Applying to Cambridge

Applying to Cambridge


  • All applications are done via UCAS, by the usual process (information, personal statement, etc.)
  • Deadlines tend to be much earlier than most universities – please check with your own university placement service for details on this.


Entrance requirements

  • Aside from grades, check for additional requirements, if any. (e.g. language proficiency tests, STEP for Mathematics, BMAT for Medicine or Veterinary Medicine, Cambridge Law Test for Law)


Choosing a college

  • To gain admission to the University, you must be accepted by one of the colleges.
  • Choice of an open application (i.e. no preference of college) or apply directly to a specific college.
  • It is said that your chances are the same for either option, though applying to a specific college will be a safer bet.
  • If you choose a direct application, know your reasons for doing so – interviewers do ask on this.
  • If you choose an open application, you will be assigned to a college.


The process

  1. UCAS application
  2. Interview
  3. Acceptance / Rejection / Pool to a different college (i.e. application to be reconsidered by a different college)
  4. If pooled, second interview is possible
  5. Acceptance / Rejection by pooled college



(Check out for more guidance.)


  • No general format – course-specific. Almost all interviews will involve subject-relevant questions, but some interviews are more conversational, some involve more problem-solving. (Do email us for course-specific info.)
  • The usual personal questions (“Tell me more about yourself.”) often crop up, too.
  • Those interviewing in Cambridge will be interviewed by representative(s) of the College applied or assigned to. This could be done 2:1 (interviewer to interviewee), 1:1 or otherwise.
  • Those interviewing overseas (e.g. here in Malaysia) will interview with a representative who may not be from the College or course applied to, because only a few representatives are sent overseas to conduct interviews. This tends to be 1:1.


  • Anything clean and neat that would make a good impression – need not be too concerned; interviewers hardly care if you show up in a suit and tie or not.


  • Again, course-specific – generally, it will be helpful to know about the course you have applied for and to know your reasons for doing so. It also helps to read material relevant to your course syllabus.
  • Make sure you know your personal statement inside out! Don’t let yourself be caught on something you wrote months ago and have now forgotten. Take a look at it again before your interview.
  • Typical advice applies: be prepared, do your research – but don’t over-prepare lest you come across as being rehearsed. Treat it as an intellectual conversation; speak comfortably and spontaneously, with the knowledge you have learnt ahead of time.
  • Don’t worry! The interviewers are lovely people who look forward to a good, intellectual conversation with you. They are not there to trap you. They want you to feel comfortable and speak to them naturally. Ultimately, the interviews are very much like the supervisions you will have in Cambridge – they are here to find out if you will fit in with that.

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