Qn: What do you think of the Entrepreunership culture in Cambridge?
There are many different societies catering for different interests, and entrepreunership is definitely one of them. If you’re thinking about a course, there is Management as an option in your third year and some parts of Manufacturing Engineering also touch on business management. In addition, the Judge Business School holds a number of entrepreneurship related events.
Qn: How was it like integrating into student life there as an international student?
This would depend on your college to a big extent. Some colleges have large international populations, some even have 10-15 Singaporeans a year, so it would be somewhat easier. For colleges with few Singaporeans (I was the only one for the beginning of my first year), it would take a bit more effort but it was not difficult to make friends with locals in my course and college. I would suggest joining some societies, sports and also CUMSA has activities fairly often (once every week/2 weeks) that you can join.
Qn: How did you balance the application and A lvl,as PS & UCAS need to be completed before prelims&admission test is right before A lvl&interview is right after A lvl? How did you manage your time&workload?
I’ll answer this in a brutally honest manner – if at the point of applying you are still struggling with A levels then that should be your focus, because its much easier to reapply for Universities than to retake A levels. Having said that, since we are now in April (editor’s note: this was in the context of one of our talks), you can actually start to do your personal statement, get a form out by June, and start studying for the admissions tests in June. Nearing A levels/the admissions tests, you can go just stick to doing 2-3 admission test samples a week, this would take you 1-2 hours each at most. As for the interview, be sure to check the format, but if you can opt for a December interview, this would help reduce the workload. If it is an October interview, it would not be too much of an issue, as you can start reading lightly from now, maybe an article or two during each weekend. Cambridge tends to interview a large number (I believe ¾ of their applicants) so you can start preparing now, and would not need to worry about not even making the interview cut (unless your prelim/predicted
grades are very low).
Qn: How did you write your PS and prepare for the interview for Econs?
I think for PS it really depends on what aspect of Econs catches your interest – I spent like half of mine talking about the minimum wage debate cos I was following it quite closely around the elections. I also talked about my academic experience with math and econs, like competitions etc. for the interview I didn’t do any prep but I did make sure I fully understood every concept I mentioned in my PS, (but in the end they didn’t ask about the PS at all)
Qn: With the change from ECAA to TMUA, Cambridge Econs seems to become more math-heavy and requires higher mathematical skills from applicants, if I am not strong in math, how can I better prepare for it?
I’m quite unsure what TMUA is, but honestly if its math heavy then doing the ECAA prep papers should be okay! the math in ECAA is quite intense (at least for me) but there’s a lot of practice papers online. A lot of it is honestly just doing math fast so developing a quick intuition for numbers (easier said than done, I know) would probably be helpful.
Qn: Do we need to read papers/subject-related readings that are being taught at Cambridge in order to write our PS well?
It’s definitely not a ‘need’, but if you are say in NS and have lots of time, then it is possible. There is an unofficial offer holder’s guide which may have some help: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1yhXMmBF9m0Ut-
NJcNJ4IQ4acKdpDduFXNqIHf9hzzaDqB0I I wouldn’t stress too much about this, it’s definitely a bonus, but if you have ample time then
this is somewhere to start.
Qn: Do you find the school culture very acad-focused?
Yes, it is, as Cambridge emphasizes a lot on independent learning so you have to really manage your time for studies. Everyone in Cambridge is working as hard as you, so you don’t feel like an exception. However, the terms are very short (8 weeks) and there are also long holidays where you can find the time to do your hobbies and other things you want to focus on.
Qn: What did you consider when choosing a college? Did you consider the relative acceptance rates & the field of research that the professor is currently doing? Is such information available on Cambridge website?
There are many considerations to choosing a college. It could be based on location (near to city center, or near to your department), vibes, whether you want a bigger college or not etc. It is important to note that regardless of the college, Cambridge is still Cambridge, and you will learn to love the college you are in.
Qn: What are the admissions rates/other statistics?
Cambridge do have statistics about their admissions. You can check them out here: https://www.undergraduate.study.cam.ac.uk/apply/statistics
Qn: If I am interested in Econs but not good at math(normally B for H2, no FM/H3Math), am I really suited / capable of applying to Cambridge Econs (more math-heavy&quantitative) as compared to Oxford EM?
Absolutelty! Although if you’re really not interested in math at all, you might want to consider EM. There is quite a lot of quantitative work in the camb econs syllabus so do bear in mind that will be part of your degree work. But if you’re prepared to potentially spend quite a bit of time doing quantitative micro/macro work and stats/pure math then absolutely go for it!! With the Singapore A level math background you should be more than okay :)
Qn: What were some of your considerations when applying for vocational degrees abroad (Law/Med)?
For both, be sure to check the medical/law regulatory bodies in Singapore for their approved schools list. Check out the relevant websites for the list.
For medicine, it’s not too difficult to come back as a doctor, though most recommend you either do it immediately after graduation or after attaining specialist certification (takes 5-10 years depending on specialty). It is possible to come back in between, but it would be more complicated. MOHH as a pre-employment grant, where they pay you $150k (if I’m not wrong) in exchange for a 5 year bond in Singapore, this would be a good way to secure a place in Singapore.
For law, especially at Cambridge, there’s a lot of support for applying for a training contract at a prominent international firm, and I know a lot of Singaporeans who have secured training contracts there. Many of these firms have offices in Singapore that you could come back to after your TC ends. There is also an option to do a UK TC in the Singapore office of an international law firm. If not it is possible to return to Singapore immediately after graduating, you would have to apply for a training contract-equivalent with a local law firm. The local law firms are very interested in hiring from top UK universities, and in fact Rajah and Tann is one of CUMSA’s sponsors.
For both, there are UK-wide bodies representing medical and law students, namely SMSUK and UKSLSS. For medicine, there are equivalents in Ireland and Australia (SMSI and SMSANZ). They have website that might explain some of these.
Qn: Would I be disadvantaged if I don’t write the optional Cambridge-specific essay in the supplementary questionnaire?
The common answer given when admissions tutors are asked this question is no, I’d say it does not play a big role, but since you have the chance you might as well go for it. I don’t think it will hurt your application no matter what you write, but at the same time it not make or break it.
Qn: Difference between UK AND US schools?
UK Universities tend to be more directed to the programme you applied for, especially since you are completing your education in 3 years (Scottish universities are an exception). For US Universities, you can apply undeclared without choosing a major to a university and have the option to finalise your major only at the end of the second year. Because UK Universities are specialized, they can offer accredited professional
programmes such as Law, Medicine, Dentistry at an undergraduate level whereas for US Universities, it can only be pursued at a post-graduate level.
Qn: How did you guys relate your PS to the course you want to study?
This is very dependent on your course – check out some successful sample personal statements online. The technique that worked for me was to check the website for the characteristics that they are looking for in potential applicants, and relate each of your school experiences to these characteristics. This would vaguely sound along the lines of “Through doing X in school, I learnt X, an important characteristic of future doctors/lawyers/engineers OR an important trait that would help me in X course”.
Qn: I’m in an NS vocation that requires stay in and is very time consuming. any advice for maintaining brain function or preparing for applications with very little time?
I would say to start early, get a draft of the personal statement out soon (around June). The personal statement is open-ended/has no prompts so you can start writing it immediately. As for the interview, I’d say do small but consistent work, e.g. read one article/book chapter a week.
Qn: Can boys apply during A Level and still have the spot for after NS?
Please check with the university and college directly (before applying) if they would hold the spot for you for two years.