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Photo: Amelia Oakley

Guidance for teachers

Teachers play a vital role in encouraging students to apply to Cambridge. 

We look for the best and brightest students each year. We're interested in academic potential, not in a student’s background. 

Sometimes students think that they are not good enough to study at Cambridge, or that they will not fit in there. The various myths about Cambridge are almost always untrue, but they can seriously affect a student's decision about whether or not to apply. They shouldn’t put your pupils off applying to the University, or put you off encouraging them.

What should I be looking for in my students?

They should be in a good position to achieve A*AA or A*A*A at A-Level or equivalent. You can find more information about qualifications and general entrance requirements on the University website. Some subjects have very specific requirements, while others have almost none - you can find out more on our individual subject pages.

Sometimes, however, we can be flexible. We look at every applicant as a whole person and consider their exam results in the context of other aspects of their application. If they've experienced a disruption to their education they may be able to submit an extenuating circumstances form.

Most of all, applicants should be enthusiastic about the subjects they are studying, keen to explore beyond their school curriculum, and willing to think in challenging new ways.

What kind of support can I offer my students?

You can encourage applicants to attend our open days and other events. They can look around the College, find out more about what we do here, meet current students, and get a feel for what studying at Jesus will be like.

If they can't come to one of these events it doesn’t place them at any advantage during the applications process: they can contact us with any questions at access@jesus.cam.ac.uk

If one of your students is thinking about applying, please encourage them to read the undergraduate section of this website. They'll find information about the different courses that they can study, as well as details about College life, our accommodation and facilities, and the admissions process itself.

If possible, encourage them to find out more about their chosen subject beyond the bounds of the syllabus. It doesn’t matter what they read or listen to — books, websites, blogs, podcasts, etc — but we expect them to want to think critically about challenging new material.

My students are picking their A-Levels or IB subjects - any advice?

It's important for students to choose their qualifications carefully so that they keep opportunities open at university level. You can find advice about recommended and essential subjects for each course on our individual subject pages.

You may also want to look at Informed Choices, produced by the Russell Group, which has useful advice on key subjects.

What about the interview?

There are plenty of myths about Cambridge interviews. Like those surrounding the University in general, they're largely untrue.

Here are the facts: most applicants are called for interview, and receive two interviews. Interviews are always focused on academic matters. We aren't interested in what the students wear, and we aren’t looking for prepared answers.

The purpose of an interview is to assess an applicant’s potential and enthusiasm for their chosen course. They'll be asked directly about what they have studied and about their personal statement, and they will probably be asked to solve problems, analyse texts, and so on.

Questions will always be relevant to an applicant’s chosen course. We try to ask everyone challenging questions, to see how flexibly they use their current skills to deal with new concepts and information.

Your students shouldn’t panic if they don’t immediately know the answer to a question. We don’t expect them to know everything already, and the interview is not a test of their knowledge - it's designed to see how they think. We'll guide and encourage them to keep thinking.

What about practice interviews?

Students who come for an interview here will be asked to use their skills to think about information, concepts, and ideas that they're unfamiliar with. We may ask them to expand upon information that they provide in their personal statements.

They might want to prepare for an interview by discussing their chosen subject in a one-to-one situation. We don't expect them to be polished and confident, and we don't want them to come with prepared or rehearsed answers and speeches. We just want to see the core knowledge, skills, and enthusiasm that will allow them to thrive here.

None of the private companies that promise to tutor students for Oxbridge interviews have been endorsed by Cambridge or Oxford.

I know Cambridge is very competitive – do you have any other advice I should pass onto my students?

We simply want to offer places to the students with the greatest academic potential.

The admissions process is competitive, but we carefully assess all of our applicants as individuals. If your student wants to study one of our courses, if they feel they would enjoy the teaching that we have to offer, and if they are on course to meet the grades that we typically set as conditional offers, then we are keen for them to apply.

Please encourage them to attend an open day or event here if they can, or to visit our website.

If you would like more information about what we can offer your school or college, or if you would be interested in organising an event for your students, please contact us on access@jesus.cam.ac.uk.

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