“I am thrilled to be attending the University of Cambridge — it has always been one of my dream universities,” Gauri Gupta says.
Cambridge's application process is highly competitive — with only 15.7% of applications getting accepted. So how did Gauri gain admission into one of the top universities in the world?
Studying at Garden International School
Gauri's years at Garden International School (GIS) were not just a period of academic growth, but a collection of invaluable experiences that shaped her future. From the early years of primary school to the triumphant moment of graduating in year 13, Gauri's journey was marked by support, academic prowess and a plethora of extra-curricular engagements that painted a vibrant picture of her time at the school.
Recognised by the Council of International Schools, GIS boasts a distinguished reputation in Malaysia's educational landscape. Its history-rich legacy is upheld across two campuses: Desa Sri Hartamas, catering to Early Years (Nursery to Reception) and Mont Kiara, housing Primary and Secondary students (Year 1 to Year 13). Complemented by a tailored British curriculum that embraces diversity and meets the needs of students, the school sets the stage for success.
The learning environment at GIS is nothing short of supportive and encouraging. Here, students benefit from teachers enthusiastic about the subjects they teach. Students receive considerable guidance during lessons, allowing them to assimilate numerous new concepts while having the opportunity to ask questions and seek additional support if needed. The syllabus is presented at a comfortable pace, affording ample time to revisit topics when required.
It's where Gauri’s interests were nurtured and her wellbeing prioritised. "The school has always been incredibly supportive with many efforts to maintain and improve students’ wellbeing, I have met many teachers and tutors during my time at GIS who have always been ready to guide students through classes while ensuring we take breaks if we need it.”
This resulted in Gauri scoring 4 A*s in A-Level subjects: Further Mathematics, Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry.
The learning environment at GIS provided a foundation of support and encouragement, crucial for Gauri's academic growth.
Gauri has always enjoyed mathematics growing up and has participated in many competitions and olympiads that expanded her fondness for the subject. In that regard, GIS lent a helping hand too. “GIS provided me many opportunities to explore my interest by partaking in UKMT challenges, Kangaroo maths challenges and competing against other schools in the Southeast Asian Maths Competition — a great way to meet people who shared my interest in mathematics.”
These experiences allowed her to explore new branches of maths and learn how to write detailed and well-structured proofs. Plus, by reading books about higher topics and having the opportunity to complete an Extended Project Qualification about fractals, Gauri continued to explore the idea of pursuing mathematics in university.
Gauri's passion for mathematics was evident through her achievements of securing multiple awards from GIS including the prestigious David Hilbert Award for Further Mathematics.
“At the end of year 12, I received the David Hilbert Award for Further Mathematics for displaying zest for learning during classes. I gained this award for actively participating in lessons, displaying interest and asking questions. At the end of A-Levels in year 13, I achieved the academic achievement award for further mathematics — this was for attaining the overall highest marks in the year group for the subject during exams throughout the year.”
Beyond academics, Gauri participated in various activities and societies that allowed her to explore her passions while forging new friendships. More importantly, it helped her develop time-management and organisational skills, shaping her into a well-rounded individual.
“For example, organising events such as KLMUN XI and the 24-hour race has taught me how to organise data and manage a large number of participants,” Gauri says. “Moreover, as the director of the student leadership strand and vice-captain of the badminton team, I enhanced my ability to interact with different audiences and effectively lead a team. I have also participated in various mathematics olympiads and team competitions, which exposed me to new mathematical topics and helped me communicate my ideas.”
These experiences have also allowed her to portray her attributes in her application and use her communicative and problem-solving skills during interviews.
Gauri's academic excellence shone through in her A Levels, securing an impressive 4 A*s.
THRIVE Internship Programme
At GIS, all Year 12 students participate in a four-week THRIVE internship that aligns with their interests, providing invaluable real-world knowledge and skills while working alongside experienced industry professionals. This internship programme gives students a glimpse into their future paths.
Gauri's THRIVE internship at Melbourne Capital Group, a private wealth management company, gave her a real-world glimpse into the financial industry. She learnt much about the financial sector including inheritance tax, the British crown dependencies, life insurance, etc.
She also gained experience writing client-facing reports and presentations, conducting market research and forming financial portfolios.
“The THRIVE internship gave me a new perspective on what it was like working in the financial industry and an idea of what I may want to pursue as a career. I was also able to see how mathematical, particularly statistical, concepts are used in these fields, motivating me to learn more about them.”
Pursuing higher education at the University of Cambridge
Central to her success was the guidance from the GIS’s Higher Education (HE) team, mainly regarding her application to the University of Cambridge. The HE team has been accommodating, from shortlisting her university choices to writing a personal statement.
She shares, “By joining the Oxbridge society, I was assigned a mathematics teacher as a mentor who, along with the HE advisors, continuously helped me with my personal statement whenever I asked for feedback. Moreover, I gained much support for my interview preparation with multiple mentoring sessions, which enhanced my communicational and problem-solving skills.”
All of this guidance helped Gauri to receive an offer from the University of Cambridge, after which her teacher assisted her with preparing for the STEP exams (a Cambridge mathematics admissions exam).
Gauri’s success story from GIS to the University of Cambridge serves as an inspiring example of how a supportive educational environment, dedication, and a diverse range of experiences shape an individual's future.
Benefits of studying in an international school
The international setting of GIS was instrumental in Gauri's development. Apart from making friends from diverse backgrounds and cultures, Gauri believes it has also widened her perspective.
“I have had many opportunities to extend my critical thinking skills and to challenge ideas through activities such as maths competitions, Model United Nations and the Global Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge,” she says. “Teamwork and communication are critical skills I have picked up through group projects and team events such as sports and competitions. Being able to participate in various extracurriculars while balancing school work has enabled me to manage my time and deal with stress effectively.
As she gears up to embark on her Cambridge journey, Gauri's advice to aspiring students is simple yet impactful: "Make the most of your time at school and utilise the resources available. For your university applications, use your time efficiently and start working on them as early as possible — do your research early, start writing your essays or personal statements and prepare for your admissions tests.”