Initially, the thought of applying to Cambridge might seem like a daunting process. To make that process a little less scary here are some answers to frequently asked questions about how you can be best prepared for this journey!
Which A level (or equivalent) subjects does Cambridge look for in law applicants?
When applying for Law at Cambridge, there are no specific subjects that colleges require. Whilst facilitating subjects such as Mathematics and Biology provide a degree of analytical skills, there are others that will enhance the necessary skills you will need for a law degree. Essay based subjects such as English Literature, History and Politics facilitate essay writing skills that are vital for a degree in law as the ability to formulate arguments and defend them against counter arguments is essentially what a law degree requires. You will be constantly required to evaluate different opinions on legal concepts and key cases; the skills you get from these subjects will help that process be a little easier. However, you will not be disadvantaged at all in the application process if you come from a predominantly scientific background like myself.
What kind of work experience do I need as a law applicant?
There are no specific types of work experience that will make you stand out as an applicant. The most important thing is how you relate whatever you have done to the necessary skills a lawyer exhibits. If you have worked in retail, you could consider how resolving customer issues can be likened to how lawyers advise and attempt to resolve client issues and the necessary transferable skills for this. Talk about what you have learned from your experience, what surprised you and what you found interesting but most importantly, make it relevant to law as a career or as an academic study.
What are the key deadlines in the application process?
The deadline for UCAS applications for Cambridge is the 15th October which is earlier than most other universities so be aware of this. Colleges then vary in the dates when they offer and hold interviews.
As an international student, what are some key considerations I should look out for when applying?
On a practical level, there are some key things to consider. Make sure you are aware of the international student fees; research into the storage facilities that the college you are applying to has since you will not be able to take everything to your home country and back each term and lastly be aware of timing and deadlines for visas if you have the chance to interview in person. Secondly, you need to consider where you want to practice and what law you want to practice. If you would like to practice in your home country look at whether a degree at Cambridge will be enough and if not, there are large firms that have international offices, so you may get the chance to still practice law in your home country.
How should I structure my personal statement for law?
There is no right or wrong structure for the personal statement, the most important thing is that there is structure to begin with. The conventional method is to have an introduction explaining what interests you about law and why you want to study it. The next section should be the main bulk of your personal statement. Talk about any work experience, books, events and articles you have read related to law and what you learned and found interesting about them. You could also discuss whether you agree or disagree with anything you have read and why. Finally, the last section should not be very long. Focus on any extra-curricular activities you have done and what skills you developed. As with the previous point about work experience, make sure you link this to the academic study of the law or law as a career.
What are some resources I can use to research law in prep for my application and interview?
Keeping up with current legal issues and news stories that you find interesting provide you with a way to engage with the law and its practical implications. Here are some websites to help you do so:
If you enjoy podcasts instead, the “Law in Action” on Spotify is also a great way to begin to understand the law in practice.
“What about law” and “Letters to a Law Student” are great books to introduce you to the law at an academic level. Record down anything you find interesting or that shocked you about the law to include in your personal statement.
When should I start preparing for interview and what is it like?
You can never truly prepare for a Cambridge law interview as they vary from college to college and interviewer to interviewer. I started preparing from the date I got my offer as I had 2 weeks before the real interview. Everyone is different and suggesting a time scale would be unrealistic however there are some thing you can do to make sure you are the most prepared you can be. Request to do some interview practice from your school or anyone suitable around you to get used to articulating your opinions in a coherent manner. Re-read your personal statement and familiarise yourself with any books or cases you mentioned. Make sure you actually understand them to a deep enough level to hold a conversation about any key issues that may arise. The interview can range from college to college however what interviewers are looking for is your ability to think critically. You may get asked difficult questions that at first, you may not know how to answer however, they don’t expect you to get to the right answer all the time. They are interested in how you think and how you solve the problem so don’t worry if you get stuck, ask for a moment to think and talk through the issue.
How did you prepare for the Cambridge law test?
The Cambridge law test required you to write an essay or the answer to problem question on a topic or idea that is related to the law however, the questions will not require that you have any prior knowledge of the law. Admissions tutors will be looking to assess your critical reading and writing skills, not your current knowledge of law. You may be completely wrong in your ideas but if you can convey them in a convincing and coherent manner, that is what is most important. The university have published sample tests on their website as well as what they are looking for from applicants which will be linked below. Practice as many of the questions that you can in timed conditions since the test is an hour long. Finally, whilst the test is important remember that this is only a part of the application and you can only do your best.
Sample questions: https://resources.law.cam.ac.uk/documents/official/clt_sample_tests.pdf
Qualities the university looks for: https://resources.law.cam.ac.uk/documents/official/clt_marking_criteria.pdf