Alongside our work with our Link Area schools, Trinity works directly with students from all over the UK to encourage and support them in applying to top universities. We have gathered here all the information potential applicants might find helpful.
Thinking About Applying to Cambridge?
Not yet chosen your A-levels? Have a look at this advice from the Russell Group of leading universities in their Informed Choices leaflet. For advice specific to Cambridge, have a look at the Subject Matters information pack, and be aware that individual colleges may have particular requirements; for example, Trinity has a list of acceptable A-level combinations here.
The official 2021 Prospectus has all the basics on courses and colleges – you can find it here. You might also want to take a look at the Alternative Prospectus – written by students for students, it’s especially useful if you’re trying to decide on a college, as it has crucial information like weekly rent, price of an average lunch, and an ‘ask a student’ button. Many colleges publish their own alternative prospectuses as well – check their websites.
Choosing the right university course might be the most important decision you’ve ever made! Start by reading the basic information on courses you’re interested in here, and then click through to the faculty websites for more details.
Application Information and Resources
Cambridge, along with Oxford, has a slightly different application process to other universities. This includes an earlier UCAS application date (15th October), the Supplementary Application Questionnaire (SAQ) and the interview process. This can all seem scary, but here are some useful resources to help you:
- Information on the application process and how it works can be found on the University website.
- If you are taking modular AS/A-levels, Cambridge asks for UMS results achieved so far on the Supplementary Application Questionnaire (SAQ) as part of the assessment process. This means that it’s really crucial to do as well as possible in your AS-levels.
- General information about interviews and what to expect can be found here, and don’t forget to check out our Interview Resources section.
Interviews are just one part of the Cambridge selection process, but there are a lot of myths surrounding them and applicants often get very nervous beforehand. Afterwards, though, almost everyone who has an interview will tell you that it wasn’t as a bad as they thought it might be! Interviews are like mini teaching sessions, and they are a chance for you to have an academic conversation with tutors – lots of people actually enjoy the experience of being able to talk to a top academic about their interests and experiences. You can find full information on the interview process here.
Affording university can be a bit of a daunting prospect. Cambridge is actually the perfect place to study if you need to look after the pennies, because of our exceptionally generous bursaries.
More information about the financial support available at Cambridge can be found here, and be sure to check out the facts on living costs and finance at Cambridge.
Check out the basics on tuition fees and student loans, as well as the government’s Student Finance page.
Cambridge also has great support available for students with disabilities. More information about the Disability Resource Centre and financial support can be found here, and have a look at the government’s information on Disabled Students’ Allowances.
Beyond the School Curriculum: Extracurricular and Outreach
It’s not just down to exam results – you need to apply for a subject that you find genuinely interesting, and explore it in your spare time.
Prospective applicants often worry about doing lots of extra-curricular activities like sports, music or volunteering. While these things are certainly worthwhile and it’s good to have a balance between academic work and activities outside the classroom, extra-curricular activities that aren’t related to your chosen course won’t affect your chances of getting a place at Cambridge. Instead, we focus on “super-curricular” activities: reading, research, taster courses and work experience relevant to your chosen university course.
Sometimes it’s hard to know where to start exploring beyond the curriculum, so Christ’s College have helpfully put together a collection of suggestions for wider reading, organised by subject. You could also start by asking your subject teachers for advice, and speak to librarians at school or in your local public library, as they’ll be able to direct you to lots of books and resources. If there’s a university near you, it’s worth investigating whether you can get access to their library, which will have the sort of academic books and journals you need.
Taster Courses and Summer Schools are a great way to try out a subject in a university environment – Cambridge offers all sorts of activities like this, but you could also investigate what Outreach and Widening Participation activities we organise. In addition, Trinity host an exciting new creative writing project in collaboration with author Ali Smith.
There are a number of resources available for students interested in studying at the University of Cambridge and the teachers and advisers who support them. Hopefully a lot of your questions will be answered by exploring our College website but, if not, here are some other helpful websites.
- University of Cambridge Admissions Pages
- University of Cambridge Virtual Tour
- Personal Statements Guide – The Cambridge Students’ Union released a useful guide to writing a Personal Statement, breaking down a lot of the misconceptions applicants (and sometimes teachers) have about writing a Personal Statement for Cambridge.
- University of Cambridge YouTube Channel – The Undergraduate Study playlist contains videos about many aspects of life at Cambridge, from the interview process to the first 48 hours of life at Cambridge.
- www.applytocambridge.com – This is the University’s Alternative Prospectus, written by the students, rather than by the staff. It contains a student perspective on each course and college, as well as information that you won’t find in the official prospectus (for instance, how much a drink in the bar costs, how many hours of work you get per week, and so on).
- Super-curricular suggestions – A selection of suggested reading lists and resources compiled in one handy document. These lists are NOT ‘required reading’ for Cambridge applicants. They simply provide some suggestions for places to start exploring your own interests in your chosen subject independently.
- Ask-A-Student – This service is run by CUSU (Cambridge University Students Union). You can send a message to the page and it will be passed on to a current Cambridge Student, who will respond to you. You can ask about anything; what the food is like at a particular college, what it’s like to learn a language from scratch, whether a particular society exists for an interest you might have, and so on.
- InsideUni – A student-led project with application advice from Cambridge students including a database of interview experiences
- HE+ is an access initiative run by Cambridge University to promote access to Higher Education. You’ll find online resources for a variety of subjects as well as useful additional reading and information for people interested in applying for courses at Cambridge.
- The Russell Group Website – Guidance for students from the Russell Group (24 of the UK’s top Universities, including Oxford, Cambridge, Manchester, Edinburgh, UCL and many more)
- Oxford & Cambridge Collaborative Outreach Network – Events and resources from the Universities of Cambridge and Oxford
- Cambridge Societies Directory – Wondering what societies and clubs you can get involved in at the University? Check out this list of over 700 societies on offer for our students!
Above all, don’t be afraid to get in touch and ask questions, if there’s anything you’re worried, curious or confused about! If you have any questions, or would like to know more, please email Lizzie, the Schools Liaison Officer.