Cambridge University held their first-ever virtual Open Day on the 2nd and 3rd of July 2020.
In case you couldn’t make it (or just didn’t have enough time to visit all of the talks and Q&As you wanted to join), the UniAdmissions team joined every webinar and took notes so you didn’t have to.
In this article, we cover the six key takeaways we got from the Cambridge Open Day in 2020.
1. Interviews are very likely to be held online due to COVID.
This was the most common question faced by tutors throughout both days – understandably, candidates are keen to know what the situation is.
We have covered the changes to interviews here.
2. Our ideal candidate is someone who can think for themselves and shows passion for their subject.
This statement, or variations of it, was always the answer given by tutors when asked “describe your ideal candidates?”
Admissions tutors, subject tutors and Education Directors all had the same viewpoint on this particular question; they are looking for candidates who:
3. The number of A-levels you take isn’t important, the relevance of the subjects you take is important.
“Is four A-levels better than taking three A-levels?”
This question was asked by several candidates over the course of the day. The general consensus was that the relevance of the subjects is of utmost importance.
For example, imagine you are applying to study English and you are taking four A-levels in English Language, English Literature, History and Music. You are unlikely to be any better off than another candidate who has taken three A-levels in English Language, English Literature and History as Music is irrelevant to the subject you’re applying for.
Of course, if you can pick a fourth relevant A-level, this will work in your favour.
If you have questions about your application and how to improve your chances of success, speak with our expert Admissions Consultants who will give you advice and create a plan of action with you.
4. You must truly understand the course you are applying for.
Tutors want to see that you have done your research and are choosing their course because it is the best option for what you want to achieve.
For example, Cambridge Natural Sciences tutors said that if you already know exactly what field of Natural Sciences you want to go into and don’t have any interest in other fields within the subject, then the Natural Sciences course is unlikely to be right for you.
This is because during the first year of university, you must study three topics, two of which you may have zero interest in.
Make sure you read through the course prospectus for the subject you want to apply for, and ensure you understand exactly why you’re applying for it. Get your reasons ready.
5. Depth over breadth.
This was the answer given in relation to Personal Statements, but the same logic applies to all areas of your application.
By depth over breadth, admissions tutors were talking about going into detail around certain specifics rather than reeling off a long list of what you have done/read etc. For example, if you are applying for Medicine and have completed five work experience placements, don’t just list each of them.
The tutors reading your statement see much more value in picking out a certain experience or placement than truly reflecting on the time you spent there.
By reflection, we mean providing context: what happened, what you learnt and how this experience would affect your life as a doctor. Taking a deep dive into any topic demonstrates far more to tutors than simply showing off the quantity of experience. They want to see skills you are expected to develop during university such as critical thinking and organisation.
6. You’re not alone if you’re applying to Cambridge from a state school!
The question was asked by many students showing that the myth of “only private students belong in Oxford/Cambridge” still exists. This unfortunate myth puts hundreds of students off applying each year. It is not true at all, for example, in 2019 over 60% of students accepted to Cambridge were from state schools.
Advice from current students was that they had the same reservations before applying, but decided to go ahead and apply anyway. Once they actually arrived at the university, they realised how ridiculous worrying about this aspect of their application was.
The staff and current students both reinforced this by saying that once you’re at Cambridge, you’re all a part of the same family. You are unified by the fact that you’re all Cambridge students, not the school type you were at before university.
So what did we learn?
Cambridge hasn’t changed their selection criteria.
Keep these 6 key takeaways in mind when you’re applying to Cambridge this year.
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