Overview and time line
The diagram below shows the various steps in applying to Cambridge. There is a useful video from the University here, The Application Process, and there are links below and in our Need to Know section with further details on each step.
Need to Know
|My Cambridge Application (MCA)
|Can I afford it?
There is also a comprehensive University web site covering the application process here.
The critical deadline for applications via UCAS for 2024 entry is 16th October, 2023. Preparation should start as soon as possible however.
The application process is thorough but there is good information on-line via the University and this site to guide candidates. The process has two underlying priorities:
- To assess a candidate’s passion for their subject
- To assess a candidate’s powers of reasoning.
To develop these attributes candidates should already be looking beyond the school curriculum for their chosen subject(s) in both wider reading and external activities. Candidates should also be thinking less about the accumulation of knowledge and more about analyzing and questioning the knowledge they have.
The CAMScot Programme
The CAMScot programme is designed to help candidates address these priorities with the following activities.
|On-line briefing and Q & A
|March to June
|June to October
|October to December
Mentoring will usually be on a one-to-one basis with a current undergraduate or recent graduate. On-line sessions will cover, inter alia, Cambridge life, the application process (and personal statements), critical thinking and written assessments.
Interview coaching will include an on-line briefing and at least one mock interview.
Parents and Teachers
Parents and teachers have a vital role to play in supporting prospective applicants. The University offers guidance here and you can click on this link to see the University’s Teachers and Advisers handbook and on this link to see the University’s handbook for Parents and Supporters. Teachers and school support staff can also help by registering with CAMScot.
All the Colleges have their own web sites with information about applying, about outreach activities and about events, including virtual and physical open days. Follow this link to a list of relevant College web sites.
Insideuni is a student-led, non-profit project aiming to make Oxford and Cambridge applications more accessible for everyone. They offer a great deal of information through guides, student testimonials and videos.
Insideuni offers assessment test guides as follow (click on link for further details):
The University also offers notes for test-takers on
Applying to Cambridge or Oxford webinar series
Pembroke and Homerton Colleges in Cambridge run webinairs specifically for prospective applicants from Scotland. Click here for further details.
Apply Cambridge is a specialist and free programme designed to support highly able students from underrepresented backgrounds and areas to make successful applications to the University of Cambridge. It includes
- Information webinars
- Interactive workshops
- Guided learning opportunities
- Q&A sessions with Admissions Tutors and current students
- Mentoring from a current student at the University of Cambridge
The programme will be delivered entirely online and will run from w/c 25 July 2022 until the end of January 2023.
Foundation Year in Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
The one-year course will prepare students for further learning and offer them the chance to progress straight to an undergraduate degree at Cambridge or another university. Entrance requirements will be significantly less than the usual Cambridge minima. Further details can be found here.
All applicants for this course must apply via UCAS by 25 January 2023.
Get In Cambridge
Get In Cambridge is a programme that encourages students from under-represented ethnic minority backgrounds to come to Cambridge. Undergraduates receive an annual Get In award to ensure they can make the most out of Cambridge life, and Master’s students receive a Studentship, managed by the Cambridge Trust, to enable them to take up their offer at Cambridge.
Sutton Trust Summer Schools
A week-long, subject-specific residential programme in Cambridge which aims to replicate the full Cambridge student experience (including academic teaching and social life) whilst also providing information and advice about the application process. Further details here.
If you are not already aware you will notice that a recurring theme in the application process is the emphasis placed by the University on the interest you have in your subject beyond the curriculum. It is very important that you should be thinking about this as soon as possible. Some ideas can be gained from the University’s super-curricular web pages via the links below.
The University’s web sites for each course also have recommendations for further study – usually under “Resources”.
A free, 17-month, Cambridge University programme to support students in raising their school attainment and their confidence so that they might apply to study physical sciences and engineering at top universities. Further details here.
Applications for the 2023 STEM SMART programme have now closed.
Nuffield Research Placement
A summer holiday placement for pupils finishing S5 interested in gaining experience before studying a STEM subject at University. Further details here.
It’s Tough – so get as much help as you can
We have to be realistic, it’s tough to win a place even with good results and good preparation. Most who succeed would agree that it is worth it though and even those who do not succeed find the application process rewarding – you have to ask searching questions about yourself and about your chosen field of study – and if it doesn’t work out this time round, perhaps it’s worth having a go again next year. As indicated below, just over a fifth of those applying to Cambridge end up securing places.
But always bear in mind, nothing ventured, nothing gained!