Do you have a summer preparation plan for your Oxbridge or Cambridge application??
As we creep through the month of July, and most of us have either finished or are getting close to finishing school for the summer, it’s important to make sure that, alongside rest and recuperation, you’re on top of your application preparation. Part of this means ensuring that you’re hitting the right point in your prep, making sure that you’ve made some of the important decisions regarding subject, university, etc. and have the groundwork ready on which you can build your more detailed preparation throughout the rest of the summer and into the autumn.
Here, we’ve brought together our top tips on how to use this stage of your summer in the most effective way possible to ensure that you’re in a good position going forward.
We’ve split our advice into reading (thinking about your wider reading and how to have them ready for your personal statement and for discussion in interviews), admissions tests (focusing on how to prepare for aptitude and pre-interview tests you may have to take before interviews), and personal statement preparation.
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Ideally, over the past month or so, you will have started thinking about reading around your chosen subject, perhaps selecting certain works which interest you or which are considered important to the academic field. If you’ve not yet got around to planning your reading, don’t panic! Why not head over to our collection of selected reading lists on our blog for some suggestions? You can also do far worse than to head to your chosen university’s subject website where there may well be a list of suggested readings published by admissions tutors – just remember that you do not need to read every book on this list, you only need to pick a selection of works which are of particular interest to you.
Now that you’ve got your initial readings in order (and remember to check second-hand book websites and online depositories if you’re struggling to access your chosen works for whatever reason) it’s time to get reading in earnest! At this mid-point of the summer, you can begin to build upon the initial readings you’ve conducted at the start of the summer to gain more in-depth knowledge of your topics of interest. If you have read any suggested works that particularly stood out to you as interesting, think about delving further into that author or topic to build your knowledge. A top tip here is to have some post-it-notes or pen and paper on hand so that you can mark or make note of the chapters or sections that particularly stand out to you so that you can refer back to them whilst writing your personal statement or preparing for interviews later down the line.
Earlier in the summer you will hopefully have determined which admissions tests are required as part of your chosen course. If not yet, then head over to the subject website to have a look at the paper and the details: what date will you be sitting it, which topics are covered, what format is the paper, etc.? This information is pretty easy to determine, just make sure that you’ve headed to the right faculty admissions website and that you’ve double checked with your chosen college (particularly if applying to Cambridge) to double check.
During this mid-summer period, you should begin trying your hand at some mock admissions tests under timed conditions. Work your way through the papers, regardless of how much revision you may have done so far, so as to determine where your knowledge sits at this very moment. Collecting these results will allow you to reflect on the areas you’re excelling in and those in which you need a little work. Use these tests to inform your revision going forward.
Earlier in the summer you may well have thought through all the different academic activities you’ve participated in, things you’ve read and have inspired you, and topics within your subject you’re particularly interested in. Take these things that have been mulling in your brain and write them down in black and white; get yourself a solid list of these points to mention in your personal statement so that you’ve got a starting point from which you can build out your wider personal statement.
The main task for your mid-summer period is to work on tour first draft of the statement. Think about aiming for a discussion of three to four subject-specific areas of interest, with a short introduction and conclusion, backing these up with activities, readings, or experienced. Don’t worry if the draft is rough at this point – the main thing at this stage is getting pen to paper and trying your best to get things written down so you can get a better idea of how your statement is going to look.
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