Results Day 2021: The Tab speaks to new incoming Cambridge freshers

A new cohort of students are now officially #GoingToCambridge

Today A-Level students across England, Wales and Northern Ireland have received their results. This year, due to the pandemic, results have been estimated by teachers rather than the usual process of formal exams.

Using a combination of coursework, mock exams and essays as evidence, “Teacher Assessed Grades” have been used, which in turn are confirmed in each school by headteachers. The algorithm initially used last year before the government’s U-turn has not been reused.

This year grades are expected to be higher than ever: It is estimated that nearly half of all those that received grades today achieved an A or A*. According to UCAS, 91 per cent of students have a confirmed place at their first choice university today.

The Tab got to speak to some of those students, who today have had their offers to study at Cambridge confirmed.

“It doesn’t even feel real yet, to be honest”

When speaking to our new freshers, it is clear that this was no ordinary Results Day – the challenges of studying during the Covid-19 pandemic have made getting those grades today all that more special. In the words of Mimi, who is a soon to be MML-er at King’s:

“The stress of school during the pandemic – where you had to be giving 100% all the time to ensure you had good evidence for teacher assessed grades – combined with a Cambridge application is something I don’t think I’ll ever forget, but I also won’t ever forget chucking my phone across my room and screaming at my offer email during online French class in January. 

“I’m relieved I’m starting this year (double vaccinated) rather than last, and optimistic, academically and about everything else.”

“It feels slightly weird”

Juned, another MML-er, and also one of the first male undergraduates to be going to Lucy Cavendish College thought “It feels slightly weird to have got into Cambridge during a pandemic because it’s been such a weird year with online learning. But I’m also quite proud of myself because I felt like the pandemic made it even tougher to try and even apply for Cambridge with things like online interviews”

Louis, who will be soon be studying Engineering at Catz, had a similar experience: “It feels quite surreal to have made it to Cambridge. With all the uncertainty about examinations, there were many points where I lost confidence in myself as to whether I’d get in.”

Juned and friends, Tejah and Ismail, all of whom will be starting at Cambridge in October (Image Credit: Juned Muhith)

 “Learning from the world’s experts”

For many, learning that they will indeed be heading to Cambridge in October is the exciting start of a brand new chapter of their academic career. Hayden, who will be studying Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic at St. Catharine’s, says “It feels absolutely surreal to have powered through the challenges of the pandemic and to have become the first person in my family to study at university altogether, let alone Cambridge. 

“I await Cambridge eagerly and I cannot wait to throw myself into the subject I’ve wanted to study for so long. I cannot emphasise how grateful I am for such an opportunity and I am so excited to be learning from the world’s experts in the field of medieval studies and to begin the next chapter of my life.”

Gloria (Law at Fitzwilliam College) concurs: “I’m looking forward to supervisions and having meetings about the law with amazing academics. The pandemic made the UCAS and A Level experience different and harder with most of it done virtually. It was a tough journey and I’m glad it ended with success.”

Gloria and her results (Image Credit: Gloria Ngozi)

“I am just so excited to meet everyone”

For some this year, moving to a new city and meeting new people will bring an even greater sense of excitement this year than usual. Amal, who’ll be going to Emmanuel College to study English, puts it nicely:

“It feels amazing to have made it in during a pandemic, I’m especially excited to move away and do something new after all of the lockdowns, meet new people and just get involved with everything.”

MML-er Mimi had more to say on the subject: “Probably really cliché but I am just so excited to meet everyone that I’ve met via the offer holder group chats, especially the King’s humanities squad and the MML besties. We thought the group chats would have died by the end of February but nope, they’ve kept going strong all the way through 2021 – probably helped by lockdown.

“I’ve met so many amazing people I already consider friends and speaking for us all, we can’t wait to turn our imagined scenarios about punting, picnics and seshes together into reality!!”

Louis is equally optimistic about Michaelmas: “Cambridge seems to be doing a lot better than some other places I’ve seen at transitioning to some normality in October, and so I’m really looking forward to the clubs and societies – there’s obviously just way more choice than I’ve ever had!”

We at the Tab hope to share Louis’ optimism and would like to say again a massive congratulations to all incoming freshers who received their results today! (And if you’re interested, look out for the applications to join the Tab team later this summer!)

Feature Image Credits: Hayden Bedford and Louis Burrows