The Student Room Group

Hi! Cambridge Natural Sciences graduate AMA.

Hello!I have recently finished my 3rd year in Natural Sciences, specialising in Chemistry, at Cambridge University. At A-Level I achieved 4 A*s in Maths, Further Maths, Biology and Chemistry. Furthermore, at GCSE level I achieved a further 5 A*s. As a student I specialised in Biology, Chemistry and Mathematical Biology as I felt they were my strongest subjects, feel free to ask me any questions about the listed subjects or other questions regarding general university life. Along with any questions involving the right university or advice on the Natural Sciences Admissions Assessment (NSAA) for Cambridge admissions.I am also open for questions upon accommodation, living costs, travel fees for students that may be unsure on the financial side of University and I am open to questions about book recommendations for interview prep.I am writing this to offer my support to students who may be full of queries about their education as I myself find it really helpful to discuss with others. Talking to current and older students supported my career and progression, so I am offering the same on here.

Resources for the NSAA:
- Isaac Physics, https://isaacphysics.org
- UniAdmissions NSAA Collection, https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1915091128
- C3L6 (Cambridge Chemistry Challenge), https://www.c3l6.com
(edited 1 year ago)
Reply 1
Hey!! Thanks so much, I'm thinking of applying for natural sciences in September, and I have a few questions. First of all, the course sounds intense (lectures on a Saturday!) - is there any chance of having a decent sleep schedule, and how often do you go out? Also, I am curious about the actual content of the course; is the work you have to do outside of lessons usually problem sheets, or essays, or just reading and writing notes? If you do have essays, is it detailing some scientific knowledge, or is there room for opinion and argument? What are the science facilities (library, buildings, labs) like?

And if you don't mind sharing, what did you like and dislike about your study of natural sciences?

Most of all, how similar are the methods of studying to a level sciences, and is there any way to determine how much I would enjoy it?

Thank you, sorry for all the questions :smile:
Original post by Down_worlder
Hey!! Thanks so much, I'm thinking of applying for natural sciences in September, and I have a few questions. First of all, the course sounds intense (lectures on a Saturday!) - is there any chance of having a decent sleep schedule, and how often do you go out? Also, I am curious about the actual content of the course; is the work you have to do outside of lessons usually problem sheets, or essays, or just reading and writing notes? If you do have essays, is it detailing some scientific knowledge, or is there room for opinion and argument? What are the science facilities (library, buildings, labs) like?

And if you don't mind sharing, what did you like and dislike about your study of natural sciences?

Most of all, how similar are the methods of studying to a level sciences, and is there any way to determine how much I would enjoy it?

Thank you, sorry for all the questions :smile:

Hello!

Glad you're considering the course and I hope this is useful information for you!

Biological sciences use essays mainly, along with, short-answer questions and the occasional problem sheets for practical Qs. Essays are intended to test your ability to find the links between a number of different topics and the Q is normally an open one where you are able to find different examples from the content you have learnt. Can't comment on the opinion/argument side (having done Biology of Cells and Physiology of Organisms where it's highly factual) but know of others with some room for this.

Physical sciences use problem sheets (which I preferred!) with maths and Qs, which you can answer with diagrams and bullet points usually.

9 am Saturday lectures were a thing for first and second year for me but this is different depending on the courses you take. When applying, I was also worried about the intensity of the Natural Sciences course and the workload. It is definitely manageable if you prioritise your time effectively (personally, I didn't really have to work past 8 pm or 9 pm during exam season), so I wouldn't worry about the sleep schedule. You will be able to adapt and find sports and societies to do in your free time as well. Some freshers are able to go out once a week (or maybe more) I would say, depending on the person.

Facilities are fine in the teaching labs, with fairly standard equipment in the bio and chem ones. Some Part II and III options offer research projects to students, so you would join a lab there with equipment used for research purposes. There are good libraries to go to, with the college libraries and humanities usually being popular.

The main benefit of the NatSci course is the variety! You are exposed to a number of different subjects during first year and generally, students will change their minds about what they enjoy and eventually specialise in. For example, I applied with the intention to study Genetics but ended up loving the Chemistry courses.

This variety comes with the cost of an increased workload, however, and I would've liked more time to pursue other interests in my subjects with more free time. But I suppose the grounding you gain allows you to do this more outside of term time.

I would say that the methods of study differ from A-level sciences, just because it really isn't possible to master all of the content and you need to prioritise what you revise. The standard revision practices of past papers and active recall will still apply though from your A-levels!

May I ask what subjects you are interested in taking and the college you intend to apply to? Happy to answer any other Qs!
Original post by Down_worlder
Hey!! Thanks so much, I'm thinking of applying for natural sciences in September, and I have a few questions. First of all, the course sounds intense (lectures on a Saturday!) - is there any chance of having a decent sleep schedule, and how often do you go out? Also, I am curious about the actual content of the course; is the work you have to do outside of lessons usually problem sheets, or essays, or just reading and writing notes? If you do have essays, is it detailing some scientific knowledge, or is there room for opinion and argument? What are the science facilities (library, buildings, labs) like?

And if you don't mind sharing, what did you like and dislike about your study of natural sciences?

Most of all, how similar are the methods of studying to a level sciences, and is there any way to determine how much I would enjoy it?

Thank you, sorry for all the questions :smile:


Original post by Ultimate295
Hello!I have recently finished my 3rd year in Natural Sciences, specialising in Chemistry, at Cambridge University. At A-Level I achieved 4 A*s in Maths, Further Maths, Biology and Chemistry. Furthermore, at GCSE level I achieved a further 5 A*s. As a student I specialised in Biology, Chemistry and Mathematical Biology as I felt they were my strongest subjects, feel free to ask me any questions about the listed subjects or other questions regarding general university life. Along with any questions involving the right university or advice on the Natural Sciences Admissions Assessment (NSAA) for Cambridge admissions.I am also open for questions upon accommodation, living costs, travel fees for students that may be unsure on the financial side of University and I am open to questions about book recommendations for interview prep.I am writing this to offer my support to students who may be full of queries about their education as I myself find it really helpful to discuss with others. Talking to current and older students supported my career and progression, so I am offering the same on here.


Heya!

Was just wondering if you applied for natural sciences for all of your choices and if so which other unis did you apply to? And if so, what made you choose natural sciences over a single science degree- does natural sciences disadvantage you in any way when it comes to jobs?

What are you planning to do in the future with your degree as well?

Thanks so much for doing this, really appreciate it -from a year 12 student thinking about applying for natural sciences
Reply 4
Original post by Ultimate295
Hello!

Glad you're considering the course and I hope this is useful information for you!

Biological sciences use essays mainly, along with, short-answer questions and the occasional problem sheets for practical Qs. Essays are intended to test your ability to find the links between a number of different topics and the Q is normally an open one where you are able to find different examples from the content you have learnt. Can't comment on the opinion/argument side (having done Biology of Cells and Physiology of Organisms where it's highly factual) but know of others with some room for this.

Physical sciences use problem sheets (which I preferred!) with maths and Qs, which you can answer with diagrams and bullet points usually.

9 am Saturday lectures were a thing for first and second year for me but this is different depending on the courses you take. When applying, I was also worried about the intensity of the Natural Sciences course and the workload. It is definitely manageable if you prioritise your time effectively (personally, I didn't really have to work past 8 pm or 9 pm during exam season), so I wouldn't worry about the sleep schedule. You will be able to adapt and find sports and societies to do in your free time as well. Some freshers are able to go out once a week (or maybe more) I would say, depending on the person.

Facilities are fine in the teaching labs, with fairly standard equipment in the bio and chem ones. Some Part II and III options offer research projects to students, so you would join a lab there with equipment used for research purposes. There are good libraries to go to, with the college libraries and humanities usually being popular.

The main benefit of the NatSci course is the variety! You are exposed to a number of different subjects during first year and generally, students will change their minds about what they enjoy and eventually specialise in. For example, I applied with the intention to study Genetics but ended up loving the Chemistry courses.

This variety comes with the cost of an increased workload, however, and I would've liked more time to pursue other interests in my subjects with more free time. But I suppose the grounding you gain allows you to do this more outside of term time.

I would say that the methods of study differ from A-level sciences, just because it really isn't possible to master all of the content and you need to prioritise what you revise. The standard revision practices of past papers and active recall will still apply though from your A-levels!

May I ask what subjects you are interested in taking and the college you intend to apply to? Happy to answer any other Qs!


Thank you for the reply!!! That’s really helpful. I’m interested in biological natural sciences :smile: right now interested in specialising in neuroscience, but that may well change! So I guess physiology, maybe evolution and behaviour and chemistry/cells?

I’m really curious about mathematical biology - how do the subjects tie in together and can you carry this on in the second year?

When I visited I liked Pembroke and Emmanuel, but still not sure 😭 I’d like one where you can walk on the grass, and preferably with funding for trips. What’s your collage and which would you recommend?:biggrin:

Also are you happy that you chose to do science at university?
Hi there, I've moved your thread to a more relevant forum :smile:
Reply 6
Oop I was also wondering what the A Level grades were of most people on the course? Because it seems a lot of people on the student room who are applying have 6 A*s or something like that.... and do you have any tips for the NSAA or Interview?

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