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Interviews: Practicalities

Information for Candidates Attending Interviews at Magdalene College.

Getting to Cambridge

Please make your travel arrangements in such a way that you leave plenty of time to get to Cambridge, find the College and locate the rooms where your interviews will take place. Directions to the College can be found here and a map of the College itself is here. We will be happy to help advise about travel plans if you are in any doubt or you may find it helpful to contact the Cambridge Tourist Information Centre (or email at


By Train

Regular train services run to Cambridge Station from London Kings Cross, London Liverpool Street and the London airports.

Magdalene is 1.5 miles from Cambridge Station, walking would take roughly 30 minutes.

There are regular buses from the main city railway station to the College. The Citi 1, Citi 3 or Citi 7 buses run from the railway station to the city centre. The single fare is approximately £1.00-1.70 and a day ticket is £4.20. The buses run every 10 minutes between 7.00 am and 7.00 pm. The journey takes approximately 15 – 20 minutes. The Citi 2 bus runs from Cambridge North railway station and a single fare is approximately £2.80. For more information see

There is also a taxi rank. The taxi journey to the College takes approximately 10 – 15 minutes from the main station and about 15 – 20 minutes from Cambridge North, but in the rush hour either journey could take 30 minutes or more. Taxis cost approximately £9 – £15 depending on the time of day.

By Car

Car parks are marked on the map, but please note that some are only accessible from one side of the city because of the pedestrianisation of the city centre. There are also Park & Ride schemes operating in Cambridge. The Park & Ride car parks cost £1, paid for at the ticket machines or in advance via the Park & Ride website. The buses from these car parks run every 10 minutes during the day, although with less frequent service in the early morning and evening. The bus fare is £3 return from the ticket machines (it’s a good idea to have the exact amount available), or from the bus driver. The City Council encourages the use of Park & Ride sites. Information and maps showing car parks can be found here. Please be aware the Park & Ride service is very popular and can be extremely busy at times. Please allow time for queues at the ticket machines.

By Bus

National Express operates coach services to Cambridge with stops at Parker’s Piece bus stop from most major towns and cities in the  UK. Frequent coach services run from Central London and Stansted Airport and the Stagecoach X5 Cross County Service links Oxford to Cambridge via Milton Keynes & Bedford.

Cambridge 'Park & Ride' service operates five sites around the city. The Madingley Road 'Park & Ride' route runs past Magdalene and stops on Bridge Street, further information is available on the Cambridge Park & Ride website.

Magdalene is 0.6 miles from Cambridge Drummer Street Bus Station, walking would take roughly 10 minutes.

Bus timetable

Things to do on Arrival

When you arrive in College, go to the Porters’ Lodge (the main entrance to the College on Magdalene Street). If there are any messages from us regarding your interviews they will be left for you with the Porters. The Porters also issue keys to rooms to those candidates who are staying in College overnight. Rooms are available from 2.00 pm and you are asked to vacate your room by 9.00 am. There is a room available where bags can be left securely if your room is unavailable or after you have checked out but you are still in College.

You should bring a copy of your email of invitation to interview with you and keep it handy in case of a query regarding your interviews. You are urged to check on the location of interview rooms before the time of your interview if possible. A number of our current students will be on hand to help you if you need assistance finding a room and the College Porters will help to direct you also.


Collect the key to your room, if one has been reserved for you, from the Porters. You should remember to hand the key back when you vacate the room. There is no charge for accommodation.


Meals are available in the College cafeteria at the following times:

Breakfast: 7:30 am – 9:00 am

Lunch: 12.30 pm – 1.30 pm

Dinner: 6.00 pm – 7.00 pm

These are all cafeteria service. You should explain to the Cafeteria staff that you are an admissions candidate and they will look after you. There is no charge for meals.

Before Interviews

You should check your email invitation to interview and see whether or not you are required to visit the Academic Office to collect material in advance of your interview. If you are required to read a passage etc. before your subject interview, you should collect it 15 – 30 minutes (depending on the subject-specific requirements) before the subject interview.

Sometimes it is necessary to schedule interviews close together. If it is the case that your interviews do not allow a 30 minute gap before the subject interview, call into the Academic Office earlier to allow a clear 30 minutes to prepare the passage etc.

A 'Quiet Room' will be available where you will be able to study the passages for discussion at interview. Candidates using this room are requested not to talk, so as not to disturb other candidates in the room. Anyone accompanying you, i.e. parents or friends, are asked not to go into the Quiet Room. We also ask candidates not to use smartphones or anything similar in preparing unseen passages for interviews.

There is also another waiting room (the JCR) available to all candidates, where tea and coffee are available all day. Student Helpers will be in the Porters’ Lodge and the JCR to help.

Whilst it may be tempting to discuss the interview or test questions with other interview candidates or student helpers, it is only likely to disadvantage your own application and we suggest you discuss topics of a more general nature. The College Bar is also available as a waiting room for parents or friends who might be accompanying you to Cambridge.

When you go to your interview, please arrive punctually and observe any notices on the interview room door. These will give instructions regarding whether you should knock, enter or wait to be called.

Please do not conduct loud conversations outside the interview room since candidates or interviewers inside may find it distracting!

College Tests in Maths and Natural Sciences

If you are being interviewed for Mathematics or Natural Sciences, you will have been asked to sit a test before your interviews. We are aware that students study topics in different orders, maybe at different stages in their education and study different syllabuses etc. Do not feel worried if you have not covered all topics addressed on the question paper or if you felt that the test was particularly difficult. These tests may serve a series of purposes. Sometimes they provide one or more topics for discussion at one of the interviews. In other cases, they may help interviewers elucidate your current level of knowledge in a particular area prior to beginning a discussion.

Cambridge College Registered Assessments

Applicants in some subjects will sit their University Admissions Assessments at the same time as they attend Cambridge for their interview.

Details about the timing of these assessments are included in the email inviting you to interview. More details about the content and purpose of the assessments themselves can be found on the University of Cambridge College Registered Assessment webpage.


We are often asked how candidates should dress for their interviews. You’ll be pleased to hear that we do not judge candidates on their wardrobes! Generally, candidates choose to dress a little formally (i.e. not in jeans) but it should not be necessary for you to buy special clothes for the occasion. It is important that you wear clothing that is comfortable; i.e. if you know you will be walking from the station to College, don’t put on a brand new pair of shoes! Please bear in mind that Cambridge is often very cold and wet in December and you will have to walk in the open between interviewers’ rooms, College Cafeteria for meals, etc. Coats are essential. If you are in doubt, please feel free to telephone the Academic Office for advice.

Undergraduate Hosts

Current Magdalene students will meet you at the Porters’ Lodge when you arrive and are on hand throughout your stay to help you find your way to your room (if you are staying overnight) and the rooms where your interviews are being held. They will also be in the JCR (where tea and coffee will be available) from 8 am – 10 pm to answer any queries you may have and help in any way. In the evenings TV/dvds will be available to any interview candidates that are interested.


The New Library, in the fellows Garden, will be open during the interview period. Current Magdalene students will be using the library and we would appreciate it if you did not enter unaccompanied. Should you wish to visit the library, please ask a Magdalene student host (see above) to take you. If you wish to use the library facilities for a more extended period during staff working hours (9.00 am – 5.00 pm), please ask the student helper to introduce you to the library staff who will be able to help you.

Any Problems

If you have any difficulties during your visit to Magdalene, please do not hesitate to talk to the student helpers, Porters or to come up to the Academic Office on A staircase, First Court, which is open from 8.30 am to 5.00 pm. The Academic Office staff will be happy to try to help. The Porters' Lodge is open 24 hours a day.


If you are delayed on your way to your interviews and think you may be late, it is absolutely imperative that you telephone us on 01223 332135 as soon as possible. We will do what we can to try and re-schedule your interviews and make alternative arrangements for you.