A_Smyth
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You'll firstly have to forgive me as I rarely use the Student Room and I'm still not sure how it all works...
I'm currently in year 12 (studying History, French and Government and Politics) and I'm starting to think about applying to uni over the next few months. I really want to study French at Cambridge (most likely with ab initio German) and just wanted to know some advice, tips and also, what the application experience was like?
My predicted grades are good - A*A*A (hopefully A*A*A* following my AS) but I'm most worried about my personal statement as it is now looking like I will mostly have to write it by myself with little input from teachers. Does Cambridge have a preference for literature mentions/emphasis in personal statements? What really gives a candidate the edge when it comes to their personal statement?
Any help would be wonderful and I wish everyone well during these difficult times!
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Saracen's Fez
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(Original post by A_Smyth)
You'll firstly have to forgive me as I rarely use the Student Room and I'm still not sure how it all works...
I'm currently in year 12 (studying History, French and Government and Politics) and I'm starting to think about applying to uni over the next few months. I really want to study French at Cambridge (most likely with ab initio German) and just wanted to know some advice, tips and also, what the application experience was like?
My predicted grades are good - A*A*A (hopefully A*A*A* following my AS) but I'm most worried about my personal statement as it is now looking like I will mostly have to write it by myself with little input from teachers. Does Cambridge have a preference for literature mentions/emphasis in personal statements? What really gives a candidate the edge when it comes to their personal statement?
Any help would be wonderful and I wish everyone well during these difficult times!
Hi, I graduated from Cambridge MML last year, having done French and ab initio German, so good choice there!

With regard to the personal statement, my advice to you would be to talk about whatever part of the course you're interested in. The German Section in particular offers a very wide range of aspects you can study, be that literature, film, history, thought or linguistics. So certainly don't feel you have to talk about a particular sort of literature if that's not what you're into.

Those predicted grades sound very strong to me in terms of getting your application taken seriously. The application experience was a bit more involved than for other universities, in that you have to submit UCAS by 15th October and then complete Cambridge's Supplementary Application Questionnaire (SAQ) by 22nd October. If you're successful in getting in interview, that will happen in early December (we presume in person still, but who knows?), with decisions communicated and offers made in mid-January.

Over the summer and running up to the deadline, your priorities should be putting together your personal statement and keeping in touch with whoever will be in charge of writing your reference. If possible it's best to co-ordinate these so they don't repeat each other and you can communicate as much about yourself as possible. You should also make sure that you want to apply to Cambridge (and not Oxford, or neither) and think about which college you will name as your first preference on your application. That was one of the hardest decisions to make for me, but there's plenty of info on TSR and elsewhere on the internet to help make an informed choice.
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A_Smyth
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(Original post by Saracen's Fez)
Hi, I graduated from Cambridge MML last year, having done French and ab initio German, so good choice there!

With regard to the personal statement, my advice to you would be to talk about whatever part of the course you're interested in. The German Section in particular offers a very wide range of aspects you can study, be that literature, film, history, thought or linguistics. So certainly don't feel you have to talk about a particular sort of literature if that's not what you're into.

Those predicted grades sound very strong to me in terms of getting your application taken seriously. The application experience was a bit more involved than for other universities, in that you have to submit UCAS by 15th October and then complete Cambridge's Supplementary Application Questionnaire (SAQ) by 22nd October. If you're successful in getting in interview, that will happen in early December (we presume in person still, but who knows?), with decisions communicated and offers made in mid-January.

Over the summer and running up to the deadline, your priorities should be putting together your personal statement and keeping in touch with whoever will be in charge of writing your reference. If possible it's best to co-ordinate these so they don't repeat each other and you can communicate as much about yourself as possible. You should also make sure that you want to apply to Cambridge (and not Oxford, or neither) and think about which college you will name as your first preference on your application. That was one of the hardest decisions to make for me, but there's plenty of info on TSR and elsewhere on the internet to help make an informed choice.
Thank you very much for responding! I've always had the impression that Oxbridge prefer personal statements that have literature focuses - I like literature but I'm much more interested in the history and thought of both France and Germany. My school is partnered with Gonville and Caius so I'm thinking of applying there, the college also seems to have a dedicated MML community there which is great. If it's okay to ask, would you recommend the course at Cambridge? What was the course like? Were there any negatives aspects to studying at Cambridge? I'm sorry for all of the questions, it has always been my dream to study at Cambridge. Neither of my parents went to university and they've always wanted me to go to Cambridge so it feels like the pressure is now on!
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Paralove
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You will want to mention some literature - reading in the language is generally important but also really does help your fluency, plus it's a key part of the MML course. In terms of what specifically to read - whatever interests you! Whether it's something historical or there's an author you really like (or, in my case, the very small number of books I could get my hands on via my teacher, couldn't afford to buy).

Definitely try reading some German authors - in English translation, of course.

Basically, just go wherever your interests take you. The same stands for podcasts, videos, other online content, news papers, magazines etc... There's so much online. If you want some inspiration, check out suggestions on the MML pages and the A-Level specific ones for French and German on Christ's website: https://www.christs.cam.ac.uk/online-learning.

Just immerse yourself in the language as much as you can. It'll deepen your knowledge, increase your passion and improve your skills.
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redmeercat
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Hey,
I got in this year for MML French and ab initio German with those predicted grades! From what I experienced at interview and the advice I got, you should focus on the structure of the degree as the basis of your personal statement. I.e. if you were applying to a course which was mainly literature, you might write a statement which was mainly literature. However, the Cambridge syllabus is very divers and you study the history, philosophy, literature, linguistics... You should talk about the things you love about the two languages, and that should probably include some literature, but it can also include film and subject specific work experience and linguistics or whatever it is... In mine I even talked about my thoughts on a french translation of Harry potter, and about my experience of reading and translating the instructions of board games when I was babysitting.

- everything should link back to the subject
- focus in your thoughts on what you've done rather than what you've done
- talk about the languages fairly equally, although it's perhaps inevitable to talk about French more


DM if you want to talk about my experience of applying this year more, I also wrote a chapter for Cambridge Demystified on TSR (Can Google it)
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A_Smyth
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(Original post by Paralove)
You will want to mention some literature - reading in the language is generally important but also really does help your fluency, plus it's a key part of the MML course. In terms of what specifically to read - whatever interests you! Whether it's something historical or there's an author you really like (or, in my case, the very small number of books I could get my hands on via my teacher, couldn't afford to buy).

Definitely try reading some German authors - in English translation, of course.

Basically, just go wherever your interests take you. The same stands for podcasts, videos, other online content, news papers, magazines etc... There's so much online. If you want some inspiration, check out suggestions on the MML pages and the A-Level specific ones for French and German on Christ's website: https://www.christs.cam.ac.uk/online-learning.

Just immerse yourself in the language as much as you can. It'll deepen your knowledge, increase your passion and improve your skills.
Thanks for replying! I'm not a big literature buff, but I read L'Étranger earlier this year and really enjoyed it so I'm going to read more of Camus in the following weeks. I'm really interested in philosophy so I also plan on reading Kant and Nietzsche, which will form the basis of the German side of my personal statement.

I'm constantly immersing myself in native French content - I have France Inter on in the Background all the time!

Thank you for the advice and the link!
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Saracen's Fez
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(Original post by A_Smyth)
Thank you very much for responding! I've always had the impression that Oxbridge prefer personal statements that have literature focuses - I like literature but I'm much more interested in the history and thought of both France and Germany. My school is partnered with Gonville and Caius so I'm thinking of applying there, the college also seems to have a dedicated MML community there which is great. If it's okay to ask, would you recommend the course at Cambridge? What was the course like? Were there any negatives aspects to studying at Cambridge? I'm sorry for all of the questions, it has always been my dream to study at Cambridge. Neither of my parents went to university and they've always wanted me to go to Cambridge so it feels like the pressure is now on!
OK, so the way the two sections are currently set up, you'll likely have a lot more opportunity to look at history and thought in German, where it's quite a big part of the offering across the board, including from first year (I believe). French is more geared towards literature. As has already been said, it's probably a good idea to do some reading in the languages beyond what you have to do at A-level, to prove that you'll be able to cope with the literature aspect of the course, which is a fairly significant part of at least first year.

I would recommend the course at Cambridge and I certainly think it's possible to get the flexibility you'd want from it, I certainly have been able to and don't have any obvious negatives about the way the course is set up. If you're also considering Oxford then Cambridge's course is certainly set up to be much more flexible rather than purely literature-based, particularly in German.
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A_Smyth
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(Original post by Saracen's Fez)
OK, so the way the two sections are currently set up, you'll likely have a lot more opportunity to look at history and thought in German, where it's quite a big part of the offering across the board, including from first year (I believe). French is more geared towards literature. As has already been said, it's probably a good idea to do some reading in the languages beyond what you have to do at A-level, to prove that you'll be able to cope with the literature aspect of the course, which is a fairly significant part of at least first year.

I would recommend the course at Cambridge and I certainly think it's possible to get the flexibility you'd want from it, I certainly have been able to and don't have any obvious negatives about the way the course is set up. If you're also considering Oxford then Cambridge's course is certainly set up to be much more flexible rather than purely literature-based, particularly in German.
The heavy literature focus at Oxford is really off-putting, I enjoy literature but I'm not the biggest fan of constant and in-depth study; although I know that some level of greater literature study is inevitable.

Many thanks for all your help!
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