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Making a Competitive Application

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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 record Personal statement Teacher’s reference Admissions test results (where required) Written work (where required) Contextual data Interview (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 requirements Genuine subject interest – motivation and enthusiasm Suitability for chosen course Your school Irrelevant extra-curricular activities Your background

4 The application process
Choose course Choose a College or open application UCAS application 15 Oct + SAQ (Cam) 22 Oct 1 in 5 applicants made an offer (on average) Admissions test? Check registration deadline Written work and/or admissions test Decision (Jan) Interviews (Dec)

5 Personal statements Personal A starting point for interview discussion
Reflect rather than list Less can be more Focus on the chosen course(s) ‘Why you should choose me for your course’ Care and attention to detail Beware Googled quotations, ‘I have always’

6 Examination results These are fundamental to any successful application Cambridge asks for AS marks (UMS) in its SAQ Both universities take GCSEs into account – less weight placed on these by Cambridge Typical A Level offers: Cambridge A*A*A (Sciences) A*AA (Arts/Humanities) Oxford A*A*A - AAA Cambridge 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

7 The 2012 gathered field: Medicine

8 The 2012 gathered field: History

9 Wider exploration

10 Getting the most from your wider (deeper) reading
Genuine interest in the subject outside the confines of the formal syllabus Extra reading and exploration are crucial to success, not just in arts subjects Critical 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 2013 Law Cambridge Law Test (most Colleges) Taken at interview Mathematics STEP (all Colleges) Forms part of conditional offers and is taken with A2-levels Other subjects TSA – Economics, Engineering, Natural Sciences (depends on College) Some other subjects have short additional tests at interview

12 Preparing for tests

13 Written work Depends on subject (Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities) and College – list on university website Most 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 comments The 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 minutes Conducted by academics and predominantly academic and subject-focused Discussion-based and intellectually challenging Check the websites for videos and further information The last piece in the jigsaw rather than the ‘final hurdle’ Cambridge interviews over 80% of applicants At Oxford, for some courses over 90% applicants interviewed but for heavily over-subscribed courses can be less than 30% interviewed Interviews 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 material Background information for presenter to be aware of The 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 INTERVIEW Discussion based on academic interests mentioned in personal statement Sciences: a specimen to discuss Assess knowledge and understanding of subject and flexibility of thought Discussion of any submitted essays Application of existing knowledge to new situations Arts: perhaps a text to discuss Challenging questions relating to A-level courses Sample teaching session – like a supervision Sciences: problems to work through

16 Interviews: What are Admissions Tutors looking for?
Academic ability and potential to be successful Self-motivation, commitment and serious interest in the chosen course Ability to think independently and critically Use of existing knowledge to assess new problems No trick questions! Interviews aren’t the ‘final hurdle’ – all aspects of a student’s application are considered together Interviews allow Admissions Tutors to assess: whether applicant’s interests and aptitudes are best suited to the course chosen genuine passion for the subject area enthusiasm for complex and challenging ideas clarity of thought and analytical ability intellectual flexibility where appropriate, vocational or professional commitment Expect to think hard but remember that interviewers aren’t trying to catch anyone out Very 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 challenges How you reach an answer is generally of more interest than the answer itself Note: 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’ Unions 16

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) Results Work hard to do as well as you can in your current studies Engage and explore Be proactive in your learning – current studies and interests relevant to your intended degree Practise Discussing your academic interest(s) Past/example admissions test papers Time management – generally and for tests/exams

18 Finding out more Cambridge Oxford
Oxford If you have any remaining questions, do not hesitate to ask a College Admissions Tutor or Admissions Officer

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