[Official] Cambridge Computer Science Applicants 2021

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bob ross 32
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#1
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#1
Couldn't find one for this year
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bob ross 32
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#2
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#2
This is basically lifted from the thread from last year. Couldn't find one for this year. "Use this forum as a medium to discuss".

To get started introduce yourself:
1) GCSE grades * can just list them in number for, 999888 etc *
2) A-levels being taken and predicted grades? (seems like there will be confusion surrounding this)
3) Why Cambridge?

UCAS specifically:
4) What other universities are you considering?
5) Which open days do you plan on attending?
6) What super/extra curricular activities are you doing to strengthen your application?
7) Thoughts about the CTMUA and how you're preparing?

Gonville & Caius, Peterhouse, Queens’, Robinson, St John's, Trinity, Wolfson all need CSAT as well
Last edited by bob ross 32; 2 years ago
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bob ross 32
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#3
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#3
1) 9999999988 (+A in the FSMQ)
2) It's a source of great confusion - I think it will be something along these lines: A* Maths, A* Physics, A Economics, A/A* FM (I'm not sure if we will be having EOYs in September, but I didn't do great for the mocks for the mocks back in winter term, so ns if they will base it off that)
3) History, opportunities
4) Imperial, St Andrews/ Warwick/ Durham/ others, UCL
5) I've been to most of them, but plan on going to others online
6) I decided late, so not much - CS50; programming in C++, python; watching videos on AI and neural networks (3Blue1Brown is pretty nice). I'll try to find a book that ties in well.
7) Don't really mind it. I've recapped the A level content, and plan on starting questions that look at problem solving and stuff. I've been going to STEP and MAT sessions in school. I think I'll start doing past papers soon.
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the-metric-space
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#4
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#4
1), 2) Here are my equivalent American credentials:
- AP scores: 5s on Calculus BC, Computer Science A, Physics C Mechanics, Physics C Electricity & Magnetism, Music Theory, Chinese
- SAT: 1580 (780 R+W, 800 math)
- SAT II: 800s on Math II, Chemistry, Physics
3) The prestige + study abroad experience + done in 3 years!
4) No others
5) Just the ones online this year
6) Applied mathematics research, studying data structures + algorithms, creating an app (and learning backend along the way)
7) It seems reasonable. I have a background in competition math (AMC/AIME) as well as discrete math so the content + time crunch is familiar.

Curious to know if anyone else is applying from the USA!
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sssssssssssssssn
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#5
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#5
1) 999999988 6(in art)
2) Maths A, Physics A*/A, Further Maths A*, Computer Science A*
3)Best opportunities, prestige.
4)St Andrews, Bristol, Warwick, Bath
5) Lots of online ones.
6) CS50, reading The Code Book, listening to podcasts, taking the Bebras challenge and doing a small project using C#
7) I'm going to do practice papers.
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bob ross 32
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#6
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#6
Has anyone started the CTMUA revision yet, or are you going to start later. Ive sorta started, but im first recapping stuff from general maths.

Tbh I'm hoping to do all the CTMUA past papers. Does anyone know how relevant STEP and MAT questions in terms of revising for the CTMUA
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sssssssssssssssn
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#7
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#7
I'm starting over summer. I've done maybe 2 practice questions and they're doable but I'm finding I have to be very precise.
But idk about STEP and MAT
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sweeneyrod
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#8
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#8
(Original post by bob ross 32)
Has anyone started the CTMUA revision yet, or are you going to start later. Ive sorta started, but im first recapping stuff from general maths.

Tbh I'm hoping to do all the CTMUA past papers. Does anyone know how relevant STEP and MAT questions in terms of revising for the CTMUA
STEP is not very relevant at all (it's much harder), I think MAT would be more useful especially the multiple choice questions. As well as the MAT, some UKMT maths challenge questions might be relevant.
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drvramachandran
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#9
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#9
Could you advice regarding the criteria used by Cambridge university for selecting the applicants to be shortlisted for the interviews.

Do they look at the GCSE subject A* , predicted ALevel A* or subject choices ?

Are there any advice / tips to improve the chances of being shortlisted for the interviews
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sssssssssssssssn
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#10
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(Original post by drvramachandran)
Could you advice regarding the criteria used by Cambridge university for selecting the applicants to be shortlisted for the interviews.

Do they look at the GCSE subject A* , predicted ALevel A* or subject choices ?

Are there any advice / tips to improve the chances of being shortlisted for the interviews
I don't know, but on the open day, they said about 80% of applicants get an interview.
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sweeneyrod
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#11
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#11
(Original post by drvramachandran)
Could you advice regarding the criteria used by Cambridge university for selecting the applicants to be shortlisted for the interviews.

Do they look at the GCSE subject A* , predicted ALevel A* or subject choices ?

Are there any advice / tips to improve the chances of being shortlisted for the interviews
They try to interview everyone who realistically has a chance of getting in. So if you have a profile like A*A*A predictions in appropriate subjects and GCSEs that suggest those predictions are realistic then you should get an interview unless you do badly on the CTMUA. If it is weaker in some areas (e.g. bad GCSEs, no A-level Further Maths) then you might need to be stronger in others to compensate. The only thing that you can't compensate for is not having the required A-level Maths. Although bear in mind that these factors are still considered post-interview, so it's worth making your application as strong as you can (in particular, try to get your teachers to give you the highest predictions you can, preferably all A*).
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Bowzer4649
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#12
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#12
1) 9999999888 +A in FSMQ
2) Maths A* FM A* Physics A* Chemistry A predictions
3) Great city + opens lots of opportunities for the future.
4) Haven't decided on others yet but probably Warwick and somewhere in London also seem very good.
5) Online open days
6) Did an EPQ project on machine learning/ neural networks+ like reading articles on AI.
7) Practise questions from TMUA but there aren't many available so might have a look at MAT as well as they seem quite similar.
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R T
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#13
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#13
If anyone here is looking to do some summer practice/ (kind of) interview prep while also learning something, I definitely recommend learning some of the background and basics of neural networks (specifically backpropagation).

The nice thing about this is that it is accessible - even at a more detailed level - simply with a bit of calculus knowledge. In fact you can even derive a lot of the results yourself after reading some high level descriptions of how it works in industry.

Further to this, there are some really excellent resources that have come out in the last few years centralised around it.


If your interest goes beyond just the Mathematical concept and you'd like to do some hands-on examples related to programming, I'd definitely recommend the youtube channel Fireship. (I'm sure there are some more great examples). I point to Fireship mainly because its modern, relevant and has good implementation. 3blue1brown also has a great video outlining the process of backpropagation from a Mathematical standpoint.

As a bonus, I'd imagine whatever you choose to look at would probably be a great topic for a short paragraph in the personal statement.


If neural networks aren't new to you or are a bit meh - I'd probably recommend looking at similar things in graph databases (really, neo4j). A proper appreciation of what's going on here involves set theory which is Uni-level maths, but I think a bright 17 year old could probably pick up some set theory concepts anyway.
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shafeeqking11
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#14
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#14
1) 9999999987 (Hated ELang)
2) Basing this off what they told us back in December(not accurate): Maths A* Physics A* Computer Science A*
3) Visited a few times on school trips etc. - small,quiet and lovely town, perfect for me. Prestige also plays a part
4) UCL, Imperial, King's College London,Queen Mary UoL (If I don't go to Cambridge, I would stay in London
5)Attended a few online ones, will there be more in-person ones in September? I prefer those
6) Online Web Development Boot Camp 60hr+, App Development Boot Camp Online 60hr+ where I made a few iOS apps, How to think like a Mathematician and some other books on the Cambridge reading list, I tutor Maths on weekends, CompSci A Level Project (does this count?), I also won a Raspberry Pi 4 (still could not get around to using it as I was busy with CS Coursework) - Cambridge actually recommends a RPi (I've read it somewhere on their website), but I want to use it to turn some wheels and a base into a remote control car, but I don't have enough time for this and I don't want to force it just for the PS. I'd rather do it when I have more time.
7)At first the CTMUA scared me, however with a bit of practice and time management I started to get the hang of it. Still need tons of practice though.
Last edited by shafeeqking11; 1 year ago
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Fredericks1
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#15
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#15
Ah yes, Computer Science is the single most oversubscribed/competitive course across oxbridge/imperial (yes even more competitive than medicine). I havent really decided whether Im going to apply for the oxford course or the cambridge course yet.

I am fairly confident in my Personal Statement and TMUA performance (TMUA is p*ss easy) I will likely get >8.0. The only thing that worries me about the application process is the interview (I will probably end up messing this up somehow). In general getting an offer for Compsci is crazy difficult due to the small size of the course at both oxford and cambridge as well as the sheer amount of people applying for it.

A strategy I am considering taking is applying for Maths at Oxbridge and once i'm in then transferring onto the CompSci course since it is infinitely easier to get an offer for Maths (1 offer for every 3 applicants compared to 1 offer for every 14 applicants for Compsci) as the course is much larger and having STEP as part of the conditional offer means I am pretty guarenteed an offer (I can do STEP, I just need a fecking offer)

1) GCSE's: 99999999887 (10 A*'s and 1 A)
2) On target for (A*A*A*A*) at A-Level (Maths, Further Maths, Physics, Chemistry), I am confident that I can get 100 UMS in Maths, Further Maths and Physics but not too sure about Chemistry (I will try) - however non of this will matter if i dont have an offer.
3) Presitge, quality of course, Tutorial system etc. etc.
4) Imperial, UCL, Filler#1, Filler#2 (maybe Manchester)
5) A few online ones
6) Technology summer work experience programme with EY (between year 11 and year 12) among other things
7) See my comments about C/TMUA above

I recommend trying to win some awards in the Maths/Physics/other science Olympiads in the meantime as getting Gold in these can help you stand out. I have a Gold in the UKMT challenge but no national olympiads unfortunately. Anyone here part of the Olympiad winner gang?
Last edited by Fredericks1; 1 year ago
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sweeneyrod
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#16
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#16
(Original post by Fredericks1)
Ah yes, Computer Science is the single most oversubscribed/competitive course across oxbridge/imperial (yes even more competitive than medicine). I havent really decided whether Im going to apply for the oxford course or the cambridge course yet.

I am fairly confident in my Personal Statement and TMUA performance (TMUA is p*ss easy) I will likely get >8.0. The only thing that worries me about the application process is the interview (I will probably end up messing this up somehow). In general getting an offer for Compsci is crazy difficult due to the small size of the course at both oxford and cambridge as well as the sheer amount of people applying for it.

A strategy I am considering taking is applying for Maths at Oxbridge and once i'm in then transferring onto the CompSci course since it is infinitely easier to get an offer for Maths (1 offer for every 3 applicants compared to 1 offer for every 14 applicants for Compsci) as the course is much larger and having STEP as part of the conditional offer means I am pretty guarenteed an offer (I can do STEP, I just need a fecking offer)

1) GCSE's: 99999999887 (10 A*'s and 1 A)
2) On target for (A*A*A*A*) at A-Level (Maths, Further Maths, Physics, Chemistry), I am confident that I can get 100 UMS in Maths, Further Maths and Physics but not too sure about Chemistry (I will try) - however non of this will matter if i dont have an offer.
3) Presitge, quality of course, Tutorial system etc. etc.
4) Imperial, UCL, Filler#1, Filler#2 (maybe Manchester)
5) A few online ones
6) Technology summer work experience programme with EY (between year 11 and year 12) among other things
7) See my comments about C/TMUA above

I recommend trying to win some awards in the Maths/Physics/other science Olympiads in the meantime as getting Gold in these can help you stand out. I have a Gold in the UKMT challenge but no national olympiads unfortunately. Anyone here part of the Olympiad winner gang?
I don't think that is a good strategy. I'm sceptical you can guarantee getting 1,1 in STEP II/III; there's no guarantee that you'd be allowed to transfer at Cambridge and I assume also Oxford; and Oxford doesn't give offers with STEP anyway (plus if you are certain you can get 1,1 in STEP II/III you should be certain you can ace the MAT and get a CS offer from Oxford).

However, the good news is that CS is not actually as competitive at Cambridge (and probably also Imperial) as the stats suggest. The total number of applicants has risen a lot over the past few years, but (according to admissions tutors, they will tell you this at the open day at one of the talks) most of the increase is in "speculative" applicants who don't have a realistic chance of getting in (i.e. their grades are below the standard required). If you are a strong candidate (as you would be if your predictions are accurate) then your chances are about the same as they were 5 years ago when the overall ratio was more like 5:1.
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R T
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#17
(Original post by sweeneyrod)
I don't think that is a good strategy. I'm sceptical you can guarantee getting 1,1 in STEP II/III; there's no guarantee that you'd be allowed to transfer at Cambridge and I assume also Oxford; and Oxford doesn't give offers with STEP anyway (plus if you are certain you can get 1,1 in STEP II/III you should be certain you can ace the MAT and get a CS offer from Oxford).

However, the good news is that CS is not actually as competitive at Cambridge (and probably also Imperial) as the stats suggest. The total number of applicants has risen a lot over the past few years, but (according to admissions tutors, they will tell you this at the open day at one of the talks) most of the increase is in "speculative" applicants who don't have a realistic chance of getting in (i.e. their grades are below the standard required). If you are a strong candidate (as you would be if your predictions are accurate) then your chances are about the same as they were 5 years ago when the overall ratio was more like 5:1.
Yes, I'd certainly say that Maths applicants are on average a lot stronger than CS applicants (not only in terms of speculative applicants, but maths applicants are generally people who weren't put off by STEP and didn't wuss out to applying for Oxford instead).

It is however super easy to switch courses in Cambridge. Maths > CS would definitely be allowed. I've seen much wackier switches. Basically so long as you meet the requirements, so long as you are doing well/ putting in effort and so long as the target subject isn't medicine, Cambridge will basically accommodate everything.
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sweeneyrod
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#18
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#18
(Original post by R T)
Yes, I'd certainly say that Maths applicants are on average a lot stronger than CS applicants (not only in terms of speculative applicants, but maths applicants are generally people who weren't put off by STEP and didn't wuss out to applying for Oxford instead).

It is however super easy to switch courses in Cambridge. Maths > CS would definitely be allowed. I've seen much wackier switches. Basically so long as you meet the requirements, so long as you are doing well/ putting in effort and so long as the target subject isn't medicine, Cambridge will basically accommodate everything.
I'd agree that maths applicants are stronger in the sense of better at maths, but I'm not sure that's super relevant here because of STEP. For CS, getting an offer and successfully getting in are pretty much equivalent, but for maths there's a large group of people who don't pass STEP. So I'm not sure whether someone who just misses out on an offer for maths (who would presumably fail STEP very badly, assuming Cambridge made the right choice) would be stronger than someone in the same position for CS.

That switch (especially before starting, probably also after 1st year although I don't personally know anyone who did it) is definitely sensible, but it's not formally guaranteed to be possible. There's always the chance that one of the DoS' involved won't allow it for some reason.
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R T
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In practical reality, there is no way a DoS would be able to stand in the way of a Maths > CS switch unless there were serious concerns about the student's ability to handle both courses, which is something that would take a long record of evidence that simply wouldn't exist in IA outside of exactly the STEP result.
There are internal department policies around tripos switching - it can't be stopped by just the whim of one person
(Original post by sweeneyrod)
I'd agree that maths applicants are stronger in the sense of better at maths, but I'm not sure that's super relevant here because of STEP. For CS, getting an offer and successfully getting in are pretty much equivalent, but for maths there's a large group of people who don't pass STEP. So I'm not sure whether someone who just misses out on an offer for maths (who would presumably fail STEP very badly, assuming Cambridge made the right choice) would be stronger than someone in the same position for CS.

That switch (especially before starting, probably also after 1st year although I don't personally know anyone who did it) is definitely sensible, but it's not formally guaranteed to be possible. There's always the chance that one of the DoS' involved won't allow it for some reason.
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Rohan77642
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#20
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#20
(Original post by R T)
but maths applicants are generally people who weren't put off by STEP and didn't wuss out to applying for Oxford instead
Was this a joke or do you actually believe this to be the case?
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