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Undergraduate Study


Frequently Asked Questions

Here you will find some Frequently Asked Questions relating to the Sutton Trust Summer Schools at Cambridge.

How do I apply?

Applications to the Summer Schools should be submitted to the Sutton Trust. You can find an overview of the process and the application form on the Sutton Trust Summer Schools website.

Who can attend?

The Sutton Trust Summer Schools are open to students in Year 12 (or equivalent) studying at a state-maintained school or college in the UK with at least five 6-9 grades at GCSE or five credit passes at Standard Grade.

For some of the subject strands, you will have to be taking relevant subjects at A Level or equivalent. Information on this can be found on the Academic Entry Requirements page.

Is it first-come, first-served?

We will not look at any applications until after the application deadline has passed. It makes no difference whether you apply at the beginning of January or the beginning of February, so long as your application and your teacher verification arrives in time.

What if I like the look of the summer school but don't want to apply to Cambridge?

While a number of students that attend the summer schools are considering applying to Cambridge, this is not something that we consider as part of your application.

If you like the sound of one of the subjects we offer, and would enjoy spending a week with students who are similarly enthusiastic about your subject, then please apply.

Can I apply for the summer schools if I attended an independent school previously, but am now attending a state school?

No, applicants must have attended a state-maintained school throughout their schooling.

Can I apply for the summer schools if I attend an independent school with a bursary or scholarship?

No, to ensure that support goes to those who need it the most, only students from state schools are eligible for this programme.

I'm currently studying at a school outside of the UK, can I still apply?

No, eligible applicants must be studying at a state-maintained school in the UK.

Why do you have a selection criteria?

We receive far more applications than we have places available, so we use a selection criteria set by the Sutton Trust. The Sutton Trust and other agencies have identified different factors that influence how likely a particular student is to progress into higher education. The aim of the Summer Schools is to encourage students from these backgrounds to apply to some of the UK’s top higher education institutions.

Information on how we select participants for the summer schools can be found on the Participant Selection page.

I don't meet the GCSE or standard grade requirements but I have extenuating circumstances, can I apply?

Applicants may be considered if they do not meet the academic entry requirements due to extenuating circumstances.  Please ensure that a teacher tells us about anything that has affected your studies on the Teacher Verification form. 

I'm eligible to apply, but I only meet one of the selection criteria. Is it still worth me putting in an application?

The application form takes no more than 10 minutes to complete, so you have nothing to lose by putting in an application! We would also encourage you to consider booking on a Subject Masterclass, Department open day, College open day, or the University’s general Open Days. You can come on any (or all) of these events while still applying for a Summer School. Information on all of these events can be found on our events webpages.

What is the teacher verification form? Who needs to complete it and do they need to write me a reference?

The Teacher Verification form needs to be completed to confirm that the information on your application form is accurate.

Teachers do not write a reference, but they are given the opportunity to provide information on any extenuating circumstances that have affected your studies.

Guidance for teachers on filling out this form is available from the Sutton Trust Summer Schools website.

I've missed the deadline. Can I still apply or be put on the reserve list?

Unfortunately, we cannot accept any applications after the deadline. There are, however, plenty of other opportunities to visit the University. You can book on a Subject Masterclass, Department open day, College open day, or the University’s general Open Days in the summer.

I didn't get a place but I'm still really keen. Can I be added to a reserve list?

We already operate a reserve list and you will have been told if you have been selected as a reserve. Instead, we’d encourage you to make the most of one of the other ways to find out more about undergraduate study at the University. You can book on a Subject Masterclass, Department open day, College open day, or the University’s general Open Days in the summer.

Does attending a summer school increase my chances of getting a place at Cambridge?

Applications to the University are completely separate from the Summer Schools and use different criteria for selection purposes. Admissions Tutors will not know whether an applicant has attended a Summer School unless you choose to mention it in your personal statement.

Am I unlikely to get a place at Cambridge if I don't get a place on the summer schools?

An unsuccessful application to the Summer Schools does not correlate to the likelihood of being accepted to Cambridge as an undergraduate. We use very different selection criteria when assessing applications to the Summer Schools to the selection criteria that Admissions Tutors use when selecting undergraduate students.

You can learn about what Admissions Tutors look for in applications for undergraduate study at Cambridge on our What are we looking for? webpage.

Are there other ways to experience my subject at Cambridge?

There are many opportunities to explore undergraduate study at the University of Cambridge. For example, our Subject Masterclasses offer two subject-specific taster sessions delivered by leading academic staff from the University, an introduction to the Cambridge admissions process and the opportunity to hear about life as a student from current undergraduates, all over the course of a single day! To book a place or for information on other events we run, click the link below:

How long will I spend in the academic departments?

Each subject will have approximately 18 hours of teaching time during the week. You should expect to be in the departments most of the time during the day. This schedule can be tiring but gives you a good idea of what life at a highly-selective university is like and will prove to be a really useful and enjoyable experience.

What kind of things will I do?

The exact timetable on each Summer School will vary, but most subjects combine lecture style activities with interactive sessions. In the Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, you may be asked to produce presentations or be supervised in smaller groups, in our STEM courses you may spend time completing a project. The idea of the Summer Schools is to give you an insight into what studying that subject at university would be like, so be prepared to come across new concepts and to learn in new and interesting ways.

Do I need to do any preparation in advance?

For most subjects, there’s nothing to do in advance. The courses assume no knowledge of the area beyond things you may have already covered in your current syllabuses, where relevant. To ensure you get the most out of the week, it is a good idea to make sure you’re familiar with concepts that you have encountered over the course of your Year 12 (or equivalent) studies.

For a minority of subjects, you may be asked to do some work in advance of arriving in Cambridge. This is because the academic sessions during the week will be based on the tasks that you will have been asked to complete. You will be contacted if your subject has set prep work. If you are not contacted, please assume your subject has not set any prep work.

What do I need to bring?

We will send out a complete checklist to participants in the summer but the key items will be comfortable clothes and toiletries. There is no need to bring formal clothes. You may also wish to bring a small about of money for a souvenir.

Is there a cost to attend?

The costs of the Summer School are covered by the University and the Sutton Trust so that it is completely free for you to attend.

What are the accommodation arrangements?

Summer School participants will have their own room in an undergraduate College for the duration of their time in Cambridge. Rooms on the same corridor will be assigned by gender where possible and bathrooms will be shared. The Colleges will provide towels but it is a good idea to bring toiletries with you to Cambridge.

Ensuite rooms are available on a needs basis. 

What are the travel arrangements?

There is no cost to students attending the Summer Schools and travelling via public transport. If you are offered a place, we will be in touch to confirm how you will be travelling to and from Cambridge. Unless you choose to travel by car, we will book train tickets for your return journey to Cambridge which you will be able to collect from your closest train station.

We will provide you with all the information you need to ensure that you have a stress free journey.

Once you arrive in Cambridge, CAMbassadors will be on hand to meet you and will take you to the College that you will staying in. We will also arrange for your luggage to be collected from the station and taken to your accommodation.

We are usually unable to reimburse the cost of car travel.

I have a disability or health condition, how will this be accommodated?

We are committed to ensuring that the Sutton Trust Summer Schools are accessible for all participants. We ask all students to fill out a Personal Details form in advance of their arrival in Cambridge. We encourage participants to provide as much detail as possible about any needs relating to health or disability so that we can make adjustments and provide the relevant support.

If a student indicates on the Personal Details form that they require our support, we will follow up via email or phone, depending on their preference, for further information.

Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you would like to discuss your application with us.

I'm attending another summer school organised by one of the Universities departments or colleges, will the content be the same?

The Sutton Trust Summer Schools are organised by the Cambridge Admissions Office and with the help of world leading academics at the University. The programme aims to give you the full Cambridge student experience (including academic teaching and social life) whilst also providing you with information and advice to support you during the application process.

If you are attending multiple events at the University or its Colleges, you may find that some of the content is repeated. Please ensure you let us know as soon as possible if you would like to withdraw your place on the Summer School.

Will I get the chance to explore other subjects or visit some of the Colleges?

It’s not possible to attend more than one subject or to drop-in on another subject for the day, as the timetables are based on a full week. However, after the Summer Schools have finished you will gain access to other subject’s content on the platform. The weeks are also staffed by some of our undergraduate students who study a range of different subjects and they will be more than happy to share their experiences of studying here. There may be time allocated in the residential for viewing Colleges, however if there is a specific College you wish to visit, you would be best to attend an Open Day.

Contact Us

Cambridge Summer School Team
07840 638822

Most of the common queries that we receive are answered on our Frequently Asked Questions page. Please take a look before contacting us.