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Checking entry requirements

Before applying, applicants need to check that they have, or are likely to achieve, the right grades at the right level and in the right subjects for the course they have chosen. Please see the Entrance Requirements for further details.

For College-specific course requirements for 2023 entry, see the individual course entries (these will be available in April 2022). All undergraduate admissions decisions are the responsibility of the Cambridge Colleges, so please contact the relevant College admissions office if you have any queries about College-specific requirements.

Submitted work

For a number of our courses, mainly in the arts and social sciences, applicants may be asked to submit examples of their written work that they have produced as part of a relevant A Level/IB (or equivalent) course. A discussion of this may then form part of the interview.

Details of the Colleges that typically ask for written work can be found in the relevant course entry on our website (these will be available in April 2022). However, if this is required the College will advise the student about what sort of work this should be, where it should be sent and the deadline for its submission (usually by mid-November). If an applicant has any queries, they should contact their College’s Admissions Office as soon as possible for clarification.

Students are asked to complete a cover sheet confirming that the written work is their own and detailing the circumstances in which it was written. They will also be asked to provide the name of a teacher who can be contacted about the work if necessary. We recommend that students submit work they’ll be happy discussing during an interview, and that they keep copies of anything they send so they can re-read it in preparation.

Helping students with personal statements

Personal statements allow students to tell us about their subject interest, and the process of writing a personal statement can often help a student better understand their academic interests and intellectual motivations. For guidance on what to include, we advise you to follow the UCAS advice on personal statements. See also, our article on How to write a great personal statement.

Admissions decisions at Cambridge are based solely on academic criteria (ability and potential). Personal statements are often used as a basis for discussion at interview. In a personal statement we are looking for applicants to:

  • explain their reasons for wanting to study the subject
  • demonstrate their enthusiasm for and commitment to their chosen course
  • express any particular interests within the field
  • outline how they have pursued their interest in the subject in their own time

How important are extra-curricular activities?

Our admissions decisions are based on academic criteria (ability and potential) and we expect to see evidence of students’ wider engagement with areas of academic interest, such as reading and other exploration relevant to the course for which they've applied. Extra-curricular activities which are of no relevance to the course will not increase a student's chances of receiving an offer. 

If, however, particular extra-curricular activities have enable a student to develop transferable skills, such as organisation or time management, then these can be included in their personal statement. Such activities might include significant caring responsibilities or paid employment, which can help us fully contextualise an application, as well as sport, physical activity, music, drama and volunteering.

Cambridge-specific comments

Applicants can make additional comments relevant to their Cambridge application in their additional questionnaire, for instance to highlight particular features of the Cambridge course that attracted them.

This additional personal statement is optional, applicants will not be disadvantaged if they have nothing to add and should be advised not to repeat information they provided in their UCAS personal statement as we will have already received a copy of this.

Helping students prepare for interviews

Interviews are discussion-based, and predominantly academic and subject-related, so applicants will be asked questions:

  • that are relevant to the course they applied for
  • about the information provided in the written elements of their application

You can help students prepare by encouraging them to talk with confidence and enthusiasm about their subject and wider interests. A mock interview can be helpful to give the experience of expressing ideas and opinions in response to unknown questions. Students are not expected to have ready-prepared answers; indeed, over-rehearsed answers can be counterproductive if students are preoccupied with recalling set speeches on general topics rather than listening to the interviewers’ questions and responding accordingly.

Students should be encouraged to read broadly in the areas of their A Level/IB Higher Level (or equivalent) subjects and must be prepared to think quite hard in their interviews but should be reminded that often there are no right or wrong answers to the questions they are asked. It is the process of reaching their answer that is generally of most significance, rather than the answer itself.

It is important for applicants to realise that interviewers will not be trying to ‘catch them out’, but will be challenging them to think and show how they can apply their existing knowledge and skills laterally to less familiar problems.

It is also important for students to understand that their performance at interview alone does not determine the outcome of their application. Admissions decisions are made holistically, taking all available information into account.

You should encourage your students to check the information and short films on our interviews pages so they can make sure they are fully prepared and know what to expect, well in advance of their interview date. 

HE+ website

The HE+ website is for students looking to expand their subject knowledge outside of the taught curriculum. The website is host to fascinating self-study resources written by Cambridge academics and postgraduates to give potential applicants an introduction to university level learning and independent study.