How To Get Into Cambridge University

How To Get Into Cambridge University

Cambridge University is one of the most prestigious universities in the UK, known for its academic excellence and rich history. It’s a part of Russell Group universities. In the latest QS World University Ranking report for 2023, Cambridge takes second place behind MIT and before Oxford. Which makes Cambridge the best university in the UK for 2023.

Getting accepted into Cambridge can be a “dream come true” for many ambitious school leavers and students. However, applying to Cambridge can be highly competitive, requiring the best grades from applicants. 

We will try to help increase your chances to get into Cambridge University with our advice, proposed steps and strategies.

How to get into Cambridge: Admission Requirements

Before explaining the easiest way how to get into Cambridge, it is crucial to understand the admission requirements set by Cambridge University. This will give you an idea of what the university is looking for in prospective students and help you align your qualifications and prepare your application.

Cambridge University, renowned for its academic excellence, has a strict admission process (see more Oxbridge application process) that seeks to identify the most talented and dedicated individuals. 

By evaluating your A-Levels, the university considers various other factors to ensure that you are a good fit for their student community: 

Cambridge Entry Requirements (Academic Qualifications)

Cambridge University expects students to have strong academic qualifications. Entry requirements are very high. They expect good A grades in relevant subjects. To get into Cambridge University for the typical conditional A-Level offer you will need A*AA or A*A*A in relevant subjects (or equivalent IB score, or AS-Level etc), depending on the course. 

According to the official Admission report, 97.9% of accepted applicants have achieved the equivalent of A*AA or better counting only their best three A Levels in 2022.

A strong academic background showcases the student’s ability to handle the rigour of Cambridge’s demanding coursework.

However, it is not just about having good A-Levels or equivalent grades. Cambridge values intellectual curiosity and a genuine passion for learning and innovation. 

The university looks for candidates who have gone beyond the confines of their syllabus, engaging in independent research, attending academic conferences, or participating in advanced courses to deepen their knowledge in their desired course.

QualificationAdmission Entry Requirements
A LevelsTypically offer from A*A*A-A*AA
Scottish Highers and Advanced HighersIn general min require A1, A2, A2 or A1, A1, A2.
International Baccalaureate (IB)From 40-42, with 776 in higher level subjects
European Baccalaureate (EB)85% with min scores 9 or more in relevant subjects
Hong KongCore subjects: Grades 5 in all subjects and grades of 5* in one or two relevant subjects.
Elective subjects: 5*5*5-5*55 depending on the course.
Cambridge Entry Level Requirements

All students must have a strong personal statement and prepare for course exams. 

English Language Proficiency

If you are an international student, it is important to demonstrate proficiency in the English language. Cambridge University requires non-native English speakers to provide proof of their language skills by taking an English language proficiency test, such as the IELTS or TOEFL. Achieving a high score on these tests is crucial for your UCAS application to be considered.

Learn more: UCAS Application Process for International Students 

Cambridge Application Process

Once you have a clear understanding of the entry admission requirements, it is time to start working on your Cambridge application. A strong UCAS application with a good personal statement for Cambridge needs to show achievements but also highlight the unique qualities and experiences that make you an excellent fit for Cambridge University and the student community.

Despite the rigorous admission process, 22470 students applied to Cambridge in 2022.

Only 3544 students are accepted, which makes Cambridge’s acceptance rate 15.7% for 2022.

Cambridge University, renowned for its academic excellence, innovation and rich history, attracts students from all over the world, and all want to study at the famous university. However, it’s not only enough to have the best grades to get into Cambridge. In 2022, 6993 applicants who have the equivalent of A*AA or better grades failed to get accepted at the University of Cambridge.

If you are preparing for the application process, it is important to keep in mind the university’s high standards and the level of competition you will be facing. You will meet some of the future best brains and leaders in their fields. 

When preparing your Cambridge application (see also Oxbridge application process), it is critical to pay attention to every detail. From the personal statement to the reference letters to entry exams, and interviews. Each component plays an important part in presenting a good picture of who you are as a student and individual.

How to apply to Cambridge University, application timeline

Writing a Cambridge Personal Statement

One of the main components of your UCAS application is the Cambridge personal statement (see Oxbridge personal statement examples). 

This is your opportunity to introduce yourself to the admissions tutors and explain why you are interested in studying at Cambridge University. It’s important to know that tutors spend very little time reading personal statements. They will never go back to read again your statement. 

So, take the time to write a good personal statement that reflects your passion, academic achievements, goals, and what you can contribute to the university community.

When writing your personal statement, be sure to highlight relevant experiences, such as internships, volunteer work, or extracurricular activities that demonstrate your skills and qualities. 

It is important to align your personal statement with the specific course you are applying for. Show that you pay attention to these details and that you are focused on the course. 

Research the curriculum and faculty members of the department you are interested in and tailor your statement accordingly. This will demonstrate your genuine interest and commitment to your chosen course of study.

Recommended for reading:

Written assessments: Entry Exams

For some courses, Cambridge University requires applicants to take Written assessments for what they need to do pre-registration at the authorised assessment centre. 

These assessments are exams that assess your subject-specific knowledge and academic aptitude. To excel in these written assessments, it is important to familiarise yourself with the exam format, prepare on time, and seek additional help if needed. Below is the table with courses and exams.

Course at Cambridge UniversityWritten assessment
Chemical Engineering and BiotechnologyNatural Sciences Admissions Assessment (NSAA)
Computer ScienceTest of Mathematics for University Admissions (TMUA)
EconomicsTest of Mathematics for University Admissions (TMUA)
EngineeringEngineering Admissions Assessment (ENGAA)
LawNational Admissions Test for Law (LNAT)
Medicine (Standard Course A100)BioMedical Admissions Test (BMAT)
Natural SciencesNatural Sciences Admissions Assessment (NSAA)
Veterinary MedicineNatural Sciences Admissions Assessment (NSAA)
Cambridge Written assessments for each course

Dedicate enough time to prepare for these exams to showcase your academic potential. It’s crucial to pass with the highest possible grade. In most cases, this is the lamination phase for most of the applications who want to get into Cambridge University. 

What is the fee for pre-registration assessment (exam)?

All applicants must pay an entry fee to take the BMAT, LNAT and TMUA. Please check the specific assessment page.

Reference Letter is important

A strong Reference letter from a teacher can confirm your academic abilities, character, and potential for success with the Cambridge application. It is best to choose teachers or tutors who know you well and can speak to your strengths and accomplishments. Provide your referees with enough time to write personalised and detailed letters that highlight your unique qualities. Inform them about deadlines, since the application deadline for Cambridge is in mid-October. 

Keep in mind the referee will need to submit a Reference letter to the UCAS Hub. 

Consider reading:

Navigating the Interview Process at Cambridge

If your application is shortlisted, you will be invited for a Cambridge interview as part of the admission selection process. The interview provides the admissions tutors with an opportunity to assess your aptitude for your chosen course. Interviews help tutors to make better admissions decisions.

Keep in mind the majority of applicants will be invited for an interview. Usually, Cambridge interviews are in the first three weeks of December.

Almost all interviews at Cambridge are online. Only a few colleges will interview candidates in person. These colleges are Gonville & Caius, King’s, Pembroke, Peterhouse, Selwyn, and Trinity.

For all international students and applicants, interviews are online

When it comes to the interview process at Cambridge, there are a few key factors to keep in mind. First, it is crucial to understand that the interview is not just a formality. It is a chance for the admissions office to get to know you better and evaluate your potential as a student at the university.

Preparing for the interview is essential to make a positive impression. Before the interview, it is important to familiarise yourself with common interview questions for your intended course. 

What will I be asked?

Interviews are usually  discussion-based, academic and subject-related, so most of the questions will be:

Preparing for Interview

When it comes to preparing for the interview at Cambridge, it is not just about rehearsing learned answers to potential questions. You will need to show good problem-solving abilities, intellectual and independent approach,  ideation and analytical reasoning.

So, research well course you are applying for, but go further – try to cover the entire subject. Show that you have a great understanding and ability to analyse subject trends. 

Then, cover all possible questions from your personal statement, and written assessment. The most challenging questions will come from these. 

Admission tutors want to see individuals who are intellectually curious, independent, motivated, and capable of engaging in academic discussions.

Common Interview Questions and How to Answer Them

During the interview, you can expect questions that assess your passion for your subject, your ability to think critically, and your potential to contribute to the university community. It is important to be well-prepared and confident in your responses.

One common question you may encounter is, “Why did you choose this particular course?” This question allows the interviewers to gauge your level of interest and understanding of the subject. 

Another common question is, “Why you are with us today?” This question aims to assess your problem-solving skills and resilience. When answering this question, be sure to provide a specific example. 

In addition to these questions, you may also be asked about your academic achievements, extracurricular activities, and any relevant experiences that demonstrate your genuine interest and commitment to your chosen subject. 

Be prepared to discuss these aspects and provide concrete examples that will show your intellect, skills and accomplishments.

Practise Talking About Your Subject

To prepare for talking about your chosen subject, practice having conversations with people you know, like friends, family members, tutors and teachers. Ask someone who doesn’t know you very well, like a friend of a friend, to interview you as practice for responding spontaneously to questions from a stranger.

You could also try asking yourself questions out loud for 30 minutes. This can help you get comfortable talking about yourself, and your work, and thinking critically.

But don’t over-prepare or memorise set speeches. It’s better to listen carefully to the actual questions asked and respond naturally, rather than worrying about recalling rehearsed answers. 

The goal is to be able to have a genuine, engaged conversation about your interests and ideas with admission tutors.

Choosing the Right Course and College at Cambridge

Choosing the right university course and Cambridge College is a crucial decision when it comes to pursuing higher education. 

It sets the foundation for your academic journey and can greatly impact your overall study experience and student life. However, if you are planning to apply to Cambridge be sure that offers a wide range of courses and a unique college system. 

Each college at Cambridge has a different culture, teachers, and accommodation etc. Before you decide on college, please read some of the guides:

What Courses You Can Study at Cambridge

It’s not just “How to get into Cambridge?”.Course decision is the most important decision for you as an applicant. When considering Cambridge University, it is important to thoroughly research the courses offered to ensure they align with your academic interests and goals. 

The university offers a diverse range of programmes across major disciplines. From sciences to humanities, social sciences to engineering, there is something for everyone.

See the full list of courses at Cambridge:

  • Anglo-Saxon, Norse, and Celtic
  • Archaeology
  • Architecture
  • Asian and Middle Eastern Studies
  • Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology
  • Classics
  • Computer Science
  • Design
  • Economics
  • Education
  • Engineering
  • English
  • Foundation Year in Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (pre-degree course)
  • Geography
  • History
  • History and Modern Languages
  • History and Politics
  • History of Art
  • Human, Social, and Political Sciences
  • Land Economy
  • Law
  • Linguistics
  • Management Studies (Part II course)
  • Manufacturing Engineering (Part II course)
  • Mathematics
  • Medicine
  • Medicine (Graduate Course)
  • Modern and Medieval Languages
  • Music
  • Natural Sciences
  • Philosophy
  • Psychological and Behavioural Sciences
  • Theology, Religion, and Philosophy of Religion
  • Veterinary Medicine

Choosing a course that keeps you engaged and motivated throughout your studies is essential for a fulfilling student experience.

Choosing College at Cambridge

One unique aspect of Cambridge University is its college system. Each college has its distinct character, facilities, and traditions, contributing to the vibrant and diverse university community. 

When choosing Oxbridge colleges consider factors such as location, accommodation, and extracurricular opportunities when evaluating the different colleges. 

Some colleges are located in the heart of the city, while others are situated outside of the city centre. Student Accommodation at Cambridge colleges can vary, with some colleges offering traditional dormitory-style rooms and others providing modern facilities.

Furthermore, each college has its range of extracurricular activities, societies, and clubs, which can greatly enhance your university experience. Whether you are interested in sports, music, drama, or community service, there is likely a college that aligns with your interests.

Choosing the right course and the best college at Cambridge University requires careful consideration and research. 

Financing Your Education at Cambridge

Getting into Cambridge University comes with financial considerations. Student finance can be a big obstacle. It is important to plan how you will finance your education in advance.

Tuition and Living Costs

Research and understand the tuition fees and living costs of studying at Cambridge University. Take into account factors such as accommodation, food, books, and other expenses. Create a budget to ensure that you have a realistic estimate of the costs involved.

Scholarships and Financial Aid Options

Explore scholarship opportunities and financial help for students as options available to UK and international students. Cambridge University and UK government offers several scholarships and bursaries for students who demonstrate financial need or academic excellence. It is important to research the eligibility criteria and application deadlines for these funding opportunities.

How to get into Cambridge University: Final Thoughts

Getting into Cambridge University requires careful application planning, thorough research, and dedication to your academic pursuits. By understanding the admission entry requirements, preparing a competitive application, navigating the interview process, and choosing the right course and college, you can increase your chances to get into Cambridge. 


Is it hard to get into Cambridge University?

Cambridge’s application process is highly competitive. It’s really hard to get into Cambridge if you are not a great student. Only 15.7% of applications get accepted.

How to get into Cambridge University as an international student?

The process for international students is the same. Additionally, you will need to pass the English language requirements. Read more about UCAS Application for International students.

Is it harder to get into Oxford or Cambridge?

It’s not easy to say. Both universities are competitive with similar acceptance rates. You have a chance only to apply to one. Read more: How to Get into Oxford University

What grades do I need to get into Cambridge?

To have a chance to get into Cambridge, the admission body typically requires an A*AA or A*A*A in relevant subjects or equivalent grades, as an entry requirement.