CAMBRIDGE SAQ

(26 Posts)
hattymattie Tue 24-Sep-13 08:46:46

Having poured her heart and soul into preparing her PS for law. DD is now looking at the SAQ which asks further supplementary questions on why she might wish to study her chosen field - she says she's said it all really on her PS and it is an optional part of the SAQ.

Although it says on the form that you will not be penalised for leaving this part blank - is this reality or should she come up with something further to add?

Can anybody shed any light on this. I read somewhere that it is more important for Natural Science applicants where they need to justify the combination of certain science modules but not necessary for subjects like law.

alreadytaken Tue 24-Sep-13 15:43:01

someone, may have been on mumsnet, once said that the purpose of the SAQ was to allow people applying for a course only offered at Cambridge to say why they wanted that course.

My DC, applying for medicine, had a PS targeted at med schools generally (so work experience and voluntary work took up quite a bit, although there were comments about academic work) and used the SAQ to talk more about reading around the subject and why they specifically liked the Cambridge course. There was no evidence to show that anyone had read it, nothing on the SAQ got a mention at interview.

Surely there must be something specific to law at Cambridge she can talk about?

DS applying for Maths. Unlike medicine his entire PS is around maths, probably similar to your DD hattymattie.
On the Student room there are a number of comments that suggest leaving it blank is not a disadvantage. I think DS is planning to put something about why he wants the particular course at Cambridge.

alreadytaken Tue 24-Sep-13 16:23:55

you might want to get your DC to ask a question here www.thestudentroom.co.uk/showthread.php?t=2439538&page=51&highlight=SAQ+cambridge

hattymattie Tue 24-Sep-13 16:53:50

Thanks - I did look at the student room thread and somebody who is there doing law at present did say they left it blank but opinions are mixed on whether it's actually a good idea or not.

It just seems like more stress on top of the PS stress. I shall be very pleased when this whole process is finished. DD was not pleased when I suggested she should get round this by trying Oxford instead. wink

hattymattie Tue 24-Sep-13 16:57:08

already - I do wonder how much emphasis Admissions Tutors actually put on all these written statements. I do seem to remember hearing that it was academic ability which was most important and the PS's (and maybe also the SAQ's) were barely glanced at.

alreadytaken Tue 24-Sep-13 20:13:25

Some certainly read the PS as they ask questions based on it at interview. However no evidence that my DC's SAQ was read. They thought they ought to write something and they had done quite a bit that there wasn't room for on the PS but I don't think they filled the space.

Academic ability is certainly the most important thing at Cambridge but virtually everyone who applies has good AS results and great A2 predictions. I think they have their own exam for law - if so probably better to spend time thinking about that than wasting spending much time on the SAQ.

BeckAndCall Wed 25-Sep-13 14:58:04

I had understood that the SAQ was the place to talk about your UMS scores - as you only put the grades on the UCAS forms. So if you want to tell them you've got full UMS for one of your subjects, that's the place.

(Other ideas on reading, why this combination etc also noted and I will suggest to DD!)

Is there anything specific to Law at Cambridge that she wants to do?

A particular area of law, specific papers etc?

If so, she could add that. If not, leave it blank.

The admissions tutors do read the statements IME, it's not just a numbers game.

BeckAndCall I think there is a separate box on the SAQ for UMS scores, do you think it's worth mentioning in the additional personal statement bit as well?

BeckAndCall Wed 25-Sep-13 15:34:50

No secret you're right - it's in a separate section. I've just been over on the link from alreadytakenn and will be spending the rest of the afternoon there which talks it through - I didn't realise there was a PS section in the SAQ itself - I thought posters were referring to the main UCAS PS in this thread....

georgettemagritte Thu 26-Sep-13 02:53:21

I can confirm it's fine to leave that space blank (I deal with admissions). Some candidates use it, some don't - it doesn't make any particular difference (unless there is a very specific bit of Cambridge-specific information that can't go anywhere else) and it's also good not to waffle on too much on the form if your DD feels she's said everything on the statement. Candidates sometimes use it to add some X-factor style stuff about how much they want a place which isn't very useful and is quite bland. There's no need to write something just to fill up the space on the form. I'd say on balance more candidates leave it blank than use it tbh and it will make no difference to those reading it. (It will certainly be read, but both the SAQ and UCAS personal statement are used mainly as information on the UMS scores and to help us structure specific questions to ask at interview - it isn't marked in itself IYSWIM, so she shouldn't worry too much about it - as long as there are no spelling mistakes etc.!)

georgettemagritte Thu 26-Sep-13 03:00:42

Just to clarify for those above who were unsure if the SAQ gets read - yes definitely, it will never not be read, as it forms part of the printed candidate file that contains a printout of all the candidate's application information, including the PS. Different interviewers may or may not ask questions based on information from the SAQ, but all will have read it beforehand.

LillyNotOfTheValley Thu 26-Sep-13 04:04:55

Having done a lot of those PS in the past, I would say the best advice I ever received was to leave this space blank unless you have something interesting to write on it.
That and reading law review articles from the school to make sure your style "fits" the spirit.
Good luck to your DD!

hattymattie Thu 26-Sep-13 08:00:18

Thank you so much georgettemagritte I think the temptation is to try to fill the box, so we'll take a deep breath and leave it blank.

May I ask about UMS scores - we are in France and so don't have these - should she just insert her current school report scores? Her French brevet and her stage one French language part of the Bac will be on her UCAS form.

alreadytaken Thu 26-Sep-13 09:20:06

no idea what a brevet is but I'm sure the admission tutors will know smile. UMS are pretty important at Cambridge (but there are others who dont have them and some do get offers) so I'd suggest she email the admission tutor of the college she wants to go to, say what she can provide and ask them what they'd like to see. It also means the admission test will be even more important for her, it's purpose is to provide a level playing field for those with different qualifications.

My DC had to ask some questions about their position and admission tutors don't seem to mind being asked questions about things you can't easily find on the website. However do email the tutor direct as you may get different answers or a different emphasis from admin staff.

hattymattie Thu 26-Sep-13 11:55:05

Brevet's the French equivalent of GCSE's. I think we do need to e-mail them.

georgettemagritte Fri 27-Sep-13 01:00:41

Yes, ask the college's admissions tutor what information they would like to be provided. You would normally put results of all public exams on the SAQ (the admissions tutor will then provide notes on the relevant qualifications and a comparison with GCSE/A-level grades to the subject interviewers so they know how to interpret the results). They may ask for a school transcript or similar (not always but sometimes for overseas quals) so it's best to know early what they would want so you can arrange with the school if necessary.

LillyNotOfTheValley Fri 27-Sep-13 03:58:59

Yes to emailing the school as trust me you will not get any help from the French school when it will come to getting an explanation of the grades. Unless your DD is in an international one.
I still remember ask my french uni for that kind of thongs and ended up with nothing at all as "it was not their job". Coming from the so called "international office".

cottoncandy Thu 10-Oct-13 09:13:42

when I interviewed at Cambridge my interviewer told me that he didn't bother reading my UCAS PS, only the SAQ and expected similar stuff to be covered.

BeckAndCall Thu 10-Oct-13 09:17:34

Thats scary, cotton because it goes exactly against all the advice on the student room and from other tutors. In fact, I'm fairly certain that the Corpus admissions tutor who was doing a QandA session on TSR said NOT to put the same things on your SAQ. But I'm going off to check now, before my DD sends here's off!

BeckAndCall Thu 10-Oct-13 09:30:49

Ok so I went and checked it out immediately! The advice on completing the SAQ PS seems to be 'it depends'. In practice, more than half of applicants DO complete the PS section and it is important for those applying for a course at Cambridge which is different from elsewhere eg NatSci. ( this from the tutor on TSR)

hattymattie Thu 10-Oct-13 11:30:47

Cotton what were you interviewing for. DD is leaving hers blank because the Cambridge law coure if fairly traditional. It's true there are law applicants on TSR who left it blank and said it made not one jot of difference to their application.

DS hasn't got his yet but was not planning to repeat the stuff in the PS which he sweated blood over.
cottoncandy What was your subject and when was it you were interviewed?

Slipshodsibyl Fri 11-Oct-13 09:01:04

Probably too late now but my dc used the saq section to expand on a couple of things that could only be given a mention in the ps due to space restrictions - a further exploration of some extra work she had done etc and No point in filling it with anything that isn't relevant and sharp though.
Good luck

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