Admissions FAQs

Please see below for the answers to frequently asked questions on different admissions topics:

Applying to Trinity/Entry Requirements

How many places are available in different subjects?

Each year we admit about 90 students in Arts subjects and another 110 in the Sciences. We accept applications for all University courses apart from Education and Veterinary Medicine. There are no fixed quotas for individual subjects except in Medical Sciences. Typical entry numbers are available here. Normally we receive four to five applications for each place.

Does it matter if I don’t have top grades in all my GCSEs?

Certainly not. GCSE is just one of the factors taken into account. We are looking for potential as well as achievement. Remember though that competition for places is always severe and the majority of our applicants do come to us with 8 or more top grades at GCSE.

What happens if I‘m taking school exams other than A-levels?

Scottish Advanced Highers are treated in the same way as A-levels. We also regularly receive applications from – and make offers to – people taking a variety of other exams including the International Baccalaureate and the Pre-U. There is a separate page of information about Overseas Qualifications.

Do you consider applicants with A-levels that may be viewed as non-traditional?

If you wish to study an arts subject at Trinity, then yes, provided that you are also taking two conventional A-level subjects as well. Applicants for science subjects are expected to take traditional sciences/maths A levels. Further details are available here:

Is it better if I take four A-levels than three A-levels?

In most cases, there is no advantage to taking four subjects to A-level compared with taking three.  The exception is for those who are applying for science subjects who can benefit from taking Further Mathematics as a fourth subject.  Please see our Subject Notes for further information.  In general, candidates for Engineering, Computer Science and Natural Sciences who are only taking one science subject to A-level, alongside Maths and Further Maths, are at a disadvantage compared to those studying two sciences.  It is however perfectly fine for applicants to Mathematics to be studying only three A-levels, if these include both Maths and Further Maths.

Do you require applicants to take aptitude tests?

Applicants for Medical Sciences are required to do the BioMedical Admissions Test (BMAT); a strong performance in Section 2 of this test is important. Applicants for Land Economy are required to sit the Thinking Skills Assessment (TSA).  Applicants for other subjects should register to take an Admissions Assessment, if it is required for your subject.  Please see the information further down this page about the Admissions Assessments.

What is your view of vocational qualifications?

VCE A levels, GNVQs and/or BTECs do not prepare applicants sufficiently for Cambridge, so our offers do not include them. Similarly, the Advanced Engineering Diploma does not contain sufficient academic content to prepare applicants for our engineering courses and thus does not in itself provide a normal entry route. However, we may consider candidates with the Diploma provided that they are also taking A-levels in Maths and Physics and an AS level in Further Maths.

What is STEP and will I have to take it?

STEP means Sixth Term Examination Papers and is a set of Maths exams based on and used as a supplement to A-levels. They are taken in schools in June at the end of A-levels. Grades in STEP will normally form part of the offers Trinity makes for Mathematics (including Maths with Physics and for Computer Science with Maths) but not for other subjects.

Do you make offers to students who will be under 18 when they start university?

There is no formal age requirement for admission to Cambridge, but almost all undergraduates are 18 years or older when they come into residence. All applicants will need to convince both the College and the University Faculty or Department concerned that they have the maturity and personal skills to cope with undergraduate study at Cambridge.

Would you make offers to applicants who apply from the same school?

Yes. If it is felt that a candidate is worth an offer of a place, it is irrelevant whether or not there are other applicants from the same school.

What is Trinity’s attitude to ‘gap’ years?

We think that the decision whether or not to take a gap year is one for you to take, not us. If you plan to take a year out after school, we should be glad to consider an application for deferred entry.

… and to post A-level candidates?

Again, no problem. But if you intend to travel abroad in your gap year you should bear in mind that our interviews are held in early December.

I’ve finished one of my A-levels already.  If I’m offered a place, will this count towards my entry conditions?

If you still have relevant A-levels to take, our offers will be conditional upon achieving specified results in those A-levels.  If you have already taken an A-level, such as in Maths in Year 12, this may give us confidence in making you an offer for admission to the College.  Our conditional offers reflect our expectations that you will receive high marks in your Year 13 exams as well.  We do however look at each of these cases individually, and decide upon an offer that we feel is best suited to the specific circumstances of each student.

How do you assess applications from mature students?

If you are someone who left school several years ago we would not necessarily expect you to have the same qualifications as those coming straight from school. We would, however, expect you to be following – or to have recently completed – a programme of academic study, preferably one that culminates in a formal examination.

What about deferred entry?

We are happy to consider applications for deferred entry in any subject.

If I don’t receive an offer in January, can I still be considered in August?

No. We always make more offers than we have places and no candidate will be accepted in August unless he or she is already holding the offer of a place at Cambridge. Candidates who do not meet the requirements laid down in their offer may still be admitted once all the examination results have been received and we know how many places are available. Trinity does not enter the UCAS clearing system.

What about reapplying?

Again, no problem. But our standard advice is that applicants should try another college the second time around so that they (and their interviewers) do not find themselves repeating the previous year’s experience. Wait until you receive your examination results before making any decision about this.

Can I spend just one year or part of a year at Trinity?

Unfortunately not. Trinity does not take what we call ‘visiting’ students unless they come to us via an exchange scheme that has already been approved

Can I study for a combined degree?

Yes, we currently offer a combined degree in History and Modern Languages and in History and Politics. It is also possible to transfer from one Tripos to another if you have the appropriate academic background. Details can be found in the Cambridge Admissions Prospectus in the subject information section. At Trinity you will be considered for admission by the Admissions Officers in the subject that you want to study when you first come to Cambridge.

If I have already graduated elsewhere, can I apply to Trinity for another undergraduate course?

Yes, you can apply for an ‘Affiliated’ place here. An Affiliated student is eligible to graduate with a Cambridge BA in one year less than the normal length of the course. But the number of places available in this way is small – typically three or four each year – and the competition is therefore severe.

Is there an Alternative Prospectus for Trinity?

A copy of the alternative prospectus produced by the Cambridge University Students’ Union (CUSU) can be found here:

Admissions Assessments

Most applicants are required to take a written admissions assessment, either pre-interview or at interview. Please visit the individual course pages and the University website for further information.  The use made by Trinity of this year’s pre-admissions assessments will mainly be restricted to the process of deselection.  No candidate will be deselected solely on the basis of performance in the pre-admissions assessments.

In addition, we ask applicants for some courses to submit examples of their written work – one or two school/college essays – which may then be discussed at interview.  For further details, see the individual course pages at .


What happens at interview?

Interview procedures vary from subject to subject, and sometimes from year to year depending on the Admissions Officers concerned. Details are sent to all applicants when we acknowledge their application. The interview period is at the beginning of December each year.  We invite to interview all applicants who we think stand a realistic chance of receiving an offer, either directly from Trinity or from another Cambridge College via the Inter-College Pool.  Applicants from outside Europe may be able to apply for an interview in the Far East, South or Southeast Asia, or North America. Note however that this doesn’t apply to all subjects, and there may be earlier deadlines for applications. Further information is available on the university website. Try not to be nervous! Be yourself and wear something you are comfortable in!

Who interviews applicants?

Everyone who is interviewed at Trinity is seen by at least two people either separately or together. In most cases both interviewers will be members of the College’s teaching staff in the subject for which you’ve applied. But in some small subjects the College may have only one teaching officer and the second interviewer would then either be the Tutor for Admissions or a teaching officer in a related subject.

How many interviews will there be?

The commonest format at Trinity is two separate interviews with different people, each lasting about 30 minutes. Sometimes there is a single, longer interview – roughly 50 minutes – at which you are seen by two people together. More information can be found in the notes on individual subjects. When there are two interviews, one is often of a specialised character; it might, for example, concentrate on written work you were asked to submit in advance. There will be short written tests in Architecture, Classics, Computer Science, Engineering, English, History of Art, Law, Modern & Medieval Languages, Music, Mathematics, Philosophy and Natural Sciences. Whatever the details may be, and in some subjects these change slightly from year to year, you will be told what they are well ahead of time.

Can I ‘prepare’ for an interview?

Not really, at least not in the usual sense of the word. In fact we neither expect nor want people to spend time revising topics they think might come up – but rarely do. All you need is to be up to date with your school work, to have read carefully any material given to you ahead of the interview, and to remind yourself of what you wrote in any essays you may have submitted. The one way you can prepare yourself, however, is psychologically: You must arrive ready to discuss serious matters at some length and to think hard about the questions that come up in the discussion.

Financial support for interview travel costs

To enable applicants to come to interview in Cambridge, the Colleges are pleased to provide support for travel costs to students who are in local authority care and/or are currently in receipt of free school meals and who attend a UK maintained sector school/college. Public transport travel costs between £20 and £80 will be reimbursed, and the Colleges will contact eligible applicants directly with further information when they are invited to interview.

Living at Trinity

Can I live in Trinity throughout the length of my course?

We offer accommodation for the duration of the undergraduate course but you cannot choose a particular room. In your first year you are allocated a room within a price bracket of your own choosing. After that rooms are allocated by ballot: the higher up the ballot you are, the more likely you are to get your first choice of room. Most of the first-year rooms are in Blue Boar Court and the Wolfson Building – just across Trinity Street from the Great Gate. Many second years have rooms in Burrell’s Field, a relatively new development within College on the other side of the Fellows’ Garden. And in your third year you may be able to live in Great Court. All rooms are connected to the computer network. You do not have to share a set of rooms unless you wish to do so and everyone has their own bedroom.

Is it expensive to live and study at Trinity?

Not particularly. Have a look at the general information in the Cambridge Admissions Prospectus. Home students may be eligible to apply for a Cambridge Bursary when they come into residence. European Union students may apply for a Cambridge European Trust award but funds are limited and only particularly deserving candidates can be nominated. Overseas students are eligible for various awards from the Cambridge Commonwealth/Overseas Trusts and for a Trinity Overseas Bursary. Once an offer of an academic place has been made the awards application form is sent to those candidates who request it. However, competition is severe and full-cost awards very rare.

So far as accommodation is concerned, current charges at Trinity are in the range £3,150 – £4,650 per annum, including central heating. There is an annual fixed kitchen charge of £526.41 plus a cash payment for individual meals, e.g. £3.87 for breakfast, £4.40 for a two-course lunch and £4.95 for a three-course dinner (2017-18 prices).

Scholarships and prizes are available for students who do well in examinations and there are grants for travel, books and equipment.

Undergraduate Finance