We tutor all sciences for Oxbridge candidates
Our service reinforces and complements the science covered in the A levels of students looking to apply to study Natural Sciences at Cambridge or a science at Oxford.
In addition to covering the exam specification of the relevant exam board, our tutors challenge students to apply their A-level knowledge in more creative ways, in anticipation of the questions they are likely to face at interview.
We strive to act as mentors for our students. We believe the greatest benefits are delivered when we form strong and supportive relationships. Our aim is to pass on everything we have learned from our own experience to the next cohort of science undergraduates.
Our consultants have science degrees from Oxbridge and are highly-experienced tutors. We offer tuition in A-level biology, chemistry, and physics. All major exam boards are covered, including OCR A, OCR B, Edexcel, AQA, and CIE.
We tailor our approach to you
Working with Oxbridge candidates presents the unique opportunity of covering more challenging material in addition to the content of the A-level syllabus. Ultimately, we make sure our service is suited to your needs.
Time can be allocated as appropriate between covering material of the relevant exam board for A-level preparation, and looking at content outside of the syllabus in anticipation of the Oxbridge interview.
We believe capable students can benefit in many ways from exposure to extra-curricular ideas and unfamiliar questions.
They become better-prepared for the the Oxbridge interview. By the interview stage, they will have already learned about more advanced ideas, and be well-versed in explaining the thinking process behind their conclusions.
Our approach also provides the opportunity for students to enjoy learning about more advanced and interesting scientific concepts. And they can explain these in their personal statement to illustrate an impressive understanding.
We work through A-level past papers with students, while at the same time asking more difficult questions in relation to the material we meet. This is exactly what to expect at interview. We introduce students to interesting Cambridge NSAA questions. We also make use of competition papers, such as the Biology, Physics and Chemistry Olympiads.
Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions.
We stretch and challenge you
Below is an example of the typical approach we use when going through A-level questions with students looking to apply to Oxbridge.
A question from an OCR A chemistry past paper is followed by some of the questions we ask with model answers. We use a similar process with questions in biology and physics.
As part of the process, in the same way admissions tutors do at interview, we provide clues when students are stuck and ask them at all stages to communicate their thinking process. When they cannot find the answer, we teach the material so that they understand and are in a position to answer similar questions correctly in future.
Examples of questions we ask and model answers
Source: OCR A Paper 1 2019
1) Consider the question itself, tell us the answer and explain to us your thinking process behind the result.
The answer is (B). This is because the enthalpy change of the reverse reaction always has the opposite sign compared to the enthalpy change for the forward reaction.
2) Why is the enthalpy change for the reverse reaction the same magnitude but the opposite sign?
This is because the enthalpy change is found by subtracting the bond enthalpies of the products from the bond enthalpies of the reactants. For the reverse reaction, the order of the subtraction changes, so the sign of the result is reversed. A reversible reaction is always exothermic in one direction, and equally endothermic in the opposite direction.
3) What is your understanding of the term enthalpy? How does it relate to heat energy?
The enthalpy change is equal to the heat energy transferred in the reaction under constant pressure conditions. H = U + pV, and therefore dH = dU + pdV. The heat energy absorbed by the system under constant pressure must do work against the constant external pressure, which is equal to pdV, in addition to increasing the internal energy (U). Heat energy released reduces the enthalpy of the system, whereas heat energy absorbed increases the enthalpy of the system.
4) Why is (c) not correct?
(C) is the correct enthalpy change of the reaction, but this does not describe the enthalpy change of formation. The standard enthalpy change of formation must involve the formation of one mole of product, but the equation shows the formation of two moles of product. The standard enthalpy of formation would be half the provided value.
We guide your revision strategy
An efficient and effective revision method is central to doing well in A-level science exams. Having a strong understanding of the material is only part of the process.
Many students score well below what they are capable of because they have a poor revision strategy. This is especially true biology: the exams contain more long-answer questions and the mark scheme is highly specific. See our post here on how best to revise for A-level biology.
Our consultants are well-practised in the revision process, and can advise you on how to improve your strategy.
The first important step is to use the specification of the relevant exam board. Many students fail to take full advantage of the guidance these provide.
The specification clearly outlines everything that you need to know for your exam, and can therefore be used as a list of what to cover, and not cover, in your revision. We strongly advise printing a copy, using it as a checklist, and ticking off each point as you go.
The content of the specification can also be used as a template for the wording you need to use in your answers, so you are awarded marks according to the mark scheme. The wording in the mark scheme mirrors the specification. This is so useful, and something most students fail to take advantage of. It is often the case that a technically correct answer is awarded no marks simply because it does not comply with the mark scheme. This is especially true in biology exams.
Once you have printed the specification for your exam board, the next step is to use a revision guide. These are better than textbooks because they are designed to cover what you need to know for you exams and nothing else. This avoids you wasting your time, which can happen with textbooks because they often include extra details not needed for your exams.
You must also make sure your A-level revision guide is reliable. Some are better than others. We find CGP guides to be a good option. These have been carefully drafted to cover the content of the specification. Their explanations are clear and concise. And they include minimal content beyond the requirements of the specification.