The "Am I good enough for Cambridge?" thread

Discussion in 'Cambridge Medical School' started by bryony, Aug 31, 2006.

  1. bryony

    bryony New Member

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    I should just point out that I wrote the stuff below in 2006. I think a lot of it's still true, but do check if something is important, especially college specific info. (The links still work and give up to date info). Bear in mind that most offers are now going to be A*AA.

    *******

    Asking this question is one of the most common thread topics - it is a worry shared by most applicants. As I proposed, this thread is designed to be a common reference - look here before you post regarding your own situation and see if you can find the answer. Hopefully, this will make it easier for everyone and will prevent the forum being clogged by lots of identical posts.

    Basically, the answer to the kind of things that people post is almost always YES YES YES! You don't need 200 A*s at GCSE (or even 10), you don't have to do more than 3 A-levels, and you don't need to come from a posh southern private school (though you won't be disadvantaged if you do).

    The full university advice on basic requirements can be found here. For specific medical requirements look here.

    You DO need the following as a basic minimum:
      • A grade C or above at GCSE (or equivalent, or at AS/A-level or equivalent if you don't have the GCSE) in:
        • English
        • A foreign language
        • Double award science (or triple science)
        • Maths
      • Passes in 3 of Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Maths at AS-level.
      • Chemistry A-level and at least one other science/maths subject at A-level. (You can be considered with only one science, but 2 are preferred, and some colleges prefer 3 - see below.)
      • Be predicted AAA at A-level, as this is the offer you can expect if you are successful.
    If you have all of the above, along with a favourable reference, you should expect to be interviewed by Cambridge. If there are good reasons why you couldn't meet one of the above conditions (such as your school didn't offer a language for GCSE) you should ring Cambridge to discuss it as you may still have a chance.

    Obviously, the most successful applicants have good exam results, a good BMAT score, a good reference, a good personal statement, and interview well. However, if one of these factors is not so good, you can make it up with one of the others, so Cambridge may still be worth a shot. Bear in mind that the criteria for getting an interview are easier to meet at Cambridge than at most other places, so you might be able to wow them in person, even with a weak application on paper. Of course, because of these lower criteria, you are competing against more people at the interview stage.
     
    #1 bryony, Aug 31, 2006
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2009
  2. bryony

    bryony New Member

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    Now I have covered the basics I am going to look at some FAQs. The answers to these are my opinions so feel free to disagree with me! Obviously, there will always be exceptions, and if you don't feel your question has been covered, post it in this thread. That way it will be easier for previous applicants to answer your question, and more people will be able to learn from it themselves.


    FAQ

    I only did 8 GCSEs, is that enough? Yes. Cambridge know that not everyone is able to take the same number, especially those who went to state schools. Your grades should be a mix of mostly A*s and As, but a couple of Bs or Cs are perfectly normal.

    Is only doing 2 sciences at A-levels enough? Yes, UNLESS you are applying to Christ’s, Jesus, Magdalene, Newnham or St John’s who prefer 3 science A-levels. Most applicants will have 3 science A-levels and Cambridge state "Applicants with two science/mathematics A levels will be expected to have scientific ability comparable with those who are taking three and will, wherever possible, be considered equally with them."

    Could I get in with only 1 science A-level? Yes, in theory all colleges except Christs will consider such applications so long as this one science is chemistry. However, Cam prefers at least 2 so in practise you'd be at a disadvantage, and would need to show a high level of scientific ability at interview. Plus, if you're not so keen on science, why are you applying to the Cambridge course anyway?

    I don't do any extra-curricular activities, will that matter? If you really don't do ANYTHING outside of studying then yes, that will matter, and I think your chances would be slim. However, people asking this often mean "Oh, apart from casual netball, being class prefect, and clarinet lessons. And I sometimes help out at a creche." This is fine. You don't have to do much, and you don't have to have taken exams or won awards. You just need to show that you're a well rounded person - talk in your PS about why you enjoy your activities, what qualities they demonstate, and what they've helped you achieve on a personal level. If you have work experience rather than sports or music that's equally good in my opinion.

    Do I need work experience? If you don't have much work experience, Cambridge might actually be a better bet than many places. I was told by a tutor at Queens that they don't care about it that much and place much more emphasis on extra-curricular activities. So if you don't have a lot, don't worry! On the other hand, it's always helpful to do some to see if medicine's really for you, and it's not going to hurt your application. I was asked about mine in my interview at King's and some colleges may expect some - ask them!

    I'm black/ white/ asian/ male/ female/ gay/ straight/ communist/ conservative/ from a state school/ private school/ grammar school/ from down south/ up north/ wales /ireland /scotland/ abroad etc, do I have a chance? I don't think I really need to answer this question, the answer is so obvious, but I will. YES, apart from having to meet quotas on international student numbers, Cambridge offer places purely on academic merit. Do not be put off applying because of your background.


    I now feel very sad having written so much.... It is what comes of being stuck at home with conjunctivitis and bored stiff, lol.
     
    #2 bryony, Aug 31, 2006
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2006
  3. bryony

    bryony New Member

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    Nobody seems to have taken any notice of this thread, as the number of "can I get in with these grades" threads continues to rise. I feel like a bit of an idiot for starting this thread now, but other people thought it was a good idea when I first suggested it.....

    Anyway, this post will bump it back to the first page of threads, so maybe someone will notice, lol.
     
  4. Murkey

    Murkey New Member

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    Contact one the lovely Mods to see if they'll pin the bugger for you. Now if only there was a tag that makes people read all stickies 10 times before they post...
     
  5. bryony

    bryony New Member

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    How do I contact the mods? (If anyone else actually thinks this will be useful?)
     
  6. gymmet

    gymmet New Member

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    I don't intend to apply to Cambridge but I think it's a great idea - maybe people are ignoring it because they think you're another person asking if they're good enough to apply?

    Going by the thread title, I mean.
     
  7. The Guvnor

    The Guvnor New Member

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    Useful, thanks
     
  8. muiz2710

    muiz2710 New Member

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    hey bryony,
    great advice thanks. umm, what did you get for GCSE?

    muiz
     
  9. bryony

    bryony New Member

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    I did 10.5 GCSEs and got mostly A*s. I would say these are fairly common marks for someone who gets into Cambridge, but people with lower grades can definitely still get in.
     
  10. MartinaOnline

    MartinaOnline New Member

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    Heya everyone, I am applying from Ireland... Going for Cambridge and Edinburgh definitely and Southampton and Newcastle most likely.
    I read there in Bryony's notes that -

    I was told by a tutor at Queens that they basically don't care about it at all {it= work experience}

    Actually, I chose to apply to Queens' and I have a big long paragraph on work exp... Could you tell me any other life-saving things about Queens'??? Please?:D
     
  11. bryony

    bryony New Member

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    I can't say much more about Queens as I didn't actually apply there in the end but basically this guy at the open day said they don't necessarily expect work experience and sometimes people can have too much. However, the too much comment was mainly aimed at vets who often do unimaginable amounts because some other unis actually require about 12 weeks of w/e for vet sci students. I don't think mentioning w/e can possibly jeapordise your application UNLESS you write about it to the exclusion of all else. I think it was the latter situation that the tutor was trying to prevent.

    I would NOT take your w/e para out, because:
    a) It will still help to give the right picture about you, just as any extra-curricular or volunteering might.
    b) You definitely need it there for all the other unis you apply to.
    c) Other tutors may have different opinions to the one I spoke to.

    However, you must make sure you have spoken about your extra-curricular activities, because the tutor also said, that while you don't need to do loads of things, not to do anything at all would seriously jeopordise your application. (And I think that would apply to anywhere else too.)

    The reason I made the original comment was to point out that while Cambridge may have the highest academic standards, they don't have the highest standards for every aspect of your application. I'm going to edit my original comment slightly.
     
  12. Gannny J

    Gannny J New Member

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    Good Enough?

    can anyone tell me if I am good enough for Cam Medical (in particular Caius)?

    I'm heading towards a 43 in the IB, with 7's in Chem and Physics. I'm also part of the school Rowing VIII, and I have an Assoc. Diploma in Classical Piano. Good Enough?
     
  13. slapmuna

    slapmuna New Member

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    What part of the "YES YES YES" did you not understand?
     
  14. Gannny J

    Gannny J New Member

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    Pardon?

    I Misunderstand You. Referring to me?
     
  15. slapmuna

    slapmuna New Member

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    Ya.

    You're applying to Caius too? Great... my chances of getting an offer grow smaller every day.
     
  16. anoushka

    anoushka New Member

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    bryony, did you do two science a-levels then?

    thanks for clearing up the whole 3 sciences requirement thing, but i'm still put off by cambridge because apparently it's more competitive than oxford, is that true?
     
  17. Chris@G&C

    Chris@G&C New Member

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    Well 2006 statistics show that Cambridge is the best university in the U.K and the second best in the world. Oxford is second and third respectively. So it wouldmake sense that Cambridge was more competitive
     
  18. Apollyon

    Apollyon New Member

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    This thread kinda passed me by when it was first written because I was on holiday back then but should definitely be made a sticky as every year the same questions get asked by people and bryony gives great answers that could save everyone so much time and effort.
     
  19. Chris@G&C

    Chris@G&C New Member

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    BTW could someone please tell me how you can have half a GCSE and what PBL is??
    Thnx
     
  20. slapmuna

    slapmuna New Member

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    Even if Cambridge is more competitive, it's most likely so by a very narrow margin. They're both tough to get into, and that's it. But if it helps, you can look at some of the people on this forum and feel comforted by the fact that they at least seem pretty stupid - meaning competition in numbers, not merit? <)
     

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