Yes, I meant only that if they mostly disregarded the test results of people who hadn’t had many opportunities for background research, those people would be under more pressure to perform well at interview. However, as you say they are hardly likely to set a test that is invalid for some of their applicants. I’m sure they would take into account that a mediocre performance by such an applicant is as worthy as a good performance from one with A’ level Archaeology for example.
I think that while a candidate with a lesser knowledge of the degree subject in question may receive an offer despite a less than perfect interview/test performance it should have little effect on what that offer is. Obviously if I had had the opportunity to take A’ level Archaeology they would have required an A in that. Otherwise surely they would only make lower offers to those in whom they had real confidence no matter what their background. Why would they make lower offers to people who hadn’t studied the subject before – the fact that I haven’t taken A’ level Archaeology shouldn’t prevent me from getting an A in English for example. I think the disadvantage felt by those who haven’t studied the subject before and that felt by A’ level candidates whose background may result in poorer grades in general are separate issues. The latter mentioned candidates may indeed receive lower offers to balance out their disadvantage.
There were 3 essay options for Arch and the same for Anth. I can see why you may find this restrictive but it appealed to me because it firstly assured me that I would be writing about something designed by them to show my full potential, and secondly the essay titles were carefully designed to cater for a) candidates with a wealth of practical knowledge, b) candidates with a mainstream logical approach and c) candidates who take an abstract, philosophical approach. Also I like to think things out for a while, so test conditions were not ideal for me. The majority of Cam colleges use essays for Arch and Anth, although there is a smattering of tests, prep studies and interview alone.
What was the admission process for your History course? Lol about the 6 A students btw– I also got AAB and will readily agree with anything bad you have to say about them!