What advice would you give incoming freshers/applicants that you wished you knew?
You might be quite used to aiming for 90% to get the top grades – it’s odd at first that you hand in work where you can’t answer some of the questions! But that’s okay, because supervisions are where you learn a lot. There’s a wide range of abilities so don’t compare yourself to anyone else! Do spend some time going over your notes before a supervision so you know what’s going on, rather than handing the work in a few days before and then just forgetting about it.
There are 2 options to take for Maths – Maths A and Maths B, with the difference being you learn a few extra modules in Maths B so the learning is accelerated. You’re at no disadvantage by doing Maths A (I did it and it was all good) so don’t feel pressured to take the harder option! On the other hand, there’s no harm in trying it out if you think you’ll be okay – Maths B does give you a wider choice of questions in the exams at the end of the year.
You will have lectures on Saturday mornings so be prepared for this! I had them both in first year and second year and it wasn’t the best but you might get a free day during the week if your schedule is nice.
You might feel like first year is pretty full on – it is an intense course with a lot of contact hours, but it gets easier in later years. Part of it is settling into university and adjusting to a new style of working, but it’s not as big a step up as people say it is in terms of actual material.
Any resources that you would advise incoming freshers/prospective applicants to use? (e.g. online resources, books to read etc.)
There’s probably not a lot you need to do before starting the course, first term is very much bringing everyone up to the same level because pre-university people will have learned different things in different school/exam systems. In later years you might have some pre-reading to do when you have project work.
The lecture courses each have question sheets that go with them that you’ll do for supervisions. In many cases the lecture questions are just to consolidate your understanding of the core material; make sure to do some tripos questions (exam questions) throughout the year and go through them with your supervisors – this will be really useful preparation for the exams.
For Chemistry – “Chemical Structure and Reactivity: an Integrated Approach” (Keeler & Wothers) is a great book for the first 2 years but there’s definitely no need to buy it as college libraries will have several copies