Skip to main content

How to Apply

Applications are made through UCAS by mid October in the year before you plan to start university (for October 2024 entry, you must apply by 16th October 2023). All Cambridge applicants are then required to submit another form called My Cambridge Application (a link to this will be sent to all applicants after they have applied through UCAS). Read a clear overview of How to Apply on the University website.

On this page you'll find tips from our Admissions Office to help you prepare an application.

Dr Michael Sutherland unpacks the admissions process and explains what we're looking for in a competitive applicant

Writing your Personal Statement

Use your personal statement to tell us how you pursue your interest in the subject outside the school classroom setting. This could involve independent reading, attending and reflecting on lectures (including online lectures), and academic competitions, such as the UKMT for mathematics. Any competitive university is more interested in these than in extracurricular pursuits such as sports, music or drama. For students applying to medicine, it's useful to reflect on what you've learnt and experienced during relevant work experience, voluntary work or shadowing placements (you don't need to mention work experience for other subjects).

After you submit your UCAS application, you also complete a Cambridge-specific additional questionnaire called 'My Cambridge Application'. This includes space for an additional personal statement if you’d like to write specifically about the Cambridge course you're applying for. This is particularly useful for a student who is applying for a slightly different course at other universities – for example, if you're applying for Natural Sciences at Cambridge and Physics at other universities then you can write mostly about Physics in your UCAS personal statement but reflect on 'why Natural Sciences' in 'My Cambridge Application'.

For more tips on writing your personal statement, have a watch of our personal statement focused admissions workshop.

Submitting Written Work

For some courses, particularly arts and humanities subjects, you may need to submit written work during the application process. Our advice is to send work that you've written as part of your ordinary school work, and that you are proud of. Often an interviewer will ask questions about this work, so it’s a good idea to select something that you would be happy to discuss at interview and re-read the work before the interview to refresh your memory. 

Look at our Submitting Written Work page for more information.

Admission Assessments

There are two types of admissions assessments - pre-registration assessments and College-registered assessments. Please carefully check the University website to see whether you are required to take an assessment as part of your application.

If you need to take a pre-registration assessment then make sure you register for this before the deadline stated on the pre-registration assessments webpage. Failure to register before the deadline may unfortunately result in your application being invalid.

You do not need to register separately for College-registered assessments. If you are invited for an interview, we will give full details of any assessments that you are required to take.

Preparatory Study at Interview ('Pre-Reading')

Some applicants are asked to study a piece of writing or a set of problems immediately before their interview. This could be an essay for History or a set of questions for Mathematics. In some cases, applicants might be asked to write a short response during the 'pre-reading' time. This isn't part of a test or exam – it simply acts as a starting point for discussions in the interviews. If you are normally entitled to extra time at school then you should make sure you inform the Admissions Office so that we can schedule your 'pre-reading' to include extra time.


Interviews are a great opportunity for you to show us your aptitude for and interest in your chosen subject. They are like mini-supervisions (College-based teaching sessions), and interviewers look to see how you’re likely to respond to this style of teaching. We want to see how you how you engage with your subject in discussion and work towards a solution when given an unfamiliar concept or problem.

In a STEM interview, you should expect to do some writing such as solving equations or sketching curves. For an Arts and Humanities interviewers you might be given a text for discussion during the interview, or your interviewers might challenge you to think further about areas of interest mentioned on your personal statement or submitted written work.

This video from the Cambridge Admissions Office gives you a great sense of how we usually conduct admissions interviews.

Tips for getting ready for interview

  • Think in detail about the course at Cambridge. What about it attracts you and matches your aptitudes and interests?
  • Carefully re-read your personal statement and any written work you have submitted.
  • Revise what you have already studied and try to read and further develop your interest in the subject.
  • Be prepared to talk about academic work you’ve completed in the last year or two.
  • Expect to be asked focused and challenging questions, which reflect the style of teaching and learning at Cambridge.
Want to find out more?

Take a look at answers to frequently asked questions and browse our media collection for insights from academics and the Admissions Team at the College. We have also curated a number of resources to help you through the application process. If you have a question and can't find the answer within our website, please get in touch with the Admissions Manager