There is no one type of perfect candidate for law: we pay close attention to each candidate and take a lot of time considering each application on its merits. We offer some comments below on the different parts of your application.
You do not need to have studied any particular subjects at A level (or equivalent) to apply for law. While it is advisable to take at least one subject that involves regular essay writing, almost any combination of school subjects is acceptable – but see the College’s Preferred A-Level Subject Combinations.
It is not necessary to have studied law at school. If you are studying A level law, we might ask you about what you are studying, just as we might ask you about any other subject. We will not test your knowledge of your school subjects in any detail, though we will expect to be familiar with the work you are doing at school.
Past and predicted results
You will need to show that you have a strong chance of meeting our standard offer condition of A*AA (or equivalent) or that there are circumstances that explain why this is not possible. You need not have attained a particular number of A*, A, 9 or 8 grades at GCSE. Typically, successful applicants have done very well in their results – often with all or almost all A grades – but all circumstances are taken into account in assessing each application. Of course, we consider not just past performance but also predicted performance – though candidates are not disadvantaged if their schools do not give predicted grades (something they normally indicate in their reference).
Non-UK examination systems
We receive applications from around the world and take expert advice to ensure we correctly understand school examination systems and can make appropriate offers. Benchmarks for some common systems are found on the College’s Overseas Qualifications page and more comprehensive guidance is available on the University’s EU and International qualifications page.
We understand that applicants may sometimes have been affected by significant educational disruption, for a wide range of reasons, and we take this into account by means of an Extenuating Circumstances Form. For more information about this process, and to download the Form, see the University’s Extenuating Circumstances Form page.
Your personal statement tells us about you, what you want to do, and why you want to do it. It also gives us a chance to see how you write and what interests you, and it may suggest some topics for us to explore at interview. Personal statements can vary in length; there is no formula or set of magic words (especially not words that come from someone else). Try to say something about who you really are and why you want to study law; ideally, write it over time, giving yourself the chance to put it down and come back to it with a fresh mind. Of course, you should proof-read the statement very carefully.
In terms of communicating your interest in law, consider that law and law-related issues reach into world events and into everyday life in myriad ways. Reflecting on law’s interaction with what is going on in the world and what is going on in your life may help you identify what it is about law that appeals to you. Further, there is a great deal of information about law readily available and there many opportunities to engage with law that you might seek out: by visiting courts; reading newspapers and government reports; visiting websites, blogs and local libraries; or even meeting or shadowing lawyers (though we recognise that this is not an opportunity available to everyone).
Your reference, which will very likely be from your school, tells us about your academic potential and your ability to make the most of it. The reference communicates much more than simple exam results and can add valuable perspective about who you are. This is something for your referee but, much like your predicted grades, you can make their task easier by working hard and being a good member of your community.
Candidates who have a good chance of making our standard offer conditions will be invited for interview. Interviews enable us to see how you think in person and when faced with new and exciting situations, often situations related to law.
Preparing for interviews
We are interested in hearing your views and not in establishing a right or wrong answer. We do not expect you to know any law, unless you have told us (on your application) that you have already studied some law – at A Level, for example. (If you have already studied some law, we only expect you to know as much of the law as you have studied.) If we want you to use some law, we will provide it to you.
The best way to prepare for law interviews is to engage your mind with problems and debates, whether from everyday life or from wondering about what the future holds. You might, in particular, think about the legal dimensions of matters in the news and matters that arise in everyday life.
We think you are unlikely to get much benefit from being coached but, if you haven’t had much experience of interview situations with one or two other people, practice is something you should certainly consider. Remember, interviews are not the sole or even the most important aspect of the process and they need not be too daunting: they are a chance for us to meet and speak about our mutual interest in law.
Candidates will be interviewed by members of the law teaching staff, see our sample interview scenario.
For answers to some common queries, see the College’s Interviews FAQs.
Sample interview video
Trinity Law Fellows Dr Louise Merrett and Dr Benjamin Spagnolo have conducted a sample law admissions video for the Law Faculty. The interview was unrehearsed and, although the candidate was a current Cambridge undergraduate, she was not a law student, and had had no legal training or other preparation in advance of the interview.
It is important to stress not only that the format and content of law admissions interviews differ from college to college but also that each individual candidate’s experience will differ. While this video is a representative example – designed to give you a good feel for what is involved – it is not a model interview.
The interview experience
Three undergraduate law students from Trinity have recorded some brief reflections on their experience of Cambridge law admissions interviews. This video supplements the sample law admissions video above and includes some valuable advice from current students.
Cambridge Law test
All law applicants who are invited to interview sit the Cambridge Law Test (CLT). The test complements the other elements of the admissions process by allowing us to assess, on a common basis across the colleges, skills and abilities that we have found good law students (and good lawyers) to possess.
You will set the test shortly before your interview. It lasts for one hour, and you will be required to answer one question from a choice of questions. For sample tests and marking criteria, see the Law Admissions Assessment Specification.
As for your interview, the best way to prepare for the test is to think about what is going on in the world and in your life, and to feed your thoughts by reading, listening to, watching and engaging with a wide range of good quality source material. There are no tricks or hidden secrets: we simply want to see what you think and how you argue.