Letters from the dorm: How I got into the University of Cambridge

By Abiel Ma, University of Cambridge

Researching your selected subject and holding mock interviews may be the keys to successful admission

By Abiel Ma, University of Cambridge |

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“I did it, I did it, I DID IT!”

That’s what I said to my parents when we spoke on the phone, right after the acceptance email arrived in my phone’s inbox.

I got into the University of Cambridge, my dream since childhood. In all honesty, I never ever thought that I could one day be a Cambridge student. Even now, it all feels like a dream to me. Studying at the same university as Isaac Newton and Stephen Hawking is amazing. But to tell the truth, it fills me with as much pressure as it does excitement.

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When I think about the stressful application process, I am glad that I did a lot of research beforehand. I remember looking at the example essay questions and mock interview questions, and not having a clue where to start. So I’d like to share some tips about how to prepare for an interview, and hopefully it will help you if you plan to apply to study at Cambridge or another academic institution.

Firstly, do your research and know what to expect. Interviews can be stressful, and that’s totally understandable. Going online and reading about other students’ experiences will help you gain a clearer understanding about the structure and format of an interview. You might even be able to take a look at interview questions from previous years.

Secondly, practise mock interviews with your family and friends; it’ll definite help you feel better prepared. You’re going be asked questions relating to the course you’re applying for, and what you’ve written on your personal statement and essay. It helps to think about the questions you might be asked, such as why you want to study your chosen subject at Cambridge, and how you would go about answering them.

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Thirdly, research your selected subject. Cambridge aims to recruit students who are really passionate about the subject they wish to study. It’s also a good idea to read news and current affairs.

Lastly, be yourself. Interviewers are professionals. They can easily spot any student pretending to be someone they are not. So just be well prepared and be yourself.

Honestly, the past two months have given me some of the best moments in my life.

I had doubts before I applied but it’s definitely worth it. And as a dedicated fan of the Harry Potter series, all I can say is it’s certainly a dream come true to study in a real-life Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.