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Which college of Cambridge to apply?

worry123worry123 Registered User Posts: 425 Member
edited December 2013 in Study Abroad
I'm planning to go to UC Berkeley and transfer or apply to freshman admission of Cambridge a year later. To which college of Cambridge should I apply, if I would like to major pure mathematics? Would you recommend Trinity College? Or would you recommend any other school if Trinity College is the place where the admission is too competitive for int'l students to get into?
Post edited by worry123 on

Replies to: Which college of Cambridge to apply?

  • nordicbluenordicblue Registered User Posts: 171 Junior Member
    Why would you spend time and money on a year at UC if you want to apply to Cambridge? As long as you are qualified for the course you're applying for, having spent a year at college won't help your application.

    Apply to whatever college you like. It is a myth that some are easier or harder to get into. Every year Trinity, which is erroneously believed to be the hardest college to gain admission to, takes applicants who applied to other colleges who were pooled. You will receive the same education no matter what college you're at, you will study in the maths faculty - colleges are just fancy dorm rooms.
  • worry123worry123 Registered User Posts: 425 Member
    Thanks for telling me that. Your information helped me a lot in decision of college.

    I know that my experience in college doesn't help my chance in admission. But I would like to go to one of the universities which are the best in math in the world, such as MIT and Cambridge. I can transfer to MIT if I will get in, but I can't do so for Cambridge due to the different curriculum between US and UK. Yet, my friend who was in UC Berkeley and went to Cambridge did just the same thing what I'm planning to do. He justified his action, explaining that he would graduate from undergrad at the same time no matter which university he would stay, since it only takes 3 years to graduate from Cambridge yet 4 years from UC Berkeley. I actually don't have enough information to justify his action. Was his decision reasonable for you? If your reason of discouragement will sound convincing to me, I will probably not follow him.
  • nordicbluenordicblue Registered User Posts: 171 Junior Member
    I don't want to discourage you from doing it; it just seems a bit odd. If you have the money then there's no reason why you shouldn't do it... but I think it would have been a better idea to apply to Cambridge before going to UC, why didn't you?
  • worry123worry123 Registered User Posts: 425 Member
    Oh, I got what you meant. The reason is because the deadline has already passed and because my GPA, SAT score, and the quality and quantity of both my extra curriculars and awards exponentially increased this year. Since I came to my high school in the US when I was a Junior, my situation is so unique that my action always seems odd like this. Thus, I became a competitive applicant, right after the deadline of application for Cambridge was over. That's why I will apply in the next year.
  • nordicbluenordicblue Registered User Posts: 171 Junior Member
    Hmm I think you should have applied this year anyway. Your extra curriculars and awards will not count for anything, in fact you probably shouldn't even mention them unless they are strictly relevant to mathematics and even then only in passing. Cambridge won't be interested in your GPA or any non standardized test scores. All they care about is the SAT II and APs (in relevant subjects, you need at least five APs at 5), whilst it is desirable to have taken them before you apply I do not think it is required. Nearly everyone in the UK applies with predicted grades and any offer is conditional on achieving those grades later on. The most important thing is probably the STEP exam and the interview.
  • worry123worry123 Registered User Posts: 425 Member
    Thanks for the valuable information regarding the admission. I got 6 5's and 2 4's in AP so far and 800 in both Math II and Physics in SAT II. However, my SAT score is still not sufficiently high, since my native language isn't English. I will probably do well in STEP exam, but I'm not sure about interview. My ECs and awards are strictly related to math competitions.

    Probably, I should have done it this year, but I had no idea that I should have done this year due to my lack of information. I wish they had set the deadline on the December or later.
  • keepittoyourselfkeepittoyourself Registered User Posts: 1,546 Senior Member
    Probably, I should have done it this year, but I had no idea that I should have done this year due to my lack of information. I wish they had set the deadline on the December or later.

    The deadline is earlier because they interview people in December.

    I believe that King's is traditionally known as the college for mathematics.

    Are you taking STEP?
  • cupcakecupcake Registered User Posts: 1,703 Senior Member
    I actually think having a year of US college will help you in admissions. My personal experience is this is common for US students studying in the UK. US high schools are not considered to be very rigorous so having completed a year of college makes your application stronger. I believe for example that UCL will not accept US high school graduates unless they complete a foundation year first.

    Your most recent grades in Maths will be the most important. So take all the Maths courses you can and excel in them.

    You might find if you enjoy your US college and want to stay, or would prefer to do a year abroad in the UK through your US college.
  • worry123worry123 Registered User Posts: 425 Member
    keepittoyourself, your recommendation of King's sounds great to me. I will decide Trinity of King's as my first choice and some relatively less competitive college as my second choice. I will have to take STEP, probably. But I have no problem about this exam.

    cupcake, I'm relieved to hear that. I have never gotten grade or score lower than the highest, and I have taken all the advanced math classes in my school until my Junior year. But critical reading score of my SAT is still poor. I have to somehow improve it until my admission.
  • keepittoyourselfkeepittoyourself Registered User Posts: 1,546 Senior Member
    Have you taken math olympiad type contests or tests? STEP is not far off that level.
  • worry123worry123 Registered User Posts: 425 Member
    Yeah, I got 10 in AIME and became top 10 in various math competitions in the U.S., so I think I'm prepared for that level.
  • keepittoyourselfkeepittoyourself Registered User Posts: 1,546 Senior Member
    OK that's pretty good. But if you're serious about math, my advice would be to do well at UCB, enroll in graduate seminars as an undergraduate, and go to Cambridge as a graduate student. Much cheaper, same result.
  • worry123worry123 Registered User Posts: 425 Member
    OK. Since I don't want to study SAT anymore, I may stay in UCB until graduation.
  • unndddunnddd Registered User Posts: 1 New Member
    Some of the information about Cambridge here is slightly incorrect, and I will post this for any potential applicants who might come across this thread.

    It is not a myth that Trinity is harder to get into for maths. They have never taken from the pool for maths. Indeed, they pool a large number of applicants to other colleges. What is essentially true is that if you apply to Trinity, you have roughly the same chance of getting into Cambridge as a whole, as if you'd applied to another college. Just bear in mind that if you take this risk, you can end up in a college that you would not have considered choosing otherwise. Some colleges are several miles from the city centre, some have significantly better facilities than others.

    King's does not have a particular reputation for mathematics. There are lots of reasons why someone might apply there, but a reputation for maths is not one of them. The only college with a major reputation for mathematics is Trinity, and this is not necessarily because they provide a better education, but because every year they get some exceptionally good applicants. Many are IMO medallists from the UK and Europe - probably about 10 or more each year out of 40 people that they take. There are colleges that provide extra classes for their students, and Trinity is not one of them.

    STEP is not similar to Olympiad style mathematics, so it is not that meaningful to compare it in terms of difficulty, although if you do very well in higher level Olympiads you are likely to do very well in STEP with the right preparation. STEP tests understanding of the A level mathematics syllabus, and the questions are actually similar in length and difficulty to Long questions in the Tripos exam papers. If you can do well in STEP, it shows that you have the right skill set for the Tripos, and this is why the admissions tutors love it so much.

    If anyone is thinking of applying to Cambridge for maths, I would recommend doing at least STEP I and preferably STEP II as well (and STEP III, if you have the necessary background and think you can handle it) BEFORE applying. Note that STEP II and III are much more difficult in general than STEP I. If you do well then you're almost guaranteed admittance. It's a good idea to start preparing several months in advance. Make sure you have a relatively good understanding of the material by around January, and start doing practice STEP questions thereafter. About a month or two before the exams, move onto full papers in exam conditions.

    For any potential Cambridge applicants who have questions about applying: there is a very good UK based forum called TSR. The information about Cambidge there is more accurate than the information here, since you will be in contact with actual Cambridge students, and lots of them at that.
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