Admissions Assessments

A Level reforms and the introduction of 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.

In light of the reformed A Level, and without the AS Level unit scores that latterly have been central to Cambridge admissions selection, we will rank applicants holistically using their examination records, contextual data, UCAS references, and their performance in any pre-interview assessment set by the collegiate University.

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

In practice, decisions on who to call to interview will be made as follows:

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 in 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 in 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 2014–15 applicants

Fig. 1: interview performance and offers, based on Churchill’s 2014-15 cohort of applicants. 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. Another  up-to-date study is available from Cambridge Assessment.

Accordingly, in the interests of rational and valid decision-making, at Churchill we intend to 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 will need to make some challenging offers. The typical A-Level offer for Cambridge entry is A*AA in the Arts and Humanities and A*A*A in the Sciences, and, while we will certainly make offers at this level, we are also likely to pitch some offers a grade higher than this or stipulate A* grades in certain subjects. In practice successful Churchill applicants tend to exceed the typical Cambridge offer in their final exams by one or two grades. For more information on the academic strength of entrants, see

How to apply