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Competitive admissions: How to prepare for applications to competitive universities.

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Presentation on theme: "Competitive admissions: How to prepare for applications to competitive universities."— Presentation transcript:

1 Competitive admissions: How to prepare for applications to competitive universities

2 What are the competitive universities? Oxford Cambridge Russell Group Music conservatoires Harper Adams (Agriculture)

3 Reasons to Apply Academic Stretch & Challenge High Retention Rate High Student Satisfaction High Rate of 2:1s & First class degrees Research Intensive Selective not Recruiting Operate Globally Blue Chip Career Prospects Financial Investment in Students

4 Work Related Learning. Medicine & Nursing Engineering Education Business & Management Art & Design Courses Agriculture Horticulture Work experience or work related learning is becoming increasingly important as a selection tool

5 Admissions Tests Universities place plenty of emphasis on them If they werent interested they wouldnt ask BMAT, UKCAT, Cambridge Assessment, L NAT, STEP,TSA, ELAT, HAT,


7 A taxi companys fares consist of a flat rate for picking up a passenger plus a rate for each kilometre travelled. It costs John £4 to go to the station, a distance of 5KM and £3.20 to the town centre, a distance of 3KM. Qu. 1: How much would it cost him to go to the supermarket, a distance of 6Km?

8 Every branchiopod is a crustacean and every crustacean is an arthropod. No insect is a crustacean.

9 The 400 seats in a parliament are divided amongst five political parties. No two parties have the same number of seats, and each has at least 20. Qu. 1: What is the largest number of seats that the third largest party can have?

10 The term cutlery is used to refer to eating utensils such as knives, forks and spoons.

11 Kevin has a meeting at an office a 12 minute walk away from Euston station. His meeting starts at Which is the latest train he can catch to arrive on time for the meeting? It takes 3 attendants to refresh a train in 20 minutes. Each attendant is paid £5.90 per hour. If there are 385 trains coming and going in and out of London Euston every week during the normal working week, how much would it cost the station on each of these working weeks (Monday to Friday) to pay staff for refreshing the trains? Of the 5 journeys, which is the fastest train?



14 What are they looking for? Scholarly habits: Reading, thinking, analysis Interest and aptitude Ability to think independently Enthusiasm for complex and challenging ideas Intellectual flexibility –need to take on board others ideas (although not bow to others) and take time to consider/think about them Vocational/professional commitment, as appropriate Commitment and thoughtfulness Students, although they are not expected to know everything about their subject, they need to know what theyve learned in school 90%+ average performance across an applicants three best/most relevant AS Level subjects

15 What are they looking for? GCSE - good Collection of A* and A Grades, but not always the case AS - good set of A grades preferably without resits. A2 - potential A* and A grades across the board We recognise that even the best students can have bad days and therefore we are not concerned if an applicant is taking or planning to retake a couple of units for which the results obtained are clearly blips. (Cambridge University)

16 Preparation: Reading and super-curricular engagement Go beyond the specification Depth over breadth Subject combinations – some better prepare than others Number of subjects

17 Preparation Clarity of thought – therefore take opportunities to express ideas with others; talk through understanding of topics Review personal statement (be prepared to discuss what you have read since writing personal statement) Students may be asked about academic work completed in the last year/two and about relevant wider reading and any subject related issues readily visible in the wider world; a critical reflection is expected on this as well as on any work experience Refresh memory about: –the course –Personal statement –Recent school work –Submitted work –Wider reading –Research project –DISCUSS academic work with others

18 Personal Statements: Personal! They can be the starting point for discussion at interview Reflective, not lists Focus on chosen course Care and attention to detail Why you should choose me

19 Personal statements ¾ Academic to ¼ Extracurricular What drives your interest in the subject both in and out of the classroom. What has influenced your choice of course. What you hope to get out of the course, career wise (Vocational & Non Vocational) How work related learning has helped develop key skills and knowledge. How you can relate your course choice to the wider world. Knowledge of practical applications. Courses attended, G&T Programmes, Masterclasses, Experience days, Medlink, EPQ

20 Cambridge Interviews These are used to assess skills and attitudes for successful study at HE. They need to ensure that the student understands the nature of the course and gain an insight into their motivation and conscientiousness. Students will be expected to demonstrate relevant problem-solving skills, critical thinking and where applicable, have current knowledge base. The interviewers need to assess the candidates understanding of the specifics of the subjects. This is particularly relevant to the sciences.

21 Cambridge Interviews Normally 2 or more and minutes (maths may be longer) By lecturers; predominately academic and subject-focused (not necessarily on personal statement) Discussion-based and intellectually challenging Detailed and focused problem-solving discussion Notes are taken during interview The idea is to get students to think through new ideas, so students need to be prepared to engage (the worst responses are I dont know and we havent done this yet

22 Cambridge Interviews: what are they looking for? Academic ability and potential for success Self-motivation and commitment to the subject; serious interest in the subject Ability to think independently and critically –willingness to explore things from a different angle To know more than what is stated in the personal statement (if asked about the personal statement, then they can outline more than what they have referenced in statement) Use existing knowledge to explore new problems (this is why they need to know concepts\ideas from their study so far) Want to see students working and being able to talk through difficult issues – take opportunities to engage with others in practising explanations of topics, research etc. Practise talking through journal articles, artefacts, interpretation of graphs, pictures (students may be given some prompt material before an interview and the focus of the interview could be discussion about this material) A willingness to have a go and not give up at the first hurdle –those who are more willing to keep having a go, are more likely to be the right candidate for Cambridge

23 Cambridge interviews: other ways to prepare Look over submitted work Expect questions that cross boundaries between subjects/modules and expect questions they cant answer or that there is no answer to Ask subject teachers for help in questioning you beyond the specification

24 Common Pitfalls Wrong subject/course Track-record in exams causes concern Poor organization Lack of super-curricular exploration – evidenced by thin UCAS personal statement At interview: –Subject knowledge insecure –Insufficient analytical ability, synoptic ability or clarity of thought –Unwillingness to re-think ideas in the face of contrary evidence

25 Keys to success: the four Rs Right subject Excellent examination results Read and think – critically and analytically Revise - to embed learning and especially in advance of interview

26 Additional points Shorter interviews can be better Expect to get things wrong and dont panic if get things wrong or the interviewers give prompts Listen carefully, but dont be afraid to seek clarification Dress for comfort and be aware that often the interviews are carried out with candidates on comfy armchairs PAUSE, THINK, REFLECT, ANALYSE

27 Finally….. Additional sources of information Answers to quizzes On post-its, please help us to evaluate this event by: –writing 3 things you thought were of value on one post-it and –one thing you think we could do to improve


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