00:00Z 2019-10-24T18:45:44Z Applying to New College - Oxford University

New College is situated in the heart of Oxford and one of the largest and most architecturally striking colleges at Oxford University. The campus combines outstanding facilities with spectacular buildings and gardens set against the medieval city wall. 

As one of the largest Oxford colleges, New College has approximately 430 undergraduates and 360 graduates. New College is an autonomous, self-governing institution. The Governing Body consists of The Warden (the head of New College) and Fellows, with both undergraduate and graduate students represented.

At this time, New College is undergoing its fourth big expansion in its storied history. Named after Chris Gradel, an Old Member who generously provided the core funding for the project, the Gradel Quadrangles received planning permission in June 2018 and will provide an additional 70 student rooms, as well as a flexible learning hub, and a performance base.

Why did you apply to New College?

I decided on New College for a number of reasons. One of the most important was the the large size of the college, meaning I'd be likelier to find people with whom I got on, and less likely to find myself in a close-knit cliquey environment. Factors also worth considering (for me) were the subject specific college fellows (what are their areas of interest) and the intake demographics (i.e. state:private, male:female ratios), although I failed to note the state:private ratio before applying >_<  (Profile 351)

Lots of reasons - it is one of the biggest colleges, it has a reputation for being strong musically and my shallow reason was that it's old (despite being called 'New') and has pretty buildings!! (Profile 34)

New College is a large college, known for its sociable atmosphere and friendliness towards students from other colleges. I thought this would make finding friends slightly easier. Aside from this, the college has a stellar academic record (New College is usually in the top five or so colleges in the Norrington Table) and seemed particularly keen on taking applicants for Joint Schools. 

New College also has a reputation for excellence in Sport, Drama and Music, the last of which was of particular importance to me. I knew, were I to receive a place, I would be able to take part in both a college orchestra and a choir. What's more, being established in 1379 (not new by anyone's standards) it wasn't short of beautiful buildings and curious features. The chapel in particular is awe-inspiring, along with the fantastically preserved if rather imposing old City Wall, dating from around 900. Another fantastic feature of the college is the beautiful grounds, complete with a Elizabethan decorative mound. What's not to love?! (Profile 931)

New College has a great reputation for music and quite a large chemistry group - also it just 'felt right'. (Profile 1069)

What was your general impression of New College and any other colleges you visited?

Nice, old, but possibly a bit posh/tory :( (Profile 351)

New was beautiful and the people there were really lovely. I also visited Wadham which was really nice as well (i hate using the word 'nice', but it was). St Cathereines however looked like a car park - but the people there were very helpful when I realised I was late for my interview! (Profile 34)

Beautiful >_<. Seriously though, they were really lovely-looking, and seemed to be really friendly, cosy places. (Profile 1069)

The college was beautiful although in december it was very bleak. The bar was closed for the duration of our stay but it looked like it had potential in a medieval, mead-drinking kind of way. (Profile 281)

Describe the day-to-day aspects of living in the college. If you stayed in college, how was the accommodation? How about the food?

- Accommodation: All first years at New College are housed in the New Buildings, which is where almost everyone stays for interview. These rooms are usually quite large and are mostly en suite. My room wasn't massive, but was a perfectly comfortable size with plenty of storage, HUGE windows looking out onto Hollywell Street and my very own bathroom with a decent shower. Nothing to complain about at all.

- Food: Honestly. The food was probably the worst aspect of the college. It certainly wasn't gourmet, but it was by no means inedible. From the sounds of things, the JCR are working to improve the food, so this shouldn't discourage any prospective applicants. (Profile 931)

- Accommodation: Room I stayed in was surprisingly spacious, and had en-suite bathroom 

- Food: Edible, not delectable. (Profile 351)

- Accommodation: My room at New College was lovely - I had a double bed, a big desk and a window looking out onto the street outside. I also had a big bathroom, which was a massive bonus! No idea about how it compared to the rest of the rooms though.

- Food: On the whole, really tasty, although I can't imagine wanting to eat there every night/morning. (Profile 1069)

- Accommodation: I think it's all been recently refurbished - so every room had an ensuite toilet/shower room. My room was also quite big.

- Food:  Awful. The food wasn't that bad… I was feeling really nervous so I probably wouldn't have enjoyed it whatever it was. (Profile 34)

Any thoughts on the tutors/students at New College?

- Tutors: I loved each and every one of them! They were all perfectly nice and not at all as Oxford tutors are often painted. They had their 'interview' moments, when they would ask a tricky question and you'd silently curse them for a few minutes while the silence echoed around you, but by and large they came across as lovely, if slightly eccentric, people.

- Students: Obviously I saw only a minute proportion of the undergrads at New, but all were really welcoming. They would shepherd you to your interviews at other colleges and try to keep you calm on your way to tests etc. Some were a little like your stereotypical Oxbridge student, but they were lovely people nonetheless. (Profile 931)

- Tutors: Really friendly actually.

- Students: Nice. Watched a few Disney films with them (lol) (Profile 351)

- Tutors: I only met one, and that was in the interview - Dr Boyce. I thought she was lovely, very friendly - she made me feel really at ease.

- Students: The college students were really nice - very polite, helpful and friendly - not patronising at all (I think they remember the pain of interview). (Profile 34)

- Tutors: Interesting, friendly, slightly quirky.

- Students: Very normal, if a little geeky. Also very diverse. (Profile 1069)

Did you have to submit any written work prior to the interview?

[Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE)] One History essay on Nazi ideology and one English essay on Blake because they were vaguely relevant pieces of good work. (Profile 113)

[Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE)] Yes - two pieces. The first was a timed essay I did in September 2001 on recession and my forecasts for the UK economy based on previous economic data and events. The other was an essay on oligopolistic competition and how it affects the consumer. This piece I wrote with Oxford in mind and was mammoth. I hand wrote both essays for that personal touch :) (Profile 148)

[Music] I submitted the following: 1 marked Bach Chorale harmonisation, 1 marked Contrapuntalish study (was my first time), 1 marked Music essay, 1 marked English essay, 1 composition (Profile 351)

Did you have to take any exams as part of your interview(s)?

[Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE)] Yes. A three part exam which I didn't and you can't prepare for. The first part was a comprehension exercise on unity of the individual, the second was a mathematical/game theory problem, and the third was a series of word triplets where the task was to differentiate their meaning. The first question I found the hardest as I didn't know what unity was so I sat there for the first 10 minutes scratching my head (which was the point I take it?). The second question was okay but be careful not to make loads of assumptions and if you do write them down. The third part was the easiest and didn't take too long.

I would not worry about the exam though since every one seemed to find it hard and it's only a small part of the information they gather about you. The interviews are far more important. (Profile 148)

[Music] 1 hour Bach Chorale harmonisation exam. It was pretty tough, and I didn't have enough time to harmonise every chord. I suppose the message is not to worry too much about this. People are taught this stuff to completely different standards, and in some schools it doesnt even feature on the course. Clearly do your best, and get some practise in if you can, but screwing up a bit on this isn't the end of the world. (Profile 351)

What questions were you asked during your interview(s)?

[Mathematics] at new college everyone who applies for maths has 3 interviews one on one. couldn't really prepare directly for them. colleges differed greatly with questions - some even asked applied maths which I didn't think they could and some were easier to prepare for i think.

The first had some math-related puzzles, a bit of everything really. The second was very specific - lots to do with pure maths which I liked . Second college was Pembroke. Had a whole booklet of questions and asked me what type of maths i liked and picked random questions out of the booklet (Profile 602)

[Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE)] Economics - Not very taxing. Just some game theory type problems (seemed to be very popular with all the colleges) and talked about equity and equality. Politics - Went over the article for the first 5 minutes which was harder then it sounds, then talked about deriving nationality, ideology, and a little on Afghanistan. Philosophy - Just chatted for the first 10 minutes about why I am doing Geography A-level and whether I think more Economists should study it. Then we talked about valuing nature and the intrinsic beauty of the environment. Next we talked about morality and whether I could ever morally justify torturing the innocent. (Profile 148)

I was asked to comment on a page of music (possible composer/form/harmony/etc.), to comment on an extract from a book (about music). Other areas of discussions included my submitted essays/composition, globalisation and its effects on music, national identity and temperaments/tuning. I'd summarise the interview content as:

- Assessment of technical knowledge 

- Assessment of how you respond to new information

- Discussion of your interests (i.e. to show independent interest in the subject) (Profile 351)

[Human Sciences] I found all the questions were really individual to each person, they asked questions on things you had mentioned in your personal statement so that they were hopefully asking something you had an idea about. But, having said that, they asked me some really hideous questions - my first one being 'Is maths something you are born with?' which led on to 'do animals have any awareness of maths?' (which i thought was a pretty evil question!) At New they also asked me to analyse some data (which i tried but failed to do). At St Catherines, I was asked some pretty standard questions such as 'What is Human Sciences?' but also things like 'How are animals different to humans?' (Don't worry if you wouldn't be able to answer some of these because all the interviews were really tailored to each person's A-level subjects and the interests they had mentioned in their personal statement.) (Profile 34)

[Classics and Modern Languages] My first interview was an informal talk with Robin Lane Fox, the Ancient History tutor, at which Jane Lightfoot, the fellow in Classics, was present. It was a short interview and we talked about everything from French to Ancient History to the Classics test I had had earlier that day.

My next interview was an interview in Philosophy with Paolo Crivelli the next morning. I was given a series of questions designed, presumably, for Philosophy beginners, and worked my way through them with him. 

I then had an informal interview with David Raeburn, who had asked specifically to see me about my learning Latin outside of school. He was very complimentary and enormously encouraging. He did ask some more interview-like questions about some of the Greek drama I had mentioned in my personal statement.

Later that afternoon I had an interview designed for students applying for course II (without Latin or Greek) in which I was questioned about the similarities between Latin and the languages I had studied. Others said they had been over aspects of the Language Aptitude Test with the interviewers.

That evening I had my main interview with Jane Lightfoot for which I had to read and prepare an extract from a Latin writer (I got Lucretius). The discussion was incredibly challenging, but, at the same time, truly fascinating. I left the interview feeling exhausted, but knowing that I wanted more.

The next day I had my French test in the morning, followed by an interview with the two French tutors for which I had been given two extracts the day before. We discussed the literary passage in English after a brief talk about my submitted work and then moved onto a journalistic passage which we talked about in French.

I waited until the next day to hear about my interview at another college (St Anne's) and had a really enjoyable interview, similar to the one with Jane Lightfoot, in which I had to prepare passages from two poems. We also spoke in French about the link between Classics and French and the similarities between Greek and French tragedy. (Profile 931)

What advice do you have for potential applicants based on your experiences?

[Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE)] Read Economist, Spectator, New Statesman, know about some key figures in thought eg Marx. Calm down and enjoy your stay there. (Profile 113)

[Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE)]  If you are applying to do PPE you should be well read anyway. If you are not then just read a good quality broadsheet paper everyday, the Economist and then a couple of Economics or Philosophy books. They didnt actually ask me about any of the books I had read but reading them puts you in the right frame of mind and boosts your confidence (unless reading the books might cause you to realise you are actually thick). (Profile 148)

[Classics and Modern Languages] By all means read up, but remember that this isn't a guarantee of a place. It's all too easy to get so wrapped up in Oxbridge entrance that you build up your interviews to the extent that you make yourself incredibly nervous. My advice would be to arrange mock interviews with as many people as possible, just to practice appearing calm and confident - this is surprisingly helpful when you're being questioned. Do bear in mind, though, that these mock interviews will probably be nothing like your interviews in college; they're good practice nonetheless. 

Talk to any friends you have at Oxbridge and just make sure you're well-informed as to what each stage of the process entails. Nasty shocks will only serve to make you nervous. (Profile 931)



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tag:blog.oxbridgeadmissions.com,2013:Post/1469735 2019-10-22T16:00:00Z 2019-10-24T18:49:04Z Applying to Queens' College at Cambridge University

Queens’ College is a lively community of students, fellows and staff located at the heart of the city of Cambridge (for over five centuries!), with good access to University departments and to the town. It is famous for its ancient buildings and riverside site and the Patroness of the College is Her Majesty The Queen.  

The spacious, centrally-located site enables the college to accommodate all undergraduates for three years, creating an active and supportive community. Their academics teach in all the major subjects offered by the University. The graduate student body is a large, lively, international group. Those who join Queens' make life-long friendships and many choose to be actively involved with the College after graduation.

Why did you apply to Queens’ College?

I wanted to go to a college with lots of history and impressive buildings - the thought of actually living in Queens' still fills me with disbelief! - so i looked at the older colleges. I found Kings slightly too formidable, and so looked more at the colleges still in the centre of town, but slightly less imposing. In the end, my shortlist was Caius, Sidney and Queens' and the strong theatre at Queens' settled the decision. (Profile 156)

Mainly because my biggest extra-curricular love is dance, and queens' is where most of the dance is at, they have studio space and stuff! also, it's really, really pretty and picturesque! plus, it's central and not far from the architecture department (Profile 355)

I really liked it when I went to the open day as everyone was so friendly. Also, it is one of the largest colleges, and I knew that I wanted to go to quite a big college. (Profile 260)

Process of elimination: colleges in good location, fairly large, tennis team, music facilities. Also Queens' is renowned for its parties. Perfect! (Profile 1042)

A family friend who had been there (in the '70s) suggested that I would fit in. It has a good academic reputation, but lacks the pretensions of other colleges. I liked the English DoS, whom I met on the Open Day, and decided that I would like to spend three years studying there with him - I think for Arts subjects the people that you'll work with will probably be more important than the college itself. (Profile 541)

What was your general impression of Queens’ College and any other colleges you visited?

It was really beautiful and just a lovely environment to live in. it has a theatre (the rows of seats move back making it into a dance studio!), nice big dining hall, and my favourite bit was the tutor-styley court, it's so lovely! (Profile 355)

I found the atmosphere to be relaxed and friendly, and all the students I met seemed very enthusiastic about being there. I had visited another college previously which nearly put me off Oxbridge totally as it was far more traditional and quite intimidating. (Profile 260)

Very friendly people. Large college but really warm environment. Nice bar! (Profile 1042)

It was lovely, very pretty, even though it was cold and grey. They were undergoing building works so the staff kept reminding us that it wasn't "at its best", but it was still nice. Everyone was friendly but purposeful, which I liked. (Profile 607)

Describe the day-to-day aspects of living in the college. If you stayed in college, how was the accommodation? How about the food?

- Accommodation: The room I stayed in was huge and in the older group of buildings in Queens'. There was a living room and a bedroom with a bathroom shared with the room next to it. The bedroom had a sink and the living room had desks, chairs and closets (but i dunno how much of that belonged to the person occupying).

- Food: Edible but not great (Profile 156)

- Accommodation: Most of [the rooms] are arranged up and down staircases, the rooms are a good size (quite big), they have basins, but loos and showers are shared. (Profile 355)

- Accommodation: Rooms were a reasonable size and standard, but not as luxurious as those that friends of mine had in different colleges. Bathrooms were shared rather than en suite. (Profile 260)

- Accommodation: Only had a brief look at rooms. Seemed, er, 'functional'.

- Food: Edible but not great (Profile 541)

Any thoughts on the tutors/students at Queens’ College?

- Tutors: Very friendly and forthcoming - there was no evasiveness and straight before the interviews, they helpfully reassured us by telling us that most of us wouldn't get in.

- Students: Most of the applicants i met were from state schools which surprised me - i expected more public school people. All very friendly and seemed to be as nervous as i was. (Profile 156)

- Tutors: really lovely! the non-academic tutor at my interview was a bio-chemistry tutor from queens, she was really encouraging and motherly! queens' architecture tutor is Dr James Campbell. he can seem abit sharp at first (i was kinda thrown back when i first spoke to him at the open day), but afterwards he's more encouraging and actually he's really friendly i felt more used to him at the interview after speaking to him at the open day, so maybe that's a good idea, even if only briefly

- Students: the ones I met were all really friendly...(and understanding!..since all us interviewees were white with fear at breakfast!) (Profile 355)

- Tutors: They put me at my ease during the interview and were much more normal than I had expected.

- Students: When I went to the open day, all of the students went out of their way to talk to those of us visiting the college. They were all very friendly, and keen to persuade us to apply to their college. (Profile 260)

- Tutors: I was directed to the door of an office, from which they leapt out... Very friendly, relaxed, unpretentious. But still prepared to ask probing questions.

- Students: I only met two (English) students on the Open Day. Can't really comment in general. (Profile 541)

Do you have any advice for future applicants in terms of preparation?

[Archaeology & Anthropology] 

- The interview: Showing an interest is far more important than knowing details about the subject.

- Make sure that you can confidently and convincingly explain why you want to do a subject that you have probably never studied before.

- Show a willingness to analyse what you hear and draw conclusions from this - be confident enough to suggest what you think, even if it disagrees with the interviewer! (Profile 156)

[Architecture] I was told not to waste time praising cambridge or the course (saying stuff like 'i want to go to cambridge coz it's a best educational institution in the country!!'), they know they're good, just focus on telling them about you. also, don't feel that you need to repeat stuff just to fill up space. (Profile 355)

[Economics] Apply even if you are not sure it's what you want. You don't have to go if you don't want to. Don't be put off by parents or teachers telling you that other universities will reject you if you apply to Oxbridge. I was accepted by all my other universities even the ones that I was told would definitely reject me because I'd applied to Cambridge. (Profile 260)

What questions were you asked during your interview(s)?

[Archaeology & Anthropology] I was asked why i had chosen not to take a gap year (a standard Queens' question this year i hear). Then the conversation turned to my interest in history - i was asked why i wanted to do arch and anth and not just history. The conversation was very much dictated from this point on by the subjects i had chosen to talk about on the Cambridge Supplementary Questionnaire Form - so i would advise you to remember what you wrote and have something to say about each topic! This was mostly about kinship and religion and ritual - the first of which also brought in the admissions tutor in the room, who happened to specialise in biology. Altogether very friendly and interesting! (Profile 156)

[Architecture] I just had one, but with 2 interviewers. I was made to feel really welcome and comfortable right for the start. (It) kicked off with a nice general chat, then looked at my portfolio and discussed it. then the academic tutor showed me some architecture stuff and we talked about it. also discussed some contemporary issues (iconic architecture).There was non-academic stuff as well, they do ask you about your extra-curricular activities, but it was mainly focused on architecture. The tutors push you, but in a nice way!..(they're encouraging). the questions do get challenging, but i felt more like i was being guided through a difficult question, rather than being tested. (Profile 355)

[Economics] I was asked lots of questions about many different aspects of economics, mainly based on topics covered in the A-level economics course. Some were just testing my knowledge of the syllabus, others were more challenging and required more thinking about. They didn't ask me any questions about why I wanted to do the subject, and only a few non-academic questions. Before the interview I was asked to specify particular areas of economics that I was interested in, which helped me when I was preparing for the interview. (Profile 260)

[English] I thought it went quite badly really. One half-hour interview with the two Directors of Studies, who both seemed nice enough but were very quick to pick me up on weak points and challenge my opinions. Discussed a short poem ("Love Song" by William Carlos Williams), talked about things I'd mentioned in my personal statement and supplementary application questionnaire, asked me if I had any questions. One asked questions while the other took notes, and they alternated. The room was lovely though - it had big comfy sofas and hundreds of old books! When I came in, the younger one was bouncing on the sofa. It was a fun atmosphere. (Profile 607)

[Natural Sciences, Biological] Queens' - What are action potentials? How are they generated? How do they pass along the axon? How do synapses work? Asked detailed questions on biology coursework.. Do you want to take a gap year? Queens' are very keen on gap years. Newnham- What areas of science are you interested in? I said neuroscience, so we got talking about mental illnesses(and books I had read recently) Why not medicine?(because of my work experience at Barts') Interview 2 Got asked about my work experience in a stem cell lab, and then about genetics (which we have't done since GCSE)...what is a gene? If i gave you a test tube full of DNA, devise an experiment to show that it contains genes....Why is DNA the genetic code? Why not proteins? Then she showed me an electron micrograph (it might have been a cell from the adipose tissue...) and asked me what it was. (Profile 233)



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tag:blog.oxbridgeadmissions.com,2013:Post/1469737 2019-10-22T16:00:00Z 2019-10-24T19:06:29Z Applying to St. Anne's College, Oxford University

St. Anne's College - Oxford University

Since its founding, St. Anne’s College has been about widening access to an Oxford Education. St. Anne’s allowed women from the UK, and numerous other countries to study at Oxford University, whilst living more flexibly and affordably at home or in lodgings across the city. 

Earlier this year, the Governing Body of St. Anne’s reaffirmed the College’s purpose to be a diverse and inclusive community contributing to the University’s commitment to lead the world in education and research, while maintaining the College’s legacy and future. St. Anne’s aims to be the home of choice for the brightest and most ambitious students, including those from underrepresented groups and believes that difference should be respected, promoted and celebrated as the diversity of people is a rich source of learning for everyone.

Please click here to read about St. Anne’s purpose driven mission.

Why did you apply to St. Anne’s College?

(a) My school had sent someone to St Anne's two years before me.

(b) It was supposedly one of the best for English.

(c) Tutors sounded cool. (Profile 386)

Absolutely loved the college - although obviously not so aesthetically pleasing as some of the more traditional colleges, it had a really great atmosphere and everyone I met was so friendly. Also pleased that there is enough accommodation for everyone to live on site for three years (student house hassle didn't really appeal), that there are small kitchens if you don't fancy hall food and a very good chance of an ensuite in the second and/or third years. (Profile 656)

Location- in the suburbs, so near country and city centre.

Size- allows for a large diversity of clubs, and societies.

It was personally recommended to me by a friend. (Profile 37)

Modern, friendly, a bit more cosmopolitan than the others. (Profile 69)

It's modern, so not as stuffy & showy-offey as some of the other colleges, and doesn't have as many archaic traditions. It's also quite big. (Profile 454)

Recommended it by several friends from Oxf; reasonably cheap; very chilled out and down to earth people; chances were better given my background in the Sciences (this is of course not something you should mention to interviewers!) (Profile 419)

What was your general impression of St. Anne’s College and any other colleges you visited?

I only visited St Anne's. It seemed nice. Quite ordinary and not at all like the older colleges (which in hindsight are absolutely stunning). (Profile 386)

Liked the people, though wasn't fortunate enough to meet any geniuses. Thus I concluded you needn't be one to get in. The library was AMAZING, very big, but musty. Apparently St Johns and St Anne's have the two biggest libraries of all the colleges. It is one of the poorer colleges tho, so it's smaller than some (e.g. Christ Church, St John's) and certainly not as pleasing to look at. (Profile 419)

As I've said previously - really really nice. Not particularly attractive from the outside, but nice grounds and buildings inside. (Profile 656)

Excellent atmosphere, undergraduate helpers really friendly, interviewees not the typical 'oxford type' that are present in the many rumours (Profile 37)

St Annes was very nice - really nice atmosphere, nice people (I made some great friends at the interview - so don't worry about not liking anyone there - you will!) The college was modern, and I liked that. (Profile 69)

I really liked St Anne's. It wasn't very pretty, like some of the other colleges, but everyone was really down to earth, including the people interviewing me. Some people from other colleges had horrible interviewers. (Profile 454)

Describe the day-to-day aspects of living in the college. If you stayed in college, how was the accommodation? How about the food?

- Accommodation: My room was quite big. It had lots of furniture in it, and a giant wardrobe. I had to share a toilet and bath with everyone else in my building. There were sadly no showers.

- Food: Good. There was a wide selection, with chocolate cake & yoghurts almost every day. You can't complain - it was edible & free. I don't think I spent any money on food all week! (Profile 454)

- Accommodation: It was a pokey room. The window was stuck open and it was December. But now I'm here (in my final year) I've had some pretty good rooms. If you want to live the life of luxury don't come to St Anne's. But you're only a student once, and it would be a shame not to live like one!

- Food: Edible but not great. Food is food. I mainly cook for myself anyway. Oh, note: St Anne's fry ups are wonderful at the time, but catch up on you later! (Profile 386)

- Accommodation: Room was really nice, although freezing and I was kept awake by the wind banging trees against the window both nights. Heaps of toilets, showers and baths everywhere.

- Food: Awful - I think I'm going to get skinny next year! (Profile 656)

- Accommodation: Size of room was moderately big, with large window and a gorgeous view of the College grounds. All facilities were good.

- Food: Excellent (Profile 37)

- Accommodation: The rooms weren't that great, but quite clean and liveable, although I had to go down three flights of stairs to get to a decent shower!

- Food: Good. It was ok, but a lot of the time I was a bit too nervous to eat! (Profile 69)

Any thoughts on the tutors/students at St. Anne’s College?

- Tutors: Two of them were very relaxed and put me at ease. One tutor (who I now know to be really lovely) was quite harsh. The tutors though are not there to freak you out. They want you to be comfortable coz that's when you'll perform best.

- Students: I met a few of them. They were OK. Helpful and informative. (Profile 386)

- Tutors: Fantastic - quite radical and I felt that not getting to be taught by them would have been really disappointing.

- Students: All of them were lovely, but one student in particular (a 2nd year lawyer) really calmed me down and gave me her mobile to tell her how it all went because she wasn't going to be on duty during my interviews. (Profile 656)

- Tutors: Really friendly and really helpful. I treated the interview as more of a formal chat. It is a chance in a lifetime to talk about something which interests you with a tutor who knows so much about it. Just try and enjoy it!

- Students: Mostly friendly, and on the same 'wave length'! Great people who are in the same boat. (Profile 37)

- Tutors: Very nice, I only really spoke to them during my interviews, but they werent as scary as I thought they would be.

- Students: Very friendly and willing to help. (Profile 69)

- Tutors: Very friendly. The modern languages woman was a bit patronising, though.

- Students: They were also very nice. They were being paid £5 an hour to help, though. Some of them tried to give us advice and to say that the interviews aren't that bad. That's all very well, but you can't be lulled into a false sense of security by them; after all, they got in. (Profile 454)

Do you have any advice for future applicants in terms of preparation?

[English Language and Literature] The form: Just be honest, and try to show some passion for your subject. That's what it's all about.

The interview: Relax. Make sure you've read some interesting things recently. Don't over-prepare though. Just open your mind and make sure that your passion for literature comes across loud and clear! (Profile 386)

[Human Sciences] Best advice is to just practise fielding awkward questions, fired at you by a kindly parent! Just practice talking, and thinking out loud. You can never prepare for the actual questions as there are an infinite number you could be asked. But try to prepare for the obvious ones which they usually ask first to get you settled. i.e, why oxford and why this course. Also go through your affirmations in your head, having an air of confidence in yourself and a belief that you can do it is excellent. If the interviewer questions your point, be prepared to defend it, and justify it if you are sure of the point you made. Never back down if just because he/she is an oxford proff.! (Profile 37)

[Law] I read a couple of bog-standard books about the legal system that I had stuck on my personal statement, and also (rather cynically) a book written by one of the law tutors at the college that I had got my Theologian (!) boyfriend to get out of the Social Sciences library. Nothing I did helped at all, or had any bearing on the interview - I felt like I had wasted my time. The tutors were at pains to point out that no legal knowledge was needed to do well in the interviews, which made me relax loads. (Profile 656)

Did you have to submit any written work prior to the interview?

[Human Sciences] 2 essays. 1 from Eng lit. A-level on a book called 'The Great Gatsby' looking at the social context of the jazz age. This showed awareness of other cultures. 2nd was titled 'Jurassic Park;Technically feasible, morally acceptable?'. This weighed up the pros and cons of cloning, bringing the important ethical element into the debate, while questioning the scientific aspect. (Profile 37)

[English Language and Literature] Two essays I think. One was on a little known poet, the other was on Mark Twain. I submitted them basically to show off my written skills. So choose a couple of good uns.

[Oriental Studies] I was asked to submit 2 pieces of written work in any subject I liked. Some friends from Oxford advised that Islamic Studies essays would show motivation, so I wrote one on Quranic Law and another on 'the sunna of the Prophet', and got them marked by the RS Dept of my old school. (Profile 419)

What questions were you asked during your interview(s)?

[English Language and Literature] One of them asked me to analyse a poem. The other two were just more general questinos. They want to see how you think. (Profile 386)

[Human Sciences] Is shopping the new religion? How can we tell by looking at stone tools and metal objects from the ancient civilizations and hunter gatheres, that they had a language? How important is a nuclear family in today's society? Is it ethically right to manipulate a feotus? How would this effect the gene pool of society? Many more which I cant remember… (Profile 37)

[Law] I had two interviews with two tutors that lasted 40 minutes each. They both had a 'helper' who were postgrads I think helping them out. They were running late for both interviews - I had to wait 40 minutes outside before the first and 20 outside for the second.

First one I was given something to look out outside about contracts and things like invitation to treat. All legal terminology was explained on the sheet, then we had to prepare responses to 5 different scenarios. This was the first thing we covered, then there were a couple of ethical questions that didn't really have any answers and then I was asked to define 5 pairs of words and explain differences between them. Second one I was given a sheet about the UN and a new country and I had to explain whether I would have allowed it to be part of the UN or not, then we had a debate about the smoking ban. The second one was much harder and I thought I'd done really well in the first but I honestly couldn't tell how the second one went - the interviewers were much more aggressive. (Profile 656)

[Mathematics] I was asked about why oxford and maths, what i enjoyed at A-Level, and about teaching (as thats what I want to do as a career). the conversations were mainly on maths tho, these included integration, differentiation, curve sketching, balls bouncing (mechanics) and a bit of probability (Profile 48)

What advice do you have for potential applicants based on your experiences?

[English Language and Literature] If you *genuinely* love literature, come to Oxford, make the most of it and you'll have a great time. It's such an honour to be taught by tutors who are the best in their field. (Profile 386)

[Human Sciences]  Enjoy it, and live your subject for about 4 months before, by background reading and news items. Create a cuttings file, with every useful bit of info you may have gathered...it consolidates everything. (Profile 37)

[Oriental Studies] Start planning early. If you don't get in, it's not the end of the world. At the end of the day, success usually depends upon how hard an individual tries rather than which institution he ends up in. If you’re doing it for kudos, don't bother. (Profile 419)


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tag:blog.oxbridgeadmissions.com,2013:Post/1469747 2019-10-22T16:00:00Z 2019-10-24T19:11:48Z Applying to St. Catherine's College, Oxford University

St. Catherine’s College, often referred to as Catz, is Oxford University’s youngest undergraduate college and one of its largest and most diverse communities. It treasures the traditional values of Oxford college life, but pursues a distinctly modern agenda.

St. Catherine’s is situated in an ideal location: very close to the city center, yet surrounded by meadows, parks and water. The Science Area and many University libraries and departments are nearby (including English, Law, Economics and Politics).

Catz offers a wide range of subjects, with a broadly even split between science and arts. The college is proud of its place at the forefront of innovation, research and contemporary culture. Its modern architecture (Grade I listed) and restful open spaces give the college a friendly and relaxed atmosphere.

How did you decide between Oxford and Cambridge?

Cambridge doesn't do history and politics, and I didn't want to do straight history or their social science course because I'm not interested in sociology or psychology particularly. I was all set for Cambridge though, until i went there and realised i really hated it, it was so small and unimpressive and i just didn't like it, so started looking at Oxford instead. (Profile 809)

Oxford does PPE cambridge does an inferior sps with sociology which sounds very boring. Oxford is a bigger city and generally like it more. (Profile 152)

For Comp Sci at cambridge you need to do Natural sciences in the first year, or 80% maths (something along those lines) and i didn't want to do that. (Profile 699)

Both oxford and cambridge courses start out very general in the first two years which appealed to me as i wasn't sure which field of engineering i was most interested in and so thought was best to go somewhere where i could look at different aspects. Modern engineering problems tend to be very diverse and require an understanding of all types eg civil, electronic, mechanical etc, so thought a breadth of knowledge would be useful later. (Profile 751)

Why did you apply to St. Catherine’s College?

I wanted to go somewhere big and modern (so all the plumbing worked!), and St Catz is cool and outside the town, but nice and big. (Profile 809)

St Catz is less formal than the other colleges, it also seemed more international (Profile 1028)

Knew people from my school had been there - i don't mean this in an etonian type "oh we always get in there" way, more in the sense that someone else has done it before so its do-able. plus st. catz has the biggest bar of all the colleges and prob one of the best social scenes, very sporty too which i'm into. (Profile 751)

3 years accomodation, very close to computing labs, and reasonably close to centre of town. (Profile 699)

Modern, forward-looking and very laid-back (Profile 366)

Had spoken to a tutor there and heard that they were lacking german applicants (Profile 286)

What was your general impression of St. Catherine’s College and any other colleges you visited?

Interviews were the first time I had been to Oxford, and when I first arrived I thought, 'Why the hell did I apply to St Catz?'. But once you've been there for an hour, you realise it is an absolutely wonderful place with a great atmosphere. The architecture you thought was horrible starts to look amazing, so I'd recommend it to anyone. I visited certain other colleges when I was there, and they were no where near as friendly as St Catz. (Profile 497)

It was lovely, though i did go to an old college and it was magical St Catz was nice because it was so well set out and organised. (Profile 809)

St Catz - nice, modern, I liked the JCR; St Johns - pretty, but somewhat shabby inside - same for merton (Profile 699)

Very relaxed and laid back (not like most of them i think). All the staff and students, applying and already there, were very friendly. Not as impressive looking as some of the other colleges but the atmosphere is the best i've seen. There were a lot of state school applicants there. (Profile 446)

Really nice place. Some call it a concrete block. I like it anyway it the people who make the place not the buildings. (Profile 152)

I loved St Catz - it has very modern architecture that I couldn't get enough of.

University College (my second college) was also really nice. Very old and big buildings. (Profile 1028)

Describe the day-to-day aspects of living in the college. If you stayed in college, how was the accommodation? How about the food?

- Accommodation: My room was really nice, it was quite big and had windows all down one side with very exciting blinds in them. There was a sink in there too. The staircase was nice, there was a kitchen shared by about 10. The common room had a massive TV and a games room with poole and stuff in which was cool.

- Food: Yes, it was very nice, well i say nice, it was standard food considering they were catering for so many people, but obviously some of it was a bit gross. In general though they gave you loads and it was nice. (Profile 809)

- Accommodation: All modern buildings, 1st year accomodation is a bit basic, 2nd year is pretty swish with ensuite showers/toilets and your own fridge

- Food: There is hall, which is a 3 course meal for about 3 quid, which is bloody excellent (where i live in ripoff south london, £3 wouldn't buy half a damn sandwich, so i was well impressed), then there is scaf which is canteen style food where you choose, generally less healthy but decent  (Profile 751)

- Accommodation: Big rooms, with a washbasin in the room (some people had smaller rooms with no washbasin). Lots of storage space, bed, desk, couple of chairs. One wall was entirely a window, which was nice, but cold (I think my heating wasn't working, as no one else found their room cold).

- Food: Pretty good, with a wide choice. Self service breakfast and lunch, and served dinner. (Profile 699)

- Accommodation: Rooms were big. They were built in the sixties and i'm pretty sure that all the original furniture is still in there. the bed was comfy but quite low off the floor, it didn't cause any problems though. They all had internet and phone connections and mine had a sink.

- Food: Good (Profile 446)

- Accommodation: The room was small, but had a huge window filling an entire wall (yes - floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall!) that looked over the quad, which made up for the size.

- Food: Excellent (Profile 497)

Any thoughts on the tutors/students at St. Catherine’s College?

- Tutors: They seemed really helpful and approachable, and pretty normal which was shocking!! They were friendly and nice.

- Students: They seemed nice too, very helpful (though they were being paid to be so) and gave us lots of information and help which i frequently needed. They organised a few things to do in the evenings too which were fun. Seemed to work hard though.  (Profile 809)

- Tutors: Friendly, not at all intimidating.

- Students: Somewhat disinterested, but not unpleasant. (Profile 699)

- Tutors: Very friendly

- Students: Very normal and down to earth. No, really! (Profile 366)

- Tutors: The first one (the CompSci tutor) seemed quite scary! But I think that was just his technique.. the others were really friendly and helpful.

- Students: Didn't seem to do much (no offence). At many other colleges, the JCR committee seemed to arrange loads of things for applicants to do, but they didn't. They didn't speak to us either and just sat by themselves watching videos... We didn't really mind though! (Profile 497)

- Students: college has a good vibe, generally always up for a bit of a party or "shirt lash" (Profile 751)

What questions were you asked during your St. Catz interview(s)?

[Engineering Science] all applying maths and physics to problems, writing expressions for things a bit of circuit analysis- there was no chit chat, just hello- sit down, now solve this.(Profile 751)

[Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE)] Cold War questions, democracy, human rights, do we have free will, morality questions. Game theory. (Profile 152)

[History (modern) and Politics] In the history interview they asked me about the essay I'd submitted (about Germany) and the period in general and in its context, and linked it to the rest of Europe and the future of Germany. It was ok, felt good because it was about something I was comfortable talking about. For politics they asked everyone about the same two areas, world government and why we obey the law. I thought this was hard and kinda harsh, it seemed more at home in a law or PPE interview. But everyone was in the same boat so it wasn't so bad.

They asked about the ways leaders try to unify people (I started talking about politics and Sarah Palin and then realised it was a history interview), and about why communism is so repressive. For politics they asked me about the EU which I've never studied so that wasn't too good, and about traffic lights, should we go through red ones. The questions didn't seem too bad which made me think they were going easy on me and no way would i get in. (Profile 809)

[Modern Languages] I was given a piece of literature, either in English or the target language, given 20 minutes to read it and then asked questions that tested my analysis of it. Then we had general conversations in the target language for about 10 minutes, and discussed other literature I’d read, either in english or a foregn language. (Profile 286)

Do you have any advice for future Catz applicants in terms of preparation?

[Engineering Science] Have all your A level game down - thats all there is to it. The interviewers are not trying to "catch you out" they want to find out how good you are, which they can only do by asking questions based on what you know. So all the maths problems will start with something based on A level material and then build on it. Dont worry about slick answers to stuff like "why do you want to study engineering"- the tutors are academics, ie they don't care about banter/chat just how well wire up your neurons are - stick to the maths and physic theory. (Profile 751)

[Computer Science] Make sure you have answers for the obvious questions - why Oxford, why this course. Try lots of maths based questions - look at the ones on the oxford computer science website, as i think one of them actually came up in my interview. (I didn't do this much, but it would have been much easier had I done so). (Profile 699)

[History (Modern) and Politics] Read around your A level topics for history, particularly if you send in a school essay. Make sure you've read all the books you mention in your personal statement and know at least something about areas of interest you've mentioned. Think about arguments and counter arguments for things you read and research. Don't worry too much!! (Profile 809)

[Modern Languages] Write down any foreign literature you’ve read/studied as this gives thyem something to talk about in the interview, approach the foreign language speaking part as u might do a oral exam - show off how fluent you are. (Profile 286)


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tag:blog.oxbridgeadmissions.com,2013:Post/1469329 2019-10-21T16:00:00Z 2019-10-23T15:51:44Z Applying for Natural Sciences (NST) at Cambridge University

For a full list of science subjects offered within Natural Sciences (NST), please visit: https://www.undergraduate.study.cam.ac.uk/courses/natural-sciences

Natural Sciences (NST) is the framework within which most science subjects are taught at Cambridge. The course offers a wide range of physical and biological science subjects from 16 departments in a unique and demanding framework. A broad first year is combined with increasing specialisation in the second year and the possibility of total specialisation in the third year.

The breadth of the course reflects the blurring of boundaries between the different sciences and before committing to one department, students study a variety of subjects, some of which may be new. This allows students to change their mind about which subject to specialise in.

Academic Requirements
- A-levels: A*A*A
- IB: 40-42 points, with 776 at Higher Level

How did you decide between Oxford and Cambridge?

The NatSci course was perfect for me - they don't do it at Oxford. I visited both and they are equally stunning places, but the course decided it for me. (Profile 327)

More flexible course. Oxford´s bio course did not seem too different from other unis, plus i had lived in oxford for some time and not everything people going to or teaching at oxford told me was positive. (Profile 328)

The Nat Sci course is very flexible and broadly based and that appealed to me over Oxford's more specialised courses. Preferred the Cambridge town environment - architecture, the Backs too. (Profile 589)

Prefered the Natural Science course at Cambridge, I can continue both physics and chemistry, along with maths and biology. (Profile 3)

Did you have to take any exams as part of your interview(s)?

Yes, a one hour test before the interview - those with interviews in the morning took it afterwards. I simply reread my revision notes for AS biology (I chose the biology paper, they ask you which one you want to do there and then). (Profile 327)

I had to take an exam during interviews.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. (Profile 918)

How was the interview process?

Both interviews were in the afternoon, after the test (so some of my nerves had gone!). 1st interview: there was a chair outside the room so I took the hint and sat down. The time of my interview came and went and I nearly got up to knock (don't do that!) when he came out with the previous interviewee and asked me to wait a few more minutes. Then he came out, gave me a bone-crushing handshake and an enormous smile and ushered me in. I sat on a comfy green sofa, he sat on a swivel armchair and the interrogation began. He started off by telling me that this was my general interview and so we would talk a bit about my outside interests aswell, and that my second interview was subject-specific and would be shorter. This was news to me as I had not heard any details about my interviews. His first question was a blessing - "what aspects of biology do you enjoy most and why do you want to study here?" but one at which I unfortunately blanked. I remember mentioning biochemistry, which I do love, but nothing else. Disaster averted, I concentrated like mad for the rest of the interview. If you feel yourself slipping under a wave of "oooh, I'm in Cambridge...", give yourself a mental slap and remind yourself why you're there. It was technical, but never daunting. He asked me to describe protein synthesis and half way through I blanked again and realised I was describing DNA replication instead. I made several other stupid mistakes during the interview, but he didn't mind, they appreciate that you are nervous. I came out of the interview buzzing, it had gone so well. I was able to reassure the next (very nervous) person that he was really friendly. In total, it lasted 40 minutes (should have been 30) and I only had 20 minutes before my next interview. By this time it was dark and I couldn't find the room! I was late but then so was the interviewer. He greeted me and we worked through a problem involving DNA separation and the time taken for them to rejoin. I didn't reach the actual answer (he said no one so far that day had managed it) but I think I got quite close. Another discussion then followed over the shape of a graph for incidence of cancer in the population, and why the lines for male and female were different. Then a rather bemusing question of "if you were powered by batteries for a whole day, how many would you need and how much would they weigh (at 100g a cell)?" Quite. I had zilch nerves for this one and it only lasted 15 minutes or so. (Profile 327)

I had 2 interviews which consisted of both general and subject questions. My interviewers were very friendly but I was too nervous during the first one to really appreciate that. The worst thing was that we had to wait in a freezing cold staircase which made you even more tense and made me more aware of my frozen feet than of the questions. (Profile 328)

Both interviews took place in tutors' rooms. They were fairly informal and I was put at my ease. Generally it was more like a discussion of different things than a straightforward question and answer session. The two interviews I had were both subject interviews - each lasting approximately 30 minutes. (Profile 432)

1) Chemistry 20mins with 2 tutors. I was nervous about this, as it was my first interview. The room was really tiny with sloped ceilings. I got a bit befuddled with polarisation in C-Br bonds, got the electronegativity values wrong. Then I missed the optical activity in reaction products. I did get plenty of stuff right, though I can only remember describing bonding in C-Li. There was a good cop/bad cop routine from the tutors which in hindsight was quite funny. 

2) Physics 30mins 2 Tutors. I was confident for this one, I knew I knew the stuff. I felt I could answer anything they asked me. The drag question was fairly trivial, I'd done a project about drag in the previous year so I was familiar. In the electricity questions I did well, because I used the I=navQ equation judiciously. Then I was asked about the thermodynamics chapter from "A Brief History of Time", I did quite well, but they did prompt me a little, then I was asked about entropy, although I could describe it I couldn't give a good reason as to why it happens. Then, I was asked about my music, so I said what I'd done, and that I'd like to continue it at university. (Profile 3)

What questions were you asked during your interview(s)?

The questions mentioned above, also questions relating to bioluminescence (mentioned in personal statement). How many amino acids are there? How many triplets are there? How many, exactly?

Discussion on Darwin's theory as to why a population relying on sexual reproduction is most successful when there are equal numbers of males and females although reproductively you only need one male for lots of females. Debate on the meaning of birth to encompass chickens etc. One measly question on outside interests. For second interview, see above. (Profile 327)

1st interview: properties of phospholipids, cell membranes and ion channels (and drawing them). Did not seem to go beyond AS syllabus. Then i was asked question like why cambridge? What other courses have you applied to? Did you do any practical work during your course? And some general questions about my hobbies. We talked a bit about one of my lab internships. I was surprised no topical issues were discussed and my interviewer didn’t really seem to push the questions too far, so maybe the first one is just to warm up. 

Subject one focused quite strongly on chemistry. The general one was more wide ranging - some academic questions but also stuff on hobbies, college societies. (Profile 589)

2nd interview:was great fun, they asked questions about some points in my personal statement (what did you do in that quantum physics course you mentioned, why did you start to learn chinese?) and then quickly dipped into a series of little questions about DNA (what is it made of, draw a picture of it), hydrogen bonding, why is the difference in hydrogen bonding between base pairs important for PCRs, enzyme energetics, disulphide bonds and how you break them, protein denaturation, why are disulphide bonds weaker than C-C bonds? It all seemed to relate to thee first module of the AS and i had the feeling that some questions were either you know it or you don´t ones and did not really make you think. The question were not about topics i had never heard of or you couldn´t have prepared for, it seemed to test whether you had really understood important concepts or how fast you can relate topics you already know. (Profile 328)

I was not asked any of the usual questions like why I was applying to Cambridge or what I thought I could bring to the university. Rather, every question I was asked was about the subject - organic chemistry for the first and inorganic chemistry for the second. The questions asked were fairly challenging, but the tutors seemed to be guiding me towards the right answer. I was slightly worried when I drew a reaction of ethene and was met with: "That's interesting. I haven't seen that one before."! (Profile 432)

1 Skeletal formula, Draw 2-Lithiobutane, reactions with halogenoalkane why and how. Optical isomerism in products and bonding in products. Acid-base Equilibria, buffer solutions. 2 Consider forces on 2 spheres of differing densities falling through air, and related drag. Varying PD across a piece of "conducting plastic" pulled them up on that. Dynamics of electrons in currents. (Profile 3)

What advice do you have for potential applicants based on your experiences?

Find out about your interviewers and their subjects from the uni website. It helps you to place what kind of questions they will ask you and you can more often than not get a picture of them too, which always helps. (Profile 327)

Be honest, be enthusiastic about your subject, remember no one cares about your handwriting.

Know your personal statement and your AS syllabus really well. Make sure you really understand basic concepts. Read around your subject, with hindsight I didn´t need that but it made me feel more confident. Think about why your subject is important to you and try to bring that up in the interview even if they do not directly ask you about it. (Profile 328)

Think about the subject - not just the syllabus. Be honest if you don't know the answer. Read the prospectus and website. Have a couple of sensible questions prepared. (Profile 589)

The Forms: Think about what you write. Plan carefully and don't fill in the form until you're sure that's what you should be putting!

The interview(s): My advice would be to know your subject thoroughly - don't assume they won't ask any subject-based questions. But on the other hand, don't overlearn the subject - they're looking for initiative and if you can recognise reasons for things rather than what you can parrot back at them. (Profile 432)


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tag:blog.oxbridgeadmissions.com,2013:Post/1469332 2019-10-21T16:00:00Z 2019-10-23T15:57:42Z Applying to Physics at Oxford University

Oxford University is home to one of the largest physics departments in the UK, with an outstanding and very diverse research programme in six sub-departments:Astrophysics; Atmospheric, Oceanic and Planetary Physics; Atomic and Laser Physics; Condensed Matter Physics (including Biophysics); Particle Physics; and Theoretical Physics.

Physics at Oxford is challenging and mathematical with a strong emphasis on fundamental concepts such as optics and relativity. The fourth-year MPhys option courses bring you to the threshold of current research, and can lead to subject specialism. You can also complete the course in three years graduating with a BA. The Physics department is equipped with state-of-the-art lecture facilities and teaching laboratories. Tutorials give students direct and regular access to physicists actively involved in research and provide an opportunity to explore scientific ideas with experts in the field.

Academic Requirements
- A-levels: A*AA to include Mathematics and Physics. The A* must be in Mathematics, Physics, or Further Mathematics
- Advanced Highers: AA/AAB
- IB: 39 (including core points) with 766 at HL (the 7 should be in either Physics or Mathematics)

How did you decide between Oxford and Cambridge?

Oxford seemed the natural choice for studying pure sciences. I didn't like the Natural Sciences tripos system at Cambridge as it would mean I'd have to study some biology, and I dropped biology at GCSE level with good reason ;) (Profile 464)

I only wanted to do straight physics. (Profile 885)

Oxford does a physics course not just natural sciences. Cambridge is quite close to home so I wanted to get away a bit more. (Profile 449)

I had a work placement in the design office at the Physics Department in Oxford and I really loved the town and the atmosphere. I was influenced by a few of my teachers who had been in the past and I was told that Cambridge was quite a small town, too small for me and my personality probably! I went back to Oxford for the open days and still really liked the place, it was then that I knew I'd fit in. (Profile 447)

Do you have any advice for future Physics applicants in terms of preparation?

The Forms: I didn't write anything extra on my Oxford application form as I'd already had enough worrying over my personal statement on my UCAS form. I guess the only advice would be only write down things that you are prepared to talk about as that is all the interviewers have to ask you!

The interview(s): Be prepared to be challenged. Interviewers won't learn anything from you if the questions are too easy or far too hard. Don't sit in the interview and say nothing, explain what you are thinking about a certain problem, how you would go about solving it etc. If you give the interviewer something back about the way you can analyse problems it is more useful than you sitting there and saying nothing! (Profile 449)

The Forms: Keep your additional information short and succinct - and ignore the comments about it being optional. I was unsure whether to fill it in as I was afraid of repeating my personal statement, but eventually I wrote three sentences and I think it did help greatly.

The interview(s): Make sure there is a topic you are prepared to talk in depth about, but that's no guarantee they will ask questions about it. A good general breath of knowledge is needed, with something you are especially confident about and can attempt to steer the interview towards. (Profile 464)

Memorise a-level material in the slim hope that it'll come up. Prepare answers for anything you mentioned in your ps. (Profile 885)

The Forms: Mention if you've been to Oxford or have visited the college before, that’s about it.

The interview(s): Make sure you know your notes off by heart, physics and maths. Do the sample maths papers and think of any obvious questions you can get asked. Be confident and trust your instinct in the interview. (Profile 447)

The interview(s): revise basic physics; questions are designed to apply basic knowledge to new situations (Profile 450)

Did you have to take any exams as part of your Oxford Physics interview(s)?

There was a 1-hour maths exam the Monday morning. Seeing as I was doing Further Maths and the sample paper online was fairly straightforward, I didn't make much effort to prepare as I couldn't see what I could prepare - which was a mistake. (Profile 464)

I had a 1 hour Maths exam on the day of my interview. (Profile 447)

1 hour maths exam, prepared by looking at a sample paper and revising the topic areas on the paper I had not covered as part of my course. (Profile 452)

I had to take a 1 hour maths paper. I didn't know you could get sample papers before interview so I didn't know what was coming (the fact it was done without calculators was somewhat of a shock to the system) (Profile 449)

What questions were you asked during your interview(s)?

I had to do problems on the board. The first interview involved me working out differential equations, 2nd order ones and it lead to SHM of a mass on the end of a spring. The second interview was more curve sketching and general maths. I didnt get asked a specific physics question in either interview, it was all maths! (Profile 447)

Things like: Solar energy landing on an umbrella is enough to power a washing machine. What is the mass loss of the sun per second? What is the minimum length full length mirror, in terms of a person's height? Why can't a person light a match in a satellite in orbit? Don't worry if you can't do these - the interviewer had to step in and help me quite often! (Profile 452)

Mainly on mechanics, eg. effect of rain on a rail carriage on frictionless track (slows down). one question on calculating resistance of a cube of resistant wires (5/6 R i think) (Profile 450)

Sketching graphs, differentiation of nasty (!) functions, geostationary orbits, estimation questions eg. number of atoms in a grain of sand vs. number of grains of sand on a beach (Profile 449)

What advice do you have for potential applicants based on your experiences?

Be yourself. I was very nervous, and kept making silly mistakes in the questions they asked me. Remember, it's an artificial situation and the interviewers can really detect your potential as an Oxford student even in you make mistakes - you're human! (Profile 464)

Don't try and prepare too much, you probably won't be able to guess what will be asked. Be confident, try and explain what you're thinking even if you don't know exactly where you are going. The worst thing you can do is to sit around in silence. Try and come across as interested in your subject and don't let anything fluster you. They're really not that bad! Remember, they're not looking so much for what you know, just how you think. You are probably not going to be able to change this. (Profile 452)



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tag:blog.oxbridgeadmissions.com,2013:Post/1469307 2019-10-21T16:00:00Z 2019-10-23T15:10:28Z Applying to Medicine at Cambridge University (Medical Sciences)

At Cambridge University, students focus on medical sciences first, before learning to apply that knowledge to medical practice as a clinical student.

The first three years (pre-clinical studies) involve lectures, practical classes (including dissections) and supervisions, with typically 20-25 timetabled teaching hours each week. The emphasis during the clinical studies (Years 4, 5 and 6) is on learning in clinical settings: at the bedside, in outpatient clinics and in GP surgeries, which is supported by seminars, tutorials and discussion groups.

Assessment, both formative and summative, plays a significant role throughout. The ongoing progress of students is reviewed weekly and termly by their College supervisors. Formal assessment, which determines one’s ability to proceed with the course, includes written and practical examinations, coursework submission and clinical assessments.

Successful completion of the first three years leads to a BA degree and on successful completion of the clinical studies in Cambridge students are awarded two degrees, the Bachelor of Medicine and the Bachelor of Surgery (MB, BChir).

Academic Requirements
- A-levels: A*A*A
- IB: 40-42 points, with 776 at Higher Level

How did you decide between Oxford and Cambridge?

My impression had always been that Cambridge was better for science. Also I liked the fact that Cambridge was dominated by the university and the city was more an afterthought while Oxford was half city and half university. (Profile 474)

Cambridge accepted more Medics and put less emphasis on GCSEs. They also looked at AS Module scores. (Profile 618)

My sister was at Cambridge, and I fell in love with the place when I visited her. I like the fact that the town is much smaller, so friendlier and less impersonal. Cambridge is better for pre-clinical medicine. (Profile 237)

Did you have to sit any pre-interview exams?

The MVAT. I did some past paper questions and discussed them with my chemistry teacher. I also did some past paper questions from the UK mathematical challenge as they seemed similar in style to sections 1 and 2. In section 3 you get the chance to show how much you know so if you can bring in things you've read from outside the A-Level syllabus it may help. Also I think in 2003 they will ask about scientific epistemology - it might be worth looking it up. (Profile 474)

MVAT test about a month before interview. I just read some general science books, but it tests aptitude rather than knowledge (Profile 27)

BMAT was rather tough, and my score wasn't fantastic. If you're from Malaysia and have entered kuiz sains nasional or any other maths/science quizes, and have done well in them, the scientific paper shouldn't be too tough for you. (Profile 317)

I got 23.3 on the BMAT. (6.1, 6.7 and 10.5) (Profile 618)

BMAT exam... I got 6.2, 5.0, 12.0 (if I remember rightly). The practice book really helped me, esp. for the written section, getting used to writing in the time limit. Revise GCSE level science. (Profile 204)

MVAT-it covered Biology, Chemistry, Maths & Physics, so I revised those subjects (especially physics, which I didn't do at A-level) (Profile 237)

How was/were your interview(s), in general?

I stayed overnight in the college and met some of the other interviewees who were reasuringly friendly and nervous. My first interview was the next day and I thought I would be asked lots of hard science questions but was asked mainly about ethics and only a little science. The second interview was split half and half between questions on my motivation for medicine and science. The third I had thought went disastrously for the reasons I will outline below. (Profile 474)

In the first one, the interviewer said "I've got 20 minutes to ask you academic questions" and so he did. I got given some graphs showing insulin concentration in the blood to talk about.

In the second interview, I was given a can of Heinz Baked Beans to talk about!!! I also had to talk about my interests, which led to a discussion about sport and health. I was shown some histology (microscope images of body tissue) pictures to analyse as well. (Profile 27)

There were two subject specific interviews. They went reasonably well. The interviewer will keep pushing you and you will inevitably feel uncomfortable and often quite embarrassed. The key is to keep working at any problem you are given, even if your logic is a bit patchy at times. As long as you get to the solutions in a relatively logical manner, you will be fine. (Profile 618)

The first interview was general, and was pretty friendly. Two interviewers, who were talking to me about why I wanted to do medicine, relevant things I'd read recently, and generally asking about me. The second was subject based, and was scarier. Just one interviewer, who asked me one of the essays I hadn't answered in the MVAT paper. Also asked me about nerves - a topic I hadn't covered yet in Biology. He was looking for what I could work out, rather than what I knew. (Profile 237)

What questions were you asked during your interview(s)?

In my first interview I was asked expected questions such as why did I want to become a doctor and what the positives and negatives of life as a doctor were etc. This was followed by questions on the ethics of Professor von Haegan's televised dissection. Here I tried to explain why proponents of both sides of the argument thought what they thought and then gave and reasoned my own opinion. I was then asked what I thought the biggest advances in medicine in the past twenty years were and what diseases were the biggest killers. I was finally asked how blood is returned to the heart. In my second interview I was asked again why I wanted to be a doctor and why I wanted to study at Christ's and Cambridge. I was then asked to explain how embryonic stem cells differentiate into specialised tissue and this led on once again to questions on the ethics of this. We finished by the interviewer asking me to take him through the process of evolution with reference to the shells he had in front of him. In my final interview I really thought I'd messed up. He fist asked me again why I wanted to be a doctor etc and then said that since this was the college of Darwin we should perhaps talk about evolution and speciation. He asked me what a species was and how speciation took place. I messed this up but instead of giving me another bite at the cherry he continued to talk for a long time. I hadn't said much after about ten minutes and was getting worried and so I started to interject with hopefully intelligent questions and comments E.G. "Is that an example of positive feedback?" and "Is that similar to the recent sequencing of the mouse genome?" etc. Each time I said something, the usual reply was that I was correct but only partially or that there was a better answer. I came out feeling like I'd blown it but in hindsight having received an offer I think that the interviewer was looking for me to engage him in discussion and make rational propositions which showed thought even if they weren't correct. Don't let me put you off, the interviewer was extremely nice, I just didn't like it because I thought I'd messed up. Be confident but not cocky. If you have any questions just e-mail me, I'd like to help if I can. (Profile 474)

Really odd questions, i had to devise experiments and everytime i answered the interviewer would say "good, but pretend i dont believe you, give me another answer!" I was asked "why dont proteins fall out of membranes" questions on BSE and prions and loads of other random questions that i really didnt know the answers to- i just made up some logiacal stuff and they seemed to like it (Profile 132)

I was asked to explain the membrane (biphospholipid layer) and also what would I do to prove that it really is that. I was also asked bout my school trip to Manchester,and my opinion on the trip, etc (Profile 317)

Mostly AS Biology, Chemistry and Physics. Make sure you, not only know what bullet points of the specification are examined at AS, but also the conceptual knowledge behind them. It is key that you understand your subject well. (Profile 618)

General biology-related stuff, all very medical and the sort of questions you had to think around rather than having an instant answer. There was some stuff about blood circulation and also mother/baby immune system interactions, and some questions about a skull. (Profile 204)

What advice do you have for potential applicants based on your experiences?

Read around your subject. Try your best and if you don't suceed be glad you tried. Don't apply if you can't handle being rejected. The most important thing for me was to become a doctor; Cambridge was an afterthought. (Profile 474)

Read a few science journals, and look around online for nuggets of science and health info. But really, there is only a limited amount of preparation you can do. Just relax and talk at the interview - talk as much as you can. The longer you can talk, the more impressed they will be (as long as you are not just waffling) and the less time they have to ask you questions. (Profile 27)

Read up a lot about medical related stuff. Read new scientist and stuff like that. If you have a genuine interst, they will see it. (Profile 132)

Read around your subject, ie for medicine pop-sciency books such as Richard Dawkins, Matt Ridley and also New Scientist. Aside from being really interesting anyway it gives you something to talk about in the interview. (Profile 204)



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tag:blog.oxbridgeadmissions.com,2013:Post/1469324 2019-10-21T16:00:00Z 2019-10-23T15:41:00Z Applying to Medicine Course at Oxford University

The practice of Medicine offers a breadth of experiences impossible to find in any other subject. Every day brings different patients with different needs. It’s a great choice for scientists who strive to understand and apply research findings to improve the lives of the patients in their care. It offers a meaningful career that is prestigious, secure and well paid. However, practising Medicine can be arduous, stressful, frustrating and bureaucratic and is not suited to everyone. You need to be sure that Medicine is the right choice for you. These pages will help you work that out, but there’s no better way to find out for sure than by gaining insight of medical practice by seeing it in action and talking to those who provide healthcare. Studying Medicine because that is what is expected of you is never a good idea; make sure that your motives for choosing to do so are well reasoned.

The Medicine course at Oxford provides a well-rounded intellectual training with particular emphasis on the basic science research that underpins medicine. We have retained a distinct three-year pre-clinical stage that includes studying towards a BA Honours degree in Medical Sciences, followed by a three-year clinical stage. The Medical School at Oxford is relatively small, allowing students and staff to get to know one another and benefit from a relaxed and friendly atmosphere.

With separate pre-clinical and clinical sections to the course, students on the Oxford standard medical course first gain a comprehensive grounding in medical science, before applying that scientific foundation in the clinical setting.

Academic Requirements:
- A-levels: A*AA in three A-levels (excluding Critical Thinking and General Studies) taken in the same academic year. Candidates are required to achieve at least a grade A in both Chemistry and at least on of Biology, Physics, or Mathematics. We expect you to have taken and passed any practical component in your chosen subjects.
- Highers: AA (taken in the same academic year and to include Chemistry, plus one from Biology, Physics, or Mathematics) plus Highers: AAAAA (taken in the same academic year).
- IB:39 (including core points) with 766 at HL. Candidates are required to take Chemistry and at least one of Biology, Physics or Mathematics to Higher Level.

How did you decide between Oxford and Cambridge?

I visited both - both are great unis but the atmosphere at Oxford seemed more vibrant. I also quite liked the idea of having 2+ interviews at Oxford compared to at Cam where it may all rest on 1 because it felt like I had a greater chance to prove myself.

Also, I didn't know this when I applied but it could be useful for future applicants - Oxford had a new application procedure this year - only 35% of medical applicants were interviewed mainly based on BMAT results and GCSEs. This means if you are strong on paper than it could be more worthwhile to apply to Ox - however beware that quite a few 'perfect' applicants were rejected pre-interview. (Profile 102)

I went to both and prefered the look of Oxford. Oxford's prospectus was better in terms of presentation and content. Without A-level Maths most of Cam's NST was not available to me. Dyslexia institute coincided with own interest (Profile 197)

Oxford medicine course is less anatomy-heavy. Was told that (at least the first year) was slightly less work. Seems to be more time for extracurricular activities, has better nightlife, Oxford Union etc. (Profile 570)

Do you have any advice for future applicants in terms of preparation?

Do cartloads of background reading - become a human sponge - you can find some fantastic articles from the internet. Read the medical sections on the New Scientist. Read the 'medical' topics in your big fat bio text books. Read a book by Richard Dawkins (good because he is a fellow at Ox) - the Selfish Gene perhaps - his books are actually really entertaining! Read up on the NHS and current issues - know who won the last Nobel Prize. If you're interested in say genetics (like myself) then know some key dates (1953) and general history (Watson, Crick, Franklin etc). (Profile 102)

Interview: read through all your A Level textbook, including those you haven't covered yet. Read your personal statement, if you have written something like: I have good knowledge in drugs, then they will ask you what do you know about it.... so get prepared. (Profile 199)

- OAF: A very simple form - if you have any specific interests relevant to Oxford enter them here
- Interview: Remain calm, although challenging it is a good experence and I enjoyed all but 1 of mine.
- Practice interviews are useful but by no means essential. (Profile 197)

Go over organic chemistry especially, and other chemistry and biology for A Level. Try and read around medical topics using New Scientist / Scientific American / Student BMJ. read up on a scientific topic you're interested in so you can talk about that topic in interview. Read you personal statement at some point before so you remember what you said in it. Read The Times in the run up to your interview so you know what's going on in terms of medically related news. (Profile 570)

Did you have to sit any pre-interview exams?

BMAT - buy/borrow CGP books - know them from cover to cover. Do the timed practice papers on the BMAT website. It is also a time management exercise so be quick but stay calm - my time management flew out the window on the day because I was panicking.

My score wasn't too dazzling but once you get through the deselection pre-interview I don't think it matters as much, it pretty much rests on the interview. My essay was horrific but thank god they didn't ask about that. (Profile 102)

BMAT exam in November. Prep is difficult but a revision of GCSE Science and Maths is a good idea. Try practice paper from www.bmat.org.uk -  WORK QUICKLY- you have around 30sec per question. (Profile 197)

Big time pressure. Don't bother leaving questions for later, as you probably won't have time to go back to them - just guess. Make sure you save the last few seconds to mark random boxes for questions you haven't managed to get round to. (Profile 570)

Yes, BMAT. Any questions I didn't know, I guessed, I ticked all of the ones I didn't know as A, or B etc (even though some of them have more options than others) I think it's better to do that as opposed to randomly ticking boxes, as you're more likely to get some of them right (probability wise). You won't have time to go back to consider any questions you missed out properly so work efficiently and move on if you can't answer a question. Also, do a plan for your essay as you only get one sheet of paper and I ended up filling mine with lots of crossing out! (Profile 882)

What questions were you asked during your interview(s)?

First interview was a logical problem which was good because it doesn't matter if you get the answer (after I said my ideas, the fellow said that all my answers were wrong but it didn't matter) because it's just to see how you think. There was also ethics and we touched upon the NHS and how to improve things (I got a bit controversial and said scrap IVF, being sterile is not an illness, it's just a status, 20% chance of success, what sort of odds is that!). Oh yeah also he said "What interests you in bio?" - talked about british bio olympiad and then went on to describe the co-ordination of the heart. Second interview was a lot more of my background reading. Talked about books I read (all genetics) went on to gene therapy. Current issues (MRSA - went on to talk about bacteria and antibiotics), retroviruses, MRI, basically a hell of a lot! This interview was very testing, they kept firing question upon question at me so you have to be sharp! Then went on to talk about using stats in medicine/randomised controlled trials. (Profile 102)

Maths: prove root 2 is irrational. Physics: if you tie a helium balloon on a car, how is the balloon's motion as the car is moving, etc. Chemistry: describe a drug/medicine you know and how it functions. Biology: if I have a new medicine, it function well during experiments, but when a patient eats it, it is functionless, why? (Profile 199)

On estimating blood volume; what would i bring to uni; describe an object; identify death rates; and reasons amnioscentesis; bird behaviour; drug testing; photoelectric effect and compton scatter; NHS problems; Designer babies (Profile 197)

Brasenose and Balliol, two interviews each: Analysing graphs based on heart and lung function (though wasn't told that before) and asked to make deduction based on the data presented. How to deal with patient who is scared about an operation. There was a news story at the time about patients who were overweight being refused operations on the NHS, was asked pros and cons of this. Question about patient confidentiality, and whether there were cases when it would not apply. Conducting an experiment based a on a hypthesis I've now forgotten, including what statistical techniques could be used. Question about whether all swans were white (they aren't), and devising and experiment to test whether they were. Discussion about genetics (molecular rather than mendelian). Question about benzene. Discussion about bacteria and viruses. (Profile 570)

I was asked questions to do with respiratory system (Balliol tutor Piers Nye is doing research into things involving respiration) and it involved analysing ECGs and graphs. I was also asked about X rays and how they work. At my second college, there were a few questions about genetics related diseases (tutor specialised in genetics and molecular biology, i think) and about the different types of diabetes and how you might increase your chances of getting it. In terms of ethics, there was a question about whether the NHS should operate on fat people, and what would I say to a patient who needed an operation but was overweight. (Profile 882)



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tag:blog.oxbridgeadmissions.com,2013:Post/1469327 2019-10-21T16:00:00Z 2019-10-23T15:44:30Z Applying for Modern Languages at Oxford University

Modern Languages have been taught in Oxford University since 1724. The faculty is one of the largest in the country, with a total intake of more than 250 students a year (including joint courses). Undergraduate students have access to the Taylor Institution Library (the largest research library in Britain devoted to modern languages) and the University’s central library the Bodleian, as well as many online resources. Oxford’s well-equipped Language Centre has resources specifically tailored to the needs of Modern Language students.

Language is at the centre of the Oxford University course, making up around 50% of both first-year and final examinations. The course aims to teach spoken fluency in colloquial and more formal situations, as well as the ability to write essays in the foreign language, and the ability to translate into and out of the foreign language with accuracy and sensitivity to a range of vocabulary, styles and registers. 

Academic Requirements:
- A-levels: AAA
- Advanced Highers: AA/AAB
- IB: 38 (including core points) with 666 at HL

Do you have any advice for future applicants in terms of preparation?

On Oxford Application Form: Be honest and genuine. Don't be modest, but don't make yourself sound arrogant. The tutors have to teach you for 3/4 years, they'll want to teach someone they can get on with.

On preparing for interview: try to read as much as you can, in the language if possible, but if not then translations. Revise your grammar before interviews. (Profile 258)

You have to already be in the mindset of wanting to improve your French on your own. Read a variety of texts - french newspaper websites can be dry so also find a french blog or something that interests you. Read short stories and plays. Try poetry. Think about what you read and write about it in french. Ask a teacher to set you open-ended essay questions. Make notes on new grammatical structures and informal language you pick up. Watch videos on french tv channel websites. Do all this safe in the knowledge that you are doing yourself a favour whether you get an interview or not! (Profile 766)

Read around the subject, practice with a mock interview, don't be afraid to question the interviewers and be prepared to defend your views when they're challenged. (Profile 316)

Prepare, by all means, but don't get into the habit of thinking that they *will* ask this question and *won't* ask that one. I was told to prepare answers for, "Why did you choose Trinity?" and "Why Oxford?". They never asked me those questions. (Profile 354)

Did you have to submit any written work prior to the interview?

The work i submitted was rubbish. i didnt have any essays in english, so sent in two spanish ones and an italian one. for the two spanish essays (one literary and one discursive) i had got barely half-marks, and the italian one was a rubbish business letter. but the invited me for interviews, so they can’t look at it that hard. (Profile 354)

2 pieces of marked written work for each subject because they asked for it! (Profile 258)

One translation into german one essay on a german text (in german) one essay from my english course (Profile 316)

2 pieces for each language (Profile 912)

Did you have to take any exams as part of your Modern Language interview(s)?

Grammar test at interview (Profile 766)

Yes- a 30 minute German grammar test- it is vital to do preparation for this. I had extra lessons for this and my mark was still not brilliant. Its vital to know your german grammar inside out- declensions, adjectival endings and which tenses go with which verbs. (Profile 316)

I had to take a spanish exam and a language aptitude test. prepare for the spanish exam - the grammar is slightly more difficult than a-level. the aptitude test i actually found quite fun, not gruelling at all. there are various different questions, some working out patterns in english, others working out patterns in icelandic or Wolof or some other obscure language, and they also ask a set of questions by the end of which you should be able to work out a paragraph of some made-up language. there are practise papers - do them. (Profile 354)

What questions were you asked during your interview(s)?

What books have you read? Why do you think xyz about this passage? What was your A-level course? Questions about my gap year (spent in Versailles). Why study this course? (Profile 258)

I was asked to comment on aspects of the texts. Beware of opening your mouth before thinking something through - they have the nasty habit of asking you to explain what you mean / why you think that in mid-flow. 5 minutes of french conversation which was general in nature until I was asked to explain something about two composers I had unwittingly brought up and for which I did not have the vocabulary! Don't be afraid to ask them how to say things. I'm quite sure I hadn't ever spoken worse french than in that interview. (Profile 766)

1st interview- When i arrived in college i was given an english passage to discuss in interview. In the interview i was also asked to read a german passage and then discuss it. there was also a brief discussion on my submitted work. 2nd interview- a discussion of linguistics including looking at various linguistic problems, a look at synonyms and a discussion of problems for Germans learning English and vice- versa. 3rd interview- a further German interview this time with two interviewers includng translating some non consecutive sentences an a discussion of German literature which somehow turned into a discussion of Blackadder! Before going into this interview I had to chose one passage in German to discuss- from a choice of 3 or 4. a dictionary was provided for this and i had 5 minutes to look up any words I did not know. (Profile 316)

Some examples: repeat these russian sentences after me... are you sure you want to study russian? look how much work there is... talk to me about the other languages you've learnt in the past... so tell me, how did the latin 'civitas' get to 'ciudad' in spanish and 'cittŕ' in italian?... you mentioned 'families' of languages, what do you mean by that? in which family would you place english? (Profile 354)

What did you wear to your interview(s), and why?

I wore smart casual, eventually opting for no tie. Imagine my dismay when I walked into the Italian interview to see my tutor in a tailor-made Gucci suit... but he didn't seem to mind! Relax: they're used to students wandering into tutorials wearing whatever, so being not too formal may help them feel tutorials with you would be a good idea and therefore accept you. (Profile 258)

Shirt and tie. Whatever they say about smart casual, at least look like you want the place. (Profile 766)

A suit- so as to make a good impression (Profile 316)

Something smart, but that I felt comfortable in - lots of people didn't wear smart clothes but I felt I should, didn't want to be too smart though. (Profile 912)

A dark suit and shirt. (Profile 354)






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tag:blog.oxbridgeadmissions.com,2013:Post/1468921 2019-10-20T16:00:00Z 2019-10-22T13:52:43Z Applying for Mathematics at Cambridge University

Cambridge University is renowned for the excellence of its Mathematics course. Equally challenging and rewarding, it offers the opportunity to study a wide range of subjects: everything from abstract logic to black holes.

Two aspects of the Mathematics course that Cambridge students greatly appreciate are its flexibility and the breadth of subjects offered. The amount of choice increases each year and after Year 1 students may choose the number of options to study. Some students take as many options as they can; others take fewer and study them very thoroughly.

This structure allows students to keep their options open, giving them the opportunity to discover their strengths, extend their knowledge and develop their interests before specialising.

Academic Requirements
- A-levels: A*AA to include Mathematics and Physics. The A* must be in Mathematics, Physics, or Further Mathematics
- Advanced Highers: AA/AAB
- IB: 39 (including core points) with 766 at HL (the 7 should be in either Physics or Mathematics)

How did you decide between Oxford and Cambridge?

Cambridge supposedly has a better reputation for the sciences. Having had a look around the place, and fallen in love with it, the decision was easy. (Profile 505)

Cambridge seemed more scientific. (Profile 168)

Differences between the courses on offer, and just heard that Cambridge had a better reputation for maths. (Profile 521)

Do you have any advice for future applicants in terms of preparation?

Practise the bread-and-butter maths that's likely to come up. Graph sketching, calculus, the easier mechanics. If you're going to mention a longish book in your personal statement, refer to a specific part of it, so that you can be fairly sure what the questions will consist of. (Profile 505)

Make sure that the work that you have done at A-Level is comparable to what other students are likely to have done. I thought that I had had a similar level of mathematical input as anyone else, but it turned out that students from other schools/VI Forms had been taught far more than I. (Profile 168)

The practice interviews really are useful, but only if you prepare for them as if they are the real thing. It doesn't matter how good your interview skills are if you can't remember the formulae for circular motion or whatever the question is on. Revise all your AS work because this is probably what the interview questions will be based on- they don't know how much of the A level course you will have studied. I think I made the mistake a couple of times in my interview of trying to do things the hard way when all the questions required was basic C1/C2 knowledge. Most interview questions involve applying old knowledge in new ways so maths challenge/BMO questions are quite useful preparation for this. Trying out STEP questions can also be a good thing and Oxford admissions tests are good because they are the right standard and questions aren't too long. But the best preparation is definitely practice so badger your school/teachers/family friends/anyone you know who is already at oxbridge to give your a sort of mock interview. Even if you just try to solve a problem in front of a few friends this can be useful as it gets you over the barrier of being embarrassed to say what you're thinking (not sure if boys have this problem but most girls seem to). (Profile 735)

Revise all your basic rules. Also, have a go at some of the questions from "Advanced Problems in Mathematics" by Dr Siklos. (Profile 511)

How was/were the interview(s), in general?

The personal interview was just about me: plans for the future, interests, hobbies, activities I would persue in the college. The applied maths interview began with a couple of curves to sketch. With a little prodding in the right direction I managed to draw something resembling the actual graphs. Then there was a mechanics question. A bead on a wire: simple constant acceleration stuff with a bit of trig to complicate things. The pure interview was mainly about calculus. Differentiate this, integrate that. I completely forgot the easy was to integrate tan x, but I managed to do it very long-windedly with a substitution. Also a question about binomial coefficients and Pascal's triangle (prove that every number in the triangle is the sum of the two above it). (Profile 505)

I had three interviews. In the first we worked through some Applied Maths (Mechanics) examples, talking about what I had done in the past. Next was pure maths, a similar style. Finally there was a social interview with the Senior Tutor, I was able to talk about my own experiences. (Profile 168)

First Interview (with two maths fellows: one who spoke, one who wrote):

At the time, felt fine about it. Actually after waiting for 3 hours in the Marshall room (JCR), I quite enjoyed it just because it was something to do. The interview went really quickly and I was worried about how few questions I answered and also some of the stupid things I'd said/done, including twice missing a incredibly obvious answer and doing things a much harder way. However, was reassured that I could see the notes one of them was writing and although I only dared take brief glances, I saw he first word was "excellent". So all in all, went to bed feeling quite happy.

Second interview (with Dr Siklos, director of studies or some other important title):

Was quitely confident after the first interview had gone OK, and even more so after I'd seen the problem we were left to do beforehand and found I could actually do all of it, which I hadn't been expecting. But when I got in, Dr Siklos gave me quite a hard time, questioning everything I said. I couldn't tell if this was because he was trying to push me or because I was getting everything wrong, but it did stress me out more than I would have anticipated and I spent a particularly panicked 2 minutes trying to explain why a straight line crossed the graph y=sin x only in the twice in the range 0-pi/2 when all that was in my head was "because that's what sin x looks like". The only thing I could say was "because it bulges up a bit" which he repeated back to me in a slightly sarcastic way and then let me sweat for a few minutes before saying "I think the word you were looking for is convex". He also asked me one question about Music of the Primes, which I'd put on my personal statement, because apparently everyone does. Annoyingly, I've read the book several times and still didn't answer the question very well. Overall, didn't enjoy that interview as much as the first. (Profile 735)

The first question on the test was very easy, I think it was just to put you at ease. I didn't quite finish the second one.Then I went through the questions with the maths tutor who helped me with ideas etc. to finish the other question, then went through another one with me. Supposedly like the supervisions for students.

The second interview was with the admissions tutor, who talked more about my other subjects and related maths to them. Was very interested in critical thinking. (Profile 521)

What questions were you asked during your interview(s)?

The interview was almost entirely done on paper: the questions were simply mathematical fragments to work through. (A-Level standard) (Profile 168)

All maths questions apart from one personal statement question in the second interview. Most questions on either properties of prime numbers, intergration of graph sketching, often involving a combination of the last two.

Was told several times not to reveal this sort of info, but here is a question I was asked in a practice interview which I found useful in my interview (interview question involved the same idea about divisibility by three):

Show that if x is a prime number greater than 3, x^2-1 is divisible by 24 (Profile 735)

The test questions are the same every year I think... The other interview I was asked about how maths fitted in with my other subjects, and talked about how 'pure' I considered maths. (Profile 521)

Oh, so what you're doing this [gap] year? have you been to Cambridge before? You are done with all A-levels? Good...do you still remember Maths? :) here we go... 1) Sketch the curve (y^2-2)^2+(x^2-2)^2=2. I told them i thought there were 2 'rings'? and they pressed on me until actually 4 rings were found...phew... 2) 3 girls and 4 boys were standing in a circle. What is the probability that two girls are together but one is not with them. After flawed reasoning i told them answer..."yes, but..." was response, it got bit blank and intolerable, until they made me draw all possible arrangements...but worse was about to come 3) Guessed algorithm right...but had to show why it was a solution to x^4+....i fiddled with graphs showing them how it converged...They set me straight again, but I had no frigging clue to what their hints were leading to...messed binomial theorem up...Oxford history repeats itself! 4) Is there such number N that 7 divided N^2-3? Tried contradiction, nowhere...Then I asked them another expression for N, which turned out to be N=7r+s....Then i blurted out "oh no the question just repeat itself!" until they they led me to see that s had only values between 1 and 6. hence... Oh dear... 5) prove 1+1/2+1/3+...+1/1000<10. I said "hey, that's 10=e^ln10 and then Taylor series!" "Oh no" the prof winced and it was quickly seen that geometric series was needed....then fiasco again with simple mental arithmetics, could hear them he-he-he...whilst i desperately tried to find the product... Ok..Who is helping you with preparations for STEPs? Any questions? (Profile 496)

Graph sketching, relationships between primes and other number, integrating things like 1/(1-lnx) (Profile 511)


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tag:blog.oxbridgeadmissions.com,2013:Post/1468930 2019-10-20T16:00:00Z 2019-10-22T14:00:01Z Applying for Mathematics at Oxford University

There are two Mathematics degrees at Oxford University, the three-year BA and the four-year MMath. Decisions regarding continuation to the fourth year do not have to be made until the third year. The first year consists of core courses in pure and applied mathematics (including statistics). Options start in the second year, with the third and fourth years offering a large variety of courses, including options from outside mathematics.

Academic Requirements:
- A-levels: A*A*A with the A8s in Mathematics and Further Mathematics (if taken). For those wome Further Mathematics is not available: either A*AAa with A* in Mathematics and a in AS-level Futher Mathematics or A*AA with A* in Mathematics
- Advanced Highers: AA/AAB
- IB: 39 (including core points) with 766 at HL (the 7 must be in Higher Level Mathematics)

Why did you choose the Mathematics course at Oxford?

It's very flexible, and one of the most prestigious courses in the country. (Profile 592)

It was easy - perfect location and it had the tutor i wanted and besides, i was also tempted by lower application to places ratio which obviously doesn’t tell you how many geniuses flock into one college. (Profile 475)

How did you decide between Oxford and Cambridge?

The maths course is very appealing and is rated slighty lower than Cambridge, meaning that you can leave your room from time to time. (Profile 477)

Oxford seemed to have far more life than Cambridge and I thought I would have a more enjoyable 3/4 years. (Profile 572)

I went to an open day to Oxford and was pretty happy with what I saw. In all honesty, I also thought that applying to Cambridge to maths was going to be harder, and that I wouldn't get anything more out of going there. (Profile 469)

Do you have any advice for future applicants in terms of preparation?

Review curve sketching and basic calculus. Make sure you know a little about the area of mathematics that you are going to say that you are interested in. Wear what you are most comfortable in to your interviews. (Profile 

Know C1-3 inside out. Otherwise hints given in the interviews may be meaningless, and the questions on the written paper may well be impossible. (Profile 592)

Review curve sketching and basic calculus. Make sure you know a little about the area of mathematics that you are going to say that you are interested in. Wear what you are most comfortable in to your interviews. (Profile 469)

Make sure you know how to draw graphs. Don't be phased by being asked questions you don't know they'll help you through it. (Profile 493)

Simply be confident about talking to someone you haven't met before. If you're not sure about doing that then definitely arrange a mock interview in your school. (Profile 754)

Read on everything in maths you can -it might seem very superfluous after the interview and most importantly practice STEP questions! Maths is very much like sport - talent needs practice training to get to top. Public school people are much better coached than state school people- so don’t let them win. (Profile 475)

Did you have to take any exams as part of your interview(s)?

There was a two and a half hour test to do the day before interviews began. I looked at the specimens on the Internet beforehand and although the actual test was a bit different, they are well worth going through. If there are questions you couldn't do, it might be worth thinking/talking about them so that you might have something to say the next day when you are asked about them in your interview.(Profile 469)

The 2-and-a-half hour written test - 40% is (varying from easy to tricky) multiple choice questions, 60% is on longer style questions, covering geometry, calculus, logic, functions. Anything can come up!(Profile 592)

3 hour long maths exam with no calculator and no formula book. I learnt how to add without using a calculator and tried to learn the stuff in my formula book i.e. no real preparation (Profile 493)

We did take two and half hours maths test - i didnt realize that there was specimen paper on the Net, but again it was much harder and I think it depressed us all until someone told me above 60% is good...Relief.. - or so I thought… (Profile 475)

What questions were you asked during your interview(s)?

Apart from reviewing the test I was asked questions on curve sketching, which appears to be a very common area of questioning. It’s probably worth going over that before your interview. I was asked about an area of mathematics that I was particularly interested in, so it important to have an area of specialism before you get there.(Profile 469)

One interview was based on curve sketching with the very same Biomath tutor whom i tried to impress by my knowledge of logistic equation (chaos theory). then late interview with tired professor based on very weird computer question - went through it like fog and didn't take all the hints he was trying to give and the only thing i got right was simple permutation question. The next day in Christ Church (amazing building!) a tutor started with question how bad was my hearing. After "Urgh.." he then asked which maths equation i could remember from book outside A-level syllabus and if i knew proof. I didnt know proof so there we went. In the end it turned out to be some consequence of the Taylor series of which i was still ignorant then. But it was about how i could approach to new things. And i got to the proof not without bored sighs of the tutor. Then it was another interesting number theory question to prove that if a large number is divisible by three then sum of its digits is divisible by three too- which went painfully slow again - more of him answering his own question than I did. (Profile 475)

First interview was mainly curve sketching, geometry, and combinatorics/probability. The questions were easier than I expected, but were still very much harder than the A-level syllabus required of us. Second interview was much harder than I expected, and was oriented about very abstract and logic-based problems. Third interview was based entirely about convergence and divergence and limits of series. (Profile 592)

St Johns:
- Draw a triangle, form inequality that the sum of any two sides is greater than or equal to the third side.
- Now draw a quadrilateral, draw in diagonals.
- Deduce that sum of the diagonals is greater than the sum of two opposite sides.
- There are a collection of points on a plane. Join them together to make a circuit. Uncrossed circuits can be made by finding crossings, and simply uncrossing them. Repeat until uncrossed.
- Deduce that there exists a shortest circuit - there are a finite number of points, hence there are a finite number of circuits. A finite set has a smallest member, hence there exists a shortest circuit. This circuit will not have any crossings, since the the length of the corresponding uncrossed circuit (created by uncrossing the crossing) would be longer (using result found above).

Mansfield:
- Integration of some trigometric functions i.e. sin^2(x)cos^3(x)
- When f(x+y) = f(x)f(y), prove f(0) = 1 where f is a non-zero, real valued function.(Profile 839)


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tag:blog.oxbridgeadmissions.com,2013:Post/1468789 2019-10-19T16:00:00Z 2019-10-22T02:49:03Z Applying for Human, Social, and Political Sciences (HSPS) at Cambridge University

Human, Social, and Political Sciences (HSPS) at Cambridge can be tailored from the start. This means it’s suited both to students with specific subject interests and to students looking for a multidisciplinary degree. 

The course comprises three core disciplines, taught by globally respected departments:

(1) Politics and International Relations explores politics within and between countries, covering issues from human rights and democracy, to financial crises and international conflict.

(2) Social anthropologists address ‘what it is to be human’ by studying social and cultural diversity – how people live, think and relate to each other around the world.

(3) Sociology focuses on the nature of modern societies and the processes that shape social life, by examining social institutions and topics such as power and inequality.

Depending on the subject(s) you choose, there may  be options to take individual papers in the other HSPS subjects or from other courses as well.

Academic Requirements:
- A-levels: A*AA
- IB: 40-42 points, with 776 at Higher Level

How did you decide between Oxford and Cambridge?

Only Cambridge did a political course encompassing sociology (Profile 213)

It was more that i chose between PPE and SPS, and not being very interested in econmics or philospohy, i applied to Cambridge (Profile 215)

Oxford only do Experimental Psychology (not my interest). I didn't get a good feeling from Oxford, but did from Cambridge. (Profile 216)

Cambridge do SPS, oxford do PPE, I prefer SPS (Profile 976)

Do you have any advice for future applicants in terms of preparation?

I would suggest you do not waste time talking about your non-academic activites. Concentrate on your subject and also make sure everything is related to your subject. For instance I have a rather unusual hobby called Graphology. If you look up the dictionary definition then you will see how it is easily related to the psychology aspect of my course. Although they like to know if you are human or not, at the end of the day, you are going to Cambridge to study not to play. By relating everything to your subject additionally demonstrates your enthusiasm and passion which your interviewers will share. (Profile 213)

Don't worry too much if you don't know everything, just make sure you have a sound base of knowledge that you can apply to the questions asked. I think that is more impressive, to see you thinking of your feet, then you knowing everything. Make it obvious you're using knowledge and applying it by saying things like "I haven’t studied that area much, but I know this... and that might mean..." (Profile 976)

Don't bother filling in the extra personal statement bit at the end unless you have something very important to say. (Profile 215)

Did you have to submit any written work prior to the interview? 

I had to submit 3 essays. I really did not have many essays to choose from but thankfully had 3 good ones. I submited one on the impact of the euro on UK businesses, one on British foreign policy between 1932-36 (I think), and another on why Lloyd George was not to blame for the disastrous treaty of versailles. It's best to submit essays which relate to your subjects again. (Profile 213)

Two essays that I had done for my A-Levels. The ones I submitted weren't really the best of my ability and didn't come up in interview, so don't worry too much. Make sure you post them in plenty of time. I left it to the day before and had to pay for special postage. (Profile 976)

3 essays - I sent 2 politics, and 1 english essay. (Profile 215)

How were your interview(s), in general?

I had 2 interviews - one general, one subject-orientated. The general interview still asks you subject-related questions here and there.

Advice to everyone: try and be as friendly as possible to the interviewers. They are partly there to assess your intelligence, but also to ascertain whether they would enjoy teaching you. They aren't going to enjoy teaching someone who is aloof and unapproachable.

It does partly depend on the personality of your interviewer, plus the atmosphere of the college. Applying to an informal college they probably enjoyed interviewing someone who is informal themselves. (Profile 213)

First one was amazing. Had to read an article then discuss that for a bit. Had a good raport with the interviews and they were really cool. Quite informal and went really quickly.

Second one was pretty dodgy. I couldn't answer a pretty basic question - "What does 'Social Construction' mean?", even though I knew the answer, I just couldn't express it well. They seemed disinterested and bored. I came across as pretty average and someone you would reject, but I think my first one swung it for me. (Profile 976)

What questions were you asked during your interview(s)?

I was asked questions related vaguely to what I had written on my UCAS forms. The hardest question actually sounds like the easiest: 'Why does America want to go to war with Iraq?'. It threw me because I wasn't expecting such an obviously topical question. The other problem was at the time I was slightly pro-war and they were blatantly anti-war. Because I hadn't thought much about any possible response I decided to go throw the reasons it wasn't. I pointed out it cannot possibly be about oil since over 2/3 of Iraqi oil goes to Russia. If America took the oil it would start another cold war. So if you don't know what an answer soundly vaguely correct might be, go through the process of elimination. I never got to the answer because we got side-tracked down a comment I made about the situation in Israel. (Profile 213)

Interviewer made me defend a view on a single topic for almost the entirety of the interview. It was extremely tough and she was intent on making me change my mind. These people are experts and unless you are hard as nails you will feel completely humiliated by the end of it. It was extremely enjoyable and stimulating though and I'd never been shouted down in such a way before. (Profile 717)

What sociological methods could you use to assess the problems of the rioting in France? Why SPS? Define a Nation-state. Do you agree with the view that the Nation-state is in decline and why? Why are you doing 4 A levels? (Profile 542)

Can't really remember but roughly:
- Discussed article
- Answered a few questions relating to content on A-Levels
- Discussed some more complex topics that I wouldn't have studied before and had the interviewer playing devil's advocate. (Profile 976)

Non-academic interview - he asked me those obvious questions that you're always told to prepare for, but don't because you're convinced they won't come up. I thought it went atrociously: 'How are you suited to this course?' - i mumbled something ridiculous about my analytical skills. Academic interview - much better - mostly politics orientated. He asked me about the interests i had highlighted in my personal statement - constitutional reform, liberalism, etc. Asked for a couple of definitions - HRA, EU, etc. Asked some questions based on the essays i'd submitted - (making sure i wrote them?) (Profile 215)





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tag:blog.oxbridgeadmissions.com,2013:Post/1468787 2019-10-19T16:00:00Z 2019-10-22T02:38:13Z Applying for Law at Cambridge University

Law has been studied and taught in Cambridge since the thirteenth century, when the core subjects of legal study in all European universities were Civil law (the law of ancient Rome) and the Canon law of the Church. Early graduates of the Cambridge Faculty of Canon Law held the highest judicial positions in Europe - in the Rota at Avignon - and two of them (William Bateman and Thomas Fastolf) wrote the first known law reports in the ius commune tradition.

At present, there are over 70 University and College Teaching Officers in Law at Cambridge University. They include specialists in almost every aspect of English law and its history, the laws of other countries (especially European), European Community law, public and private international law, Roman law, legal philosophy, and criminology.

How did you decide between Oxford and Cambridge?

For my subject, I had the impression that Oxford had a better reputation and record of results. In addition, after visiting Oxford I found I liked the atmosphere of the city and university. (Profile 799)

Preferred Cambridge but only slightly (loved them both) but Oxford was about 1.5 hrs closer to home and took approx 8 people per college for my subject whereas Cambridge only took approx 3. (Profile 933)

Oxford as a city appeals more and, again rightly or wrongly, I had this feeling that Oxford was better for law. (Profile 772)

Do you have any advice for future applicants in terms of preparation?

Read the papers, and don't lie on your SAQ because they ask you about it. Also, you should probably know about very common legal terms or you'll come out mouthing 'oh my God, that was awful' as i did. (Profile 936)

Just make sure you can show that you have a genuine interest in the subject you have applied for, show some enthusiasm and be yourself in every aspect of your application. Keep up to date on current affairs. Read into your subject a bit if you haven't already and be prepared to talk about that. (Profile 743)

for law - work exp (as much as possible to show your enthusiasm), times law supplement, law in action programming on radio 4 which covers topical legal issues weekly (listen again on the bbc website), read plenty of law books; from the set list and also others on topics that you might be interested in(eg medical law was my topic of choice) to show that you are willing to go out of your way to find a book and if the topic inspires you, you can write about it in your ps/talk about it in your interview. (Profile 641)

Read the Cambridge admissions website thoroughly; there is a lot of really useful advice on there. (Profile 1113)

They start out with the assumption that they would be happy to offer everyone a place, so don't make any stupid mistakes that give them a reason to reject you. Other than that, don't get your exam boards wrong (as I so nearly did), and check that you haven't been given a copy of last year's form (as I was). (Profile 228)

Did you have to sit any pre-interview exams?

LNAT - 19/30 in multiple choice 

also found the essay section atrocious as i hadn't really written one in quite a long time; read after that critical thinking essays are useful for practise, or in general persuasive essays and reading the guardian, or the times could help with learning how to formulate opinions etc (Profile 936)

The LNAT; pretty tough. Got asked about my essay at the interview. I got 23/30, if that helps anyone. (Profile 651)

What was the Law interview like? 

Given a text and half-hour to read it. Discussed text and this led to other aspects of it and then we leapt to Property law. Also asked about work experience, subject topics and given a second text and asked if scenarios fitted it. (Profile 936)

My interview lasted about 40 minutes. Prior to the interview I was given about 20 minutes to read and make notes on a case study. My interview then began. The first 20 minutes involved talking/debating about the case study with the Director of Studies and another Law fellow/supervisor. The next 20 minutes then involved answering general questions about my UCAS Personal Statement and some general law questions (e.g. Do you enter a contract when you get on a bus? I didn't actually know the answer to this but I think as long as you give a reasoned argument for your answer you will be fine). (Profile 743)

I really enjoyed the interview. It became progressively harder as it went on, but really it was pretty much what I expect a supervision would be like. In this sense I think they just want to get a feel for how you think and if they would enjoy teaching you. The scenario had various issues involved, both legal principles and social issues which were interesting and open for debate. I made some silly comments which I regret, but overall I think it was very fair. (Profile 975)

No legal knowledge was required, they genuinely do just want to see how you think. wasn't asked anything about any actual legal issues. 

First interview was just tutorial stuff (eg what do you do in your spare time) and a little legal..something about statutes and if one stated something what it meant, also the difference between principles and laws. then had to work through a scenario regarding a poor reference written for a student which consequently led to them not being hired and whether the referee would be liable to pay damages in situations a) b) and c).

second interview a few legal questions using different scenarios. (Profile 936)

It's hard to tell how well the interview is going when you're in there; the interviewers don't give anything away. I felt like I wasn't answering the questions properly; you don't know what they want you to say. I felt I did better in my general interview than my subject one. (Profile 651)

I had only one interview which was scheduled to last 45 minutes but, in the end, only lasted for about 30. It was in three parts, each part lead by a different interviewer. The first part focused upon my life and what had brought me to this point, the second was with the DoS for Law who asked me some legal/logic based questions. The third part discussed my current course and how I thought it would prepare me for study at Cambridge. (Profile 1113)

Questions asked: Would you be willing to take a gap year? What subjects are you studying at school? What's your favourite Subject? What do you study in History? Why do you find it interesting? Why was Hitler able to establish a dictatorship - his actions, or the actions of others? Would you buy the defence of the judges at the Nuremberg trials? Then I got asked a whole lot about extradition, which I can't really remember specifically. It ended with me saying I'd extradite people to Afghanistan for not wearing a burka... Suppose that you sell a car for Ł500 from your own driveway. The purchaser drives off down the road, but 10 feet along the car stops. He looks inside and there's a lawmower engine. He comes back , demands his money back, but is told "tough luck, you signed this contract". You're a judge - who do you find for? If it was sold though a car dealership, would it make a difference? If the fault was nothing obvious (problem in the fuel system), but ended up seriously injuring the buyer, who would you find for? This time, you sell the car, and it's fine, but you're paid with counterfeit money by a crook. He then takes it across town, sells it on, and flees the country. You're the judge again - who do you award the car to, the original seller or the second buyer? (Profile 228)





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tag:blog.oxbridgeadmissions.com,2013:Post/1468788 2019-10-19T16:00:00Z 2019-10-22T02:42:33Z Applying for Law at Oxford University

There are two Law courses at Oxford: Course I is a three-year course; Course II is a four-year course which follows the same syllabus, but with a third year abroad at a university in France, Germany, Italy, or Spain (studying French, German, Italian, or Spanish law), or the Netherlands (studying European and International law). Students on Course II (Law with Law Studies in Europe) gain additional skills through exposure to different legal systems and the different approaches to teaching practised by our European partner institutions.

Students who have graduated in other subjects may undertake the accelerated ‘Senior Status’ version of Course I. For further information about the courses, please refer to the Law Faculty website.

Academic Requirements:
- A-levels: AAA
- Advanced Highers: AAB or AA with an additional Higher at grade A
- IB: 38 (including core points) with 666 at HL

We’ve compiled some useful tips -- preparation leading up to the interview, and real world experiences describing the interviews themselves. If you find a tip particularly useful, click through the profile link for more information.

How did you decide between Oxford and Cambridge?

For my subject, I had the impression that Oxford had a better reputation and record of results. In addition, after visiting Oxford I found I liked the atmosphere of the city and university. (Profile 799)

Preferred Cambridge but only slightly (loved them both) but Oxford was about 1.5 hrs closer to home and took approx 8 people per college for my subject whereas Cambridge only took approx 3. (Profile 933)

Oxford as a city appeals more and, again rightly or wrongly, I had this feeling that Oxford was better for law. (Profile 772)

Do you have any advice for future applicants in terms of preparation?

Read "Letters to a law student" - essential. Then find a lawyer who has been to Oxbridge and get him/her to take you through legal problems. That is what you will get in the interview. (Profile 772)

Say why you are interested in law, what particular area (i said constitutional), what you've been reading and give this much more weight than outside interests (Profile 219)

Do not listen to anyone who says you cannot prepare! Especially those who say it with regards to law. Read law books like Glanville Williams, A.W.B. Simpson etc. in order to fine-tune a more logical way of thinking that the tutors are looking for. Read newspapers critically. N.B. Try and the find the decisive word(s); the thing on which your opinion on the article/cace/etc. Hinges. (Profile 864)

Look up all deadlines and course requirements well in advance, and comply with them as soon as possible.

If possible, arrange a mock interview with someone you don't know well personally, perhaps a head of Sixth Form. This will prepare you for the format of the interview and should make it easier to deal with the real thing. Unless your mock interviewer has specific knowledge of the Oxbridge admissions system, the actual questions will probably be nothing like the real thing, but it should get you into the right mindset.

Before the interview: Set generous margins for error in all travel arrangements to avoid panic. If you have a long journey it may be best to travel the day before and stay overnight.

Don't worry too much about doing reading in preparation. From my experience, the interviewers don't expect any specific subject knowledge (although this may only apply to subjects like Law that are not commonly done at A-Level) and you won't get much of a chance to use it. Try to relax so you can think clearly.

Have answers ready for 'stock' questions like "Why do you want to study ____?" These are normally asked at the start to put you at your ease, and won't make or break you, but giving a good answer will help calm you down and do better.

For the interview itself: Don't rush. Always allow yourself a little time to think about what you're going to say.

On the other hand, don't be so afraid of being 'wrong' that you don't say anything! You're allowed to change your mind. (Profile 799)

For law there is nothing that you can do to prepare! It is all questions based on an extract which you had half an hour to read before hand. There were no questions about my personal statement or why i wanted to do law- thankfully, i think thats a horrible question! (Profile 933)

What questions were you asked during your interview(s)?

We spoke about the following topics with regard to my personal statement:
- Article 23 (HK law)
- Work experience
- English literature

We then discussed a passage based on a law case for the rest of the interview. (Profile 1019)

I was ripped apart in the first one! Had never felt as stupid really! I was given a section from a statute and asked to interpret it and see which cases would apply. The second was aimed more at my interests and was about as difficult but more comfortable

What is your favourite subject? Why did you do mostly science subjects if you want to do law (they asked my friend why didn't he do sciences!)? They were the common ones. (Profile 219)

Things like. What is the diffetrence between Euthanasia and Assissted suicide? And then But what if this happened? and what about this situation? etc etc (Profile 933)

I was asked NOTHING about my personal life, sport, music, etc etc. It was all about law and legal problems. For the first interview I had half an hour or so to read an article on the meaning of "intent". It was complicated but there was enough time to read it thoroughly. The first part of the interview was on the article, and then some questions about intent as applied to murder. As I said, the interviewers were incredibly polite and friendly, but pushed me very very hard. After murder, I was asked questions about when you might/might not be obliged to pay someone who washed your car in a supermarket car park. (Profile 772)




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tag:blog.oxbridgeadmissions.com,2013:Post/1468790 2019-10-19T16:00:00Z 2019-10-22T02:51:39Z Applying for History at Oxford University

Oxford’s History course combines the examination of large regions over extended periods of time with more focused work on smaller social groups, shorter periods and particular themes. It provides a distinctive education by developing an awareness of the differing political, cultural, social and economic structures within past societies and how they interrelate. The course combines vigorous debate over questions of interpretation with rigorous attention to source material, while the constant enrichment by cross-fertilisation from other disciplines leads to new questions about the past.

Academic Requirements:
- A-levels: AAA
- Advanced Highers: AA/AAB
- IB: 38 (including core points) with 666 at HL

How did you decide between Oxford and Cambridge?

Cambridge doesn’t do history and politics, and I didn't want to do straight history or their social science course because I'm not interested in sociology or psychology particularly. I was all set for Cambridge though, until I went there and realised i really hated it, it was so small and unimpressive and I just didn't like it, so started looking at Oxford instead. (Profile 809)

It's a bit complicated! When I was younger I had always intended to apply to Cambridge, because I knew it slightly better due to living about an hour's drive away. However when choosing my AS Levels I looked on their website and found that I was in a bad position from their point of view due to having not taken an MFL at GCSE. Although I have since rectified this, when I contacted them at the time about how strict this requirement was their response was less than friendly. On the other hand, when I contacted the Oxford colleges regarding the most appropriate AS Levels to choose, they were unfailingly friendly. By the time I had left the Oxford Open Day my Oxford loyalty was well and truly confirmed! (Profile 932)

The fact that Cambridge may not have been able to overlook my GCSE's and I preferred the atmosphere at Oxford, it felt more fun and sociable. (Profile 671)

Why did you choose the History course at Oxford?

Originally I had applied for a variation on politics or international relations at all of my other 5 choices, however Oxford doesn't offer straight politics. As a result I had to put down combined honours and have little interest in philosophy so PPE wasn't an option. However when they offered me single offers I took a lot of time to think about it and I realised I preferred history as a discipline. Also my ultimate aim is to join the FCO and this degree course at this institution will help me progress with that after graduation. (Profile 671)

I had originally intended to apply for English, then whilst looking at prospectuses became attracted to the idea of a Joint Honours degree in English and History, because they were both subjects that came naturally to me and that I really enjoyed. However, I came to realise that I would be better off applying for one or the other subject, since attempting to juggle both - and thus possibly missing out on the depth or breadth of both - would probably have frustrated me. By that time I had come to enjoy my History A Level far more than my English. My final 'test' of which was the best to apply to was in my Personal Statement; I found myself writing about how much I loved History and realising that it was quite true and that it was indeed the subject I wished to study for 3 or more years. (Profile 932)

I love history and politics from doing them at A level, and particularly political history and looking at the past and finding links and similarities to the present, so why not learn both together. (Profile 809)

Do you have any advice for future applicants in terms of preparation?

If you are applying for history look at the online HAT tests, I hadn't and regretted it later. (Profile 671)

Don't worry too much about preparing; a mock interview is very helpful but don't expect it to be like the real thing, it's more to help you get used to thinking aloud than anything else. If you have to sit the HAT, I would definitely advise looking through a few past papers and mark schemes (available on the Oxford History Faculty website) so that you can get a feel for what they are looking for in your answers. (Profile 932)

Read around your A level topics for history, particularly if you send in a school essay. Make sure you've read all the books you mention in your personal statement and know at least something about areas of interest you've mentioned. Think about arguments and counter arguments for things you read and research. Don't worry too much!! (Profile 809)

Did you have to submit any written work prior to the interview?

They requested an A2 level essay. This was problematic for me as we hadn't yet been set one at my college. As a result I submitted an AS essay. They had no problem with this (I explained at my interview) and in fact it was beneficial as much of the interview was based on the topic of my essay which was one I had enjoyed and felt comfortable talking about. (Profile 671)

One piece of A2 History work, marked and unchanged for Oxford entry. I found the stipulations for this (that it had to be a 'normal essay' rather than source-based etc) a little difficult to fulfil and so sent in an AS essay with a covering letter. They accepted this, although it did make for a few hairy moments in the interview when they asked me to explain my reasons for sending an AS, not A2 essay and I made a less-than-coherent response! I would advise future applicants to get the written work sent off well in advance of the date required; mine got there in the nick of time and made for a few very stressful days. (Profile 932)

One essay. Mine was simply a homework essay of about 1200 words.

My interviewers commented that it was on a topic which they had not seem from any other candidate. Lots of applicants had submitted their coursework, many on the same topics, so I would suggest that sometimes doing something different can set you apart. (Profile 713)

I submitted one of the A2 essays we'd been doing which was fine. I'd done quite well so I didn't have to do anything to it. (Profile 809)

What questions were you asked during your History interview(s)?

Most of the questions centred around my essay in the history interview although they did ask me one question related to an activity on my personal statement (membership of an archaelogical society, which they followed up with - what does archaeology have to do with history?). Politics was entirely about what I chose to talk about within what I've studied as there was no written work submission requirement. Although the scary french research assistant asked me what the cause of wars was and gave me three options to choose from, the only problem being I agreed with none of them so babbled rather incessantly. (Profile 671)

In my first interview I was grilled on the 1930s and my perception of the Depression, and was then asked (regarding Russia) to give 5 points about industrialisation. In my second interview I was invited to ask questions about the source and we then discussed the motives of various figures featured in Luther's account and the possible self-bias on Luther's part. I was also asked about various elements of my Personal Statement, and the tutor very kindly recommended a book for me to read on one of the extra-curricular topics I had mentioned! (Profile 932)

In the history interview they asked me about the essay I'd submitted (about Germany) and the period in general and in its context, and linked it to the rest of Europe and the future of Germany. It was ok, felt good because it was about something I was comfortable talking about. For politics they asked everyone about the same two areas, world government and why we obey the law. I thought this was hard and kinda harsh, it seemed more at home in a law or PPE interview. But everyone was in the same boat so it wasn't so bad.

They asked about the ways leaders try to unify people (I started talking about politics and Sarah Palin and then realsied it was a history interview), and about why communism is so repressive. For politics they asked me about the EU which I've never studied so that wasn't too good, and about traffic lights, should we go through red ones. The questions didn't seem too bad which made me think they were going easy on me and no way would i get in.(Profile 809)

The head interviewer offered me a piece of advice during the interview which I think would serve all History applicants well: "Don't be frightened to state the obvious!"

First interview: half time was spent discussing submitted essay and the other half discussing general history topics, particularly concerning how you would go about researching topics.

Second interview: discussion of a set text, which we were given 1 hour before the interview. In my case, the piece was about 10/11 pages and was on a topic I had no prior knowledge of. Lots of the questions were thematic, rather than knowledge specific. (Profile 713)


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tag:blog.oxbridgeadmissions.com,2013:Post/1468784 2019-10-18T16:00:00Z 2019-10-22T02:26:06Z Applying to Engineering at Cambridge University

The Department of Engineering at Cambridge is one of the few truly integrated engineering departments in the world. It is also the largest department in the University of Cambridge. Its breadth and scale bring unique advantage. The research portfolio develops pinnacles of world-class excellence, which adapt and combine to address a vast array of engineering challenges. Graduate teaching brings students into the heart of the latest research and developments. The undergraduates gain a strong foundation in all engineering disciplines together with in-depth knowledge of their chosen specialist field. Across research, teaching and graduate study, the Department of Engineering offers all its staff, students and industry partners a highly networked community for sharing and developing engineering knowledge.

Academic Requirements
- A-level: A*A*A
- IB: 40-42 points, with 776 at Higher Level

How did you decide between Oxford and Cambridge?

I liked the smaller city of Cambridge, and preferred the Cambridge course in my subject. (Profile 406)

Oxford didn’t offer aeronautical engineering - Cambridge does. (Profile 403)

Cambridge had better engineering reputation (Profile 405)

Why did you choose this course?

I intend to progress to Chemical Engineering later. (Profile 400)

It’s what I wanted to do, and the cambridge one is particularly good as you have two years general engineering where you do a bit of everything. (Profile 390)

They offered a general course with options to specialise in later years. (Profile 987)

Do you have any advice for future applicants in terms of preparation?

Make sure you read all the interview information sent, through obscure links and the like. Some engineering students didn't see the additional interview tasks which were somewhat hidden. The shock of realising this is probably the only impact of this in interview (they wouldn't fail you for it) but still it would be one hell of a shock. (Profile 926)

Know your PS back to front and consider every possible question which may come of it. know your syllabus inside out for maths and physics. do some C1, C2, M1, physics papers in preparation. (Profile 987)

Read 'How things work. The Physics of Everyday Life.' Not only is it something to put in the PS but there is a good chance you will be asked at least one question on a subject covered by the book. Also make sure that you know your AS and A2 work inside out- anything they ask will most likely stem from this. (Profile 945)

The Forms: Be enthusiastic about your subject, and about the university you've chosen. Don't say anything you can't back up at interview, or contradict your UCAS form. They say extracurricular interests are unimportant, but mention them anyway - I had several questions on mine.

The interview(s): Do some wider reading around maths and science, e.g. New Scientist, popular maths and science books, before your interviews, in case you're asked about an area of particular interest. Try to arrange a mock interview with someone, but don't prepare your answers in too much detail. (Profile 406)

The Forms: I just copied my UCAS Section 10 and changed 2 words.

The interview(s): You need to be interested in engineering (obviously), and need to have some knowledge on the particular branch of engineering that you want to go into. It would be helpful if you had an idea of what you wanted to do after graduation. (Profile 403)

The Forms: Not specifically as I really can't tell how important it is. I filled in the form highlighting how I would benefit from the supervision system, a little about the college and picked on an aspect of the course (perhaps specific only to Oxbridge).

The interview(s): As you probably know, if you indicate an interest in chemical engineering, your interview will not differ in anyway from an interview for an engineer (i.e there will be no chemistry questions).

For engineering I found it useful to keep up to date on my A Level learning. I did do some wider reading around the subject although I found specialised books of little help (for that reason - they are too specialised and you'd be lucky to have a question on the book's subject). I did, however, read the Physics Review Magazines - they are useful in making you more aware of physics beyond the curriculum. I noticed that my friends and myself were being asked questions answered in these magazines. Have an interest in the subject and be able to speak enthusiastically at your interview, no matter if it's bridges you're enthusiastic about. (Profile 400)

What questions were you asked during your interview(s)?

I was asked mostly non subject-specific questions, e.g. why engineering, why Cambridge, why Christ's, extracurricular interests. My subject specific questions mainly did not require me to write anything down, and were easier than those in my mock interview. I was asked about: Newton's Laws of motion, circular motion and planetary orbits, pendulums, electromagnetic induction and transformers, finding the nth term of the Fibonacci sequence (using the trend towards a common ratio (Geometric Progression)). (Profile 406)

The first interview was a mechanics one. We talked over differential equations of motion, the objective of which to derive v^2=u^2+2as from a=dv/dt (and consequently a=v dv/ds). We then talked a little about circular motion (the direction of the acceleration in a whirled string, and the direction of velocity) and progressed this topic further. The second interview was a maths/physics one. I was asked to differentiate certain functions and draw their differentials. I was then asked the integral of 1/x between infinity and negative infinity. The next section concerned electrical physics and the base units (or more useful meanings of certain values). i.e a volt as a joule per coulomb. The third interview began on the subject of a guitar and how it produces a note/sound. the conversation progressed through Archimedes' Principle (how objects float), with a theoretical question of whether there would be an upthrust or not if a perfectly smooth object was on a perfectly smooth ocean floor). The final question was about the factors to consider in building a long span bridge - an open ended question which I was allowed to talk through for a couple of minutes. It was interesting to note that the interviewers made a point of asking me about my extra curricular activities - whether this was just a trivial matter or meant something to the interview, I am unsure. (Profile 400)

Tutorial: Why engineering Why Cambridge Math: SHM Calculus Derivation of golden ratio other equation formation and manipulation Physics: Projectiles up a slope mechanics of a pull-string car zero gravity combustion (Profile 405)

Looking at force as mass x change of rate in velocity. Then looking at how momentum and velocity vary as mass changes. Also a question looking at statics of rigid bodies in a slightly new way. The second interview was just a series of questions at the harder end of the A-Level specification but nothing to outrageous. (Profile 945)

In the first one there was a graph sketch (which was impossible and the interviewer had to basically tell me how to do it) then there were complex numbers, integration and differentiation questions.

After I had 40mins to prepare two out of three physics problems on a sheet, and in the interview went through my answers explaining what i did and it didn't seem to matter i got them all wrong.  (Profile 390)

What advice do you have for potential applicants based on your experiences?

Apply to Christ's if you have an excellent record at GCSE and good AS module results (they'll ask for your module results after you apply). Try to be yourself and not be too nervous at interview, and be prepared to go elsewhere if you don't get an offer. (Profile 406)

Relax about it all. Don't get too wound up in preparations: you cannot revise to imrove your mode of thought which is what they are after. (Profile 405)

If you think you have what it takes, go for it and be fairly thorough in your preparation- revise what you know, do some reading and find out about engineering in general. If you know at heart that you won't get a place, leave it- Oxbridge isn't the be-all and end-all!! And either way, GOOD LUCK!! (Profile 945)

It is not as daunting as you may think. Its a largely painless process (providing you do the preparation and work) and the tutors want to see you at your best not watch you suffer. Also be pleasant and greet them and generally be engaging - even if you're shy. (Profile 987)


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tag:blog.oxbridgeadmissions.com,2013:Post/1468781 2019-10-18T16:00:00Z 2019-10-22T02:21:50Z Applying for Engineering Science at Oxford University

Engineering Science encompasses a vast range of subjects, from microelectronics to offshore oil platforms, and involves the application of creative reasoning, science, mathematics (and of course experience and common sense) to real problems.

The Department of Engineering Science at Oxford has a top-level quality assessment rating for teaching and a world-class reputation for research. Oxford believes that future engineering innovation will benefit from broad foundations as well as specialised knowledge; it’s undergraduate teaching is based on a unified course in Engineering Science, which integrates study of the subject across the traditional boundaries of engineering disciplines. Links between topics in apparently diverse fields of engineering provide well-structured fundamental understanding, and can be exploited to give efficient teaching.

Academic Requirements
- A-levels: A*A*A to include Mathematics and Physics. The A*s must be in Mathematics, Physics, or Further Mathematics
- Advanced Highers: AA/AAB
- IB: 40 (including core points) with 776 at HL (with 7x in HL Mathematics and Physics)

How did you decide between Oxford and Cambridge?

I prefer Oxford as a city. The Engineering course also has more flexibility in Oxford in that you can choose to study Engineering, Economics and Management in the second year (subject to prelim grades). (Profile 1044)

Thought that Oxford was better and more flexible for my course. Also had family near Oxford. (Profile 408)

I applied for a combination of Engineering/Comp Science which can only be studied at Oxford. (Profile 399)

Both oxford and cambridge courses start out very general in the first two years which appealed to me as i wasn't sure which field of engineering i was most interested in and so thought was best to go somewhere where i could look at different aspects. Modern engineering problems tend to be very diverse and require an understanding of all types eg civil, electronic, mechanical etc, so thought a breadth of knowledge would be useful later. (Profile 751)

Do you have any advice for future applicants in terms of preparation?

Do extra reading around your subject as that will demonstrate to the tutors that you're interested in the course. Read New Scientist, check the recommended reading list on the Cambridge website for any books related to your course that interest you. (Profile 1044)

Have all your A level game down - thats all there is to it. The interviewers are not trying to "catch you out" they want to find out how good you are, which they can only do by asking questions based on what you know. So all the maths problems will start with something based on A level material and then build on it. Dont worry about slick answers to stuff like "why do you want to study engineering"- the tutors are academics, ie they don't care about banter/chat just how well wire up your neurons are - stick to the maths and physic theory. (Profile 751)

Know your calculus very well for engineering because in both of my interviews that was the only maths that came up. (Profile 895)

The Forms: Don't think too hard about filling out the additional info section of the form. I spent days thinking about it, but what I wrote was so simple but really put forward why I want to be at Oxford.

The interview(s): Make sure you know your stuff, so to speak, but don't overprepare, it really ends up being a waste of time at best. Just make sure you know what you wrote on your UCAS and application form. Most of the questions asked at interviews involve appling simple concepts in unfamiliar situations, so there is no need to spend hours revising as if for an exam! (Profile 408)

DON'T BE NERVOUS OR TENSE. Just relax and take your time answering the questions. When answering, literally speak your mind out. Tutors want to know your thinking process more than the answers. (Profile 742)

The interview(s): don't think the questions are easy, tutors look for depth, keep talking. (Profile 399)

Be meticulous with it because you don't know what will come up in the interview and you'd be kicking yourself if you hadn't revised something which was AS standard which you should have known. (Profile 895)

What questions were you asked during your interview(s)?

The first interview (at Balliol) was more conceptual in that they asked "imagine that you are in such and such a situation...". The questions required me to relate topics that I had learned at school and apply them to completely new types of questions. There were some short questions at the beginning involving maths, and then a long 20 minute physics question where I ended up deriving a formula and relating it to another topic. It was surprisingly interesting and entertaining.

Second interview had many more pure maths and physics questions, but they also asked a more general engineering question on a topic that you will not have studied at school. I only knew about this topic thanks to extra reading that I did on my own. (Profile 1044)

I was asked questions of circular motion, emf on a plane wing in the earth's magnetic field and problems of inert gas build up during the Haber Bosch Process at my Balliol interview. At the Somerville interview, I was given a problem on how much energy was required to fill a bath, which involve sensible estimation of average lengths and tempatures as well as specific heat capacity, and another question on the integration of 1/x, leading to the derivation of the estimation ln(1+z)=z when z is very small. (Profile 408)

At Brasenose he started from differential equations, asking what they were, how engineers use them, how to apply them when studying vibrations of aircraft wings. He asked why is aluminium still in aircraft used when composites are available (Got that one wrong). Also he provided a diagram and equations of a car suspension and asked how to improve it etc. Those at Wadham first asked the relation between F1 cars and aircrafts (from my statement), then asked me to form mathematical models of a ball attached to a spring regarding force, velocity, and the mathematical relation between current and time in an inductor circuit. (Profile 742)

To start with, a couple of non-important personlity/interest questions to settle me in. After that the questions were purely physics and maths based, where you need to think quickly on your feet, and think aloud because if you stumble onto the right track the interviewers generally give you a positive hint, e.g. why don't we explore that option? (Profile 895)



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tag:blog.oxbridgeadmissions.com,2013:Post/1468786 2019-10-18T16:00:00Z 2019-10-22T02:34:56Z Applying for English at Oxford University

There are two main course offerings at Oxford if you’re looking to focus on English:
- English Language and Literature
- English and Modern Language

The English Language and Literature course at Oxford is one of the broadest in the country, giving students the chance to study writing in English from its origins in Anglo-Saxon England to the present.

The English side of the  English and Modern Language course offers students a choice of options covering a comprehensive span of literature written in the English language from its origins in Anglo-Saxon through to works produced in English-speaking countries across the world in the present day. The Modern Language study will give students practical linguistic training, encourage them to think coherently about language as a subject of study, and introduce them to an extensive and fascinating literature and thought written in European Languages.

The academic requirements are the same for both courses:
- A-levels: AAA
- Advanced Highers: AA/AAB
- IB: 38 (including core points) with 666 at HL

How did you decide between Oxford and Cambridge?

[English and Modern Languages] Because I thought it Oxford was the best university in the country, for both Modern Languages and English Oxford has the biggest departments (Profile 732)

[English Language and Literature] I preferred the town and the course. I also preferred the Oxford emphasis on the arts. (Profile 1082)

[English and Modern Languages] Oxford has a superior reputation for English and has the Bod - what other reason do you need? Also, the city itself is supposed to be a little more fun. (Profile 639)

Do you have any advice for future applicants in terms of preparation?

[English Language and Literature] Keep a journal of what you are reading from about six months in advance of the interview - include articles, excerpts and poems as well of summaries of books. You may be asked about literature which you haven't read in about a year so ensuring that you have as much as possible in your journal helps you prepare directly before the interview and will also help condense your ideas. (Profile 1082)

[English Language and Literature] Read whatever gets YOU going. Don't try and tick boxes - I read four Jane Austen novels for the sake of it, but I don't think I could sustain a conversation about them for longer than ten minutes. If you read what genuinely interests you, you'll be able to talk about it at interview much more easily. Of course, read widely, but not at the expense of enjoyment. (Profile 959)

[English and Modern Languages] Read lots and lots, and go and see plays and films of the books you're reading so you've got a lot to talk about. read widely, but have a couple of things that you specialise in (Profile 732)

[English and Modern Languages] Definitely seek out people to give you mock interviews - teachers, guidance counsellors and family friends - if you've had practice at verbalising your opinions about literature, the interview will feel far more natural and enjoyable. 

Know your written work well and don't pretend to like a poem/novel/play which you hate. Being honest about your opinions is the best way to go. Also don't focus on extra-curriculars... these seem to hold little or no importance. (Profile 639)

What questions were you asked during your interview(s)?

[English Language and Literature]
- Why do Shakespeare's Tragedies interest you, as opposed to his other plays?
- Why do you think the rounding of characters in Measure for Measure is weaker than in Shakespeare's tragedies?
- Discuss the theme of 'evil' as it is manifested in Hamlet, Othello, Macbeth and King Lear.
- Attribute one of the following types of evil to each play: Metaphysical evil, Natural evil, Human evil.
- Contrast the idea of time in Macbeth and Hamlet.
- What does Joseph Conrad's 'Heart of Darkness' lack that is present in his other works?
- Why are the natives in 'Heart of Darkness' voiceless?
- Is Conrad rascist, as Achebe has argued?
- Are there any glimmers of hope in Conrad's bleak portrayal for the human condition?
- What is your perception of the dynamic between nature and humanity in Conrad's fiction?
- Discuss the theme of fate in Thomas Hardy's novels. (I showed them my fortune cookie and told them I was inclined to side with Hardy. I got it in my first night in Oxford, and it read 'Congratulations! You are on your way')
- In what way is character linked to fate?
- How does Hardy portray woman, specifically, Tess from 'Tess of the D'Uberville's'?
- How does Hardy portray the dynamic between women in his novels?
- To what extent is Tess a victim?
- Discuss the authorial voice in Thackeray's 'Vanity Fair'
- What is your opinion of Becky in Thackeray's 'Vanity Fair'?
- How does Thackeray communicate his own feelings to his readers? Does he do this effectively? (Profile 959)

[English Language and Literature] I was asked general questions about why I like Hopkins and the questions grew more specific: what made me think Hopkins' style was similar to that of Keats? Compare the ways in which Eliot and Hopkins talk about Spring. Did I think that it was possible for a poem to sound masculine or feminine based on the use of phonics in the poem?

We moved on to the Romantics - questions were very specific - what was it about the first line of 'Composed Upon Westminster Bridge' which made it so resonant? 

Finally we discussed Shakespeare; I was asked about my favourite Shakespeare play and why I liked that one best. I was then asked why it (Romeo and Juliet) was similar to Othello, what I thought of Othello's last speech and why I thought the final scene was set in a bedroom.

In the second interview I was asked to discuss the poem line-by-line and was asked questions about the significance of the rhythm of certain words and asked to explain some of the metaphors which the poet used. (Profile 1082)

[English and Modern Languages] In French I spoke about Baudelaire, Macbeth and Sartre, and studied a ridiculously difficult extract- a modern poem in english. I also spoke in French about Bonjour Tristesse shortly.

English I analysed On My First Sonne by Ben Jonson, then I spoke a bit about James Joyce and Virginia Woolf. Then I spoke about Hamlet and the differences in Beowulf translations (Profile 732)


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tag:blog.oxbridgeadmissions.com,2013:Post/1468779 2019-10-17T16:00:00Z 2019-10-22T02:18:29Z Applying to Economics at Cambridge University

Economics at Cambridge University provides a sound understanding of core, pure and applied economics. However, while students may study economics in considerable depth in Cambridge’s specialised degree, they will also employ ideas and techniques from many other disciplines too; including history, sociology, mathematics and statistics, and politics.

Cambridge faculty - past and present - include some of the largest names in Economics, including Alfred Marshall and John Maynard Keynes. Notable faculty members have also been awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics (Sir John Hicks, James Meade, Sir Richard Stone, Sir James Mirrlees and Amartya Sen)

Academic Requirements
- A-levels: A*A*A
- IB: 40-42 points, with 776 at Higher Level

How did you decide between Cambridge and Oxford?

I wanted to do straight economics, not economics + management/politics & philosophy. Also, I heard that the economics courses at Cambridge were more mathematical (which I think I would prefer) than the ones at Oxford. (Profile 241)

Wanted straight economics, not PPE or E+M (Profile 171)

Oxford didn't offer pure Economics (Profile 242)

They design interviews so that prep doesn't help, don't stress if your school isn't very good at this kind of thing, or you haven't done any. BUT, if you do prep you will feel much more confident going into the interview, which helps - I'd done so much prep I wasn't at all nervous going into the interview. (Profile 1208)

The best choice for me was cambridge because i liked their teaching style, facilities, general atmosphere and social atmosphere better than oxford. (Profile 50)

Do you have any advice for future applicants in terms of preparation?

Oxbridge forms - keep them neat and dont go over the top on the personal statement addition part. Do a lot of reading (financial current affairs) and concentrate on at least one book to read (I recommend Schumacher's 'Small Is Beautiful'). (Profile 50)

Be absolutely on top of the stuff in the A-level syllabus. Read lots of books - I particularly like Paul Krugman's books. Also, there is an archive of his (very insightful) articles at: http://www.pkarchive.org. (Profile 241

Don't write down books you've supposedly read on your PS before you've read them. I had to quickly read Wealth of Nations because of this. Find a topic in Economics you enjoy or find most interesting, and read up on that. It's more pleasurable than reading a massive Economics tome and more productive. It also means that you can show a real passion for the subject in the interview, by displaying an in depth knowledge of a specific area which interests you. (Profile 242)

Make sure u have a sound grasp of economics and some knowledge of current affairs. My interview was more about thinking on my feet, so dont over-prepare, but dont take it too easy either. (Profile 239)

What questions were you asked during your Economics interview(s)?

I was quite surprised at the questions- they were pretty standard fare. I was expecting some very scary, very very hard weird off beat questions, but they didn't come. Nothing you woudn't encounter in your standard textbook (Samuelson?). Thats not to say I waltzed through. I certainly messed up quite a few, and most of my answers were pretty unconvincing. To be honest, I felt my performance was pretty ordinary and I was surprised I got an offer. (Profile 241

1st interview with economics fellows, was given data, concentrated on macroeconomics particularly development and trade.

2nd interview with admissions tutor (classics fellow) general problem, which was in fact economic in nature - to do with funding the college. then discussion about deflation and a little economic history thrown in. (Profile 171)

Sketch: (3x-2)/(x^2-3x+2) 

Two train companies running from Cambridge to London (A and B), each has trains running every 20 minutes. Man arrives at Cambridge station between 8-9am each day (random time, all times are equally likely). After a few weeks he notices that he uses company A three times as much as company B. Give a possible train schedule that would explain this.

What would make the man more certain that this was the schedule?

5 pirates (in order of age) have to divide 100 coins between them using the following method; oldest pirate proposes a way of distributing the coins, if 50% or more vote in favour (they can vote for their own proposals), it is settled, if not, the oldest pirate is thrown overboard. This then continues with the next oldest pirate until the distribution is agreed. Assuming all the pirates are rational (trying to maximize their own payoffs) what will the first pirate propose?

Would pirate X accept is the first pirate offered Y instead?

I toss a coin but do not look at it, my three friends all look at it and each tell me whether it is heads or tails. However, 1/3 of the time, they are lying. Given that all three of them say it is heads, what are the chances that heads actually came up?

Had to talk about an economist article about opec overproducing oil, what they did, why they are doing it, and what will happen in the future. (Profile 1208)

Economics questions surprisingly. No general questions were asked, asked me to sketch a rather difficult graph which I messed up a bit, and then other economic stuff. It was mostly application of knowledge, but there was a bit of factual recall.  (Profile 239)




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tag:blog.oxbridgeadmissions.com,2013:Post/1468778 2019-10-17T16:00:00Z 2019-10-22T02:15:06Z Applying for Economics & Management at Oxford University

At Oxford University, the Economics and Management degree examines issues central to the world we live in: namely how the economy and organisations function, and how resources are allocated and coordinated to achieve the organisation’s objectives. 

Economics and Management are ideal intellectual partners, each particularly fitted to strengthen and cross-fertilize the other.

Academic Requirements
- A-levels: A*AA including Mathematics at grade A or above
- Advanced Highers: AA/AAB
- IB: 39 (including core points) with 766 at HL

How did you decide between Oxford and Cambridge?

I prefer the way the Oxford course is structured (less mathsy - Cambridge would prefer further maths I think). Also, Oxford is bigger than Cambridge (the city not the uni) so there's more things to do and places to see etc. (Profile 820)

Wanted to do management as well, and so Oxford was the obvious choice. Oxford's a nicer place too (Cambridge is just a dump) (Profile 141)

(Oxford) claimed to place extra emphasis on tutorial teaching, although I've found this to have little basis in truth. The reputation of the food was another important factor - and that IS true!

Since coming here, I've also found further advantages - the central location is a wonderful thing, and at a time when so many of my friends are desperately searching for private accommodation, I'm glad to be in a college that offers accommodation for your entire course should you need it. (Profile 471)

Do you have any advice for future applicants in terms of preparation?

MAKE SURE YOU REVISE A/S AND A2 STUFF. I cannot stress more the importance of being well revised. This was something I did not do particularly well, as i was told simply to keep up to date with current economic events. For the economics interview, all they care about is theory. So make sure you know it. (Profile 141)

Read as much as you can. My interviewer didn't ask anything about the books I wrote about in my personal statement, but it definitely gave me background knowledge to strengthen my answers. It shows interest if you are prepared to read outside the A Level topics. (Profile 820)

Read. Firstly, read a book. Maybe one for each subject. Don't go overboard and clear out your library, I'm sure one will do. Make sure you think about it and be able to talk about the issues it raised.

Secondly, be aware of current affairs, and if you've studied either Business or Economics (NOT a requirement, I might add), try to apply your theory to what's going on in the real world.

Personally I took a copy of the Financial Times with me when I went up to Oxford to interview, but by the time I arrived, I was too nervous to read it and spent my time pacing around my room. When I got back from my Management interview, I found pages two and three of it devoted entirely to what I'd had to talk about. If only, if only… (Profile 471)

Did you have to sit any pre-interview exams?

I sat the TSA. I thought the questions were ok but was short on time on the essay. I prepared for the questions by doing a practice paper off the website, but there's no way you could revise for the essay - the titles on offer were too obscure! (Profile 820)

I took the standard university-wide E&M exam, a specimen example of which is available on the Oxford website. Glancing over that was the only preparation I did; this exam tests the way you think, and you cannot really prepare for it. To be honest, though, though it seemed frightening, it was actually quite enjoyable - not something I often say about exams! (Profile 471)

Had to sit the TSA, and am still awaiting the results. These were supposedly used to cut off 50% of applicants pre-interview, so are quite important. You can't really revise too much for this, but try and look at some BMAT stuff, there's more of that available than just the 2 past papers for TSA. (Profile 833)

What questions were you asked during your interview(s)?

About the Target 2.0 competition, monetary policy, credit crisis, how I would reform the banking system, possible ways of administering mortgages in the future. Management questions were about an article. What is this about? What are the author’s feeelings on....? Read this extract.... what is the problem here? Why might managers having shares be a good idea? Why might it be a bad idea? But you just told me it was a good idea, which is it? (Profile 820)

In Management, I was first asked if I'd read anything in the subject, and then had to briefly discuss it. Then we moved on to discuss private sector involvement in health care. Economics centred quite a bit on me and my reasons for taking the course. I believe this is rare, however, and they just wanted to clear a few things up; don't assume it to be generally true. I also had to explain some things about the theory of perfect competition. (Profile 471)

I had to take a written test before my interviews. You can download a sample paper from the Oxford Website. Make sure you go through this, and make sure you understand how to get the answers to the mathematical questions, because the style of questions are similar in the real test too.

Management Interview : Q. There are 2 economists who are going to predict the headline rate of inflation. One is called Bob (who is old, more experienced, and has been correct 50% of the time). The other is Alan (who has just graduated from university and is familiar with the latest statistical techniques used to make economic forecasts. He is not very experienced, and has also been correct 50% of the time.) Which economist will you believe and why ? A. If you do want to choose one economist, don't be scared to go either way as long as you can back up your answer. However, a professional manager might be inclined to combine the works of both economists (e.g. take an average of both predictions or make them work together). Economics Interview : (Mostly questions based around what you're studying at the moment, or some stuff based on your essays you've sent. So when they ask you "what are you studying at the moment in Economics?", make sure you say something that you're comfortable talking about, because that's what the focus of all their questions will be. That was my biggest mistake. I said the truth, and I ended up being asked questions about topics that I had only just covered in class.) Q. Why should Britan join the Euro ? Q. What is a public good ? why is a public good something which has to be provided by the government and not by the private sector ? Q. What are the disadvantages of the regulation of Privatised Industries ? (Profile 141)

Through your work experience, and being Secretary of the Economics society, tell me what you have found the most important aspect of Management to be.

What do you think about debt relief to developing countries?

Long discussion about current affairs, after reading an article on the planned bail out of the US car industry. 

I had to plan a tariff for a bus route, after being given some information and assumptions. It was basically a logic exercise. The assumptions were then changed, and I had to figure out how this would change the tariff structure.

You are a buyer and want to buy a car. There is a seller, with a used car worth 1000 and a new car worth 2000. These are worth 1100 and 2100 to you. How much are you willing to pay for each car. If you didn't know what type of car it was, then how much would you be willing to pay? etc. Basically it was meant to be solved using basic probability and arithmetic. I messed this up though, as my mind went blank when it came to calculation. (Profile 833)


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