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Here’s a gorgeous picture of the view from my room in the snow! 

Firstly, I hope all of you did as well as you could have done in the interviews. Well done to those of you who managed to get an offer! NOW the hard work begins for you – make sure you meet those grades! 

 

I’m back at uni and have had my first experience of a Cambridge test! OK, so it was only a mock exam, but nevertheless scary! I’m just waiting for my results from it to see how I’ve done, but I think it went ok! 

Write soon,

 

Emily xxx

If you have an interview…WELL DONE! Your statement and grades are obviously great & you’ve impressed the admissions tutors thus far. 

Here are some tips for the interviews – I may have some more soon if I think of any extra! (NOTE: Cambridge will tend to interview you 2 times and you may have a test all at your college – Oxford will tend to interview you over a few days in a number of colleges)

Well, I’ll begin with my story. I was pooled to Robinson from Christs, meaning that there were simply too many applicants for my course that applied to Christ’s who were good enough to be accpeted, so I just got moved to Robinson. It was nothing to do with the fact that my interview was weak etc. Sometimes if you’re pooled and re-interviewed at another college it’s because they don’t think you showed your full potential in the first one – although this didn’t happen to me, but don’t think of it as a bad thing if it does happen to you!

I mean, the best bit of advice I can personally offer is to be realistic. You’re applying to the best uni in the country & although you obviously want to get an offer, remember that you’ll still end up at a great uni wherever you go – it’s not the be-all-and-end-all if you don’t get a place at Oxbridge. I took this attitude when I went into my interview and found that I was a lot more relaxed as a result. Don’t put so much pressure on yourself that it will result in you under-performing due to nerves. If you come out of the interview thinking ‘I genuinely did my best under the circumstances’ then you’ll be content no matter what happens.

Another thing is that they may well challenge everything you say (though this depends on your interviewer) – if they are pushing you further & further, it’s probably a good thing as it means that they want you to think even deeper. If you don’t understand something or need it verifying DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK THEM! It’s better to just say ‘I’m sorry, just to clarify/I don’t quite understand what you mean when you say…’ than to think you kind of get what they are saying and then answer the question, when really you have missed the point completely. They aren’t expecting you to know everything. if you don’t know say “I’m not entirely sure that this is correct/what you are looking for but I think it could mean…” (this happened to me in my interview and it was absolutely fine)

Another thing is to know your personal statement inside-out. If you don’t, it won’t come across great because you wrote it! If you have said something in it like “I am interested in theology because of…” and then give a reason, they may well ask you to elaborate on this, so be prepared to talk about anything on your statement. (Saying this, i got asked NOTHING about what was on my statement in both of my interviews, but conversely some of my friends were asked solely about the statement, so it really depends.)

Also, be prepared for some set questions. It’s likely that they’ll ask you things like “Why did you apply to Cambridge/Oxford/this college/to study this course?” So have things ready like “Cambridge/Oxford’s reputation/style of teaching/certain aspects of the course that attract you that perhaps aren’t available to study anywhere else/the communal feeling of the college & the friendly students” etc etc.

If I think of any more things I’ll let you know, but also if you have any more questions about what to wear/ask etc then please ask!

 

Good luck!!!

 

Emily x.x.x

GAHHH! I’m SO sorry that I haven’t done a post in over 2 months since I’ve actually been here at Cambridge, guys! It’s been a hectic, manic and busy time (as I’m sure freshers’ is at every uni) but I can honesly say that I’m having the best time of my life here!!

Obviously, there is always a lot of work, but the teaching is amazing and the work is interesting so you always get it done. Everyone here is SO nice & friendly, and you settle into life here very quickly indeed. My college is loooovely – I wouldn’t want to be at any other (College allegiances have formed already, as you can see – everyone probably says that about their college too!). I’ve already become really involved in college life and have recently (this week) won the role of Women’s Officer on the Robinson College Student’s Association (RCSA) in an election, which is very exciting!

I will upload some photos tomorrow, and I will also be doing a post or two in the next few days about THE INTERVIEW PROCESS!!! So keep looking out for this!

Lots of love,

Emily xxx

 

This is a vital part of the personal statement. Besides content, the unis (and especially Oxbridge) will want to see that you can structure your ideas coherently and in an ordered manner. I was taught to structure my statement in the following way and, well, it worked for me!

BUT REMEMBER! You ONLY have 4000 characters inc. spaces in which to convince the uni that they want you!

Paragraph 1 (about the subject you have chosen to do & why) – Open with a punchy sentence. Often this can be very hard to think of without it being too cheesy etc, but once you get it right, it will be great! Write in this paragraph why you want to study the course & what extra things you have done to do with the course and related interest. I.e. extra reading, IB Extended Essay, visits, trips etc.

 

Para 2 (extracurricular activities relating TO YOUR COURSE) – I.e writing articles for a website on your subject, other reading & what you thought about what you read. You only want to include a max of 3 works in the statement though, as it can get boring for the reader.

Para 2 and/or 3 – here you can pick particular aspects of the course & write about why they in particular interest you. For example:

Politics – feminism / origins of political thought

Psychology – psychology of power

Biology – gene therapy

Law – the origins of state law

etc.  HOWEVER, BE WARNED – as you only get to write ONE personal statement which is then sent off to ALL 5 of your uni choices, don’t choose to focus on a couple of areas that are specific to the course at ONLY ONE of your unis. Make them fairly general so that the info in your statement can be applicable to all of your unis, NOT JUST ONE!

In my case, at Cambridge I applied to read Politics, Psychology & Sociology, but at Durham, Exeter, Leeds & Sheffield I only applied to read Politics. I did slip in some bits about psychology & sociology to my statement, but made sure not to overload it. THIS IS A FINE AND DIFFICULT BALANCING ACT!

 

Para 4 (the usefulness of your other subjects) – In this paragraph, talk about the other subjects you study and what skills in them may be applicable to your uni course. I.e. Economics/languages for politics, philosophy for Medicine/law, THEORY OF KNOWLEDGE FOR IB STUDENTS is a MUST as they love it when you talk about epistemology.

 

Para 5 (other activities) – Make sure you keep this brief, as unis will mostly want to hear about your academic achievements. Here, write about any prefect roles, jobs, sports, DofE achievements, prize giving achievements etc. AGAIN, END ON A PUNCHY SENTENCE.

AVOID CLICHES, MAKE YOUR STATEMENT MEMORABLE AND DIFFERENT FROM EVERYONE ELSE’S. Although it can be good to look at other people’s statements for inspiration, there really is not set format for them or “correct things to write”. Show yourself off in the best light & you will be fine 🙂

 

Emily xx

This can literally make or break the decisions regarding your uni, so take it seriously & do it properly! The personal statement is what you send via UCAS to your 5 unis & they then give you a conditional offer based upon whether they they that they want you as a candidate for their uni (grades providing).

REMEMBER: Via UCAS you can only have 4000 characters, and THIS INCLUDES SPACES. You CAN’T go over it! This is a real test, as you should have more than enough to write about yourself. You should initially be way over this limit, if not, I’d be a bit worried! Of course, you can get loads of help & expertise from teachers at school and do make the most of this, as I got loads of useful tips. 

Be patient with it & take your time. Do as many drafts as you want. It took me 13 drafts to get the perfect personal statement. In contrast, I know of a boy who got into Oxford having completed his personal statement in only 3 goes! It really does depend on each individual & how concise & precise they can be when talking about themselves. 

Each time I gave in a statement I was prepared for it to get torn to pieces – personally I’d rather that so that I could have millions of corrections than be told that it’s okay and subconsciously know that I could do better. Structure of the statement is also so important. My final draft was really a re-jigging of the sentence order, rather than making proper corrections to the material itself. 

Maybe for some people it’s best to make a list of bullet points you want to include in the statement – academic interests, why you want to do the subject, extra-curricular activities, extra reading etc. anything that you think makes you unique from all of the other candidates who will be fighting for your place. Open & close with punchy sentences but AVOID CLICHES! Think long & hard about what you want to say & how you are trying to say  it. 

The most impostant thing is that you show yourself in the best way possible. Show yourself off, but DON’T brag about yourself & your achievements. 

I’ll do another post about the structure in more depth very soon! Feel free to ask any questions!

 

Emily xx

Seeing as it’s GCSE results day here in the UK for all 16 year olds, I thought I’d quickly post in regards to this & the Oxbridge application process!

Your GCSEs DO matter – if people tell you they don’t in the application process, then they aren’t telling you the entire truth! To what degree they matter, I can’t honestly say, but it is certain that both Oxford & Cambridge do take the results  into account.

Of course, what really matters to them are you A Level/IB/equivalent results when you hit 18, but when you apply you do have to state what grades you got for GCSEs, as you do when applying to other unis too! 

Supposedly Cambridge take GCSEs into account moreso than Oxford, but I think that’s probably because for some courses at Cambridge you don’t have to take a test upon applying. Oxford do look at them, though when reading your application.

Basically all that they’re looking for is to see that you’re academically consistent throughout your schooling life. They want to see that you are & have been hard-working for a long length of time. I got 5 A*s and 6 As for my GCSEs but these weren’t the best or the worst grades of people I know who applied & got an interview or a place, so it isn’t the end of the world if you don’t do quite as well at GCSE level! 

It’s not the end of the world, but don’t think that they don’t matter!