Typical offers and requirements
Please note that you may be required to submit a transcript outlining details of your qualifications as part of your application.
The Advanced Diploma in Environmental and Land-based Studies is acceptable for Geography and Natural Sciences (Biological), as long as you’ve taken two appropriate A Levels within the Additional Specialist Learning component. In the case of Natural Sciences (Biological), these should be A Level Chemistry and either A Level Biology, Mathematics or Physics. The requirements for Geography are more flexible.
The Principal Learning components of the Advanced Diploma in Engineering are acceptable for Engineering, providing you’re also taking A Levels in Physics and Mathematics (the Level 3 Certificate in Mathematics for Engineering is a suitable alternative to A Level Mathematics for these purposes). See the Department of Engineering website for further guidance and contact the admissions office of the College(s) to which you’re considering applying for advice.
Advanced Placement Tests
Prospective applicants from Canada and the USA taking SATs and Advanced Placement Tests should note that offers are usually made on an individual basis. In addition to high passes in the High School Diploma and the SAT, successful applicants normally have high passes in the High School Diploma and the SAT, and 5s in at least five Advanced Placement Tests in appropriate subjects.
Offers are conditional on achievement in the A Levels within the qualification, rather than the overall Baccalaureate award.
Conditional offers are set on an individual basis but are likely to require the achievement of Distinction level grades (D2 or D3) in Principal Subjects.
Edexcel International Diploma (Academic Route)
Offers are conditional on achievement in the A Levels within the qualification, rather than the overall Diploma award.
Successful applicants are typically asked for 85-90 per cent overall, with 90 per cent in subjects most closely related to the course they want to study.
We welcome the Extended Project and would encourage applicants to undertake one as it will help to develop independent study and research skills valuable for higher education. However, completion of an Extended Project won't be a requirement of any offer made.
Typical offers for applicants taking the French Baccalaureate (including the International Option) are 16 or 17 ('mention très bien') out of 20, with 16 or 17 usually required in individual subjects.
Foundation Year programmes
Standalone Foundation Year progammes can provide appropriate preparation for some arts courses at the University of Cambridge. However, they're generally less appropriate for those making an application in the sciences. Prospective applicants are advised to consult a College admissions office at an early stage, providing full details of their Foundation Year programme, in order to ensure that it will be adequate to meet the requirements of the course they wish to study.
With the exception of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine (which require grade C or above in GCSE Double Award Science and Mathematics – see the relevant course entry for details), there are no GCSE (or equivalent) requirements for entry to Cambridge.
Applicants have generally achieved high grades in subjects relevant to their chosen course, and most students who apply have at least four or five As or A*s at GCSE. However, there are always exceptions and we don’t require a minimum number of As/A*s at GCSE. One of the strengths of the Cambridge admissions system is its ability to assess all applicants individually.
Our research shows that post-16 examination performance is a much better predictor of degree success at Cambridge. While GCSE results are looked at as a performance indicator, this is within the context of the performance of the school/college where they were attained, and strong performance in Years 12 and 13 can make up for a less stellar performance at GCSE.
Applicants are typically asked for an overall score of between 1.0 and 1.3, with 14 or 15 in subjects most closely related to the course they want to study.
Irish Leaving Certificate
Typical offers for applicants taking the Irish Leaving Certificate would be based on A1/H1 in 3 relevant subjects at Higher Level.
Applicants for Medicine and Veterinary Medicine may be asked to take an IGCSE (or equivalent) in the science subject not taken within the Irish Leaving Certificate.
Scottish Highers and Advanced Highers
Offers usually require AAA at Advanced Higher Grade.
In some cases, two Advanced Highers and an additional Higher may be acceptable (eg when an applicant is prevented from studying more than two Advanced Highers due to reasons outside their control) – such applicants are considered on a case-by-case basis and should seek advice from the College to which they’re considering applying as early as possible.
For advice about suitable subject choices see course requirements. Please note that for these purposes, Highers will satisfy AS Level subject requirements, and Advanced Highers will satisfy A Level subject requirements.
If you're studying towards a Scottish Baccalaureate qualification, you're expected to offer three Advanced Highers as part of it.
NB: We recognise that the Scottish secondary school sector is undergoing significant curriculum reform. Please see the University's admissions policy statement on Curriculum for Excellence.
Sixth Term Examination Papers in Mathematics (STEP)
STEP Mathematics is used to assess applicants' aptitude for university study in mathematical subjects. It’s used as part of almost all conditional offers for Mathematics and Computer Science with Mathematics. Some Colleges require/may require STEP in conditional offers for other courses needing strong mathematical ability.
The STEP content is based on core A Level/IB Higher Level/Scottish Advanced Higher (or equivalent) Mathematics material and so requires no further knowledge – the questions are designed to test qualities such as insight, originality, and the ability to use standard techniques in unusual ways and situations.
The STEP exam is taken immediately after the A Level examination period (in June). See the STEP Mathematics page for further details.
Offers are rarely made on the SAT alone but a high pass is expected where it is taken alongside other qualifications. Recent reforms have altered the SAT scoring system and the new format has been in place since March 2016. A detailed and updated explanation of the changes can be found on the CollegeBoard website. For applicants who took the SAT before March 2016, a high pass in the SAT equates to at least 1,400 in Critical Reading and Mathematics and also 700 or more in Writing, to give a combined score of at least 2,100. For applicants who took the new SAT (first offered in March 2016) a high pass equates to at least 730 in Evidence-Based Reading and Writing and 730 in Mathematics, to give a combined score of at least 1,460. An ACT score of at least 32 out of 36 may be accepted instead of the SAT.
VCE and Applied A Levels, GNVQs and BTECs
VCE A Levels, Applied A Levels, GNVQs and BTECs don’t provide an appropriate preparation for most Cambridge courses, where the emphasis is more academic than vocational. As such, these qualifications can’t, unless otherwise stated, be used to replace the required or highly desirable A Level subjects listed for each course.
However, if any required/highly desirable subjects are covered, a six unit VCE or Applied A Level could be taken instead of a third A Level or as an additional fourth broadening subject. This combination of A Levels and VCE or other qualifications may be acceptable for some courses.
Potential applicants taking these qualifications are advised to seek further advice from a College Admissions Tutor as early as possible.
For students taking the Advanced Welsh Baccalaureate, offers are conditional on three A Level subjects studied as options for the Advanced Diploma. The core may be taken into consideration in assessment for admission, and used as part of an offer.
Students taking any modular A Levels are required to provide details of these and their UMS in their Supplementary Application Questionnaire (SAQ).
Applicants studying for a mixture of qualifications
We're happy to consider applicants who are taking a combination of qualifications from different examination systems – such as Scottish Advanced Highers and A Levels – providing that the individual qualifications are acceptable and any subject requirements are met.
Conditional offers are made on a case-by-case basis but will normally be in line with the typical offers made when the qualifications are taken on their own.
If the qualification you're taking isn't listed here, please see our international students section for country-specific information.
Whatever system you’re being educated in, Cambridge requires top grades in the highest level qualifications available for school/college students.
It’s a good idea to contact the admissions office of the College(s) you're considering applying to (or the Cambridge Admissions Office) at an early stage to check that the qualification you’re taking provides an appropriate preparation for the course you hope to study.