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How do I prepare for the assessment and interview?

School Essays

Applicants to all colleges except Hughes Hall and St Edmund's (both of which are mature student colleges) are also required to submit one or two School/college essays as examples of written work prior to interview. See individual College websites for further details.


At-interview assessment exercise

If you are invited to interview (about 80% of applicants) you will take part in a 60 minute assessment exercise when you come to Cambridge in December.

It will take the form of a pre-recorded sample lecture. This will give you an opportunity to demonstrate how you have developed academically since you took your GCSEs. It will be skills-based, looking at your comprehension and writing skills, but will not assume any prior knowledge. It is worth remembering that this exercise is only one element in a large range of different types of information which are used to make an admission decision.

The purpose is to determine a candidate’s potential to achieve in an academically demanding undergraduate degree course. The assessment is designed to be challenging, in order to differentiate effectively between able applicants, including those who may have achieved the highest grades in school examinations. The exercise will take one hour and consists of two sections:

Section 1

Candidates will watch a brief video of a sample lecture in the Faculty of Divinity on a subject related to religion. Candidates will be expected to make notes during this. Section One will last for approximately 20 minutes.

Section 2

Candidates will provide written answers to a series of comprehension questions about the content of the video. Marks are not deducted for incorrect answers, so candidates are advised to answer all questions. It will be skills based and no prior knowledge of any particular religion will be assumed. The purpose of this exercise is to allow the candidates to show recall, comprehension and analytical skills in respect to a lecture. Section Two will last for approximately 40 minutes. 

These informal sample lectures will allow you to familiarise yourself with the exercise and to practise your comprehension and recall skills:


80% of applicants are interviewed here in Cambridge. If you are travelling to Cambridge, you will be offered accommodation during the interview period, which is usually one or two days long, and always takes place in December.

The Faculty has an Admissions Co-ordinator who will receive a copy of every application for Theology, Religion, and Philosophy of Religion across the Colleges. Before the interviewing begins, all of the Colleges meet to consider the whole field of applicants. At that meeting, each candidate is assigned an interview at a second College - this process not only compensates for peaks and troughs in applications to particular Colleges but also gives you a second chance, with a different interviewer, who may draw out a different response. To see a mock interview, see the Interviews in Action page.

Applicants are interviewed in all Colleges on the same two days. Immediately afterwards the Directors of Studies meet again to compare notes; at this point they flag up to colleagues strong applicants for whom they might not have room at their College, but who deserve a place at another College. The Second Interview Scheme has proved to be very successful: over the last few years one offer in four has been made in this way.



Strong applicants who have not been made an offer by their first choice College are placed in the 'Pool'. You might then be made an offer by your second interview College, or by another College which is happy to rely on the information already available. It is possible that a third College might ask you to a further interview in January.