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The following information is for schools, colleges, teachers and HE advisors. For application information please see Admissions assessments.

Most applicants are required to take a course-specific written assessment, either pre-interview or at interview.

These are designed to supplement the information in their application and provide a gauge of their existing abilities – to assess skills (such as comprehension and thinking skills) and, where appropriate, levels of current knowledge and understanding relevant to the course applied for.

See the course information for details of the associated written assessment.

Please note that the written assessments form part of our holistic assessment of applicants, rather than being a stand-alone mechanism for interview selection – a student’s written assessment performance isn’t considered in isolation but taken into account alongside the other elements of their application.

Pre-interview written assessments

Around half of our courses require applicants to take a pre-interview written assessment, which are organised by the Admissions Testing Service and taken at an authorised centre local to the applicant. For most, this will be their school/college.

For applicants aged 21 or over, see also the information below regarding arrangements for mature students.

Authorised centres

Schools/colleges that are currently authorised to offer the Biomedical Admission Test (BMAT) and/or University of Oxford’s pre-interview tests will automatically be registered to offer the Cambridge pre-interview written assessments as well.

Schools/colleges that aren’t authorised for the BMAT and/or Oxford tests must apply to the Admissions Testing Service to become an authorised centre and offer the Cambridge pre-interview assessments. Overseas schools/colleges can apply to become an authorised centre, as well as UK/EU schools/colleges.

The approval process can take several weeks and must be completed/confirmed by 30 September 2016.

Applicants who won’t be able to take their pre-interview assessment at their school/college must find an open authorised centre instead. Students can use the search facility on the Admissions Testing Service website to find their nearest authorised centre.

Costs/fees

  • There’s no charge to schools/colleges to become an authorised centre or to offer the Cambridge assessments.
  • With the exception of the BMAT, there’s no entry fee for Cambridge applicants to take the pre-interview written assessments (UK/EU applicants who are concerned about the cost of the BMAT should see the advice about financial support on the Admissions Testing Service website) but some open assessment centres may charge candidates an administration fee.

Registering candidates for pre-interview assessments

For 2017 entry, the pre-interview assessments will be taken on 2 November 2016 in the UK.1

Applicants must be registered online (separately from their UCAS application) in advance to take the relevant pre-interview assessment.

The assessment centre must register each individual applicant – students cannot register themselves – through the online Admissions Testing Service Entries Extranet. Assessment centres can usually access the Entries Extranet and start to register candidates from the beginning of September.

Assessment centres must register each candidate by the appropriate deadline given in the box below.

Pre-interview written assessment registration deadlines

1 October 2016, 5.00pm (BST)

Biomedical Admission Test (BMAT):

15 October 2016, 6.00pm (BST)

Applicants who require access arrangements must be registered by their assessment centre by 30 September 2016.

Assessment centres are advised to register their candidates well in advance. If an applicant isn’t registered by their assessment centre by the relevant deadline they won’t be able to take the appropriate pre-interview assessment, which will mean that their application to the University of Cambridge won’t be valid.

1Applicants taking the pre-interview written assessments overseas must check the Admissions Testing Service website as the scheduled start times for international centres may vary. Please note that for some overseas interview locations, these assessments may take place after your interview. In this situation, the written assessment will still be considered by the Cambridge College along with the overseas interview report.

2Applicants for the History and Modern Languages course are required to take written assessments both pre-interview (the History assessment) and at interview (the Modern Languages assessment), if interviewed.

Information required to register candidates

In order to register applicants for a pre-interview written assessment, the assessment centre needs the following pieces of information about each candidate:

  • UCAS Personal ID
  • name exactly as it will appear on their UCAS application
  • gender
  • date of birth
  • details of any access requirements/arrangements
  • the university/institution (and Cambridge College or open application) they’re applying to
  • the course (including UCAS course code) they’re applying for

Successful registration generates a candidate number (a letter followed by five digits), which should be forwarded to the applicant as confirmation – they may be required to provide their candidate number as part of their application, and will need it on the day of the assessment.

Helping students to prepare for pre-interview assessments

Students can find information about the pre-interview assessment in the Entry Requirements section of the relevant course page on this website.

Other than revision of relevant recent subject knowledge where appropriate and/or having a go at a practice paper where available, no advance preparation is needed for the Cambridge pre-interview written assessments.

Please note that we’re aware of private companies and individuals who offer, at a charge, information and advice on our admissions process, assessments and interviews. We DO NOT support or encourage any of these commercial enterprises. None of these companies/individuals has access to any information that’s not already available free of charge to all schools, colleges and individual students from College admissions office, the Cambridge Admissions Office or Cambridge University Students’ Union (CUSU); and we’re unable to verify the accuracy of the information these companies/individuals may provide.

Pre-interview assessment results

Only BMAT and ELAT results will be available to assessment centres and candidates. These results will be accessible through the Admissions Testing Service’s secure Results Online system for a limited time after admissions decisions have been released (usually from mid-January).

For other pre-interview assessments, an indication of performance in the written assessment will be included as part of the feedback about unsuccessful candidates.

Pre-interview assessments for mature students (aged 21 or over)

  • Apart from the BMAT, mature students applying to one of the mature Colleges and wishing to be considered for interview in Cambridge aren’t required to take any pre-interview assessments – for courses with a pre-interview assessment, they take a written assessment at interview (if interviewed) instead.
  • Mature students applying to a standard-age College and wishing to be considered for interview in Cambridge must be registered for and take any pre-interview written assessment associated with the course being applied for.
  • Mature students applying to any College (mature or standard-age) and wishing to be considered for interview overseas must be registered for and take any pre-interview written assessment associated with the course being applied for.

Further information

If you’d like to receive regular updates and information about the University, events and our admissions process by email, you can subscribe to our free Teachers’ and HE Advisers Newsletter. If you have any questions about our written assessments, please contact us at: assessment@admin.cam.ac.uk.

At-interview written assessments

For courses requiring a written assessment at interview, these are taken when applicants attend their interview (if interviewed), which usually take place during the first three weeks of December. For applicants interviewed overseas, at-interview assessments will usually take place in the same week as interviews in that country. Details of at-interview assessments are normally supplied to shortlisted applicants together with details of their interview.

For 2017 entry, applicants to the following courses are required take a written assessment at interview:

Students applying for Mathematics are required to undertake several short tasks at interview (if interviewed in Cambridge) to assess their aptitude, knowledge base and potential for the course (see individual College websites for details). For candidates interviewed overseas, a written Maths assessment will be administered by the overseas interviewing team which will then be made available to the Cambridge College along with the overseas interview report. All applicants for Mathematics (and Computer Science with Mathematics) are still required to sit the STEP exam in June 2017 as achievement in the STEP is an entrance requirement.

Students applying for Music are required to undertake several short tasks at interview (if interviewed) to assess their aptitude, knowledge base and potential for the course (see individual College websites for details).

*For Computer Science candidates interviewed overseas, a written Maths assessment will be administered by the overseas interviewing team instead of the CSAT. This will then be made available to the Cambridge College along with the overseas interview report.  

Costs/fees

There are no charges associated with taking any written assessments at interview in Cambridge.

Overseas/international applicants should refer to the information regarding the overseas application fee associated with the COPA and interview fee for those interviewed overseas.

Registering candidates for at-interview assessments

Students don’t need to register or be registered for at-interview written assessments – the Colleges provide details of arrangements in the letters inviting applicants to interview.

Helping students to prepare for at-interview assessments

Students can find information about the associated at-interview assessment in the Entry Requirements section of the relevant course page on this website.

Other than revision of relevant recent subject knowledge where appropriate and/or having a go at a practice paper where available, no advance preparation is needed for the Cambridge at-interview written assessments.

Please note that we’re aware of private companies and individuals who offer, at a charge, information and advice on our admissions process, assessments and interviews. We DO NOT support or encourage any of these commercial enterprises. None of these companies/individuals has access to any information that’s not already available free of charge to all schools, colleges and individual students from College admissions office, the Cambridge Admissions Office or Cambridge University Students’ Union (CUSU); and we’re unable to verify the accuracy of the information these companies/individuals may provide.

At-interview assessment results

Assessment centres/candidates won’t be able to access their results but an indication of performance in the written assessment will be included as part of the feedback about unsuccessful candidates.

Further information

If you’d like to receive regular updates and information about the University, events and our admissions process by email, you can subscribe to our free Teachers’ and HE Advisers Newsletter. If you have any questions about our written assessments, please contact us at: assessment@admin.cam.ac.uk.