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Cambridge interview tomorrow! Help and Advice needed.

  1. Nov 19, 2008 #1
    Ok, so I'm kinda freaking out about my two physics interviews tomorrow morning. I know most of the details on how they work though, so I should be able to calm myself in time for the interviews.

    If you guys could give me any advice, specifically physics or maths advice, that would be really great. Are there any topics I should make sure I'm good on? I mentioned Cosmology, so could point me to some good links you know? Also, I want to make sure I know all the important equations so I'm familiar with them when I go in.

    Any general help would be awesome. Thanks.
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 19, 2008 #2


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    You could have a read of Cambridge's GR/cosmology for the public website: http://www.damtp.cam.ac.uk/user/gr/public/

    You didn't mention; is this an interview for undergrad? Unfortunately, I can't give any advice, since I didn't apply, but I know there are some people here who went to Cambridge and may be able to give some words of wisdom.

    Most importantly, don't worry and good luck!
  4. Nov 19, 2008 #3
    ^Thanks for the link, I'll read it now. And yeah, this is undergrad.

    Oh, and I mentioned a project on redshift I did, so I could be asked on that. So if anyone has a detailed understanding of redshift and can explain the key principles beyond the basic idea it would be appreciated.

    EDIT: There are a ton of Astronomical equations that I probably should know but I don't...
  5. Nov 19, 2008 #4
    Of course you don't know a lot. That's why you are going to Cambridge isn't it? If you don't have a popular cosmology book on the go at the moment, start one! (Simon Singh, Hawking, Greene, Rees, any big standard names...) They might ask what you are reading at the moment, and 'flaky website X', or even 'the Cambridge Website' is not a good answer.

    Calm yourself by focusing on the book in the train or pre-interview room. (Hide the book before you go into the interview itself, carrying it in would just be naff!) Don't panic read! Treat it like reading a Sunday supplement in bed. That should keep you calm and give you some very fresh, relevant material to impress them with...

    A basic idea of redshift will suffice!
  6. Nov 19, 2008 #5


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    It's more important to be (or at least appear) interested and keen to learn.
    What good interviewers should be looking for is potential not what you happened to have covered so far.
    So stay calm, be keen, ask questions, enjoy it!

    ps. Bad questions- have you won the boat race recently and is it always this cold/damp?
  7. Nov 20, 2008 #6
    Thanks guys. I've had my interviews and they were suprisingly easy. I don't know if that's good or bad though. I got asked only one technical question, involving a circuit. I was being stupid at the time and referred to voltage instead of current, but once he pointed that out I solved it pretty easily.

    I can't believe I spent all that time learning stuff really in depth when it was so short. I did get to show off my knowledge about CERN. I have no idea how they would be able to judge me on my interview performance...but my grades are good, so who knows...

    Overall, my General interview went very well and my Academic interview went alright.
  8. Nov 20, 2008 #7
    I hope you did well. Update us when you got your letter from ye olde cam will ya? ;)
  9. Nov 20, 2008 #8
    ^Hope so too... I will do...even if I get rejected...
  10. Nov 20, 2008 #9
    How is the Cambridge physics degree structured? I'm considering applying next year, along with Leeds, Imperial College and Lancaster.
  11. Nov 20, 2008 #10


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  12. Nov 20, 2008 #11
    Yeah, that's what I thought it was structured like, which is very odd in the UK.

    Fortunately, i'm well-rounded enough to deal with all the biology and chemistry, but the Physics side of the degree doesn't seem specialised enough for what I would like.

    So the choices are; A more specialised degree at another, good but not as good, university, or a more general degree, but with more prestige at Cambridge.
  13. Nov 20, 2008 #12


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    You specialise in the 2-4 years.
    The first year is specialised enough, you just do the chemistry courses in addition to the physics and maths.
  14. Nov 20, 2008 #13
    Right, that seems cool.

  15. Dec 15, 2008 #14
    Yeah, I have my interview tomorrow, I'm actually leaving to go to England later today. What kind of questions can I expect?
    And how formal is it?
  16. Dec 15, 2008 #15
    ^Its not particularly formal, but its not completely informal either. You can't really know what questions to expect, but make sure you can answer the basic ones as well as the technical ones.
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