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Any tips on how to get into a great university?

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    • Thread Starter

    (Posting From My Mothers Account)
    I live in London and would like some tips for the good universities in and around London such as Cambridge

    The biggest, most important thing is ensuring you get the best grades possible in your A Levels. Because without them you won't be getting in. If you don't make the entry requirements then odds are no amount of extra activities will help you.

    As for what extracurricular activities are good (and well done for considering this now) that depends on your course. Look for extracurricular activities, events and so on that complement what you want to do. Because the student that was building robots in a club won't have much impact in a sports degree but could be the thing that gets you into a robotics degree. Look for things that you can use to demonstrate your ability and how you've had a long standing interest in whatever you want to do.

    However at the same time don't neglect things that you enjoy, even if they have no bearing on your degree. Part of being a good applicant is being well rounded. If you can only reference academic achievements in your personal statement and don't have anything related to hobbies and interests it looks bad. So if you were interested in an English related course by all means join a book club or writing community. But join a sports team as well. Or an art club. Or whatever. Don't focus solely on things to give you an academic edge. Look for things that ensure you're a well rounded individual.

    If your super serious about getting into a top university then make sure you have clear ideas what you're doing. What course you want, what you need to do at A Level and so on. Know exactly what you need to do to get in, such as what grades in what course. And then do whatever you need to in order to achieve them. That may mean starting to look at your A Level content straight after finishing Year 11, or considering what could go in your personal statement and what needs work. Knowing these things now gives you a solid year or two to work on whatever is lacking.

    And finally have a plan. Know what grades you need to get in your GCSE's. Where you'll be studying next, what course and what grades you need for uni. Know what university, what course and every step you need to complete to get there. If you fail to prepare these things at some point you'll find yourself at a loss later on. Failing to know what A Levels to take to get onto your course for example is potentially a 2 year setback while you take the correct courses.

    Oh actually I thought of one more point. Ask questions. Look for people that have done it. Find successful people and replicate what made them successful. This works for everything, not just education. Find someone that got good grades and replicate them. Find someone that got into Cambridge and ask how they did it. Learn from people that have done what you're trying to do.

    I'm assuming you want to do Maths? Since you posted in the Maths section.

    Extra curriculars aren't important. What's important is your GCSE performance.

    Somehow I don't think Cambridge maths are too worried about extra-curriculars. They want the best mathematicians in the world. And that is not tested by GCSE or A-level. My advice would be start some Olympiads.

    You'll need to do STEP for maths in any case (for Cambridge) which I think they value more than your A-levels. Might be worth looking up some old past papers.

    To get into a top university studying Mathematics:

    Aim to get as many A*s in your GCSEs (and A-levels) as you can. Obviously choose Maths and Further Maths at A-level; these subjects accompanied by a science/s such as Physics/Chemistry is usually the norm for uni maths students. If you're aiming for Oxbridge, Imperial, Durham, St Andrews etc. you'll need to get 100 UMS (%) in A-level Maths (or close to), ideally an A* in Further, and at least an A in the third as well. Also, take the STEP Papers at the end of year 13.

    For unis other than Oxbridge, ensure that you get involved in all walks of life. Being a well rounded individual will serve you well at university and ultimately in terms of employability. Take up several sports as early as possible (individual and team) and perform them to a high standard. Moreover, your work experience (paid part-time work and internships) and schemes like D of E and Young Enterprise may also be useful on your UCAS form, depending on their relevance.

    Good luck!
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