Reality Check
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#21
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#21
(Original post by chloe402)
Without fm, do you think there's even any point applying then?
As I said to you earlier on in this thread, you can make an application to NatSci without FM. It won't perhaps be as competitive, and might steer your IA options a bit, but not having FM isn't enough of a reason just not to apply.
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Theloniouss
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#22
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(Original post by chloe402)
I can teach myself the knowledge - it may only be possible to do AS given the time frame though this demonstrates my capability to some extent - but I don't have the information or funding as to how to actually sit the exam as I previously said - though there are loads of self teach resources there's little resources on how to actually become a private candidate!
You could ask your school to enter you? Otherwise I'm afraid I don't know
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R T
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(Original post by chloe402)
I can teach myself the knowledge - it may only be possible to do AS given the time frame though this demonstrates my capability to some extent - but I don't have the information or funding as to how to actually sit the exam as I previously said - though there are loads of self teach resources there's little resources on how to actually become a private candidate!
I am basically certain your school would enter you on request. Particularly if the exam is relevant to your University applications (it is). I am not privy to the internal workings of every school, but I heavily suspect it is an enforceable policy to allow students to enter themselves for A-Levels in cases such as these (even if your school complains, there's no way a refusal would stand ground if higher up Education entities got involved).

As for the time frame, as a bright (A*A*A+) student, you can probably self teach the almost the entire syllabus before going back in September. It's possible a few topics in each module are confusing and you need to ask online for help, but given the country is in lockdown, you should have a way to find 100+ hours free time in the next 6 or so weeks (this works out as about 2 hours per day). Now, you really don't need to do it all (just the equivalent modules for AS to catch up with other people in year 12 who are doing FM) so this should give you even more time. Assuming ~10 topics per module and 3 modules, this is a bit over 3 hours per topic, and there are definitely a few topics in FM which can be understood in 10-20 minutes or so.

Of course this requires discipline, effort and quite a high level of independence and proactivity to go out and find the topics, and test to see if you can apply what you are learning - but then these same skills are basically what it takes to do academic research later on in life.


If you don't back yourself to be able to do AS FM in the next 4-5 months or so, then this probably automatically answers the question of whether or not it is an impediment in your situation.
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chloe402
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#24
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(Original post by R T)
I am basically certain your school would enter you on request. Particularly if the exam is relevant to your University applications (it is). I am not privy to the internal workings of every school, but I heavily suspect it is an enforceable policy to allow students to enter themselves for A-Levels in cases such as these (even if your school complains, there's no way a refusal would stand ground if higher up Education entities got involved).

As for the time frame, as a bright (A*A*A+) student, you can probably self teach the almost the entire syllabus before going back in September. It's possible a few topics in each module are confusing and you need to ask online for help, but given the country is in lockdown, you should have a way to find 100+ hours free time in the next 6 or so weeks (this works out as about 2 hours per day). Now, you really don't need to do it all (just the equivalent modules for AS to catch up with other people in year 12 who are doing FM) so this should give you even more time. Assuming ~10 topics per module and 3 modules, this is a bit over 3 hours per topic, and there are definitely a few topics in FM which can be understood in 10-20 minutes or so.

Of course this requires discipline, effort and quite a high level of independence and proactivity to go out and find the topics, and test to see if you can apply what you are learning - but then these same skills are basically what it takes to do academic research later on in life.


If you don't back yourself to be able to do AS FM in the next 4-5 months or so, then this probably automatically answers the question of whether or not it is an impediment in your situation.
Thanks! A couple of things though - I have summer schools and extra curricular activities, alongside a personal statement to write and the schools internal Oxbridge deadline is a month before the actual deadline and we have mocks a week into term which I need to revise for (this is to confirm predicted grades), do you think it is still possible for me to do all this over Summer and if so, which modules should I do that will be the least time consuming - obviously I'll do mechs 1 for physics but should I then do stats/further pure/decision/mechs 2? Also, how much weighting will Cambridge put on fm - ie. if I did less things to enhance my ps but did have AS fm, would I be better off than having a better ps without AS fm? Thanks!
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R T
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#25
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#25
(Original post by chloe402)
Thanks! A couple of things though - I have summer schools and extra curricular activities, alongside a personal statement to write and the schools internal Oxbridge deadline is a month before the actual deadline and we have mocks a week into term which I need to revise for (this is to confirm predicted grades), do you think it is still possible for me to do all this over Summer and if so, which modules should I do that will be the least time consuming - obviously I'll do mechs 1 for physics but should I then do stats/further pure/decision/mechs 2? Also, how much weighting will Cambridge put on fm - ie. if I did less things to enhance my ps but did have AS fm, would I be better off than having a better ps without AS fm? Thanks!
I think in an ideal world you complete AS FM by the end of October. So really whenever you have time to do that. October is so you have it as a potential option in the NSAA and so you can revise it pre-interview. You should have at least made a strong start by mid Sept (your school's Oxbridge deadline) so it should be fine at that point to say you are doing FM.


RE: what modules to do (first). Well it depends on you slightly what is easiest. Obviously Mech 1 massively overlaps with Physics so makes a lot of sense to do. I'd definitely recommend doing FP1. In terms of preparing for the interview I think doing FP2 and M2 make more sense than anything else. Decision modules are almost certain not to come up at all in the NSAA or the interview. If some kind of statistics comes up it's very likely to be either S1 or continuous random variables (which is really not something to worry about even if you dont cover it).


Saying you are doing FM and self studying will make a difference I am basically sure. It's by far the most useful A-Level and is way ahead of both Physics and Chemistry in terms of utility in first year natsci. It directly demonstrates a level of independence, maturity and effort that is the kind of thing that tutors would find appealing.

The PS (for Cambridge) is not that important. A lot of admissions tutors don't read it at all, and the ones who do will basically be skimming it to see that its your own words, checking for some proper reflection that you've thought about what subject you want to apply for, and also checking for things like Olympiad or competition experience (really, this is the only thing you can put on the PS that may impress them. They will not care at all about specifics of work experience, summer schools, books, TV, anecdotes, self-research. This isn't to say they expect a few of those as "evidence you've reflected on why to apply for this subject" - but simply that there's no way to split candidates based on those things). So I have no idea how long you were planning on preparing your PS if you think its going to significantly cut into your allocated ~100 hours for FM in the next ~3-4 months, but frankly I see absolutely no reason that it would take more than 5-10 hours at most. There is no value in micromanaging to beyond that level (again, 4000 characters is going to be skim read by an admissions tutor in perhaps 10-20 seconds).

One more tip about the PS - you should really be able to sit down and write initial draft(s) in a single sitting. It is meant to be your own words, not individual sentences you come up with after hours of thought and checking several famous quotes and thesaurus entries. If you are struggling to get it done, start on the 2nd paragraph (not the introduction) and write the body as fluidly as you can after deciding what topics you think you want to talk about. Write the introduction and conclusion at the end. They should be thematically similar - it's ok to repeat yourself slightly.
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chloe402
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#26
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#26
(Original post by R T)
I think in an ideal world you complete AS FM by the end of October. So really whenever you have time to do that. October is so you have it as a potential option in the NSAA and so you can revise it pre-interview. You should have at least made a strong start by mid Sept (your school's Oxbridge deadline) so it should be fine at that point to say you are doing FM.


RE: what modules to do (first). Well it depends on you slightly what is easiest. Obviously Mech 1 massively overlaps with Physics so makes a lot of sense to do. I'd definitely recommend doing FP1. In terms of preparing for the interview I think doing FP2 and M2 make more sense than anything else. Decision modules are almost certain not to come up at all in the NSAA or the interview. If some kind of statistics comes up it's very likely to be either S1 or continuous random variables (which is really not something to worry about even if you dont cover it).


Saying you are doing FM and self studying will make a difference I am basically sure. It's by far the most useful A-Level and is way ahead of both Physics and Chemistry in terms of utility in first year natsci. It directly demonstrates a level of independence, maturity and effort that is the kind of thing that tutors would find appealing.

The PS (for Cambridge) is not that important. A lot of admissions tutors don't read it at all, and the ones who do will basically be skimming it to see that its your own words, checking for some proper reflection that you've thought about what subject you want to apply for, and also checking for things like Olympiad or competition experience (really, this is the only thing you can put on the PS that may impress them. They will not care at all about specifics of work experience, summer schools, books, TV, anecdotes, self-research. This isn't to say they expect a few of those as "evidence you've reflected on why to apply for this subject" - but simply that there's no way to split candidates based on those things). So I have no idea how long you were planning on preparing your PS if you think its going to significantly cut into your allocated ~100 hours for FM in the next ~3-4 months, but frankly I see absolutely no reason that it would take more than 5-10 hours at most. There is no value in micromanaging to beyond that level (again, 4000 characters is going to be skim read by an admissions tutor in perhaps 10-20 seconds).

One more tip about the PS - you should really be able to sit down and write initial draft(s) in a single sitting. It is meant to be your own words, not individual sentences you come up with after hours of thought and checking several famous quotes and thesaurus entries. If you are struggling to get it done, start on the 2nd paragraph (not the introduction) and write the body as fluidly as you can after deciding what topics you think you want to talk about. Write the introduction and conclusion at the end. They should be thematically similar - it's ok to repeat yourself slightly.
Thank you! I aim to get chapter 1 done this weekend - will keep this thread updated and ask if I need any advice etc. I do have a couple of olympiads - gold in maths challenge in y12 and 10 (is there any point putting on y10?) but nothing in the successive rounds. I also got top bronze in the senior physics olympiad in y12 (is this competitive enough or should I just leave it out of the ps?). Also got silver in chem olympiad this year but I planned to put this on the SAQ instead of ps due to relevance to my other unis. Overall will this make my application any more successful? Thanks!
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R T
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#27
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#27
(Original post by chloe402)
Thank you! I aim to get chapter 1 done this weekend - will keep this thread updated and ask if I need any advice etc. I do have a couple of olympiads - gold in maths challenge in y12 and 10 (is there any point putting on y10?) but nothing in the successive rounds. I also got top bronze in the senior physics olympiad in y12 (is this competitive enough or should I just leave it out of the ps?). Also got silver in chem olympiad this year but I planned to put this on the SAQ instead of ps due to relevance to my other unis. Overall will this make my application any more successful? Thanks!
You can - and probably should - mention at least some of these in the PS for other Unis but to be frank, for Cambridge first round medals aren't going to make a difference. It's neither impressive nor disappointing, and you shouldn't feel worried or self conscious about not doing international-level olympiads - the vast majority of successful applicants (literally 90%+) won't have any background in them.

Also I'd flag all of these Olympiads as really good preparation for the NSAA and interview. https://www.bpho.org.uk/past-papers/round-1 https://www.bpho.org.uk/past-papers/round-2
Particularly round 2 is quite close to the kind of thing you'd get at interview, except more difficult. Round 1 is of a closer difficulty but has the wrong style of questions (they are too short and give too much guidance). If you're going to do either as a focus of prep, remember not to use the solutions - other than as a last resort after being stuck on a particular problem for days.
The equivalent rounds in Chemistry are also worth checking out.
For Maths, BMO1 is above the scope of anything you'd be asked. But the kangaroo https://www.ukmt.org.uk/competitions...ngaroo/archive is a bit more practical. Although ideally of course you'd also be attempting questions which utilise A-Level things like calculus, logs, curve sketching, etc. and the best place to find these is the TMUA, MAT and similar tests
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chloe402
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#28
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(Original post by R T)
You can - and probably should - mention at least some of these in the PS for other Unis but to be frank, for Cambridge first round medals aren't going to make a difference. It's neither impressive nor disappointing, and you shouldn't feel worried or self conscious about not doing international-level olympiads - the vast majority of successful applicants (literally 90%+) won't have any background in them.

Also I'd flag all of these Olympiads as really good preparation for the NSAA and interview. https://www.bpho.org.uk/past-papers/round-1 https://www.bpho.org.uk/past-papers/round-2
Particularly round 2 is quite close to the kind of thing you'd get at interview, except more difficult. Round 1 is of a closer difficulty but has the wrong style of questions (they are too short and give too much guidance). If you're going to do either as a focus of prep, remember not to use the solutions - other than as a last resort after being stuck on a particular problem for days.
The equivalent rounds in Chemistry are also worth checking out.
For Maths, BMO1 is above the scope of anything you'd be asked. But the kangaroo https://www.ukmt.org.uk/competitions...ngaroo/archive is a bit more practical. Although ideally of course you'd also be attempting questions which utilise A-Level things like calculus, logs, curve sketching, etc. and the best place to find these is the TMUA, MAT and similar tests
Thanks! I may do some prep over summer but not much especially with self teaching fm, I more intend to do it in late September/October as I won’t have mocks or my application to worry about!
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