Cambridge Natural Sciences undergraduate interview questions

byt logo long sl md

Cambridge Natural Sciences undergraduate interview questions. A BYT tutor reviewing their own experience of the Natural science interview:

St Johns College


They could tell from my personal statement that I was more interested in physics than anything else. We talked about my understanding of the quantum model of the atom and the astrophysics I had done in my last year. For example, the energy levels in the atom and atomic spectra. One specific question was about what it would tell you if the star’s light was blue shifted.

They led me through the reasoning a bit but eventually it clicked that it would mean it was traveling towards you (ie. opposite to a red shift which is covered in the Alevel syllabus).

Other things — it came up in conversation naturally, but they asked me why ice floats on water, so I explained about its density reducing on freezing, unlike other solids, due to the hexagonal form of the bonds.

Advice for future candidates:

Contrary to popular belief, I didn’t get the feeling they were trying to catch me out. I got a place.” “Research your college and subject (eg. first year courses, which particular module are you looking forward to?) well. Go visit, know which colleges are going to make you sit exams and look at the state to private ratios. Read around your subject so you’re ready to tackle the challenging questions, or at least not be scared to even try. Don’t rely on the formulas you’ve parroted and learnt to get you through the exams. 

Practice speaking the concepts out loud and have an understanding of the bigger picture rather than getting bogged down in the mathematical detail. If they ask a question you don’t know, don’t panic, in my experience interviewers are supposed to help guide you through it, just as they would in a tutorial.

Read a newspaper and get some opinions. Have some interests that are more than shopping or going out with my friends or your subject.

I’m sure there were things I could have done better but afterwards all I remember is sitting in a coffee shop feeling relieved and satisfied that I’d done my best. I think my interview was fairly easy compared to some of my friends but its important to relax and try to be someone that they would want to teach. “