2021 Cambridge Natural Sciences Applicant Thread

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R T
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#61
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#61
(Original post by ayumie)
Hey, I'm tryna google about this. This is pretty dramatic, right?
Will this reduce the time and increase the 'pass' mark? During my prep, I found the Physics and Maths sections of section 1 doable (apart from the time!) and Biology hard, so this would be great for me.
Thanks for letting us know.
Well whatever the paper is, they will normalise results into a pseudo-normal distribution so you can have a quick an easy comparison. So however stressful the time limit is, its the same for everyone.

I don't think it really favours anyone particularly (the new format), apart from the obvious point about maths now being more important and being a larger % of the overall grade. This probably isn't an accident given how admissions tutors widely regard Maths to be the most important subject for Physnatsci and very useful for bio.
While you might guess the average mark increases, they could easily just make all the questions harder.
(Original post by HaddockRag)
I found the bio part ok and the maths part head spinning because I'm hopeless without a calculator... Any advice on how to prepare and practice for this year's paper? Also, would you know what kind of score would be considered ''good''?
Again your score needs to be in context. You can look up the grade conversions for previous years to get a feel, but basically a "good" score seems like its a bit above 60% historically.

If you are bad without a calculator then you probably would benefit from doing some UKMT- style questions while focusing on speed and accuracy. There is no magic bullet, so long as you do actually know how to do long multiplication and division if needed. Even something that looks hard like 37x14 can be done in less than 10 seconds with a pen, paper, long multiplication and a knowledge of your 1-10x tables.

Another thing I'd recommend - when you have a calculator, still try to briefly estimate values before pressing enter. This is really useful for avoiding dumb mistakes / typos. e.g. 37x14, you should know the answer is going to be around 400-600. Another example; before working out the momentum in kgm/s of a 2 tonne car going 30mph, have a quick think about what order of magnitude this would be. You should be able to estimate it to within +/-80% within 5-10 seconds (e.g. is it going to be around 500N; 5,000N ; 50,000N or 500,000N). Being fast at estimation is not an important skill for scientists overall, its just a really useful thing to be able to do in an exam. So having some sketchy understanding for what 1N is in the real world is helpful.
Last edited by R T; 4 days ago
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macrophage
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#62
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#62
Another Scottish student here
I had a go at one of the NSAA papers and embarrassingly I did better in the physics section than the bio one, even though I'm applying for bio probably!
Can I do a physics section in the exam or does that look a little strange?
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irishstudier
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#63
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#63
(Original post by macrophage)
Another Scottish student here
I had a go at one of the NSAA papers and embarrassingly I did better in the physics section than the bio one, even though I'm applying for bio probably!
Can I do a physics section in the exam or does that look a little strange?
As an Irish student, I found it pretty strange how I could get 16/18 on the chemistry section but only about 7/18 in biology! I got 12/18 in physics. I do all 3, and tend to lean to chemistry-physics-maths, but I do get top grades in biology so was a little shocked at how hard I found it.

Focusing on chemistry & maths for the NSAA now though.

I've heard others say that you can really do any of the NSAA sections, whether your applying bio/phys. Not sure though.
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