2021 Cambridge Natural Sciences Applicant Thread

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Theloniouss
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#21
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(Original post by zoeybo)
Would A levels in Maths, Further Maths and Physics be fine for physical natural sciences in terms of tackling the course?
Technically, yes. You might want to look into studying maths with physics first year and switching to natsci second year (which from recollection is perfectly okay).
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memestogenes
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#22
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(Original post by zoeybo)
Would A levels in Maths, Further Maths and Physics be fine for physical natural sciences in terms of tackling the course?
Yeah definitely - I know a new PhysNatscis who have this combination. Since the A levels got reformed its quite difficult to do four, so this is fine in terms of tackling the course. That being said it may restrict the options you could choose should you get in (i.e in first year you will probably 'be encouraged' to do physics, materials, earth sciences, as opposed to any chemistry and biological modules (which a lot of phys natscis actually do!).)

Hope this helps
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memestogenes
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(Original post by Theloniouss)
Technically, yes. You might want to look into studying maths with physics first year and switching to natsci second year (which from recollection is perfectly okay).
Yeah definitely this is also a good possibly (and also helps you /somewhat/ avoid the first year intensity that is NatSci, although first year maths isn't that much better!)
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AvighnaJha
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I lived in the UK for about 3 years before moving back to India in January this year (yup in the middle of yr 12) and am planning to apply as an international appliicant this year. Currently i leaning more towards cambridge as Oxford doesnt have overseas interviews, as in i would have to go to oxford to have an interview or i could do it over skype ( i really want to avoid having it over skype as im scared it it wont allow me to truly be myself) Cambridge does have physical interviews in india but the course is Natsci, although im reaally focused on physics i wouldnt mind studying a year of earth scinces and material sciences. I was wondering if i could get asked chemistry question in the interview even if i dont pick chemistry as one of the modules i would like to do under Natsci? Also, as i would be applying for a physics focused course in my other uni options, how would i adjust my personal statement for cambridge as the course is natsci? would it hinder my application to cambridge if my personal statement is focused solely on Physics ?
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fayeelw
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If i have a particularly strong interest in cell biology, physiology and biomedical science, would A Levels in maths, further maths, biology and chemistry be suitable? I'm just worried about not taking physics because I know a lot of the modules involve it!
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Theloniouss
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(Original post by fayeelw)
If i have a particularly strong interest in cell biology, physiology and biomedical science, would A Levels in maths, further maths, biology and chemistry be suitable? I'm just worried about not taking physics because I know a lot of the modules involve it!
Those are the subjects I did and got an offer this year. If you want to do the physics modules do physics, but if you don't want to do physics, the physics modules probably aren't for you.
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R T
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(Original post by fayeelw)
If i have a particularly strong interest in cell biology, physiology and biomedical science, would A Levels in maths, further maths, biology and chemistry be suitable? I'm just worried about not taking physics because I know a lot of the modules involve it!
While this is fine you are probably going to apply for Biological Natural Sciences... it would just make more sense going off your interests. I'd only recommend applying for Physical if you think that you are a downright genius in advanced Maths and it would make admissions easier. Your Further Maths and chemistry will be very helpful - both in admissions and in the degree itself - but keep in mind that the emphasis on Biological Natural Sciences tends to be Biology, Biological Chemistry and Mathematical modelling of Biological things (so, basic physiology physics, cell dynamics, growth curves of populations, enzyme graphs, etc.)

There's no issue with a PhysNatSci doing Bio modules (in fact, this is extremely common) - but most PhysNatScis originally intend to do Chemistry, Physics or Materials. Likewise, you can be a BioNatSci applicant who changes their mind and decides to specialise in Chemistry or Physics - again no issue here, but typically these people originally thought they were going to choose a bio module in later years.

The number of people who don't end up doing the subject they originally thought they were going to do is massive. I vaguely remember a figure being that its roughly 50% - and that sounds about right. The fact is, you have no idea what subjects are really like to study until you're at University - which isn't anyone's fault really, its just the fact that the difference between A-Levels and the degrees are large.
(Original post by AvighnaJha)
I lived in the UK for about 3 years before moving back to India in January this year (yup in the middle of yr 12) and am planning to apply as an international appliicant this year. Currently i leaning more towards cambridge as Oxford doesnt have overseas interviews, as in i would have to go to oxford to have an interview or i could do it over skype ( i really want to avoid having it over skype as im scared it it wont allow me to truly be myself) Cambridge does have physical interviews in india but the course is Natsci, although im reaally focused on physics i wouldnt mind studying a year of earth scinces and material sciences. I was wondering if i could get asked chemistry question in the interview even if i dont pick chemistry as one of the modules i would like to do under Natsci? Also, as i would be applying for a physics focused course in my other uni options, how would i adjust my personal statement for cambridge as the course is natsci? would it hinder my application to cambridge if my personal statement is focused solely on Physics ?
  • The situation surrounding whether or not you can travel for an interview/ how easy or possible this is - is entirely down to you. I think given your circumstances, it's a decent reason to pick one uni over the other.
  • Your personal statement can be 100% about Physics. This is not a problem and its very common. My PS was 100% Physics and Maths.
  • The questions you can be asked at interview are fair game so long as you've studied it at school. So an applicant who says "I love physics, I only want to study physics, I dont want to do Chemistry" can still be asked a Chemistry question at interview if they have studied that topic at school. e.g. You could be asked about sketching a reaction curve assuming you've studied the basics of chemical reactions and done exponential functions in Maths (most people have done these from the age of 15-16 even if they are not studying Chemistry for their final year(s)). To this end, I would anticipate a question about basically anything in the physical sciences. It's even fair for them to give you a question in the context of biology or physiology, if the answer involves using techniques from maths/ chem/ physics.
  • That said (to the above) - the way PhysNatSci interviews go, its typically all about Maths and logic. It doesn't really matter if you are an expert and have heavily revised something or not, because the questions are almost certainly going to be about working through the maths of a situation rather than reciting textbook definitions for things in Physics/ Chemistry.
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Avighna
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(Original post by R T)
While this is fine you are probably going to apply for Biological Natural Sciences... it would just make more sense going off your interests. I'd only recommend applying for Physical if you think that you are a downright genius in advanced Maths and it would make admissions easier. Your Further Maths and chemistry will be very helpful - both in admissions and in the degree itself - but keep in mind that the emphasis on Biological Natural Sciences tends to be Biology, Biological Chemistry and Mathematical modelling of Biological things (so, basic physiology physics, cell dynamics, growth curves of populations, enzyme graphs, etc.)

There's no issue with a PhysNatSci doing Bio modules (in fact, this is extremely common) - but most PhysNatScis originally intend to do Chemistry, Physics or Materials. Likewise, you can be a BioNatSci applicant who changes their mind and decides to specialise in Chemistry or Physics - again no issue here, but typically these people originally thought they were going to choose a bio module in later years.

The number of people who don't end up doing the subject they originally thought they were going to do is massive. I vaguely remember a figure being that its roughly 50% - and that sounds about right. The fact is, you have no idea what subjects are really like to study until you're at University - which isn't anyone's fault really, its just the fact that the difference between A-Levels and the degrees are large.


  • The situation surrounding whether or not you can travel for an interview/ how easy or possible this is - is entirely down to you. I think given your circumstances, it's a decent reason to pick one uni over the other.
  • Your personal statement can be 100% about Physics. This is not a problem and its very common. My PS was 100% Physics and Maths.
  • The questions you can be asked at interview are fair game so long as you've studied it at school. So an applicant who says "I love physics, I only want to study physics, I dont want to do Chemistry" can still be asked a Chemistry question at interview if they have studied that topic at school. e.g. You could be asked about sketching a reaction curve assuming you've studied the basics of chemical reactions and done exponential functions in Maths (most people have done these from the age of 15-16 even if they are not studying Chemistry for their final year(s)). To this end, I would anticipate a question about basically anything in the physical sciences. It's even fair for them to give you a question in the context of biology or physiology, if the answer involves using techniques from maths/ chem/ physics.
  • That said (to the above) - the way PhysNatSci interviews go, its typically all about Maths and logic. It doesn't really matter if you are an expert and have heavily revised something or not, because the questions are almost certainly going to be about working through the maths of a situation rather than reciting textbook definitions for things in Physics/ Chemistry.
Ah makes sense, also as graph sketching is a reoccurring theme in interviews and entrance tests, do uk of somewhere I could get a lot of practice material from for graph sketching. As I couldn't find a specific topic in my maths and fmaths textbooks regarding graph sketching I was looking to do a course on graph sketching but couldn't find anywhere that did such a thing
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username3474196
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I'm thinking of applying for biological natural sciences and have taken maths, chemistry, biology and physics this year (at Advanced higher level in Scotland), just wondering if during the interview/admissions assessments they would ask any physics/chemistry questions, or would it be purely biology based?
Additionally, I'm worried about the differences between the a level and Scottish syllabus, and not having covered things at the same time. Is it worth having a look at the a level syllabus as well?
Thanks
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Theloniouss
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(Original post by petsfurrypaws)
I'm thinking of applying for biological natural sciences and have taken maths, chemistry, biology and physics this year (at Advanced higher level in Scotland), just wondering if during the interview/admissions assessments they would ask any physics/chemistry questions, or would it be purely biology based?
Additionally, I'm worried about the differences between the a level and Scottish syllabus, and not having covered things at the same time. Is it worth having a look at the a level syllabus as well?
Thanks
I had two interviews for Bio natsci - one was biology/maths, one was chemistry/biochemistry. Anything you've studied in school is fair game for an interview question, although they might be influenced by your NSAA choices and the type of natsci you're applying for.
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irishstudier
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I'm from Ireland - so little different system. Planning on getting some A-Level books to go over the parts we don't cover on the Leaving Cert syllabus (I do Eng, Irish, Maths, Chemistry, Physics, Biology and Applied Maths)

I know I'm gonna do chemistry for pretty much the rest of my life, with more of a preference towards physics than biology. So, I'd be applying PhysNatSci. Obviously a lot of work, on top of everything else.

In the interview, they can obviously ask me about any of the subjects I take - but would I need to know all chemistry, physics, biology, maths, etc. to A-Level, or rather just to the level I'm taught in Ireland? Not against preparing them & if I succeed I'll definitely be brushing up those skills before getting in after my Leaving Cert is finished.

Generally, I have a very broad knowledge on chemistry, so I wouldn't be that worried about it too much. I do some olympiads in maths, as well. Physics wise, I'd be very behind A-Level knowledge.
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Theloniouss
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(Original post by irishstudier)
I'm from Ireland - so little different system. Planning on getting some A-Level books to go over the parts we don't cover on the Leaving Cert syllabus (I do Eng, Irish, Maths, Chemistry, Physics, Biology and Applied Maths)

I know I'm gonna do chemistry for pretty much the rest of my life, with more of a preference towards physics than biology. So, I'd be applying PhysNatSci. Obviously a lot of work, on top of everything else.

In the interview, they can obviously ask me about any of the subjects I take - but would I need to know all chemistry, physics, biology, maths, etc. to A-Level, or rather just to the level I'm taught in Ireland? Not against preparing them & if I succeed I'll definitely be brushing up those skills before getting in after my Leaving Cert is finished.

Generally, I have a very broad knowledge on chemistry, so I wouldn't be that worried about it too much. I do some olympiads in maths, as well. Physics wise, I'd be very behind A-Level knowledge.
In general they do not try to assess your knowledge at interview (as people from different areas have obviously done different amounts). You will be expected to list the topics you've done on the SAQ and the exam boards so they know roughly where your knowledge should be. Interviews tend to be about application of knowledge rather than level of knowledge.
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username3474196
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#33
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(Original post by Theloniouss)
I had two interviews for Bio natsci - one was biology/maths, one was chemistry/biochemistry. Anything you've studied in school is fair game for an interview question, although they might be influenced by your NSAA choices and the type of natsci you're applying for.
Ok thank you!
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memestogenes
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(Original post by irishstudier)
I'm from Ireland - so little different system. Planning on getting some A-Level books to go over the parts we don't cover on the Leaving Cert syllabus (I do Eng, Irish, Maths, Chemistry, Physics, Biology and Applied Maths)

I know I'm gonna do chemistry for pretty much the rest of my life, with more of a preference towards physics than biology. So, I'd be applying PhysNatSci. Obviously a lot of work, on top of everything else.

In the interview, they can obviously ask me about any of the subjects I take - but would I need to know all chemistry, physics, biology, maths, etc. to A-Level, or rather just to the level I'm taught in Ireland? Not against preparing them & if I succeed I'll definitely be brushing up those skills before getting in after my Leaving Cert is finished.

Generally, I have a very broad knowledge on chemistry, so I wouldn't be that worried about it too much. I do some olympiads in maths, as well. Physics wise, I'd be very behind A-Level knowledge.
Hey - Just to provide some more clarity! If you are applying for Phys natsci, your interviews will revolve around those topics and /shouldn't/ bring in biology even though you study it. This is because your interviews will likely be physical natscis themselves, and so won't be interviewing about biology!

I would recommend learning Phys/maths/furthermaths/chemistry up to A level (Even if that is further than what you have studied in Ireland) simply because this inevitably what interviewers use as a baseline - if you are unsure where to start, use the NSAA specification as a guideline to how much physics you should know, and then top it up using some A level specifications and textbooks . Even though you have an interest more so in chemistry, due to the nature of the course in your first year you would be unable to take just chemistry, which is why they would also interview you for physics etc, in order to make sure you are up to scratch with all the other people who would be taking it in first year too!
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IbeIC123
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The NSAA section 2 is going to change this year right?
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LiechtensteinMAN
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#36
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(Original post by IbeIC123)
The NSAA section 2 is going to change this year right?
Yes. There will no longer be written answers as they are replaced by "extended multiple choice questions" which just seem to be more involved multiple choice questions. Section 1 also has changed - only one science is answered in addition to maths. Cambridge recently published the specification on the Natural Sciences webpage so advise you check it out!
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irishstudier
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Oh damn I never saw that! I just checked it out - Is there a particular reason it changed or just to reduce content (Covid-19?).

Well, I just bought chemistry, physics and maths A-level books when I could've gotten away with just chemistry and maths.
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IbeIC123
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(Original post by LiechtensteinMAN)
Yes. There will no longer be written answers as they are replaced by "extended multiple choice questions" which just seem to be more involved multiple choice questions. Section 1 also has changed - only one science is answered in addition to maths. Cambridge recently published the specification on the Natural Sciences webpage so advise you check it out!
Are you a Scottish applicant?
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LiechtensteinMAN
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(Original post by IbeIC123)
Are you a Scottish applicant?
Yep!
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IbeIC123
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(Original post by LiechtensteinMAN)
Yep!
Ahh same. What advanced highers are you taking
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