Application

 Cambridge

 Jesus

 Theology & Religious Studies

 2007

 offer made

Applicant

 A-levels

 post-qualification

 home

 United Kingdom

 Comprehensive School

 yes (6 A*,3 A,1 B)

A-levels

(A at AS (482 UMS); predicted A; gained A at A2)

(A at AS (569 UMS); predicted A; gained A at A2)

(A at AS (533 UMS); predicted A; gained A at A2)

(A at AS (495 UMS); predicted A; gained A at A2)

(A at AS (533 UMS); predicted A; gained A at A2)

Details about the offer

 unconditional

yes

yes

no

 offer met

Decisions about the application

The Theology faculty at Cambridge is one of the best in the world. Also, the way the course is structured means there is a lot of flexibility with room to explore pretty much whatever most interests you.
The reputation of Oxbridge was also an important factor and the collegiate system with tutorials/supervisions is one that appealed to me.

Cambridge’s Faculty of Divinity is world-renowned.
The Oxford course is more weighted towards Christianity, and I wanted more choice. I like Cambridge as a city anyway but that’s just personal preference…

Simply because I have always been interested in theology and think it is a very important subject. The various disciplines related to theology are ones that I am interested in (literature, history, languages, philosophy etc) and there is so much choice and flexibility that you won’t get bored…

Jesus is well situated and is a large, friendly college. I know some people that go there and it was recommended to me. It is also consistently one of the most applied to colleges for theology.

Preparation

yes

Just the standard personal statement checks and a couple of practice interviews.

When preparing for interview make sure you practice articulating your thoughts, maybe every day if necessary. You only have half an hour to prove yourself so giving clear reasoned answers is very important. Read a few books and familiarise yourself with basic concepts such as good and evil etc but what you should get from this is the ability to think about all new ideas not just specific ones that you have read about. For me, the most important preparation was learning to answer questions clearly and intelligently without going off on random tangents that took up more time and that the interviewer does not want to hear.
Also, make sure you know your submitted work inside out, not only because you might get asked on it, but because you may be able to use some of the content in these essays to answer different questions, and if one of your interviewers haven’t read them, then an extensive knowledge of something can be impressive.

Interview

no

yes

Just two essays from school, although I didn’t have any so wrote them from scratch. Know them well.

no

I had three interviews. One general interview with the chaplain of my college, one subject specific one with the DoS for theology of my college, and one with a tutor from a different college (standard for theology interviews). All three were lovely people and made me feel very comfortable. Not intimidating at all.

The general interview was just questions about me, my gap year, and my interests. This was a perfect way to bring up topics I knew a lot about and to show my enthusiasm for my subject.
My Second was with the DoS and involved reading a text before hand and then discussing it, with some other questions.
My third was with a professor from Fitzwilliam and we discussed some things from my PS and some other questions he asked me.

General:
What did you do on your gap year?
What subjects particularly interest you? (Talked about the fall and something else I can’t remember).

Subject:
Had a choice of two texts with 30 mins to make notes before going into interview.
What do you think the writer is trying to say? Expanded on this for a while.
Other questions like what is mercy?

Other college:
Also questions on interests.
Told me a bit about Daniel and then asked me what I thought.
General chat about how I keep my interests up at home and about my gap year.
some other short questions I can’t remember.

Jeans and a shirt; just what I was comfortable in…

Impressions

Nice, large, friendly college with beautiful, expansive grounds. Really helpful admissions staff who were always happy to answer my questions and were patient when I was late with submitting written work and other forms.
Didn’t really look closely at other colleges.

The room I stayed in was big and had a nice view over one of the quads. Not en-suite but had a sink and the showers and toilets were close enough.

Coffee was good, didn’t really have the food.

Only spoke to one (in interview) but was extremely nice and kind.

Didn’t really speak to the helpers there as I was always in a rush but one or two always willing to help out, all friendly.

Final stage

I was quite confident on the way back from my interviews but as the decision date drew nearer i got more and more nervous until the day came and I woke up at 7 (extremely early for me – I couldn’t sleep), knowing the post only arrived at 12. Couldn’t think, was in a bit of a daze and detached. Went out for a coffee with my mum at about 10:30 and the post came about 20 mins after I got back home.

I took the letter into my room and locked the door. I could feel that there was more than one sheet of paper in the envelope but I wasn’t sure. The first paper I took out was a finance letter and then I took out the letter congratulating me and I didn’t really know how to react. I was very detached and went downstairs to tell my mum and everyone was ecstatic but I couldn’t really take it all in… Went out with my parents as soon as my dad came home. I still haven’t really accepted that I’m going, but I’m sure something will kick in when I go in 4 weeks…

Looking back

100% the experience was great and I cannot wait to get started.

Prepare properly as you might only have one chance and you will always think, ‘what if?’
Don’t get too obsessed about it like I was though, make sure you are happy with another option if you don’t get, but try your best. Make sure every aspect of your application is the best that you can do, because it’s not just about the interview.