Computer Science & Artificial Intelligence

Related subjects: Maths and Further Maths, Computing, IT, Physics.

Skills required: strong STEM Skills (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math); logical thinking, creativity and problem solving skills.

About: In essence, Computer Science isthe study of computers and computational systems. It is a diverse field of study which looks at theories and technologies that provide structure to computers, as well as studies data and advanced mathematical algorithms used by computers to process data. Additionally, Computer Science looks at the practical application of knowledge for creation of computer software and hardware.

Computer Science degree is sub-divided into several disciplines with different levels of specialisation, among which students will find the Artificial Intelligence, Games Development, Software Design, Programming, Data Structures and other.

What Do Computer Scientists Do:

  • Study computer machines and understand how they operate.
  • Know the fundamentals of various programming languages, linear and discrete mathematics, software design and development.
  • Create new ways to manipulate and transfer information using algorithms and advanced mathematics.
  • Create mobile and software applications for various sectors, search engines, operating systems;

Computer Scientists are concerned with implementing solutions to complex problems and ensure that systems and machines are built according to functional expectations and to reliable standards. Computer Scientists also do research and work in areas such as data structure, database theory, numerical analysis, computational complexity theory, computer graphics, and computer vision.

University options: (QS World University Rankings): University of Oxford, ETH Zurich, Stanford University, University of Cambridge, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Carnegie Mellon University, Princeton University, Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, Imperial College London.

Graduates with a diploma in Computer Science will have excellent career prospects, particularly in the IT industry. Graduates will be also highly employable in other sectors, including health, communications, retail, engineering and finance.

Jobs in Demand:

Software Developers & App Developers

Software developers, who work alongside computer programmers and IT analysts, are responsible for building, designing, installing, testing and maintaining computer programmes or software systems, which are aimed at helping businesses run efficiently and provide better service. Based on a company’s particular requirements, a Software Developer’s task may include coding and testing software, studying and analysing various complex systems and resolving any issues, writing and maintaining technical documentation related to programme development.

Similarly, an Applications Developer is involved in the process of creating, maintaining and improving software aimed at assisting users complete a computer task or programme. App Developers work closely with computer analysts and engineers, graphic artists and other specialists.

Computer Systems Analysts

Computer Systems Analysts study a company’s computer systems, technology and design solutions to help use computer technology effectively and efficiently. Systems Analysts conduct cost-effective analysis and research, evaluate and incorporate new technology into an organisation’s current system. They further coordinate and link the computer systems within a company to ensure their compatibility and information sharing.

Other responsibilities can include finding technical solutions that match a company's long-term goals(Systems architects); testing and diagnosing problems in computer systems (Software Quality Assurance Analysts); developing and writing code for software (Programmer Analysts). Computer Systems Analysts bring business and information technology together by understanding the requirements and limitations of both.

Information Security Analyst

Information Security Analysts’ primary job is protect an organization's data, information and systems from any security breach. The role includes planning, coordinating and executing various measures (for instance, installing firewalls, data encryption etc.) to prevent any cyberattacks, data loss or service interruptions. As such, information security professionals are required to research stay up-to-date on latest technologies and intelligence in order to implement these measures and solutions effectively in the interest of a company’s further security enhancements.

Other Specialisation to Consider: Artificial Intelligence (AI)

AI is a field of Computer Science, which aims to build artificial systems that simulate human intelligence, i.e. the cognitive ability to understand, process information and recognise patterns (for instance, image or voice recognition). AI comprises of and connects multiple disciplines: computing, mathematics but also neuroscience, psychology, philosophy, and linguistics.

A degree in AI involves thorough studies of combined science and engineering disciplines. These help students gain understanding of natural intelligence by the use of computer models, as well as provide techniques and technology for building the AI systems. Students are introduced to the fundamental principles of programming, computation and data structures with related mathematics. Further specialisation courses in AI may include robotics, machine learning, operating systems and other.

The International Baccalaureate (IB): a global success.

The International Baccalaureate (IB) by IBO has become a very popular choice for many families and their children around the globe. The IB was developed in 1968 spans from the Primary Years Programme (PYP), to the Middle Years Programme (MYP) and the most well-known two-year Diploma Programme (DP). In 2012, IBO has also developed and introduced the additional Career-related Programme.

The IB curriculum is renowned for its global transferability, which means that students and graduates are equipped with knowledge and skills that are applicable to many different educational systems. In today’s world, when so many families are more mobile as ever, the international curriculum of such high standard, flexibility and recognition is in high demand among parents and their children.

The IB programme seeks to cultivate a community of conscious and well-rounded citizens of the world. Its mission and aim is to “develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect.”

The curriculum comprises of several programmes:

Primary Years Programme (PYP)

The PYP is designed for students aged from 3 to 12. In addition to the fundamentals of literacy and numeracy, the PYP programme puts emphasis on motivating young learners to be curious about studying multiple disciplines, encouraging them to adopt an inquiry-based method of learning. Children are taught to pose questions, investigate and solve problems, and develop their thinking and research skills. The PYP looks at real-life situations and helps pupils find connections between them.

Middle Years Programme (MYP)

The MYP is designed for students aged from 11 to 16 and it introduces eight subject groups, which are the following: Language Acquisition, Language and Literature, Individuals and Societies, Sciences, Mathematics, Arts, Physical and Health Education, Design. The MYP students are also required to work on a personal project, which allows students to express how they understand the real world situations and their connection to knowledge gained throughout studies.

Diploma Programme (DP)

IB Diploma Programme is designed for students aged from 16 to 19. The aim of this programme is to prepare students for further studies at university level. Students can choose up to six subjects, some of which are taught at higher level (HL) and others at standard level (SL). The subject combinations include both humanities and sciences, which gives pupils the opportunity to continue with broad education. The Diploma Programme also includes three core components: Theory of Knowledge (in which students reflect on the nature of knowledge and are assessed by writing an essay and giving an oral presentation); Extended Essay (an independent self-study); and Creativity, Activity, Service (project-based component which includes artistic, sporting and voluntary work).

As to the scores (from 1 to 7), these are awarded for each of the six subjects (42 points in total) in addition to scores for the core components (another 3 points). The highest mark for the IB DP is 45.

Career-related Programme (CP)

The CP is the most recent IB programme, which is designed for students aged from 16 to 19. The programme comprises of academic and work-related courses that provide students with more in-depth knowledge and practical skills, such as teamwork, management skills and other, which they would find useful during their employment. The CP supports and prepares students who seek to pursue a certain career path, internship opportunity or further education.

Schools

The IB curriculum is taught in over 4,000 public and private schools around the world. Schools in the UK include UWC Atlantic College, Southbank International School in London, ACS International School, Sevenoaks School, Bradfield College, St Edward’s Oxford School and Bryanston School among other.

What is special about the IB programme?

  • Rigorous academic training helps students develop depth of knowledge and skills and builds character.
  • A lot of emphasis is put not only on intellectual development, but also on emotional, social and physical balance.
  • Programmes are rather flexible and provide a breadth of choice.
  • All IB programmes are internationally transferrable.
  • The IB DP provides students with a strong university preparation: this includes independent study, essay writing and research, all of which will make the transition to university much more successful and effortless.
  • According to the study by the International Schools’ Assessment (ISA), the IB students outperform the non-IB school students.
  • The Higher Education Statistics Agency 2016 Report found that IB students have high chances to be accepted to top ranked universities and are more likely to achieve higher grades than the non-IB school students.

Challenges to consider:

  • Some students may wish to narrow down their options and focus on specific subjects. In this case, A-level programme would be typically considered a better fitting choice, as students focus only on three or four subjects.
  • The IB DP students are expected to perform well in all subject over the course of two years, which can be challenging in terms of workload and time-management.
  • Additional coursework and assignments that come with the core components of the DP (Extended Essay; Theory of Knowledge; Creativity, Activity, Service) can be challenging as well.

All in all, IB students and graduates develop into active learners and critical thinkers, capable of independent study and work. They become ‘global citizens’ who possess a multitude of transferable skills and are not afraid of challenges.

Additional Information for Educators

For educators, school and university practitioners, the IBO hosts a number of events, workshops and conferences, which are aimed at sharing experiences in and ideas on international education: https://www.ibo.org/conferences/

More information on the IB Programmes can be found on the official IBO website: https://www.ibo.org

What is an IB education? https://www.ibo.org/globalassets/what-is-an-ib-education-2017-en.pdf

First steps in the UK

Congratulations on the decision to study in the UK – country that welcomes hundreds of students from all over the world every year. The British education is a huge magnet for international students who come here to experience the fantastic opportunities it can offer. To make the learning process smooth and concentrate on your studies and leisure it is better to be prepared with your documents, funds and accommodation in advance.

Visa and documentation

Before coming to study in the UK you will most likely need to obtain an immigration permission unless you are a British or European Economic Area citizen, or a Swiss national. The up-to-date information on how and where to apply as well as local application procedures can be found on the UK Visas and Immigration website:https://www.gov.uk/browse/visas-immigration where the Tier 4 students section: https://www.gov.uk/tier-4-general-visa is of the major importance.

Your visa application will require you to provide a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) which will be available from your institution. Once you have obtained your CAS a comprehensive guide to obtaining your visa should be given.

Before applying for visa, you will need to pay the immigration health surcharge. The detailed information on the surcharge required can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/healthcare-immigration-application/who-needs-pay

If you intend to stay in the UK less than three months, you should apply for a short-term study visa: https://www.gov.uk/study-visit-visa

Biometric residence permit

For those students who intend to come to the UK for more than 6 months visa will be issued for a period of 30 days, which will allocate time to travel to the UK and collect biometric residence permit (BRP) with a permission to stay longer.

The visa will contain a ‘vignette’ (sticker in your passport) – proof of your permission to enter the UK and travel to the UK. Vignette will be valid for 30 days. For Tier 4 visa your vignette will normally start either one month before the start of your course or 7 days before your intended travel date whichever is later.

BRP isa proof of holder’s right to stay, work or study in the UK. It holds migrant’s biographic details (name, date and place of birth) and biometric information (facial image and fingerprints). You can collect it upon arrival either at the Post Office or at the Alternative Collection Location (ACL) depending what you chose during your visa application.

The BRP holders are not required to have it with them at all times, but they must show it at the border together with their passports.

More detailed information regarding BRP can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/biometric-residence-permits-overseas-applicant-and-sponsor-information

Registering with the police

Some students need to register with the police after arriving in the UK with a visa, or after getting permission to stay for longer in the UK. To know whether you need to register check your visa ‘vignette’. You should register if it has ‘Police registration’ or ‘Register with police in 7 days of entry’ on it. If you applied inside the UK check the letter you get from the Home Office when your application is approved, it will contain the information whether you need to register or not.

In case you need to register, you must go to the police within 7 days of you:

  • arriving in the UK if you applied for a visa from outside the UK;
  • getting a biometric residence permit if you applied to stay for longer from inside the UK.

After you register the police will give you a registration certificate. Be aware you keep it while your visa or permission to stay in the UK lasts, you will need it to:

  • prove that you’re registered with the police,
  • tell the police if your details change;
  • return to the UK if you travel;
  • apply to stay for longer in the UK.

More information regarding registering with the police can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/register-with-the-police

Opening a bank account

Long-term students should open a bank account as soon as they arrive to the UK at the closest bank to their university/ campus. UK banks offer special facilities and schemes for students and the bank’s advisers can help you organize your bank account. To open an account, you will need your passport and confirmation of acceptance from your place of study, proof of your addresses at home and in the UKas well as a reference and statements from your home bank.

Generally, UK banks work from 09.30 to 16.30 Monday to Friday (some are also open on Saturday mornings). Though the cash machines may be used at all times.

Council Tax

Council Tax is a charge most people over the age of 18 have to pay in the UK for local community services, such as the police, fire brigade, rubbish collection and leisure services.

If you live in an educational institution’s halls of residence, a hostel owned by a charity, or share place with other full-time students or with your family, then you do not need to pay this tax. If you live elsewhere you may have to pay it. The exact amount will depend on your place of stay: https://www.ukcisa.org.uk/Information--Advice/Fees-and-Money/Council-Tax

Welcome week

It is essential no to miss the welcome or orientation week of your institution. It will help international students settle into life in the UK.

Usually the international office or National Union of Students (NUS) runs a welcome international or orientation programme every year in September. This programme will provide you with dedicated local support and information to help you to settle more quickly. It covers information on opening a bank account, registering with the police, registering with a doctor or dentist, details about local shops and other useful information: https://www.nus.org.uk/en/who-we-are/how-we-work/

First steps in the US

When to Arrive

Having acquired the student F-1 visa, you may enter the U.S.up to 30 days before the start date of the Fall semester.

Arrival Day

Make sure to that you take all of your paperwork with you: your passport, visa and copies of the I-20 form which was provided to you by theuniversity.You should alsohave a documentthat confirms your permanent address in the US (proof of accommodation) and your acceptance letter from university.We advise you to make a couple of photocopies of all your documents, just in case you need them during the first few days of your stay.

Once your entry is approved, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will generatean electronic Arrival-Departure Record (Form I-94). Your I-94 will keep record of all your arrivals and departures to and from the US. CBP will make the electronic I-94available online, which you may access through their website: https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/#/home

Note that you may still be issued a paper Form I-94: ‘CBP intends to continue to provide a paper Form I-94 to certain classes of aliens, such as certain asylees and parolees, and whenever CBP determines the issuance of a paper form is appropriate.’

Your First Step Upon Arrival:

1. Complete Your University Check-In

The university check-in is an essential step upon which you will be able to complete your enrolment and request your student ID card. Full instructions on how to complete the university check-in can be found on the International Student Office page ofthe university website.

It is important that you check your university email and web portal regularly, as you will be receiving important communication in regards to registration, immigration information and various study matters.

2. Attend Opening Days and Orientation Sessions

New coming students are generally required to register for and attend the Orientation Programme, which is scheduled a week earlier than the start of semester. Orientation Programme consists of various talks and events designed to help students get settled, discover the full range of activities and facilities at their university and how to find support when needed.

Additionally, some colleges/universities offer what is called the Pre-Orientation programmes, which take place a week earlier than the main Orientation Programme. They are a great opportunity to participate in engaging experiences, meet peers with similar interests, get to know the college tutors and advisors and have fun.

3. Get Health Insurance

Health insurance is compulsory for all international students. Most universities require that students enrol in the university insurance plan. You can also arrange your health insurance privately.

4. Open a Bank Account

Having a bank account in the US will help you manage your finances, withdraw cash and pay your bills. First of all open a bank account (find a good bank near your university). It is recommended that you open both savings and checking accounts.

After researching and deciding on which bank to use, visit their branch with your passport, I-20 form, printed copy of your electronic I-94 number and proof of university enrolment.You can find more information online or by speaking with the bank representative.

5. Join a Student Club

Your university will have plenty of student clubs, student organisations, community service projects, sports activities and media clubs to participate in. By getting involved, you will engage in a variety of interesting activities, will meet students who share your interests and will gain new skills and enrich the existing ones.

6. Find a Part-Time job

Once settled, you can start looking for internships or a part-time job that will allow you to gain hands-on experience that will help you grow. You will also be able to mention it on your CV when applying for a full-time job in the future. You might want to consider looking into applying for a part-time job on campus at your university.

If you have been offered a job, either on or off campus, and have been authorised to work by your university, you will need a Social Security Number(SSN), which you can apply for at your local Social Security Administration. More information is available on the SSA website: https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10181.pdf

For more guidance on steps 3, 4 and 6 you can speak with a representative at the International Student's Office in your university.

7. Keep Yourself Updated on Visa related information

As immigration rules can change, keep an eye on the visa-related information (student and work visa), as these changes might affect your future plans.

8. Learn About American Culture and Society

USA is a very diverse country. Put effort into learning about American culture, be open to cultural differences and be ready to open up. Joining a society or a sports club and getting to know your classmates can be the starting point –sharing experiences and hobbies is the best way to learn.

IELTS and TOEFL

When applying to universities, most international students are required to present evidence of their proficiency in English. Although student applications are reviewed on an individual basis, it is highly likely that international students will be expected to take the IELTS or the TOEFL exam, both of which are widely accepted by over 9,000 institutions around the world.

IELTS

The International English Language Test System

The IELTS is an English language proficiency exam for those seeking to live in an English-speaking country for study or work. People preparing to study will take an IELTS Academic, and others who seek to migrate to an English-speaking country (namely, the UK, New Zealand, Canada and Australia), work or undergo training will have to pass the IELTS General Training test, which “focuses on basic survival skills in broad social and workplace contexts”. The test is accepted worldwide by various universities, immigration authorities, professional originations and other institutions.

TOEFL

Test of English as a Foreign Language

The TOEFL iBT is a computer-base test designed for prospective students planning to study in English-speaking countries. It focuses on measuring the students’ ability to listen, read, speak, and write in an academic environment. TOEFL is conducted in American English and is therefore applicable more to the American institutions, although it is also accepted by many institutions worldwide.

Exams Components

Speaking

IELTS: the speaking exam is up to 15 minutes long and is taken face-to-face with an examiner. Contrary to TOEFL, it won’t necessarily happen on the same day as other exam parts.

TOEFL: the speaking part of takes about 20 minutes, during which applicants are required to answer questions using a microphone.

Writing

IELTS: the written component of the IELTS is paper-based and consists of two sections: the first task asks to summarise or describe information presented in a form of a chart, graph, diagram or other visual. The second part is a 200-250 word long essay-response to a prompt.

TOEFL: the written component of the TOEFL exam is typed and consists of an opinion-based essay between 300-350 words long and a task, which requires you to listen to a lecture or a conversation, take notes and then create an essay-response (150-225 words) based on the content provided.

Reading

The reading component in both IELTS and TOEFL includes three sections each 20 minutes long, all of which are taken from academic content. In the TOEFL you are required to answer a number of multiple-choice questions, and in the IELTS you will find a wider range of questions, such as short answers, for example. All questions are designed to assess your comprehension skills.

Listening

IELTS: students are allowed to answer questions while they are listening to the recordings. They are then asked to respond to a series of questions and exercises.

TOEFL: the TOEFL listening test requires applicants to take notes while listening to a lecture excerpt, conversation or similar, and then give answers to multiple-choice questions.

Scores

TOEFL iBT is scored on a scale of 0-120 (0-30 for each section). The scores for Reading and Listening sections are calculated by a computer, and the Writing and Speaking are determined by several reviewers.

The IELTS is graded on levels from 1-9, with your overall score being an average of your separate scores in all four components.

The scores for both the TOEFL and the IELTS expire 2 years after your test date.

General Differences

IELTS TOEFL
Type of Exam:
Paper-based. Computer-based (via Internet)
Length of Exam:
Around 2 hours and 45 minutes. Up 4 hours.
Style of English:
Either British English or American English. TOEFL follows American spelling.
Types of Questions:
A range of different question types, e.g. short answer, gap-filling and short essay tasks. The majority of questions are multiple choice.
Speaking component:
Face-to-face with an examiner. Six questions which have to be answered into a microphone.
Other differences:
Students taking the IELTS have to be prepared to demonstrate broader comprehension and memory skills.
The IELTS has more of a ‘real-world’ feel.
TOEFL questions are primarily multiple choice, so students are required to think critically in order to be able to identify the differences between their options.

Both IELTS and TOEFL are standardized tests, which means that if you follow the guidelines and practice diligently, you will feel confident and do well in either exam.

Studying in the UK and the US

Generally speaking, it is necessary to achieve a minimum score of 6.5/7.0 (with a minimum of 6.5/7.0 in each module) for the IELTS and a minimum score of 100 for the TOEFL iBT to be admitted to one of the top league universities in either the UK or the US. Needless to say, each course has its own entry requirements, so it would be wise to check this information well in advance.

How to Write a Personal Statement for University Applications

Whether you are seeking to enter a university or college in the UK, the US or elsewhere in the world, personal statement will play a key role in your application. Personal statement is a page-long essay about you: your personality and yours kills, knowledge and experience that you have gained throughout life. It’s an opportunity to demonstrate why you would like to study a particular course and what makes you the right candidate for it.

Here’s a list of steps and useful tips on writing a strong personal statement that will make your application stand out:

Step 1 – Brainstorm

Writing a personal statement may seem challenging at first but brainstorming is a good way to start: reflect on the experiences that inspired or influenced you, helped you grow; times when you achieved success or failure and the lessons you’ve learnt. Even the quietest events in lifecan make afavourable impression if one presents them in writing with style andthe right tone.

Step 2 – Structure and writing

When it comes to structure of your personal statement, think of it as a biographical narrative written in several concise paragraphs, each representing a theme (i.e. academic performance; work experience; volunteering; extra-curricular activities; personal development and soft skills). How the personal statement is structured will determine its overall value.

Introduction

  • The first paragraph or the opening paragraph initiates the flow of the essay and acts as a ‘hook’ to invite the admissions tutors to read your story. It could be a specific event or memory that triggered your interest and is symbolical to your choice of degree or subject. When writing the introduction, it is advisable to avoid cliché phrases such as ‘I have always been fascinated by’ or 'since I was a child', as well as over-used quotations.

Main Body

  • Paragraphs following the introduction should include examples of what you have studied, experienced or learnt, how you have benefited from it, how it enhanced your knowledge of the subject and confirmed your commitment to the programme of choice. The beginning of each paragraph should have a link to the end of the previous one, so as to retain a logical order of the narration.
  • Choosing what information to include: generally speaking, about 80% of the main body should focus on your academic achievements gained through studies, volunteering or work experience, whereas the remaining 20% should focus on the non-academic.
  • Some of the academics kills may include the following: the ability to analyse data, think logically and critically, writing skills, time-management, communication, research and computer skills.
  • Non-academic skills are attributed to hobbies and interests, such as sport, music and travel. They contribute to your personal development and enhance creativity, leadership and collaboration, as well as presentation skills.
  • It is important that your personal statement proves that your set of skills is unique. However, it is equally important to stay humble and down to earth. Promoting yourself too hard can put you at a disadvantage. Remember that balance is key.

Conclusion

  • Your conclusion should be an impactful ending to your story and articulate how the degree of your choice is integral to your future academic or career aspirations. You may also highlight your motivation and willpower.

Step 3 – Review and plagiarism

Allow yourself plenty of time to read your personal statement several times, check your spelling, grammar and order, and make necessary adjustments.

It may also be a good idea to ask your tutor, a family member or a friend to proof read your essay – their independent opinions and different perspectives will contribute towards improving your essay. Do remember that plagiarism is strictly prohibited, so copying someone else’s work will disqualify your application.

Writing Tips

Don’t write redundant sentences – be as concise and clear as possible.

Do use a formal tone of writing and, as we mentioned earlier, don’t mention overused quotes or other references.

Do research into universities and their courses, special programmes, off-campus opportunities, organisations and so forth. This will help you to answer the question ‘Why do you want to attend our university/course’?

Expressing a compelling perspective in an authentic and lively way is something that will impress the admissions tutors.

Applying to Universities in the UK

The undergraduate admissions process to universities in the UK is made through the online Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). As you are only limited to having five choices on your application, your statement should be relevant to all of them. If you are applying to some degrees that have combined courses, make sure to refer to those subjects in your essay. Keep in mind that the UCAS application form only allows a total of 4,000 characters (approximately 700 words).

Applying to Universities in the USA

With over 4000 colleges and universities in the United States, there is no general rule about the entry requirements and procedures. You may decide to apply to each university individually or use the Common Application (Common App), of which about 700 universities are members. The Common App requires to submit one essay prompt, but various colleges also require additional essay questions, specific for each institution. The aim of these essays is for the admissions to learn more about you and the factors that have been shaping your life, as well as to assess how does the programme you are applying to match up with your preparations and future plans.

Some of the questions may be similar to the following prompts:

  • Why do you want to study with us?
  • Give an example of an extra-curricular activity and why is it important to you.
  • Think about an idea or topic that has been intellectually exciting for you. Why are you drawn to it?
  • Please list a few words or phrases that describe your ideal college community (in 150 words or fewer).
  • Tell us what from your current and past experiences (either academic or personal) attracts you specifically to the field or fields of study. If you are currently undecided, please write about any field or fields in which you may have an interest at this time (in 300 words or fewer).

In addition the Common Application, other applications include:
The Coalition for College Access http://coalitionforcollegeaccess.org and the Universal College Application https://www.universalcollegeapp.com

How to prepare for an interview

Although fewer universities and colleges require applicants to attend interviews, more selective institutions, such as Oxford and Cambridge in the UK and most of the Ivy League colleges in the US, will seek to evaluate your academic suitability by inviting you to the interview assessment.

Interviews tend to take place towards the end of the application process. They give admissions tutors an opportunity to learn more about your personality, your interests and future goals, as well as your ability to respond to questions and cope with stress. Additionally, interviews can help you decide whether a particular university or course is a good match for you or not.

As a rule of thumb, interviews take place in a form of a discussion which is based on a degree subject you have chosen to pursue. You may also be asked to solve a mathematical problem (if applying for Maths, for example) or discuss a piece of writing (if applying to study English and Literature).

Even though it is impossible to know in advance the exact questions you will be asked to discuss, it is important to dedicate some time to preparation, as it will improve your answers in terms of clarity and depth, and it will also boost your confidence during the interview.

Consider the following questions:

  • Tell us about yourself.
  • Why are you interested in this particular university/college/degree/subject?
  • What are your academic strengths? Weaknesses?
  • Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ from now?
  • What are you reading at the moment?
  • What do you consider to be your most significant achievement?
  • What did your internship/ volunteering/ work experience teach you?
  • What motivates you in life?
  • Give an example of a time when you demonstrated a certain skill (research skills, leadership and collaboration, creative thinking, time-management, interpersonal skills and so on).

Some interview questions may be more challenging than others, asking you to demonstrate your critical thinking and original approach. For example, the admissions may come up with a hypothetical situation and will ask how would you respond to it. The goal here is to show that you can tackle complex ideas confidently, consider multiple sides of an issue, think ‘outside the box’ and communicate your thinking process.

Interview Preparation: Some Useful Tips

  • Be prepared to discuss the subjects you are studying for A-Level/SAT/other academic qualification as well as other information, such as your extra-curricular activities, that you mentioned on your personal statement or university essay.
  • Familiarise yourself with information about the university you are applying to and the degree of choice. Admissions tutors will expect you to show in-depth knowledge.
  • Be ready to talk about the current affairs in the field relevant to your degree.
  • Come up with specific examples and try avoiding cliché answers.
  • Prepare some questions for the interviewer. You could ask the admissions tutor for advice he or she could give a first-year student or tips for studying on this course. This is also gives you the opportunity to learn more about the university and the programme of study.
  • Ask someone competent to give you a mock interview to get some practice. This could be your tutor, mentor or a friend.

During the Interview:

  • Pay attention to your body language, make eye contact, stay relaxed but alert.
  • Don’t worry too much. Remember that there is no right answer –interviewers are more interested in how you respond to questions and how you develop your thinking.
  • Believe in yourself and your abilities!

Wishing you lots of luck!