Assessments

At St Mary’s School, Cambridge we offer a holistic assessment process.

Individual potential

We welcome girls with a broad range of academic abilities, reflecting our belief that each child has unique talents and potential to offer. Our assessment process is designed to be as relaxed as possible, so that we can understand your daughter's potential, as much as her current levels of achievement.

We interview all prospective students and seek references from their current school. This helps us to get to know each individual and to understand how well she will fit in with our school community and ethos.

Assessment for international applicants

Assessment process (UK applicants)

For UK applicants, we undertake both formal and informal assessments; including tests and face-to-face interviews appropriate to the age of the applicant.

Girls applying for places in Year 3 to Year 9 are invited to a pre-assessment tea prior to our formal assessment day, to become familiar with the environment and meet current as well as other prospective students.

Joining Reception (age 4+)

Assessments for prospective Reception girls take place during a one-hour visit to the Reception class. They meet the teaching team and engage in activities such as puzzles, letters, numbers and creative tasks.

Joining Year 3 (age 7+) to Year 6 (10+)

Girls applying in Year 3 to Year 6 are assessed in Mathematics, non-verbal reasoning and creative writing. A previous school reference is also required.

Download sample papers

Joining in Years 7 (age 11+) to Year 9 (age 13+)

For Senior School applicants we hold an assessment day at the end of January. Assessments are undertaken under 'exam conditions' (to time and in silence). This day is also an opportunity to meet with current students, who will guide you through the process.

Girls applying to join in Year 7 (age 11+):

  • Take the CEM Select online test
  • Complete a 30 minute Creative Writing exam 
  • Attend an interview with a member of our Senior Leadership Team

Girls applying to join in Year 8 (age 12+):

  • Complete a one hour English paper (comprehension and creative writing)
  • Complete a one hour Mathematics paper
  • Attend an interview with a member of our Senior Leadership Team

Download sample papers for Year 8 entry

Girls applying to join in Year 9 (age 13+):

  • Take the CEM Select online test
  • Complete a 30 minute Creative Writing exam 
  • Attend an interview with a member of our Senior Leadership Team

We also invite applicants for Year 8 and Year 9 to bring their language exercise books from their current school, for our Heads of Languages to view.

The CEM Select test evaluates vocabularly, mathematics, non-verbal reasoning.

More about CEM Select

Joining Year 10 (age 14+) (first year of two GCSE course)

For Senior School applicants we hold an assessment day at the end of January. Assessments are undertaken under 'exam conditions' (to time and in silence). This day is also an opportunity to meet with current students, who will guide you through the process.

Girls wishing to join in Year 10 undertake assessments in English, Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry and Physics. They attend an interview with a member of the Senior Leadership Team, and a reference from their previous school is requested.

Download sample papers

If an applicant is offered a place and she opts to study a language at GCSE level, she will be asked to take an assessment in her chosen language to ensure she is at the appropriate level.

Joining the Lower Sixth (16+) (first year of two year a level course)

Girls who have taken GCSE/iGCSE courses will be offered places based on their predicted grades and therefore do not complete a written assessment. In other cases, girls are assessed by written assessment in each of their proposed A Level subjects.

All UK applicants attend an assessment day to get a flavour of Sixth Form life, meet staff and students, as well as attending an interview with a member of the Senior Leadership Team. A reference from the applicant's current school is also requested.

Download sample papers

Assessment FAQs

What will the interview be like?

Girls are interviewed by a member of our Senior Leadership Team. This is an opportunity to get to know each applicant better as an individual and will hopefully feel more like 'a chat' than an interview!

We are keen to hear about academic interests and achievements. We also want to learn more about any extra-curriculuar activities such as sport, music, drama or community service.

What should applicants wear for their assessment day?

Please wear your current school uniform. If your current school does not have a uniform, then please wear a pair of dark trousers or a skirt, with a plain top.