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    Here's my plan: do well in my AS and A-levels this year and apply for Natural Sciences in Cambridge University next year. If I get in, I'll probably aim to study Biochemistry in the third year.

    A-levels i'm taking: Bio, Chem, Phy, Maths
    AS only: Geo and F.maths

    GCSEs: 7A*, 2A

    I have a feeling that it's going to be extra hard to get into Cambridge but I have the confidence. Any tips on how to do well during the interview, as I have been told that this is an important part of the admissions process, and on how to do well when I get accepted? What kind of questions do the various admissions tutors ask? Examples, and how did you answer, those who were successful applicants?

    If I don't get into Cambridge, my other choices would be Bristol, Imperial College. Any more suggestions?

    Also, any relevant tips and guidance would be appreciated.

    Thanks in advance,

    wildfire
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    Hi

    I applied to do natural sciences at Cambridge and biochemistry elsewhere. My Cambridge subject interview was just about biology, I didn't get asked anything about chemistry at all (which was weird). Questions were things like... "How could I determine the extent to which pupil dilation increases the amount of light entering the eye", "If I shake this rattle somewhere in the room, you are able to point to where I am shaking it, even if you have your eyes closed. Explain how" and some cell biology stuff about DNA dyes.

    The general interview was a bit weird really. I was just asked about some stuff on my personal statement, i.e. we spoke about squash which I had written about in my PS. I'm not really sure this interview had much purpose, just seemed to be a way to try and get you to relax before the subject interview.
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    (Original post by Aired)
    Hi

    I applied to do natural sciences at Cambridge and biochemistry elsewhere. My Cambridge subject interview was just about biology, I didn't get asked anything about chemistry at all (which was weird). Questions were things like... "How could I determine the extent to which pupil dilation increases the amount of light entering the eye", "If I shake this rattle somewhere in the room, you are able to point to where I am shaking it, even if you have your eyes closed. Explain how" and some cell biology stuff about DNA dyes.

    The general interview was a bit weird really. I was just asked about some stuff on my personal statement, i.e. we spoke about squash which I had written about in my PS. I'm not really sure this interview had much purpose, just seemed to be a way to try and get you to relax before the subject interview.
    Measuring light entering eye: I am thinking this: put person in a fairly dark room with some text of varying sizes on the wall. ask that person to which size text is just readable. Then, add some tear drops which will dilate his eyes, then see if he can read smaller text. ? This is a really open question. Or alternatively, small light sensors can be put into test subjects, e.g. mice.

    Rattle: receptor cells (hair cells in cochlea) sends a message to the brain via the sensory neurone, which analyses the information - position, frequency of sound etc.

    DNA dyes? Do you mean Gel Electrophoresis?

    Help! These questions seem hard.... and I will never be able to prepare for it.

    You got any feedback yet? An offer?

    Best of luck to you
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    (Original post by wildfire)
    Measuring light entering eye: I am thinking this: put person in a fairly dark room with some text of varying sizes on the wall. ask that person to which size text is just readable. Then, add some tear drops which will dilate his eyes, then see if he can read smaller text. ? This is a really open question. Or alternatively, small light sensors can be put into test subjects, e.g. mice.

    Rattle: receptor cells (hair cells in cochlea) sends a message to the brain via the sensory neurone, which analyses the information - position, frequency of sound etc.

    DNA dyes? Do you mean Gel Electrophoresis?

    Help! These questions seem hard.... and I will never be able to prepare for it.

    You got any feedback yet? An offer?

    Best of luck to you
    Yeah, I got an offer Just need to get the three A's now :shot:

    Pupil question - you could assume that the amount of light entering the eye is proportional to the area of the pupil. Measure the radius of the pupil in several light intensities, see how the radius changes in response to light intensity, and work out the area using pi x radius2.

    Rattle question - I had no idea when I was asked, but ended up figuring out that it's to do with the soundwaves reaching each ear at a slightly different time, and your brain can use the time difference to work out the direction of the sound or something...

    The DNA dye questions were about a series of cells shown under a light microscope, with certain parts dyed blue. I was asked things like "what's the large blue thing on that image?" - nucleus. "What are all those smaller blue dots on this image?" - ribosomes (containing RNA). "What's happening in this cell?" - There were two large blue dots, the cell had just undergone mitosis but cytokinesis hadn't occured yet.

    You cant really prepare for the questions. I just re-read my AS notes and the books I'd mentioned in my PS.

    Anyway, best of luck with your application. Might see you at Cambridge in 2008 :p:

    P.S - York and Bath are pretty good for biochemistry I think!
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    yeah York and Bath are really great for Biochem, i'd recommend them have you considered oxford for biochem? warwick also does biochem, as does Cardiff....

    dont worry about preparing for questions because:
    1) there are billions of things you could be ask
    2) its a waste of time...if you are clever enough you will figure it out any way and its not always about getting the right answer, but how you get an answer.

    just go to the interviews and enjoy your time there...dont set your heart on getting in because chances are very low, so be pleased that you got an interview but remember its not the end of the world if you dont get in
    but remember, your just as good as anyone so apply and good luck!

    hope thats helped! (probably not :p:)
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    (Original post by chocolatecheese)
    yeah York and Bath are really great for Biochem, i'd recommend them have you considered oxford for biochem? warwick also does biochem, as does Cardiff....

    dont worry about preparing for questions because:
    1) there are billions of things you could be ask
    2) its a waste of time...if you are clever enough you will figure it out any way and its not always about getting the right answer, but how you get an answer.

    just go to the interviews and enjoy your time there...dont set your heart on getting in because chances are very low, so be pleased that you got an interview but remember its not the end of the world if you dont get in
    but remember, your just as good as anyone so apply and good luck!

    hope thats helped! (probably not :p:)
    I will consider York and Bath. Had to choice between Oxford and Cambridge... ask be 1000 times, I will still choose Cambridge.

    I'm not that worried; I am interested in the questions they ask, and the more you know the more confidence and analytical you could be. It's better going in knowing more than less. Ok, I am a bit worried.

    It helped, thanks.
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    worrying is a good thing in my opinion...its better than being cocky and over confident...but dont get too worried as that can be just as bad.
    Its definitely worth considering York and Bath, they are really good.... if you like the tutorial system at Cambridge then you will be happy to know York do something similar where you have a tutorial about once a week or 2 weeks (cant remember)...if you want to do a work placement in your 4th year, both are really good for that but i think Bath is slightly better....you have the option to do 12 months at one place or 6 months at 2 places and they send you all over the world which is pretty cool

    i cant really help you with the questions Cambridge ask as i applied to Oxford....oxford asked loads of chem questions and then loads of bio questions and we didn't get asked anything on our personal statement...so Aired is definitely the best person to ask
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    (Original post by chocolatecheese)
    worrying is a good thing in my opinion...its better than being cocky and over confident...but dont get too worried as that can be just as bad.
    Its definitely worth considering York and Bath, they are really good.... if you like the tutorial system at Cambridge then you will be happy to know York do something similar where you have a tutorial about once a week or 2 weeks (cant remember)...if you want to do a work placement in your 4th year, both are really good for that but i think Bath is slightly better....you have the option to do 12 months at one place or 6 months at 2 places and they send you all over the world which is pretty cool

    i cant really help you with the questions Cambridge ask as i applied to Oxford....oxford asked loads of chem questions and then loads of bio questions and we didn't get asked anything on our personal statement...so Aired is definitely the best person to ask
    I'm sure it's relevant. What kind of chem/bio questions? I am interested.
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    quite a lot of organic chemistry, like curly arrow mechanisms, a bit of inorganic, biology was more number handling although i did have maths questions in the chem bit...i drew quite a few diagrams in both interviews which was nice. they really dont expect you to get the answer straight away, and somethimes not at all...if its clear you haven't got any idea, they give you extra info and see if you can work it out...one of the key things they were testing me on was how well i listened to what they were saying...in one of the interviews the tute expalined something to me and asked be if i understood and i said yeah it makes sense...and then he said, explain it to me... so watch out for that.
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    its not always about getting the right answer, but how you get an answer.
    I'm not applying until next year, but the above point has been reinforced time and time again by people who have been in the Cambridge interview. It doesn't matter if you get the question right - they'll just keep pushing you and pushing you until you're out of your comfort zone so there's really no point in preparing extensively. It's more a case of thinking aloud to them and they'll mark you on how you get to your answer.

    Going over a few questions like the above gets you into the right way of thinking, but the interview is not supposed to be prepared for beyond basic knowledge of AS stuff and a bit of wider reading.
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    becca2389, you took the words out of my mouth!
    i agree with everything you said....wildfire take note
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    (Original post by chocolatecheese)
    we didn't get asked anything on our personal statement..
    didn't you? I did on books i'd read and on my work experinece.

    Also you said you had mechanisms and quite a bit of chem, i had no mechanisms and not a lot of chem only qs on the structure of amino acids...that might explain why i got in.
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    nope...nothing on my PS...probably because i didnt really mention anything worth talking about at interview...i hadn't said i read any books, i didn't have any relevant work experience...god knows how i got in! they only thing my tute said that was related to my PS was at the very end of the interview when i was about to leave, and he said, so your a ballerina and a footballer? thats an interesting combination! ...that was it! he didnt ask me anything about it though. in his interview the first half was all chemistry questions, starting with pure AS/Alevel style stuff (not always do do with biological chem) then it progressed into deeper stuff...then the second half was all Biology questions in the same format...lots of drawing things and interpreting things....

    then in the second interview for christ church i drew on a board (which was kind of fun...it felt a lot more informal) (got asked about amino acids in this one :p: ) ...this was more biochemistry based (i.e not just pure chem and pure bio questions) ..at the end of this one he did ask me why i had took history...and like a plonker i told him i was worried that i hadn't got maths....but then i thought crap...i'm meant to be convincing oxford that they should take me even though i haven't got maths...so i explained that i can do maths but at the time i though history was a batter option...
    god, when i think back to my interviews...i have got no idea how i got in...:confused:

    god...sorry about that....i blabbed on a bit there :p:

    it really depends what college you apply to cuz all the tutes have a different way they like to conduct the interview...
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    hey, in the end I had three interviews (as I was pooled) for NatSci (biological). And as you could probably imagine it varies a lot between colleges.

    For my first two interviews, one was biology, and the other chemistry. I felt that the biology one went well but the chemistry one was appalling! Hence I was pooled and had one interview only at a different college, but this included next to no biology (even though I'd been given articles to read on nanobodies and Founder mutations) and focussed on chemistry and maths!

    As everyone else has said questions do vary to such a great extent so it's entirely impossible to know. In my first biology interview I was asked things ranging from estimating the percentage of DNA we have in common with yeast, to the differences between us and apes and how one would probably behave at a dinner party! Rather bizarre questions. But I was given the opportunity to talk about something I'd recently read, which was ok.

    The chemistry interview was really hard simply because I had a mental block and was rather nervous. I even had a fairly long time to answer one calculation on solubility (as the interviewer had a 'phone call!) but still couldn't do it. It was only about 15 minutes long, which was about half as long as the biology one.

    Another point to note about Cambridge is the pooling system, it really does work. I think the reason my pool interview was focussing on chemistry was because that was the weakest part first time round and they wanted to give me a second chance, which is nice!
    And thankfully this time round I managed it all fine, ranged from simple dot and cross diagrams to shapes, bond angles etc. Finished with a mathematical question involving integration on rates of reaction, but again this wasn't too bad, and eventually i got a place.

    Not sure if all that rambling has given you any worthwhile insight! The main point I was trying to get across is that you really can't guess what things will be like. As long as you have a love for your subject (corny I know) and have read some articles and such like, and keep on top of your work you should be fine. In the end I think your natural ability comes across to the interviewers.
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    (Original post by moojoo)

    Not sure if all that rambling has given you any worthwhile insight! The main point I was trying to get across is that you really can't guess what things will be like. As long as you have a love for your subject (corny I know) and have read some articles and such like, and keep on top of your work you should be fine. In the end I think your natural ability comes across to the interviewers.
    :ditto:
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    That's easy to say if you got in.
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    It's not the end of the world if you don't get in - just remember that.
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    :dito:
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    I never said it was; it's also not the end of the world if I get in.... muahahahaha. just joking
 
 
 
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