Application

 Cambridge

 Robinson

 Architecture

 2002

 offer made

Applicant

 A-levels

 pre-qualification

 home

 United Kingdom

 Grammar School

 yes (9 A*,1 B)

A-levels

(A at AS; predicted A; gained NA at A2)

(A at AS; predicted A; gained NA at A2)

(A at AS; predicted A; gained NA at A2)

(A at AS; predicted A; gained NA at A2)

Details about the offer

 conditional

AAA

yes

N/A

 offer met

Decisions about the application

I felt that I would regret it if I didn’t try. I wanted to meet and study with like-minded people and I liked the collegiate system, especially the small supervisions and the fact that food and a social life was provided in the college. I won’t deny that I was also attracted by the prestige and employability factors!

When I was thinking of studying Computer Science, Cambridge was the one without the mathematical entrance test. They also seemed well-adapted for those with physical disabilities (I have cerebral palsy). When I changed to Law, I discovered that Cambridge was the top university in the UK for Law and I saw no reason to change my preference. I was impressed with the range of mudules available.

It is the most modern college and therefore bestadapted for the disabled. It also intrigued me that all the Law students go away for a week during the Easter holidays.

Preparation

yes

My school were very helpful. I had several mock interviews and a half-hour Law class once a week for eight weeks. These were very useful in terms of confidence-building but their content was probably of more use to applicants at other colleges. The school had also asked previous applicants to write about their experiences, and their accounts were very useful.

Try not to repeat your UCAS personal statement but, above all, don’t leave anything blank.

Interview

no

yes

I had I felt compelled to submit a History essay since it is my only truly literary subject. My teacher said it would have to be an A2 essay because they are more complex than those written at AS-Level. In the end, we chose one on Economic Factors & Irish Nationalism. I felt it was a fairly boring topic, but my teacher said it represented my best work because it was quite a difficult question. I also filled in a questionnaire asking me about the reasons for my attraction to the subject, class sizes etc.

yes

I took one 45-minute exam. First. I had to summarise a passage. Then, given a definition of theft, I had to apply it to a number of scenarios. It would have been difficult to prepare for but I had worked through some scenarios in school and independently. This aided my reasoning, and the test was probably the least stressful part of the process.

I had one personal interview and one subject interview with two Law fellows. I was quite disappointed with my personal interview because I felt I didn’t get much of a chance to sell myself and talk about my extra-curricular activities etc. However, I think I might have put down enough information in my personal statements and questionnaire to avoid having to answer further questions about them.

I was happier with my subject interview, although surprised both by the fact that I was asked about my non-Law-related subjects and that they didn’t ask me about wider legal issues – only hypothetical scenarios. I was fairly competent at tackling these and only needed prompting once.

I came away from both of my interviews thinking that I had failed to show enthusiasm, depth of knowledge, confidence, uniqueness or willingness to learn!

During my personal interview, I was asked about my A-Levels and schoolwork in general, my motivations for wanting to study law and my extra-curricular interests.h

During my subject interview, I was asked a specific question about three of my A-Level subjects. I was then asked what crime had been committed in a number of hypothetical scenarios, which were more of a test
of reasoning than of legal knowledge.

I wore a shirt and tie because I wanted to look formal and give the impression that I was taking the interviews seriously. I don’t possess a suit, but probably would have worn one if I did.

Impressions

I only visited Robinson. Although it is modern and doesn’t look particularly grand from the outside, the cobbled courtyards make the college seem atmospheric and long-established. It is bright and airy, and has a well-equipped Law library, JCR and bar. One drawback is that if it rains, you’ll get wet as you walk around the open courtyards! I was encouraged to see so many lifts.

The room reminded me of a hotel room. It was spacious and had an ensuite bathroom. However, I was staying in a “guest” room!

Good

There was a conference on while I was there, and the students suggested that the food I tasted was not necessarily typical.

They were friendly, but also gave the impression of being very learned!

They were very friendly. I felt isolated at dinner time but went to the JCR afterwards and soon fitted in. Those students who stayed to show interviewees around were helpful and reassuring.

Final stage

I received my letter early this morning and I’m overjoyed! I hadn’t expected to get in based on my interview. The envelope was thin, so don’t rely on the “thick = acceptance/thin = rejection” theory. Reading through the envelope before opening it, I managed to mistake “Declaration to be made on matriculation” for “Declaration to be pooled”, which made the immediate acceptance even more surprising!

Looking back

I would definitely apply, not just because I was accepted. I felt that it was something I really had to do to satisfy myself.. The trip over to Cambridge (I live in Belfast) and the interviews were experiences in themselves.

Don’t over-prepare, sell yourself, practise legal thinking and have confidence in yourself, even after what you think has been an unsuccessful interview.

Try not to over-prepare. Practice applying rules to scenarios. Reading How To Do Things With Rules by Twining and Miers is a good way of developing a legalistic thought process. Be aware of current events. If you don’t feel like you have done very well, don’t panic – the interviews are intended to be tough.