MAR 06, 2020 • 8 min read
The dream to study at The University of Cambridge is a common one:
Literally thousands of students apply for admission each year (16,431 in the 2015/16 application pool alone).
Unfortunately, as the facts read with Cambridge acceptance rates, there are many more students applying than there are vacant positions.
As a result:
admissions into the University of Cambridge are the most competitive of any school in the UK - comparable to that of the Ivy Leagues in the US such as Harvard, Princeton, and Yale.
When you consider the fact that 89 affiliates of the University of Cambridge have won the Nobel Prize since 1904, the competitive admissions rate is to be expected.
However, while admission can be difficult, there are many ways to combat the competitive nature of university applications;
the number one way being through early preparation and scrupulous study during secondary school.
What’s more, some secondary schools with strong support networks, insights and connections seem to have a knack for securing their students into Cambridge.
Whether it be each school’s selective admissions process, world-class faculty, selection of subjects, focus on extracurricular involvements, or a combination of all of the above, here are the top ten secondary schools to receive the greatest number of offers into Cambridge during the 2015/16 application round:
Gathering an impressive 39 student offers to Cambridge in 2015, Raffles Junior College sits atop the list for the highest volume of Cambridge offers. Founded in 1823, Raffles Junior College is one of the oldest and most prestigious schooling institutions in Singapore. Raffles is one of only two colleges outside of the UK to make the list. Admission into Raffles Institution is based solely on merit, regardless of race, creed, social or financial background. And, interestingly, Raffles also boasts one of the highest Ivy League admissions rates, supported by a highly-famed, full-time College Admissions Counsellors.
Having recently been named The Sunday Times sixth form college of the year 2016/17, it’s no surprise the 2015/16 application round saw 34 Hills Road College students receive offers to attend Cambridge. Hills Road place an emphasis on extracurricular activities while also offering a wide range of AS and A level courses in comparison to other sixth form colleges.
Founded in 1509 and located on a 43 acre site right on the River Thames (see image), St. Paul’s School is considered one of England’s finest education institutions. Unique amongst London schools for the on-site facilities offered including boat club, theatre, darkroom, cricket pitch, recital hall and design technology workshop. The class of 2015 at St. Paul’s accrued a total of 30 offers to attend Cambridge University.
With origins before the 12th century, Westminster is one of the world’s oldest and most established educational institutions. Not only is Westminster the last remaining ancient London school to occupy its original site, it also has the highest student acceptance rates to attend Cambridge and Oxford of any secondary school or college in the world. In 2015, Westminster students received 29 offers to attend Cambridge with a whopping 26 accepting the offer.
Founded in 1975, Brighton Hove and Sussex Form College is a relatively new school, particularly when you compare it to other English schools of similar esteem. In fact, Brighton Hove and Sussex Form College was the first college in the UK to be awarded a grade 1 Outstanding in October 2012 under the new standardised inspection framework - very impressive. Offering over 50 advance level courses, they consistently place well for exam results and have a reputation for securing their students into top universities. It’s no surprise they round out the top 5 of our list with 29 offers from Cambridge.
Claiming The Sunday Times Independent Secondary School of the Year 2016/17, Haberdashers’ is no stranger to success. In its long history, it has moved location three times and is currently located in Borehamwood, England where it provides students access to their sports centre, swimming pool, gymnasium, science and geography centre, art studio, an assembly hall with stage and fly tower, a drama studio, a music school with concert hall, and a multi-purpose library. It’s clear to see why Haberdashers’ have been so successful in recent years, including 2015, which had 26 students receive offers to attend Cambridge.
Eton is considered one of England's most renowned colleges with a reputation for producing famous alumni, including a number of UK Prime Ministers. Since 2002, Eton has endorsed a meritocratic entry system, meaning all boys have to win their places through the current procedure of an interview, reasoning test and reference from their previous school. Eton registers at number 7 (surprisingly low considering its reputation and competitive admission process) on our list with a total of 26 students receiving offers from Cambridge in 2015.
The second and final school outside of the UK on our list, Hwa Chong Institution has produced 56 President's Scholars to date! Its reputation as a premier school is based not only on the academic excellence of the students but also their determination to support students in extracurricular areas including leadership, sports, science research and service to the community - something uncommon in Singapore. In 2015, their students received an impressive 26 offers from Cambridge.
A highly-selective coeducational school, Sevenoaks has a deep history dating back to 1432. Located on a 100-acre lot in the countryside of Kent, Sevenoaks offers access to world-class sports and theatre facilities (see image). All Sixth Formers follow the full IB Diploma programme and in 2015, Sevenoaks had 23 students receive offers to attend Cambridge.
Peter Symonds College boasts a 99% pass rate at A-level and is renowned for their progressive approach to education, encouraging students to pursue hobbies and interests beyond the classroom - which includes the school’s own radio station run by students, 7Radio. The 2015 application round saw 23 Peter Symonds College students receive and offer to attend Cambridge.
For all schools in the top ten with the same volume of offers, the order of the list was finalised by calculating the percentage of offers against the number of applications submitted. The school with the higher percentage of offers-to-applications was placed higher on the list.