How To Get Into Cambridge University - Requirements & Tips

Getting into Cambridge University
April 25, 2024
10 min read
Expert Reviewed


Reviewed by:

Mary Banks

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 4/25/24

Want to know how to get into Cambridge University? This article will give you a head start on the application process. 

Nestled within the historic city that shares its name, Cambridge University has been a beacon of academic excellence for centuries, drawing inquisitive minds from every corner of the globe. 

Aspiring to become a part of this venerable tradition requires more than just stellar grades; it demands a holistic approach encompassing unwavering dedication, rigorous preparation, and a deep-seated passion for learning. 

In this article, we delve into the multifaceted path of gaining admission to Cambridge, unveiling insights, strategies, and invaluable tips to guide prospective students through the intricate labyrinth of the application process. May it increase their chances of realizing the dream of studying at this prestigious institution.

Cambridge University Acceptance Rate: 20%

Across all colleges, Cambridge’s acceptance rate hovers around 20%. Widely recognized as one of the most competitive universities globally, this low rate reflects the institution’s uncompromising commitment to academic excellence and rigorous selection process. 

Successful candidates are typically among the most intellectually curious, motivated, and accomplished students who demonstrate exceptional potential to contribute to their chosen fields. To be accepted, you’ll need to make sure you craft a competitive application that’ll help you stand out.

How Hard Is It to Get Into Cambridge?

It can be quite hard to get into Cambridge, due in part to the high level of competition and stringent acceptance policies. The university's renowned reputation for academic excellence attracts a global pool of highly accomplished applicants each year, intensifying the competition for limited spots. 

Learning how to get into Cambridge University is undeniably a formidable challenge. The admission process is rigorous and holistic, evaluating not only academic achievements but also personal statements and recommendation letters, and often requiring successful performance in interviews or admissions tests.

Cambridge University Admissions Statistics 

Here are some stats from Cambridge University to help you evaluate your chances of getting in!

Cambridge Average GPA: 3.7

While Cambridge University does not use a GPA grading system, as it’s a UK-based school, you’ll still need top grades to get in. The average applicant to Cambridge has grades equivalent to about a 3.7 GPA, so you should aim for nothing less! Trying for a 4.0 GPA will always give you the best chance of acceptance. 

Cambridge Average SAT Score: 1500

Cambridge University requires applicants to have a minimum combined score of 1460 with a minimum 730 score in Evidence-Based Reading and Writing. However, if you want to study Science or Economics, you’ll need a minimum score of 1500. You’ll also need to score at least 750 in the Mathematics section. 

This means that you should aim for a score of 1500 or higher! The average SAT score at Cambridge is likely even higher than 1500, so study hard. 

Cambridge Average ACT Score: 34

Cambridge doesn’t declare their average incoming ACT score. However, considering that the minimum ACT score for Economics and Science courses is 33, and 32 for all other courses, you should aim for a score of at least 34 to beat the competition. 

What is Cambridge University Looking For In Applicants? 

Cambridge evaluates applications holistically, looking to admit applicants who are academically strong and well-rounded in their extracurricular activities. While every aspect of your application is important, Cambridge is most interested in your academic performance and ability. 

Here are the factors that Cambridge considers in their evaluations: 

  • Academic record
  • School/college reference
  • Personal statement
  • Any submitted written work
  • How well you do in your written admissions assessment
  • Contextual data
  • Performance at interview

For more info on how Cambridge evaluates applications, let’s talk about contextual data. This tool is vital for the university to understand an applicant's achievements within the broader context of their educational and personal circumstances. 

Recognizing that academic potential can be influenced by various factors, such as socioeconomic background, school performance, and access to resources, Cambridge's consideration of contextual data aims to ensure a fair and equitable assessment of each candidate. 

By factoring in this data, the university can identify promising individuals who have demonstrated remarkable achievements despite facing challenges. This approach aligns with Cambridge's commitment to creating a diverse and inclusive academic community where talent is recognized and nurtured irrespective of background. 

Cambridge University seeks to admit students who possess the potential to excel academically and make valuable contributions to the university's dynamic scholarly environment.

Cambridge Admissions Requirements

US applicants can submit SAT/ACT scores as part of their Cambridge application. At the minimum, students should score 1460 on the SAT and 32-33 on the ACT. However, you should exceed these minimums to give yourself the best chance of acceptance. A GPA of 3.7 or higher is considered competitive at this school. 

Cambridge's entry requirements serve as a testament to its dedication to academic excellence and the pursuit of knowledge. The specific requirements can vary based on the course of study and the individual college within the university, but they universally demand a strong foundation of academic achievement. 

Requirements may vary depending on your specific college and program, but here are the general requirements to apply to Cambridge University:

The holistic nature of the Cambridge application process aims to assess candidates not just for their academic prowess but also for their potential to contribute to the university's diverse academic community. 

While tailored to each college’s specific requirements, a Cambridge application should highlight an applicant's academic achievements, extracurricular pursuits, and any relevant experiences that have shaped their interests.

Cambridge Application Deadlines

Deadlines for Cambridge applications mark crucial milestones in the journey toward joining the university's esteemed academic community. These deadlines, varying depending on the course and applicant's status, are meticulously set to ensure a systematic and fair evaluation of all applications. 

They provide candidates with a clear timeframe to gather the required documents. Adhering to these deadlines is vital, as late submissions might not be considered. 

Here are some dates you’ll need to know when applying to Cambridge:

Application Step Deadline
UCAS applications open May 14, 2024
Booking for the UCAT admission test opens June 18, 2024
UCAT admission testing starts July 8, 2024
Registration for ESAT, TMUA, and LNAT opens August 1, 2024
UCAS submissions open September 3, 2024
Deadline to register for LNAT September 15, 2024
Deadline to register for ESAT and TMUA September 16, 2024
Deadline to register for UCAT September 19, 2024
Deadline to take UCAT September 26, 2024
Deadline to submit UCASDeadline to take LNAT or ESAT October 15, 2024
Deadline to take TMUA October 16, 2024
Deadline to submit My Cambridge Application, transcripts for international students, and ECF form October 22, 2024
Interview invitations sent out November 2024
Interviews take place First 3 weeks of December 2024
Notifications released January 2025
Testing dates for A levels, IB, and other exams May to June 2025
Exam results & final decisions released August 2025

Prospective students are encouraged to meticulously adhere to these deadlines, enabling themselves the best opportunity to showcase their potential and secure a place within the university's distinguished academic landscape.

How to Improve Your Chances of Getting Into Cambridge

Here are a few tips to increase your chances of getting into Cambridge:

  • Academic Excellence: Maintain consistently high grades throughout your academic career.
  • Subject Relevance: Choose subjects aligned with your desired course of study.
  • Personal Statement: Craft a compelling personal statement showcasing your passion, motivation, and suitability for the chosen field.
  • Admissions Tests: Prepare thoroughly for any required admissions tests, showcasing your subject-specific skills and analytical thinking.
  • Written Work: If applicable, submit well-crafted written work that highlights your academic abilities and research skills.
  • Contextual Data: Provide contextual information that helps the admissions committee understand your achievements in light of your circumstances.
  • Teacher References: Secure strong and supportive references from teachers who know you well.
  • Interview Preparation: Prepare thoroughly for interviews, demonstrating your analytical abilities and enthusiasm for your chosen subject.
  • Holistic Approach: Showcase a well-rounded profile by engaging in extracurricular activities, community service, or relevant work experiences.
  • Passion for Learning: Convey your genuine passion for learning and intellectual curiosity.
  • Research the Course: Show a deep understanding of your chosen course and how it aligns with your academic goals.
  • College Choice: Research different colleges within Cambridge and choose one that aligns with your interests and strengths.
  • Application Deadlines: Submit your application well before the deadline to avoid last-minute rush.
  • Attention to Detail: Double-check your application for accuracy and completeness.
  • Stay Authentic: Be genuine and authentic in your application, interviews, and interactions.
  • Perseverance: If you're not accepted on the first attempt, consider reapplying or exploring other pathways to reach your goals.

These tips will help give you a step up for your Cambridge application.

For more insight on your chances of getting into Cambridge, give our college admission calculator a try! 

Seek The Help of an Admissions Consultant 

Engaging an admission consultant to navigate the complex process of getting into Cambridge can be a strategic decision for certain applicants. These professionals offer specialized expertise and insights into the university's application requirements, helping candidates present the strongest possible application. 

Admission consultants can provide guidance on crafting compelling personal statements, preparing for admissions tests and interviews, and tailoring application materials to align with the specific course and college. 

They can also offer a valuable outside perspective, helping applicants highlight their unique strengths and experiences. However, it's crucial to approach this option with caution and research, ensuring that the consultant's services are reputable and ethical. 

While consultants can offer valuable assistance, applicants should still maintain authenticity, take ownership of their applications, and ensure that their individual voice shines through in the process.

Cambridge University Essay Prompts

The University of Cambridge asks applicants to submit a personal statement as a crucial part of their application. You should use your personal statement to reveal key aspects of your personality and character to the admissions committee as well as why you’re interested in studying your chosen major. 

This is a very open-ended prompt, so Cambridge University provides some guidelines and tips to help you get started: 

  • Consider all the things that you like about the subject you want to study
  • Consider your academic strengths and how they apply to your chosen field
  • Write several drafts and rework them 
  • You may find it easier to write the main body of your statement before writing the opening
  • Consider how you can tie everything together with a strong conclusion 
  • Have a friend, family member, or teacher proofread your statement
  • Use specific details 
  • Keep it relevant
  • Show your passion!

Depending on the courses you’re applying for, you may also need to submit supplemental written work. 

Cambridge University Interview

Interviews are a pivotal aspect of the Cambridge application process, offering candidates a unique opportunity to engage directly with faculty members and demonstrate their intellectual curiosity, critical thinking, and suitability for their chosen course of study. 

These interviews, conducted by subject experts, delve into the candidate's academic interests, problem-solving abilities, and desire to learn. They provide a platform to showcase one's ability to think on their feet, analyze complex concepts, and engage in rigorous academic discussions. 

Interviews are designed to assess an applicant's existing knowledge, as well as their potential for growth and development within Cambridge's intellectually stimulating environment. 

While rigorous, these interviews reflect the university's commitment to fostering an inclusive and diverse community of scholars who can contribute to the rich academic discourse that defines Cambridge University. Be sure to prepare thoroughly for your interview!

Cambridge University Admission FAQs:

Here are a few common questions about Cambridge University. 

1. How Many Colleges Are in Cambridge?

The University of Cambridge comprises a diverse and rich tapestry of 31 constituent colleges. Each of these colleges operates as an independent academic institution within the larger university framework, offering a distinctive academic and social community to its students.

From the historic and renowned Trinity College to the more contemporary and innovative Wolfson College, each institution contributes to Cambridge's vibrant academic environment, ensuring that students from all walks of life find a space that resonates with their aspirations and preferences.

2. What Grades Do You Need to Get Into Cambridge?

The grades required to secure admission to the University of Cambridge vary depending on the chosen course of study and the specific college within the university. Generally, Cambridge seeks applicants with exceptional academic achievements, often looking for top grades at the A-levels, International Baccalaureate (IB), or equivalent qualifications. 

While there is no fixed "cut-off" point, successful applicants typically demonstrate a strong track record of academic excellence in subjects closely related to their intended course. Additionally, Cambridge considers holistic aspects of an application, including personal statements, references, admissions tests, and interviews.

3. How Many Students Are at Cambridge University?

The University of Cambridge has an approximate student population of around 24,940. This number includes both undergraduate and postgraduate students pursuing a wide range of academic disciplines across the university's various colleges and departments. 

4. How Much Does Cambridge University Cost for International Students?

On average, undergraduate international students could expect to pay between £25,734 and £67,194. The tuition fees for international students at the University of Cambridge vary depending on the course and level of study. 

Prospective students should also consider the cost of living expenses. Cambridge gives a minimum estimate of £14,600 per year to cover all of your living expenses, though this number can vary greatly depending on your lifestyle. 

5. How Many UCAS Points Do You Need for Cambridge?

The University of Cambridge typically does not use the UCAS points system as the primary basis for admission. Instead, Cambridge assesses applicants based on their academic achievements, potential, and suitability for their chosen course. 

While UCAS points may be used by some universities to standardize offers, Cambridge's admissions process tends to focus more on academic grades, personal statements, references, admissions tests, and interviews. 

Meeting or exceeding the entry requirements for your chosen course is important, but the university places a strong emphasis on a holistic assessment of applicants. It's recommended to research the specific requirements for the course you're interested in and reach out to the university's admissions office for the most accurate and relevant information.

6. When Do Cambridge Interview Offers Come Out?

Cambridge interview offers are typically sent out in early to mid-December. These offers are extended to candidates who have been shortlisted after the initial assessment of their applications. 

The exact timing may vary slightly from year to year, and it's important to note that different colleges and courses within Cambridge may have slightly different timelines. If you're applying to Cambridge, it's recommended to keep a close eye on your email and any communication from the university during this period.

7. What Is Cambridge University Known for?

Cambridge University is renowned worldwide for its storied history, academic excellence, and contributions to various fields. Founded in 1209, it stands as one of the oldest and most prestigious institutions in the world, setting a benchmark for higher education. 

Cambridge is particularly renowned for its groundbreaking research and intellectual innovations across a wide array of disciplines, including science, mathematics, humanities, and social sciences.

The university's exceptional faculty and facilities have produced numerous Nobel laureates, groundbreaking scientific discoveries, and revolutionary advancements in literature, philosophy, and technology. The unique college system fosters an environment of personalized learning, encouraging students to engage in critical thinking, collaboration, and interdisciplinary exploration. 

Additionally, Cambridge's illustrious alumni network, which includes luminaries like Sir Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, and Stephen Hawking, further solidifies its reputation as a bastion of intellectual brilliance and innovation.

Final Thoughts

In the intricate tapestry of higher education, the journey toward applying to Cambridge University emerges as a path rich in challenges, opportunities, and transformative growth. 

Aspiring to join the ranks of this venerable institution demands not only exceptional academic achievements but also a profound passion for learning, an insatiable curiosity, and a dedication to personal and intellectual development. 

Throughout this article, we've shown you how to get into Cambridge University, from academic requirements and personal statements to admissions tests and interviews. 

While the road to securing a place at Cambridge may be arduous, it is precisely this journey that cultivates resilience, determination, and an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. With each application, a unique narrative is woven, reflecting the aspirations, experiences, and dreams of those who seek to become part of Cambridge's legacy.

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