Admissions assessments

Calling applicants to interview

At Churchill we usually interview the top 75% or so of our applicants — all those who are competitive for entry in their chosen field.

Decisions on who to call to interview will be made as follows:

While track-record in exams is likely to be the most important single element in our decision-making, no single factor will predominate.

Please note that, in deciding who to call to interview, we will only use performance in admissions assessments positively, not negatively, i.e. no one will be ruled out of interview by their performance in an admissions assessment, but applicants who perform strongly in an assessment, but who otherwise we were not planning to call to interview, may be invited.

Decision-making after interview

Again this will be holistic, involving all elements in an application. At this point in our decision-making, we will consider performance in Section 2 (as well as Section 1) of the pre-interview assessments, together with the results from any at-interview assessments. While performance at interview may in some cases be decisive, experience tells us that in the large majority of cases — perhaps 80%, it will not (Fig. 1). This is because most applicants who are very strong on paper also perform strongly at interview. As ever, contextualised track-record in public exams is likely to be the single most important factor in our decision-making.

Interview performance and offers, based on Churchill’s 2016–17 applicants

Fig. 1: Interview performance and offers, based on a recent cohort of applicants to Churchill. Interviews are scored out of 10, and most applicants do well. Although the interview performance of offer-holders (dark blue bars) was slightly stronger on average, some candidates with low interview scores still received an offer.


Academic research has consistently and decisively demonstrated that performance at A Level (or equivalent) correlates strongly with performance at university. The most complete study is available on the National Archives Website. A more recent study is available from Cambridge Assessment.

Accordingly, in the interests of rational and valid decision-making, at Churchill we make the maximum number of offers we can for each available place, allowing as many students as possible to compete for entry via their performance in public exams sat at the end of their school or college career.

In order to be able to do this, we set some challenging offers. The typical A Level offer for Cambridge entry is normally A*AA in the Arts and Humanities and A*A*A in the Sciences, and, while we certainly make offers at these levels, we also pitch some offers a grade higher than this or stipulate A* grades in certain subjects. In practice successful Churchill applicants tend to exceed typical Cambridge offers in their final exams by one or two grades. For more information on the academic strength of entrants, see the University's Application Statistics page.

How to apply