Students at work in the law library

Admissions Assessments

Many of the courses offered by Peterhouse and the University require applicants to take a short written assessment, either in advance of interview (on 3rd or 4th November) or whilst they are in Cambridge for interview in December.

Details on the structure of the assessments in each subject, including specimen questions and specifications of what may be covered, can be found on the University website. As far as possible, these assessments are designed to be tests of aptitude, not of prior knowledge - e.g. prospective historians will be asked to analyse sources, not recall dates. However for some subjects, particularly in the sciences, some prior knowledge will be required and this is detailed in the relevant specification for each subject. The knowledge required will generally correspond to UK GCSE or AS level material.

Please note that applicants for Mathematics and Music will not have to take additional assessments aside from anything set by the College.

  • FAQs

    Why has Cambridge expanded the use of admissions assessments?

    We have used assessments like the BMAT for a number of years and find that it augments our admissions process in a useful way, giving us another insight into the potential of candidates in a different way to the interview, UCAS form or grades (whether predicted or achieved). We are expanding our use of admissions assessments to provide a consistent point of comparison across all candidates, regardless of their age or which qualification system they are studying.

    Is this because of A level reform?

    Whilst we lament the loss of modular AS levels and the useful information they provided to us and to candidates in encourgaing realistic ambition, a large minority of applicants (c. 40% in recent years) do not take A levels, presenting with qualifications like the IB, Pre-U, America AP/SATs, Polish Matura, Lithuanian Brandos Atestatas, French Baccalaureate, HKDSE etc. The diversity of qualifications presented is growing all the time as we become an ever-more international University and College. Admissions assessments allow us to directly compare candidates from many different exam systems.

    How will the assessments be used?

    The results will be used as part of our holistic admissions process as one extra point of information in assessing candidates abilities and potential. Results will only ever by used in a holisitic way which also takes into account everything else we know about a candidate and their background. We will never look at the results in isolation and they won't carry any specific weight. They are no more, and no less important than any of the other information we consider. Results of the assessments will be used to help decide which candidates to interview and which will receive offers. As in previous years, we will aim to interview all candidates with a realistic chance and fully expect this to be a significant majority of applicants (80%+). Please note that written answers to some of the longer answer questions may be discussed at interview.

    Is there a pass mark?

    No. The assessments are not pass/fail. A given score will tell us very different things about different candidates, depending on their background and the rest of their application.

    How do I register?

    For those courses with a pre-interview assessment, the deadline for registration is 15th October. This will generally be handled by your school or college's exam officer. More information can be found on the University website. Registration for at-interview assessments will be dealt with by our Admissions Team once you've applied

    Where will I take them?

    Pre-interview assessments will be taken at your local test centre, generally your school or college (see the University website for more details). At-interview assessments for candidates interviewing in Cambridge will be taken either in College or another University building, or at the interview centre for overseas interview. Please note that for some overseas interview locations, these assessments may take place after your interview. In this situation, your written assessment will still be considered by Peterhouse along with your interview report.

    Will it cost anything?

    The BMAT has an entry fee, all other assessments will not cost anything.

    Are there past papers?

    Specimen papers and questions are available on the University website.

    Won't this put some students at a disadvantage?

    The assessments have been devised so that they do not favour any particular curriculum or students studying any particular set of post-16 qualifications. The results will be assessed holistically for each candidate, taking all available information into account about background, prior study, extenuating circumstances etc. All candidates and schools have access to the same preparatory material through the University website.

    Does this change how GCSE results are used?

    No. We will categorically not be placing any more emphasis on GCSEs than we currently do.

    Will I be able to find out my result?

    For assessments which are used by other universities (the ELAT and BMAT) candidates will find out their results but for Cambridge-specific assessments we will not be releasing results. Comments on your performance relative to other applicants to Peterhouse and the Unviersity may be provided in feedback to your UCAS referee if requested but these won't include your exact marks.