Sunday 27 October 2013

Applying to Cambridge University

Lim Jeck has recently submitted his application to Cambridge University. As he did most of the application by himself, I am not exactly very familiar with all the application procedures. Nonetheless, I am able to gather the relevant information from websites, and I will share them (in particular, the Cambridge application process) in this post.

Due to full-time National Service commitment, Singaporean & Permanent Resident male students have to be deferred for 2 years before entering university.  I understand that the typical period of allowance for University entry deferment is 2 years for US universities, and 1 year for UK universities. However, despite the 1-year only deferment norm, I guess it is okay for graduating (Year 6/JC2) male Singaporean/PR students to submit their applications to UK universities, which from what I have observed, is not uncommon. In Lim Jeck's words, he wanted to "get the university applications done by this year" (when he is still with NUS High and has the ready guidance from the College counsellors onsite), rather than do it during his National Service.

All applicants to the University of Cambridge must complete a Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) application as well as a Cambridge Online Preliminary Application (COPA). There is an overseas application fee of £12 and £30 associated with the UCAS and COPA, respectively.

In both the UCAS application and COPA, one should indicate the Cambridge College to which one wishes to apply. There are 29 undergraduate colleges in the Cambridge University. Lectures are centralised and run at the University level, but the colleges will provide most of the accommodation for their own undergraduates and graduates, and at the undergraduate level they have responsibility for admitting students to the University and organising their tutorials/supervisions. Lim Jeck has applied to Trinity College (Math course) as it is renowned to have the best Math and Science programme among the colleges in Cambridge.
Flow of application to Cambridge. SAQ is the Supplementary Application Questionaire which has to be submitted after Cambridge has received your UCAS
Applicants have to enter their academic results (or preliminary results if the 'A' levels/IB/NUSH results are not available at the time of application), key achievements and upload their high school transcript to UCAS and COPA. Cambridge's application deadline for October 2014 intake is 20 September 2013 for those who wish to have their interviews done in Singapore, and 15 October 2013 for interviews done in Cambridge. For those opting to have their interviews done in their own country (without the need to fly to Cambridge), there is an additional overseas interview fee of £120. For Singapore, the tests and interviews will be carried out sometime between 21 October and 3 November 2013. The interview will be done at one of the four venues: ACSI, HCI, RI and Traders Hotel, and the written test is centrally held at HCI. There are different written tests depending on which course is applied, such as essays, Thinking Skills Assessment, BMAT, Cambridge Law Test, etc. For Math course (which Lim Jeck has applied), candidates do not need to write essays (phew!) but instead, they will take a 2-hr written test with questions selected from a range covering many areas of Mathematics - there are 7 questions, candidates are expected to answer the first question plus 2 out of the remaining 6 questions. For the Cambridge interview, I heard that the questions posed by the interviewer (who is a professor from the applied course) will be very much academic based (i.e. it is unlikely you will be asked, what are your strengths and weaknesses, issues of current affairs, world views). It is more to assess the applicants' potential, not so much on A-level or equivalent Math knowledge. Some typical Math interview questions can be found here.

Lim Jeck took the written test on 26 October and his interview would be on 29 October. Both are held at HCI.

The outcome of the application to Cambridge would be known in January. If you are keen to find out how many applicants normally apply to a given College for a given subject, check the Application Statistics here. The Undergraduate Admission Statistics (2012) can be found here. The Applications, Offers and Acceptance by UCAS Apply Centre (2011) can be found there - it is interesting to note that in 2011, RI had 88 applicants and 30 offers; HCI had 103 applicants and 29 offers, NUSH had 20 applicants and 6 offers.

For latest admissions statistics, refer to:
Look under: Applications, Offers & Acceptances by UCAS Apply Centre

Friday 25 October 2013

Australian Math Trust Prize Presentation 2013

Lim Li won a prize award (top 0.3% in Singapore) for Australian Math Competition (AMC) Junior
Lim Jeck won a medal (1st in Singapore) for AMC Senior. It is his 4th medal in AMC.
Buffet spread for prize winners and guests. Prize presentation is held at Hwa Chong Institution auditorium.
AMC 2013 Singapore Medalists

Wednesday 23 October 2013

NUSH Graduation Academic Transcript

Lim Jeck's Graduation Academic Transcript. Major CAP and Honours CAP are for Year 5&6 only; Overall CAP is for all years. He got a perfect 5 for Math and Physics. :). It is apparent from his subjects' Overall CAP that his strengths lie in Math, Physics, Computing and Chemistry and his weaknesses are in languages, humanities and the arts.

Sunday 20 October 2013

Enlistment for Full-Time National Service

Lim Jeck has just received the enlistment letter from Mindef Singapore. He will be enlisted into the Singapore Police Force (SPF), starting 10 December 2013 (duration is about 2 years).

Some differences between enlistment into Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) and SPF, which I have gathered from a forum discussing full-time national service in Singapore:

Infantry / SAF:
- Only firearm you use is the SAR21 assault rifle, though you also learn about the matador (anti-tank weapon) but there's no live firing for the matador.
- Get to throw hand grenade.
- Emphasis on both urban and jungle operations. Hence, there is outfield (staying in the jungle and learning jungle tactical combat and tactical jungle discipline).
- Route marches (4 klick, 6 klick, 8 klick, 12 klick, 16 klick and finally the 24 klick). Klick = kilometre.
- Full battle order and skeletal battle order
- Expect to wear heavy gear such as load bearing vests, kevlar helmet, field packs, etc.
- All BMT camps for infantry are on Pulau Tekong.
- IOC (Interim Obstacle Course)
- Confinement period is 2 weeks unless there's a public holiday.

- Emphasis on laws, hence there are lessons on laws (80% of your time is studying law, 15% physical training and 5% other stuff).
- Only weapon you use during SPF BMT is a revolver.
- Equal amount of physical training but don't have to wear heavy gear.
- Emphasis on how fast you can draw your gun, shoot, and re-holster.
- No need to go Pulau Tekong, your training camp's here on the mainland.
- No outfield.
- SPF SOC (Standard Obstacle Course)
- Confinement period is 9 days.

Tuesday 15 October 2013

SJPO 2008 - 2013 Gold Medalists by Schools

Schools producing Singapore Junior Physics Olympiad (SJPO) Gold medalists (main category), 2008 to 2013, at a glance.

Monday 7 October 2013

2013 Intl Math and Science Olympiads Spore Reps Tea Reception

Letter of Invitation from NUS Faculty of Science.
Albert Einstein Memorial Lectures book presented to Lim Jeck during this year's tea reception.
Fields Medallists Lectures book given to IMO medalists in the previous 4 years.  Luckily, this same book was not presented to Lim Jeck again this year.