Jan 23

Top scholar off to Cambridge

Aimee Bebbington

Last month, recent ACG Strathallan graduate and top scholar for 2016 Aimee Bebbington travelled to the UK to interview for a place at the University of Cambridge, one of the world’s top universities.

Since then, she’s exceeded the marks she needed in her Cambridge International exams, gaining three A* grades, and has now been accepted into Natural Sciences. She says she is grateful to the teachers and other staff at ACG Strathallan, who have been helpful, knowledgeable and supportive over the past five years.

We talk to Aimee about her interview, her interests and her advice for future applicants.

What’s it like to interview for one of the world’s top universities?
A couple of the questions for biology were challenging, but I worked through them with the interviewers and had a few laughs in the process.

Most of the candidates looked terrified. However there were a few from mainland Europe who had more confidence and we got along well. It was a lovely relief to find like-minded students.

I threw the interviewers some of the most difficult questions I have thought of lately, which it turns out are only now in the process of being answered (some things to do with gas microbubbles and defining fixed points versus relative points).

I can't give details of the interview questions - something to do with compromising admissions procedures.

What would you like to specialise in?
Although I generally answer 'zoology' when people ask me what I want to do, I really want to combine biology with physics and a side-serving of chemistry to explore sonogenetics and its applications to understanding neurological diseases, neurological processes in other species, mycoremediation (to restore our waterways) and a few other bits and pieces alongside general rewilding.

I cannot say how much of that I will achieve, but in general, when I set my mind to something it gets done.

What advice do you have for future applicants to Oxbridge and other top universities?
I think it is only fair to warn other potential applicants that, if you are serious about Oxbridge, your preparation must begin a few years in advance and will culminate in many, many hours of paperwork.

Even now, actual acceptance is just a scattering of sprinkles on top of a very satisfying cake. Oxbridge isn't the be all and end all of tertiary education - not by a long shot. At the start of this year, I thought that I would leap in the air with joy if I was accepted . Reality is much more subdued when you realise that every step in the journey is just as important as the last - driving to school safely in the mornings, eating, cramming in enough sleep. Those events probably had more influence than the actual letter.

However, Cambridge is undoubtedly a great place for people who love to learn, and I do look forward to the possibility of attending.

*Aimee’s fees will be around £32,000 a year and she is seeking sponsorship.

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