Deciding upon a course and a college
To find out about the subjects we teach at Trinity, we recommend you look through the College prospectus and the information about individual subjects. We accept applicants to all the subjects taught in the University of Cambridge, except Education and Veterinary Medicine.
If you are thinking of applying, you might find it helpful to attend one of the College’s Open Days or residential visits held in spring and early summer. These provide an opportunity to learn more about the College and its admissions procedures, to meet some of the Directors of Studies and discuss the content of University courses and the way in which the teaching system works. Open Days and Residentials are popular and must be booked.
If you do attend one of our events in Cambridge, take the opportunity to see several colleges. It is important to remember that all the colleges follow the same University courses, and lectures and practicals are the same for everyone studying a particular subject. Your college is responsible for providing the individual tuition which is characteristic of the Cambridge system; and in Trinity’s case we also provide accommodation for you to live in for the duration of your stay at Cambridge.
Each year, Trinity admits around 200 students, usually about 90 in Arts subjects and 110 in the Sciences. There are no fixed quotas for individual subjects except in Medical Sciences. Normally we receive four to five applications for each place, and you can see the numbers admitted each year on the individual subjects pages and the university application statistics page.
Trinity’s typical A level offer is A*AA in Arts subjects and A*A*A in Science subjects. A* grades are often required in subjects relevant to an applicant’s proposed Cambridge course, although many of our offers do not specify in which subjects the A*s must be achieved. The specific requirements by subject are listed on the individual subjects pages. For example, in Mathematics, applicants will normally be asked to achieve A* grades in both Mathematics and Further Mathematics.
The typical offers are those we give most frequently to candidates to whom we make offers of a place. We do however vary that typical offer sometimes depending on individual circumstances. When deciding upon the offer, we bear in mind both your individual academic record, your school predictions, and our assessment of your strengths and weaknesses after the interview. If we set you a more challenging offer than usual, which you go on to miss narrowly but still achieve the grades requirement for the standard offer, we will still consider you for entry when you receive your results; if we decide not to admit you to Trinity, we will ensure other Colleges have the opportunity to make you an offer instead (through the ‘Summer Pool’).
Although our typical offer is A*AA/A*A*A, the majority of our successful applicants go on to receive three A* grades at A level. Post-A level applicants should be aware that to be competitive they would normally need an A* in at least two subjects for the Arts and three subjects for the Sciences.
For applicants taking Scottish Advanced Highers, our typical offer is AAA. For those taking Pre-U examinations, a D2 mark will be treated roughly as equivalent to an A* at A level. Those taking the International Baccalaureate are expected to achieve a total of 42, with marks of 7 in relevant Higher Level subjects. We regularly receive applications from – and make offers to – people taking a variety of other exams: see the separate page of information about overseas qualifications.
Across all your prior qualifications, the subjects you have studied matter as well as the grades you have achieved. When you are applying, it is important to make sure you are clear that your prior subject choices don’t leave you at a disadvantage in the application process for your chosen subject, so please look at the page on preferred A-level subject combinations.
For A-level students, we are principally interested in your three most relevant subjects. There is usually no advantage for your application to be taking a fourth subject to A level. The exception is that for university applications to engineering, computer science, natural sciences and economics, it is often important to be taking Further Maths as a fourth A level, alongside Maths and two other subjects. If you are applying for Mathematics, however, it is perfectly fine to be taking an A level combination of Maths, Further Maths and one other subject, as you will be asked to take the Sixth Term Examination Paper (STEP) in Maths in June if you receive an offer.
We don’t have a minimum number of GCSEs at which you must have a score of 8 or 9, or an A*, and GCSEs are just one of the factors we take into account when we look at your application. We are looking for potential as well as achievement in your application.
We commonly receive specific questions about the suitability of particular qualifications, and we are happy to answer those questions. Please though do first check our list of frequently asked questions.
The application process
To apply to any degree programme within the University of Cambridge, you need to submit an application to the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). Once submitted, your application will be considered by the Cambridge College that you list as your preferred choice. The deadline for UCAS applicants is 6pm (UK time) on 15 October.
When you submit your UCAS form, you need to list Cambridge as one of the maximum of five universities to which you can apply in any one year, entering Trinity under the heading ‘location’. Application through UCAS is essential even for those resident outside the UK.
When we acknowledge receipt of your application, we will send you details of the form the interview or interviews will take, of written assessments you may be set, and of any written material you have to send us in advance. These details vary according to subject, so please check those details carefully. All applicants are asked to complete an additional supplementary application questionnaire (SAQ).
For some subjects, principally the sciences and economics, applicants also need to register to sit a pre-interview assessment, which most applicants sit in their schools. Please visit the individual course pages and the university page on admissions assessments to check if you need to register. For most subjects that require a pre-interview assessment, the deadline for registration is also 15 October. The exceptions are Medicine, for which applicants should register for the BioMedical Admissions Test (BMAT) by 1 October, and Computer Science, for which applicants should register for the Test of Mathematics for University Admission (TMUA) also by 1 October. Please be aware that if you do not register for the pre-interview assessment by the deadline, we are unlikely to consider your application further. Applicants for subjects that have an at-interview assessment (that is, taken on the day of an interview) do not need to register separately to take this assessment.
Interviews are usually held in the first full week in December, and decisions are sent to candidates early in the New Year. If you are made an offer and are still at school, it will normally be conditional on the results of exams you have yet to take. If you are unsuccessful at Trinity, you may still receive an offer of a place at another college through the system called the inter-college ‘pool’. You will be told whether you receive an offer through the pool directly from the college that has selected you in early January.
If you wish to apply for an Organ Scholarship or Choral Award, you should also look at the information about Music Awards on the University website. Applicants for Organ Scholarships need to submit an online application by 1 September, although the UCAS application is not needed until 15 October.
If you are applying from outside the UK, and you are selected for interview, we will arrange a remote interview with you. These remote interviews are usually held via Zoom, and are conducted along the same lines as if you were being interviewed in person, and in the same time period. We encourage you to make sure you can have access to a good internet connection. In some science subjects, we may also ask you to have access to a drawing tablet so that your written work can be seen by the interviewers during the interview, and will notify you well in advance if you require this. Some applicants from outside the UK may be aware that there is the possibility for some Cambridge Colleges to be interviewed by an ‘overseas interview team’, but at Trinity we would like you to meet the people who will go on to teach you. Therefore, please do not select to be interviewed by the overseas interview team. This also means you do not need to apply by the earlier deadline.
Assessments and interviews
Most of our applicants need to take a standard written test, either a pre-interview assessment, which will be held in November 2021, depending on the assessment, or an at-interview assessment, which is taken on the same day as your interview. For the pre-interview assessment, you need to register by 15 October, as mentioned above, unless you are applying for Computer Science or Medicine which have an earlier deadline. Please visit the individual course pages and the university page on admissions assessments for more information.
We use the pre-interview assessment mostly to help decide whether to invite you to interview. It is not a pass/fail test, and no-one is deselected from interview solely on the basis of a bad performance in their pre-interview assessment.
Quite a few subjects at Trinity also have a written or reading test as part of the interview, and some subjects ask you to submit examples of written work, such as school essays, to us in advance. If any of these are required, it is mentioned on the individual course pages and you will be informed by email once you apply.
We invite to interview all applicants who we think stand a realistic chance of receiving an offer, either directly from Trinity or from another college via the inter-college ‘pool’. Interviews at this college are usually held in the first full week in December.
How interviews work vary from subject to subject, and sometimes from year to year. 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 could be a teaching officer in a related subject or a teaching officer from a different college. Most interviews will be 25-30 minutes if your subject has two interviews, or 40 minutes if your subject has only one interview. You will be sent details of your interviews – or notice that you haven’t been called to interview – in mid-November, around three weeks before interviews begin.
We do not expect you to prepare for the interview, in the sense of revising topics that you think might come up. If you are in a subject that takes pre-interview assessments, we do not ask about the content of those assessments in the interview, unless we have specifically told you so with the interview invitation and returned the assessment to you. However, if you were asked to submit essays in advance, it is worthwhile to remind yourself what was in those essays.
The one way you can prepare yourself 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. To give you a sense of what an interview of this sort is like, we have filmed two mock examples in full, one in the sciences and one in an arts subject: these can be viewed on our interview page.
We are happy to reimburse public transport travel costs to interview of between £20 and £80, if you in receipt of free school meals and attend a UK maintained school or college, or if you are in local authority care. We will be in touch with you about this after you apply if you are eligible.
- Information for current applicants
From September until January, we put information for those who are applying up onto the current applicants page, which provides information, updates and reminders for those waiting to hear about their applications. It’s useful to check this page every few days, although we will email you as well when there is specific information about your application.
If there is anything else you’d like to know, please feel free to contact the Admissions Office on [email protected].