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How likely am I to get into Cambridge as an American?


Replies to: How likely am I to get into Cambridge as an American?

  • EL304695EL304695 Registered User Posts: 5 New Member
    I'm currently a junior and an American citizen and wish to go to Cambridge for natural science. I have always dreamed of pursuing a higher education at Cambridge University. I understand that Cambridge mainly looks at aps and sats. Here are my current stats (I haven't taken some of the ap exams yet, but I will give my estimate):
    AP world history:5
    AP Calc BC: 5
    AP Chem: 5
    AP Psych: definitiely 5
    AP Bio: def 5
    AP physics 1: def 5
    AP physics 2: def 5
    AP stats: def 5
    AP US history: def 5
    AP comp sci prin: def 5
    AP english language: maybe 4, prob 5
    Future APs: Physics C, English literature, Gov and Econ, environmental science
    SAT subject tests:
    Chem: 800
    Math 2: 800
    Biology: 800
    Physics: 800
    English: 800
    World History: 800
    I am also planning on taking calc 3, an IB course next year as a senior.
    For supercurriculars, I am doing biological research at a prominent university and I will be a contributor in a few papers published in scientific journals, I am also an officer and one of the founders of my schools hydroponics club where we have built a greenhouse by hand, as a result, I have experience writing proposals and applying for grants. I also heard that Cambridge like for you to have read a book about your major, so I am currently reading Staphen Hawkings, "A Briefer History of Time". I looked over practice admissions tests for Natural science and I thought it was easy, better than my ap exams at least. All in all, will I be able to get an interview? If I don't completely mess up on the interview will I be able to get in?
  • PurpleTitanPurpleTitan Registered User Posts: 12,664 Senior Member
    You can get an interview and the interview is the big test.

    For non-Oxbridge UK unis, getting in is nearly all about your test scores and app. For Oxbridge, that all gets you to the interview, where a Cambridge don will be asking you questions similar to a tutorial.
  • EL304695EL304695 Registered User Posts: 5 New Member
    I understand that the interview is a major aspect, but considering that I've pursued science and math to extreme levels, taking all the most difficult courses, I'm confident that I'll be able to stumble my way through them. I am more confident in answering questions about my personal statement, considering I have dedicated the past two years to sitting at a lab doing research on drug resistant superbugs. My biggest concern is that A level courses have a different curriculum from AP courses thus I will be hit with a question I don't even have a clue about. For the interview, I hold complete confidence in anything pertaining to math, considering that I have already finished calculus bc and will be taking calc c, an ib, at the time of the interview.
  • Twoin18Twoin18 Registered User Posts: 1,382 Senior Member
    And your personal statement won't be mentioned *at all*. They will have a set of (difficult) academic questions to ask, they want to see how you think about them.

    So for example one of my questions for physics (many years ago) was "if you fire a ball in orbit around the earth and drop another one through the center of the earth, which gets to the other side first? Why?" (Note that typically the best answers don't require writing any calculations down at all.)
  • EL304695EL304695 Registered User Posts: 5 New Member
    I think I should clarify, when I was saying that I was worried about being hit with a question I have no clue about, I was saying that I was worried I would be asked a question about a topic I had never learned before, such as if I was asked a question that required knowledge on bond dissociation, a term completely unknown to me and never taught in my AP chem class but one that I came to through self study. I'm worried about the difference in curriculums, perhaps they learned thermochem while I learned electrochem, and the lack of potential background knowledge is what terrifies me. I'm confident in being able to answer thought provoking questions, but I need to have background knowledge to do so.
  • collegemom3717collegemom3717 Registered User Posts: 6,291 Senior Member
    Cambridge like for you to have read a book about your major,

    Kind of. It's more that they assume you are in love with your subject, that when you are in love with something you spend a lot of time with it, and if you are academically oriented that time will include reading widely in the subject that you love. It's not about having one book to show that you've read something.

    Cambridge interviews the heavy majority of applicants, so you will probably get an interview- which is the make or break.

  • EL304695EL304695 Registered User Posts: 5 New Member
    According to all the responses, it seems like the interview would be my most crucial challenge. Would I have to ace it? I've seen videos online where people claim that they were shaky for one of them but good on the other, or something to that degree. Generally, when it comes to learning content in bio/chem/phys/math I aim to understand the topic rather than just memorize the equation, so as long as I don't have to ace it and have leeway for mistakes, I'm confident that with enough brush up time I could do fine. To put it into easier terms, if I were to get a B on the interview could I still be accepted? the college I'm aiming for is Jesus.
  • collegemom3717collegemom3717 Registered User Posts: 6,291 Senior Member
    edited May 3
    I don't think you are reading the above responses closely enough. The interview is *not* a content test- it assumes a level of knowledge (and they will have your assessment test for that). It is closer to a tutorial (supervision, in Cambridge-speak), in which you discuss and work through material at an intense level.

    As @skieurope said, they *try* to expose applicants to unfamiliar material, and then ask them to work through it. The goal is to see how you think, how you approach a unknown problem (how do you marshal what you do know to puzzle out a possible solution to what you don't know), how you work in a tutorial format, etc. There is no 'acing', no 'B', no 'do you know enough formulas'. It's not even about 'are you smart enough'- Cambridge is explicit that they think that pretty much everybody they interview is capable of doing the work.

    Note also that some super high achievers don't get offers b/c the tutorial format simply doesn't work for them. Remember that the people conducting the interview will generally have you in a tutorial at some point- it's not admissions people that you will never see again.
  • PurpleTitanPurpleTitan Registered User Posts: 12,664 Senior Member
    Yep. A prof will be assessing if he/she wants to have you as a student.
  • EL304695EL304695 Registered User Posts: 5 New Member
    Great to know, thanks for the clarification. I'm very confident in my ability to learn and work through new stuff one step at a time considering the school I go to employs a quarter system, meaning we have essentially 45 days to learn all the content for an AP exam and my previous teachers all encouraged a similar mindset of being able to explain completely new topics with only background knowledge (as a result of limited time and rushed curriculum, this method was employed so students would be able to learn content without as much practice, albeit to a lower level).
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