The Cambridge interview process is nerve-racking and demanding for all subjects, including Natural Sciences. That being said, the Cambridge Natural Sciences interview process format is far more predictable than other courses. Take advantage of this if you want to make things easier for yourself.
Here, we would familiarise ourselves with what the subject entails and take a deeper dive into the entry requirements and tips on succeeding during the Cambridge Natural Sciences interview.
The Breath and Flexibility of the Natural Sciences
The Natural Sciences offer a broad spread of subjects in the physical and biological sciences from 16 departments in a distinctive way. It is how the biological, chemical, and physical sciences are taught at Cambridge.
It involves studying different courses in the first and second years before specializing in a single area in the third year. A few subjects offer a third year as well. Some more details? In the first year, one is required to take three science courses and one mathematics course. For the second year, three subjects are to be chosen from about 20 different topics, out of which a single one has to be selected as a specialty for the third year.
After Natural Sciences, what’s next?
The natural sciences prepare students for any career opportunity. Students are seen to become academic or industrial researchers, science writers, teachers, management consultants, product developers, and even bankers.
What are the Entry requirements?
The typical requirements are:
- A Level: A*A*A
- IB: 40-42 points, with 776 at the Higher Level
Alternative qualifications are also welcome, provided they are acceptable and meet the subject requirements.
The Application Process
- Submission of a stellar personal statement
- Taking the application test
- Taking the interview itself
The Personal Statement
Your personal statement would be the department’s first “interaction” with you. The words used have to be intentional and well thought out to catch the attention of its reader(s). It should include how you have interacted with your passion and motivation, what extra-curricular activities you partake in, your academic strengths so far, etc.
The Application Test – NSAA
All applicants for Natural sciences should take the Natural Sciences Admissions Assessment (NSAA). It spans over 2 hours and is divided into two sections, lasting for 60 minutes. Just as preparations are needed for the interview, so does the NSAA.
The Interview: What is the general structure?
It usually includes one scientific interview and one mathematical interview, lasting for about 20 minutes to about half an hour, depending on the chosen college. Some colleges throw in an extra general interview. But it all depends on one’s personal statement, chosen college, and preferred course. For example, if you decide to be a Chemistry major, you’ll most likely get a Chemistry and Mathematics interview. For a Biology major, a Biology and Mathematics, Biology and Chemistry, or Biology, Mathematics and Chemistry interview would be offered to you. The bottom line is to cement the basic concepts learned from your A-level syllabus.
Tips on how to prepare for a Cambridge Natural Sciences Interview
To begin the interview, the interviewers may start with some icebreakers to reduce the tension in the room and lighten the mood. This may start with wanting to know why you chose the college and or decided to go with your course of choice.
You may also be required to talk more about your personal statement. It might be the only preliminary reading that can be done before the interview. The interviewers want to hear you talk about the things you’ve done or books you’ve read that ignited your passion for the said area. Do not attempt to wing it because, more often than not, the interviewers across from you will be familiar with the author and have read the books themselves. Your response here is the ideal opportunity to demonstrate your enthusiasm for the topic, which is a significant advantage in the interview.
After the stage has been set, the core part of the interview begins. It starts with the standard A-level questions and increases in complexity as you move from one to the next. The interviewer(s) would be looking to see how you respond to unfamiliar concepts to truly gauge your problem-solving ability and determine whether you are “teachable” or not.
Now the process has been outlined. Here are some tips to guide you through the interview:
Clear your head
It always helps to take a few moments (about 15 seconds) to collect your thoughts and analyze the question before responding. This prevents you from answering incoherently or spouting random information that makes you appear careless.
Speak your mind
As you work through the steps of the problem, speaking aloud will help you realise if you are missing something and will show the interviewer(s) that you are capable of logical reasoning. Additionally, they might pick it up and hint to you appropriately if your thought process takes a bad turn.
Draw a diagram
Expressing yourself with drawings or writing always proves helpful. It is invaluable when solving a physics or chemistry problem because it communicates what you understand and do not know to the examiner. And when solving math questions, show your full work on how you arrive at an answer.
Do not be afraid to ask for help
It could be intimidating to admit that you can’t solve a problem under pressure, but this is to be expected occasionally. If you merely stare at the page silently as time passes, the interviewer will know that you need help.
Do not be alarmed if the interviewer stops you midway through a question
If the interviewer or interviewers cut off a question before it is answered, this is not an indication that you have failed; instead, it is only that the interviewer(s) want to get through different problems during the allotted time.
Perfect your skills in mental math
If you can solve mathematical problems fast, it gives your interviewers a very good impression of your mathematical aptitude.
Go through practice questions and arrange mock interviews with vetted tutors
Practicing interview questions can never be over-emphasized. You can improve how you present your answers and correct wrong methodologies with problem-solving. Oxbridge mind could help you with personalized 1-on-1 tutoring and a robust bank of Cambridge University Natural Sciences interview questions.
You could take mock interviews in a pressured atmosphere and get professional feedback to outline and correct areas of weakness.
The most important thing to remember is that the interviewer(s) know everyone’s anxiety. They truly want to see what you are capable of and allow you to demonstrate your abilities ultimately.