The Cambridge admissions process can be seen in the diagram below:
What could be simpler? Just in case you didn’t get that first time, here are a few explanatory notes on each stage:
Choose course and College
It doesn’t particularly matter what college you choose. Ask anyone at Cambridge what the best college is and they will inevitably say their own, which shows that everyone ends up happy wherever they are. It is not true that some colleges are easier to get in to than others so the best thing to do is just look around some and go with your gut instinct on what feels right. Some factors to consider might be size (in terms of student population), architecture, proximity to the middle of town, and facilities. Overall though, don’t worry about it too much, your choice of course is much, much more important!
This is fairly self-explanatory really, and the same for every university you apply to. The Cambridge Extenuating Circumstances Form is an option to give the university further information for one of two reasons. You can use it if either:
Few people from your school/college have previously progressed to higher education AND there is no history of higher education in your family…
your education has been significantly disrupted by problems due to health, personal problems, disability or problems with schooling
For more information go here.
The SAQ is a short online questionnaire which Cambridge uses to get a little more information from you on a variety of things. Don’t worry about it, there are no trick questions and its mainly to used to get a more rounded idea of you as an applicant.
Admissions Assessments and Written work
No matter which college you apply to, there will be an admissions assessment that all applicants to Cambridge for your subject will do. This isn’t a test, and doesn’t determine whether you’re offered a place, but is just one part of the ‘bigger picture’ of your whole application. There is no specific syllabus for these assessments, and are just to give a sense of you as an applicant. You can find example papers at http://www.undergraduate.study.cam.ac.uk/applying/admission-assessments. Depending on the college you apply to, you may also be asked to send in some written work or sit a short assessment at interview. Please refer to individual college websites for more details.”
Interviews are one stage of the application process, but they are not the be all and end all. The key is not to worry too much! Yes, do read around your subject and be prepared for an academic discussion with an expert in your area, but don’t kill yourself reading a libraries worth of books you’re not going to remember. The Cambridge Admissions Office have some really good guidance on what interviews are likely to hold and how to prepare for them, found here.
There are three possible results for your application. You might get accepted, in which case congratulations! All you have to do is meet your offer, which will probably be A*AA for an arts subject and A*A*A for a science subject if you’re doing A-levels. If you’re less lucky you might get a rejection in which case you’ll probably be off to one of the many other world class universities in Britain. Finally you might be pooled, which means you haven’t got in to your first choice college but if you’re lucky you may be picked up by another college and interviewed again, or even straight up accepted. This is the university’s way of making sure the standard of successful applicants is consistent across all the colleges. Whatever happens, Cambridge is not the be all and end all so don’t worry too much!
For more information on the Cambridge Admissions process you can go to the central university website found here.