Hey everyone! Based on the fact that you are reading this I am assuming that-unless you have clicked onto the wrong page- you are thinking about studying Law at Oxbridge, so I hope that I can give you a quick insight into the application process and what to expect.
Firstly, my name is Jess and I am a second year Law student at Peterhouse, (Cambridge). Despite what you might have heard about Law, (“it’s SO dull”, “there is SO much reading!!” “you NEVER get a social life”), I can happily tell you that this is untrue (well except for the reading part! There is a lot of reading but you get used to it I promise!). In fact I have found my degree anything but boring! you are continually learning new and exciting things and it really challenges you in all aspects (giving you a chance to debate, write essays and stretch your mind). As for the social life part, well, I have never had a problem with that!
So you don’t have to read my babble I have broken this blog into sections so you can find the information you are looking for quickly!!
Oxford or Cambridge?
After deciding to study Law at University my next major decision was which Universities to choose. People always ask me “why Cambridge over Oxford?”. Honestly, for me it was never a major Oxford or Cambridge decision, I actually never considered Oxford at all and the only reason for this was because when I was choosing my University I focused on where I wanted to live for the next 3 years and I personally did not feel at home in Oxford, (much like I did not feel at home in Edinburgh or Exeter), it was nothing personal. My advice to anyone who does have a dilemma trying to choose would be to choose the city you see yourself feeling at “home” in- after all it will be your home for the next 3/4 years!!
The main differences between Oxford and Cambridge
If you really can’t decide between the two there are some slight differences between the Law courses at Oxford and Cambridge (the structure more than the content). The main difference being that at Oxford you do all your exams at the end of your final year (apart from a few prelims in your first which don’t count towards your final grade), whereas at Cambridge your exams are taken at the end of every year.
Choosing a college may seem like a huge deal when beginning your application but honestly it’s not at all- so if you’re stressing about it STOP! It’s an unnecessary stress! All the colleges provide pretty much the same services (food, bars, accommodation) and in all my time at Cambridge I can assure you I have never heard someone say they regret the college that they are at (instead everyone has the opinion that theirs is the best- which is ridiculous as everyone knows that Peterhouse is the best!!!) but joking aside, I love my college and cant imagine myself being anywhere else, yet had I have gone to another college I know I would be saying the same thing!
When choosing the college just look at where you think you will be happy- if you love swimming why not apply to one with a pool? If you’re lazy chose one next to your faculty etc. Or if you really cant choose why not do an open application, which means you will be interviewed at a college which has fewer applications that year. Honestly don’t worry about your college; you will LOVE wherever you end up!
Personal statements are possibly the worse thing you will ever have to write as you will cringe as you brag about all of your achievements, however, despite this they are a great way to show how passionate you are about your subject which will catch the interviewers attention. However, having said this, don’t feel too stressed about the personal statement as you will not solely be judged on this aspect (there is also the interview, grades and admissions test to consider), so don’t agonize over it!
There is no formula to a perfect personal statement; however, ensuring that you show that you have a real interest in studying law is a must! You can do this in a variety of ways, such as discussing an aspect of the law, which you find interesting or controversial. It is also a good idea to talk about the subjects you are studying sixth form/college, anything that interests you about them and how they relate to the law.
As well as this make sure you mention any wider reading as this shows you are able to go beyond the School curriculum! (and when I say mentioning this does not mean listing, it also involves saying why you find them interesting and how they relate to the law). Just because you want to study law does not mean that you have to read non-fiction books or text books, instead the interviewers want to see where your genuine interests lie; for my preparation I only read fiction novels and many would not be considered typical “law” books, which I think gave me an edge as it showed I was able to make interesting links between the subject I wanted to study and other things that interested me.
(At the end of this blog is a short suggested reading list).
Both Oxford and Cambridge make you sit an exam for law, however these exams differ. For Oxford you will be expected to take the LNAT before an interview is offered, whereas Cambridge give you a Cambridge Law test on the day of the interview.
It is IMPORTANT to note that neither Oxford or Cambridge are looking for you to have any legal knowledge when undertaking the exam, they instead want to see how you think and whether you can make a cogent argument exploring both sides of a debate, (SO if an essay looks like it is demanding legal knowledge, calm down, don’t stress and re-read the question as you have probably misunderstood what the question is asking for!!!).
The LNAT is also used in other Universities as an entrance exam. It is divided into two sections; an aptitude test (which involved reading different article extracts and answering multiple choice questions), and an essay section at the end (where you can choose which essay title to answer). The nature of this test makes it difficult to revise for. The best type of preparation would be to read newspaper articles and discuss them with others and practice essays in timed conditions (getting teachers or even friends/parents to mark them and discuss with you what else you could have added).
Cambridge Law Exam
Unlike the LNAT this exam will be taken on the interview day. You will either be faced with a choice of essay titles where you will be expected to write an answer on one of the titles or you will be asked a problem question which will involve you going through the issues in a logical manner to come to a conclusion. Much like the LNAT, it is difficult to revise for and so the best thing to do is to practice writing essays in timed conditions.
For most this is the “scariest” part of the Oxbridge application process but don’t worry, the interviewers aren’t looking to trick you or make you feel silly!! They understand that you are nervous and will try to work with that. The main point of the interview is to see how you think NOT how much you know!
The interview is very much what you make of it! If you go in deciding to have fun then you will find yourself enjoying your interview as you get the chance to debate topics that you are interested in! Yes it is challenging but if it wasn’t it wouldn’t be half as fun!
– Tess of the d’Urbervilles
– The Trial
– Crime and Punishment
– Animal Farm
– To Kill a Mockingbird
– The Color Purple
– Letters to a law Student
– What about Law?
– Cases (off of the govt legislation website)
– [any books by politicians/historical etc)