Clare College Cambridge

Applying for English


Admissions Requirements


There is no fixed quota of places in English; in recent years our intake has varied between seven and ten. Last year we made offers to one in four of those applying. Two-thirds of our students are from state schools, including schools that do not send many people to Oxbridge. Successful candidates generally have mostly grade As or A*s at GCSE, and are predicted at least one A* and two As at A-level (or equivalent). Shining at school exams does not, by itself, mean that you have a good chance of getting in. But if you enjoy reading (and re-reading) literature to a degree that is unusual among your friends, if you find yourself thinking about issues raised or effects created long after you have shut the book in question, and if you feel a strong intellectual curiosity to explore beyond the limits of the A-level course, you may well be the kind of student we hope to attract to Clare. 

The level of offer we make to candidates who have not yet taken A-levels is normally A*AA; any combination of subjects is perfectly acceptable so long as it includes English Literature (unless that is not an option at your school). A few applicants prefer to take a gap year before beginning their degree; this makes no difference to their chance of getting in.


Written Assessment


All applicants to study English at Cambridge are required to take the English Literature Admissions Test (ELAT), as Oxford applicants also do. Information about this can be found on the university website here and on the ELAT website here. For Clare applicants, this assessment will replace the written test which they would otherwise have taken at the time of interview.




If you are selected for interview at Clare (almost all applicants are), you may be asked to send us a sample of your school work. Interviews will be arranged in the second or third week of December; there will be two interviews, with (in total) four of the teaching Fellows in English. The interviews will contain no trick questions, and no attempts at testing your ingenuity or your range of existing knowledge. What we are looking for is genuineness of response, the ability to read perceptively and to think critically, and evidence of inner motivation and interest that are not merely teacher-led. Beyond these considerations, we have no preconceived ideas about the kind of person we want: the students we admit, and who go on to do well, are a diverse crew.