Student Profiles – Pip, Natural Sciences (Biological)

Pip is a third-year Natural Sciences (Biological) student from Cheshire. At A Level, she studied Maths, Chemistry, Biology, and French.

Why did you choose Trinity Hall?
It was pretty and situated on the river, had a nice library with 24/7 access, it was ranked as a reasonably affordable college (including not requiring a set number of meals to be eaten in college each term), and seemed to be a nice size. I applied during Covid so I couldn’t visit in person, but I used the website and virtual tour to make my decision.

How did you prepare for the application process and interviews? Was it what you expected?

For the NSAA, I revised all of the content on the syllabus and then did past papers. For interviews I reviewed my personal statement and the books/articles I had mentioned in it, reviewed relevant A-level material, prepared for common questions like ‘why did you choose your course’, and was lucky enough to have a few family members offer me a mock interview to practise some Oxbridge-style questions.

The NSAA was how I expected from the past papers. I wasn’t sure quite what to expect from the interview, but I didn’t feel it was too much different from what I might have expected.

Why did you choose your course?

I wanted to specialise in Zoology, and Natural Sciences was the only course that offered this.

How does your course compare to your expectations?
It is similar to what I expected – I knew which modules would be offered from the website, and I knew the workload would be intense but interesting.

What is your favourite part of your course?
Generally, when you have a lecture by someone who is passionate, about an area that interests you. In final year, I love being a member of one department (Zoology) and being able to surround yourself with like-minded people on a daily basis.

How are you taught?
A combination of lectures, practicals, supervisions, and research projects. In first year, I had 12 lectures, ~2 practicals, and 4 supervisions per week. In second year, I had 9 lectures, ~2 practicals, and 3 supervisions per week. In third year, I now have 6 lectures, no practicals, and 2 supervisions per week.

You do a lot of independent study – you generally spent 2-4 hours doing the set work before each supervision, and then you can do an infinite amount of revision/consolidation on top of this. I tended to do most of this in the holidays and mostly just do supervision work in term, but this is up to you!

How do you manage your workload?
With lots of lists and a decent calendar/planning system! I also find that taking on extra-curricular activities helps to give me the pressure I need to get the work done.

What do you like to do when you’re not working?

Catching up with friends and getting involved in clubs/societies, both within college and with the university.

What are your plans for the future? Do you have any reflections/advice about your time at Cambridge and Trinity Hall?

I’m very undecided about my future but will never regret having come to Cambridge – while intense at times I have really enjoyed the course, the people, and the city.  In terms of advice, I’d say get stuck in and don’t wait to get involved in the things you’re interested in – three years goes by quickly! I’d if you’re unsure whether to do something or not, imagine yourself looking back on your time here after you’ve graduated – will you regret not having explored that club/sport etc? If so, go do it!