Presentation on theme: "Making a Competitive Application"— Presentation transcript:
1 Making a Competitive Application Dr Sam Lucy, Admissions Tutor, Newnham College, University of Cambridge
2 What information do we use to assess applications? We consider every application individually, taking all aspects into account:Academic recordPersonal statementTeacher’s referenceAdmissions test results (where required)Written work (where required)Contextual dataInterview (if interviewed)No part of an application is considered in isolation – all available information is looked at together before decisions are made.
3 What are we looking for? Academic ability and potential Subject requirementsGenuine subject interest– motivation and enthusiasmSuitability for chosen courseYour schoolIrrelevant extra-curricular activitiesYour background
4 The application process Choose courseChoose a College or open applicationUCAS application15 Oct+ SAQ (Cam)22 Oct1 in 5applicants made an offer (on average)Admissions test? Check registration deadlineWritten work and/or admissions testDecision(Jan)Interviews(Dec)
5 Personal statements Personal A starting point for interview discussion Reflect rather than listLess can be moreFocus on the chosen course(s)‘Why you should choose me for your course’Care and attention to detailBeware Googled quotations, ‘I have always’
6 Examination resultsThese are fundamental to any successful applicationCambridge asks for AS marks (UMS) in its SAQBoth universities take GCSEs into account – less weight placed on these by CambridgeTypical A Level offers:Cambridge A*A*A (Sciences) A*AA (Arts/Humanities)Oxford A*A*A - AAACambridge Welsh Baccalaureate Applicants taking the Advanced Diploma in the Welsh Baccalaureate are expected to have studied three subjects at A Level as part of their qualification. Offers are conditional on achievement in the A Levels within the qualification rather than the overall Baccalaureate award
10 Getting the most from your wider (deeper) reading Genuine interest in the subject outside the confines of the formal syllabusExtra reading and exploration are crucial to success, not just in arts subjectsCritical engagement with reading:What is the argument in this book/article?What is the supporting evidence?What do I think? How can I find out more?
11 Tests Medicine and Veterinary Medicine BMAT (all Colleges) Registration deadline 1st October 2013, test takes place 6th November 2013LawCambridge Law Test (most Colleges)Taken at interviewMathematicsSTEP (all Colleges)Forms part of conditional offers and is taken with A2-levelsOther subjectsTSA – Economics, Engineering, Natural Sciences (depends on College)Some other subjects have short additional tests at interview
13 Written workDepends on subject (Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities) and College – list on university websiteMost commonly a piece of work completed as part of sixth form studies (some Colleges set a question)Encourage applicants to think about the marker’s commentsThe most effective submitted work tends to be that which applicants are likely to enjoy discussing and which has been completed relatively recently
14 Interviews: An overview Normally two or more interviews, each usually lasting 20−30 minutesConducted by academics and predominantly academic and subject-focusedDiscussion-based and intellectually challengingCheck the websites for videos and further informationThe last piece in the jigsaw rather than the ‘final hurdle’Cambridge interviews over 80% of applicantsAt Oxford, for some courses over 90% applicants interviewed but for heavily over-subscribed courses can be less than 30% interviewedInterviews usually held late November or during the first 3 weeks in December – please avoid making any unbreakable commitments for this time!Discussion-based and will challenge students to think in new ways and beyond what they know - combining existing knowledge and skills with new materialBackground information for presenter to be aware ofThe Interviews in Action film on the Cambridge website ( and podcasts on the Oxford website ( show what typical interviews are like so applicants know what to expect.14
15 Interviews: what to expect SUBJECT-SPECIFIC INTERVIEWDiscussion based on academic interests mentioned in personal statementSciences: a specimen to discussAssess knowledgeand understandingof subject and flexibility of thoughtDiscussion of any submitted essaysApplication of existing knowledge to new situationsArts: perhaps a text to discussChallenging questions relating to A-level coursesSample teaching session – like a supervisionSciences: problems to work through
16 Interviews: What are Admissions Tutors looking for? Academic ability and potential to be successfulSelf-motivation, commitment and serious interest in the chosen courseAbility to think independently and criticallyUse of existing knowledge to assess new problemsNo trick questions!Interviews aren’t the ‘final hurdle’ – all aspects of a student’s application are considered togetherInterviews allow Admissions Tutors to assess:whether applicant’s interests and aptitudes are best suited to the course chosengenuine passion for the subject areaenthusiasm for complex and challenging ideasclarity of thought and analytical abilityintellectual flexibilitywhere appropriate, vocational or professional commitmentExpect to think hard but remember that interviewers aren’t trying to catch anyone outVery often no right or wrong answers to the questions so don’t panic if you don’t know the answer to a question - interviewers are looking to see how you think and apply what you know to new challengesHow you reach an answer is generally of more interest than the answer itselfNote: aware of private companies who charge to offer info and advice on our admissions process and interviews – we DO NOT support/encourage any such commercial enterprises and none have access to any info not already readily available free of charge from the University Admissions Office, Colleges and University Students’ Unions16
17 P R E Preparing to apply Programme of study Results Engage and explore Course choice is the most important decision –research thoroughly, personal interest(s)ResultsWork hard to do as well as you can in your current studiesEngage and exploreBe proactive in your learning – current studies and interests relevant to your intended degreePractiseDiscussing your academic interest(s)Past/example admissions test papersTime management – generally and for tests/exams
18 Finding out more Cambridge Oxford OxfordIf you have any remaining questions, do not hesitate to ask a College Admissions Tutor or Admissions Officer