QS World Ranking: 5 Number of Colleges: 31 Sample Colleges: Newnham (women’s only college), Pembroke (one of the best colleges in Oxbridge), Clare (has a famous choir) Number of Students: 19,660 Tuition Fees: UK/EU: £9,250, International: £19,197-£50,130, depending on your course Acceptance Rate: 21% Highest Ranked Courses (QS Rankings): 2nd in the world for: Anatomy & Physiology, Anthropology, Civil Engineering, English, and Modern Languages
If you’d like an academic advisor to assess your candidacy for Cambridge University, you can book a free one-on-one consultation today.
Cambridge University Admissions
Cambridge also uses the UCAS application; however, in order to apply to Cambridge you need to complete a few extra steps as well.
1. Extenuating Circumstances Form (ECF): While the UCAS form has a space for extenuating circumstances, Cambridge has its own form that allows teachers to provide contextual info about you such as medical conditions or family illnesses.
2. Supplementary Application Questionnaire (SAQ) or Cambridge Online Preliminary Application (COPA): The SAQ gives you a chance to talk about why you want to study at Cambridge specifically. The COPA is for international students to help arrange overseas interviews.
3. Photo: This picture will be used for your student ID card if you get in, The same picture will be used for the entirety of your studies so make sure you look good.
4. Additional Written Work: You may need to submit one or two essays from relevant A Levels/IB courses. Keep in mind that that your interviewer will probably bring these essays up during your interview so make sure they are pieces you are proud of and can discuss in detail.
5. Pre-Interview/ At-Interview Exams: Yep, just like Oxford, most courses require additional exams to get in.
6. Interview(s): If you’re shortlisted (based on your ECF, grades, personal statement and the flag system aka the more hardships you’ve had, the more flags you get… it’s a good thing, promise), you’ll be invited to interview. Thankfully, around 80% of all applicants are interviewed so chances are, you’ll get one. Come prepared.
Cambridge University Requirements
First things first, the academic requirements:
ACT: 32+ New SAT: 1,460+ Advanced Placement Courses: 5 on at least 5 different exams IB: 40 and 42 points out of 45 with 776 in higher level subjects. ATAR: 98.5 overall with documentation of similar performance in relevant subjects HKDSE: 5s in three specified elective subjects, related to your course. SIPCAL: AAAA at H2 level or equivalent AS/A Levels: AAA or AA*A with at least three or four A levels in year 13 and 14
As with Oxford, these requirements are no joke. Not only that, just because you meet these requirements doesn’t mean you’ll get into Cambridge. You’ll need to go above and beyond to ensure that you stand out from the rest of the applicants.
Luckily, you’ll get the chance to do so in five places throughout your Cambridge application:
1. ECF 2. Personal Statement 3. SAQ 4. Additional Written Work 5. Interview
Since your teachers write your ECF, you aren’t in control of what goes into it. However, it does explain to the admissions officer why your grades may not be as high as they could be and gives your teacher a chance to tell admissions officers why you should be accepted. For every extenuating circumstance you have i.e. family illness or medical issue, you receive a flag and for every flag you get the more likely you are to get in over someone who is academically equal to you. Cambridge wants to ensure you have a fair chance regardless of what you’ve had to endure.
Your personal statement is another chance for you to stand out, except you can’t tailor it to Cambridge specifically since as it goes out to all of the unis you apply to. That being said, it does give you the opportunity to show off your passion and knowledge for your chosen subject.
Since your personal statement is sent to all of your unis, the same tips apply, regardless of where you are applying.
- Show your experience
- Reveal your motivation
- Talk about your future plans
- Draft early, read often
- Discuss your why
- Have opinions
- Edit, edit, edit
Most importantly, neither Oxford nor Cambridge are looking for “perfection” in your personal statement. Think of perfection as rigid and tailored, while passion is full of emotion and truth. Both unis (and all unis actually) are looking for passion.
Once you’ve perfected your personal statement, it’s time to write your SAQ. Your SAQ is literally the only chance, before the interview stage, to tell Cambridge exactly why you want to attend.
While the form itself is relatively long, think of the SAQ as a chance to personalise and extend your personal statement. You’ll need to thoroughly research Cambridge and your course to crush you SAQ so make sure you leave plenty of time to complete this portion of the application. Take it seriously but don’t repeat information you already wrote in your personal statement. Take the time to point out what makes Cambridge special to you.
Next up, your additional written work. Once again, this is a portion of the application that you have complete control over. you get to pick which samples you submit so make sure they are awesome! You’ll probably be asked about your work in your interview as well so the more connected you are to the pieces you submit, the more likely you are to do well in that part of your interview. Pick work that both shows your knowledge and yep, you guessed it, your passion.
The final opportunity you have to stand out and sparkle is in your interview. The interview can be really nerve wrecking but if you prepare accordingly and know what to expect, you’ll do great!
Take a look at some sample Cambridge interview questions:
- At what point is a person dead? (Medicine)
- Has the French Revolution ended? (History)
- How does a fridge work? (Engineering)
- Where’s our local limestone deposit? (Geography)
- Put a monetary value on this teapot. (Economics)
Don’t worry if you can’t answer these questions right away, that’s where practice comes in!
As part of your interview prep, it’s important to think deeply about why you’re interested in your specific course at Cambridge, keep up with current events and form critical opinions about them, and re-read your SAQ, personal statement, and additional written work.
The day of, just be yourself, make eye contact, and smile. You got this!
P.S. If you don’t get into Cambridge the first time around, don’t worry! Cambridge offers a second chance round called “pooling”. There’s a winter and a summer pool, which are designed to ensure that you don’t get denied simply due to lack of space in your college. Basically, if you’re placed in a pool you’ll either be re-interviewed (winter pool) or be asked to submit your most recent exam results (summer pool) and may get in the second time around.
University Fees and Financial Aid_
EU/UK students, your university fees are no different than they are at any other UK uni… £9,250 a year.
If you’re an international student, you’re looking at closer to £19,197-£50,130 a year, depending on your course. Yep, you read that correctly; your tuition could be as much as £50,130 A YEAR.
And, if you’ve learned anything by now, university fees are just the beginning of your costs.
Cambridge also utilises the college model, which means you won’t need to look for your own housing. However, it also means that, if you’re an international student, you’ll have to pay college fees.
First, let’s take a look at just the rent and living costs that both EU/UK citizens need to pay and international students need to pay. These fees are around £9,160 a year. On top of that, international students need to pay another £8,100 in college fees.
All in all, EU/UK citizens are looking at around £18,410 a year while international students are looking at between £36,457 and £67,390 a year.
Yikes! That’s pricey.
Unfortunately, the financial aid at Cambridge is very similar to that at Oxford.
If you’re an EU/UK student, you’re eligible for a tuition fee loan that covers your full tuition fee. Plus, you won’t need to repay it until your income is over £21,000 a year. You’re also eligible for maintenance loans, which cover your living expenses up to £8,430 a year.
Like Oxford, Cambridge also has bursaries available, but the household income cut-offs are a bit different. If your household income is £25,000 a year or less, you are eligible for £3,500 a year, and this amount decreases incrementally depending on your household income. If your household income is £42,620 or more a year, you are no longer eligible for the bursaries.
As an international student, you’re not eligible for any government support but there are some scholarships available through your college as well as a few depending on where you’re from. As always, your best option may be to ask your local government or companies from your hometown.
Best Courses to Study
Unlike Oxford, Cambridge offers education as an undergraduate course, so if you’re really interested in education your best bet is Cambridge.
Additionally, Cambridge has a flexible natural science degree that allows you to combine any biological or physical sciences to somewhat customise your studies. This is great if you have multiple scientific interests and don’t want to pick just one to study.
There are also slight differences between courses that are offered at both Oxford and Cambridge such as English and the exams you need to sit in each course. Basically, one of the best ways to decide whether to apply to Cambridge or Oxford (you can only apply to one) is to research which course you want to take and what that course entails.