Sophhhowa
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Assuming I meet my offer AAAA I’m due to be starting in October. With skl cancelled I don’t want to forget stuff. What can I be doing now to b in the best position come Oct? Are there bits from a level that I should really revise (obviously I’ll revise everything but like in particular)? Just anything I can be doing to make 1st yr a bit easier.

Planning to take physics, chemistry, materials and the harder maths option
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K-Man_PhysCheM
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(Original post by Sophhhowa)
Assuming I meet my offer AAAA I’m due to be starting in October. With skl cancelled I don’t want to forget stuff. What can I be doing now to b in the best position come Oct? Are there bits from a level that I should really revise (obviously I’ll revise everything but like in particular)? Just anything I can be doing to make 1st yr a bit easier.

Planning to take physics, chemistry, materials and the harder maths option
AAAA seems like a bit of a low offer for natsci at Cambridge, most people I know were offered A*A*A (in UK A-level) haha, but whatever.

Probably most importantly of all, keep your maths fresh. Maths is something you can lose if you don't practice it for a long time, and it will be very helpful if you are very fluent with maths and further maths content before starting in October!

Don't worry too much about revising chemistry cuz most of the stuff you'll be learning will be new (and "contradict" what you've learned before), though if you want a headstart you could check out "Why Chemical Reactions Happen" by Keeler and Wothers, which covers chunks of the 1A chemistry course. For physics, revise mechanics (especially the A-level maths mechanics modules). Materials is completely new so don't worry about it, but again mathematical fluency is generally helpful! Good luck!
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Sophhhowa
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(Original post by K-Man_PhysCheM)
AAAA seems like a bit of a low offer for natsci at Cambridge, most people I know were offered A*A*A (in UK A-level) haha, but whatever.

Probably most importantly of all, keep your maths fresh. Maths is something you can lose if you don't practice it for a long time, and it will be very helpful if you are very fluent with maths and further maths content before starting in October!

Don't worry too much about revising chemistry cuz most of the stuff you'll be learning will be new (and "contradict" what you've learned before), though if you want a headstart you could check out "Why Chemical Reactions Happen" by Keeler and Wothers, which covers chunks of the 1A chemistry course. For physics, revise mechanics (especially the A-level maths mechanics modules). Materials is completely new so don't worry about it, but again mathematical fluency is generally helpful! Good luck!
Thank you, that’s great advice. Yeah my offer is really low which I am so so happy about. I met the admissions tutor and he said while he expected me to get almost straight A*s he wanted to take the pressure off, kinda a work fir yourself to get the grades for you not because the uni wants it.
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K-Man_PhysCheM
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(Original post by Sophhhowa)
Thank you, that’s great advice. Yeah my offer is really low which I am so so happy about. I met the admissions tutor and he said while he expected me to get almost straight A*s he wanted to take the pressure off, kinda a work fir yourself to get the grades for you not because the uni wants it.
Ah I see, fair enough especially given the current worldwide situation haha xD but also don't work too hard this summer, make sure you take a good break so you're refreshed when you start in October: the course is already pretty intense and can get overwhelming, especially if you're already worn out from studying during the summer. But do keep up the mathematical fluency, doing a couple hours of light revision through September might help (or more if you feel like you can handle it without getting exhausted)
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Forecast
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(Original post by K-Man_PhysCheM)
AAAA seems like a bit of a low offer for natsci at Cambridge, most people I know were offered A*A*A (in UK A-level) haha, but whatever.
It's Robinson's standard offer for physical natsci for some reason...
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K-Man_PhysCheM
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(Original post by Forecast)
It's Robinson's standard offer for physical natsci for some reason...
Ah fair, I don't know any Robinson natscis haha
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Sophhhowa
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(Original post by K-Man_PhysCheM)
Ah fair, I don't know any Robinson natscis haha

What about programming? I’ve heard mat lab is used (certainly in later yrs) but I’ve never used it before. Is there anything like that that could be worth looking at?
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K-Man_PhysCheM
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(Original post by Sophhhowa)
What about programming? I’ve heard mat lab is used (certainly in later yrs) but I’ve never used it before. Is there anything like that that could be worth looking at?
In 1A (1st year) there's a very relaxed introductory course called "Scientific Computing" where they teach you some basics of MATLAB for scientific purposes, like using it for producing graphs, simple data analysis and very simple programming. Nobody has any trouble with this course. you do 4 weeks in Michaelmas and 4 weeks in Lent, attending one 2 hour session each of those weeks where you are introduced to the new concepts and work through a very detailed worksheet that basically tells you almost everything you need to write, and there are demonstrators around to help if you get stuck. You then submit something. The modal mark is full marks for the whole course.

MATLAB is not a free program: it costs a few hundred pounds to buy a licence, but once you are a Cambridge student you get a free student licence for three years.

Then in 1B (2nd year), if you choose to do Physics B, there is a C++ course which is a bit more advanced than the MATLAB course: by the end, you are expected to be able to code an orbit simulator and some program related to statistical mechanics (modelling gas molecules as hard spheres colliding with each other). But again, nobody really struggles with this course as there is plenty of guidance.

In part II (3rd year), there's a more advanced computing course in part II physics, formally taught in Python though you are allowed to use a language like C++ too. Then there is also an optional computational project, which would be a more substantial project in Python, C++ or similar (not MATLAB, since that's not a "proper" language and has too much pre-built functionality, at least in the opinion of the course organisers).

I don't know about other subjects, but the 1B chemists have had to do some programming with some chemistry-related software thing, and the biologists (who do Mathematics for Biologists in first year) learn R, which is a language used for data analysis, and they continue to use R in later years of their degree.

However, my friend is on the consultative committee for physics and apparently they are planning to replace both 1A and 1B physics computing courses with a brand new Python course (starting next year), which tbh is so much more useful haha since Python is just the best "proper" language for the sort of stuff they want you to do and is also more sought-after by employers than MATLAB (apparently if you write MATLAB on your CV for a software engineering job they chuck your application in the bin immediately, though I don't know how true that is...). It will also mean there is a lot more continuity between the years rather than having to learn new syntax at the start of each course.

As for preparing: the coding elements of the course in 1A and 1B are very minimal, and almost everyone gets full credit anyway as long as you turn up and do the exercises. So you don't need to worry about this from a "maximising marks" perspective. However, it's always useful to learn to code earlier rather than later, because coding is a really essential skill. I only really started getting into it in 2nd year, which meant I'm not experienced enough to be able to successfully apply for lots of computational internships (which are now the only ones that seem to be running in the COVID-19 pandemic haha...). So it might be worth doing a little bit to get a head start.
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