Cambridge University Application Essay

If you want to apply to the University, you do so through UCAS. However, at Cambridge the process starts earlier to allow time for all of the application information to be gathered and considered. This section guides you through the process and explains what we’re looking for in prospective students and how we assess applications.

1. Choose a course

You’re going to be studying to a very high level for several years so make sure you choose a course you’re personally interested in and will really enjoy studying! Check, also, that you meet the entrance requirements of the course you want to study.

2. Choose a College

Where would you like to live when you’re here? In your UCAS application, indicate if you have a preference College or if you’re making an open application.

3. Apply

UCAS application

Submit your UCAS application by 15 October – our institution code is CAM C05.

Other application deadlines apply for those wishing to be interviewed in overseas countries, and for some mature applicants.

Supplementary Application Questionnaire (SAQ)

Shortly after submitting the UCAS application, you'll be asked (via email) to complete the Supplementary Application Questionnaire (SAQ) – a few extra questions requesting information not included in your UCAS application, which we find helpful. To make a valid application to the University of Cambridge, you must submit your SAQ by the deadline set. In the majority of cases this deadline will be 6.00pm (UK time) on 22 October 2018.

Cambridge Online Preliminary Application (COPA)

If you're living or attending school/college outside the EU and/or applying for an Organ Scholarship, you need to submit the Cambridge Online Preliminary Application (COPA), and the deadline for submitting this may be earlier than 15 October (see the relevant page for information).

There's an additional application form if you're applying for the Graduate Course in Medicine.


You may be required to submit an academic transcript.

4. Written assessment

Most applicants are required to take a written admission assessment, either pre-interview or at interview (if interviewed).

5. Interview

Everyone with a realistic chance of being offered a place is invited to attend an interview. That’s around 75 per cent of applicants each year.

6. Decision

We’ll advise you of our decision before the end of January.

School/college essays

For a number of our courses, mainly for arts and social sciences courses, you may be asked to submit one or two examples of your written work from a relevant A Level/IB (or equivalent) course. These should be as submitted to, and marked by, your teachers. A discussion of this work may then form part of your interview.

Information about which Cambridge Colleges typically ask for written work can be found in the relevant course information.

If this is required, the College that assesses your application will notify you about what sort of work this should be, where you should send it and the deadline for its submission (8 November for 2018). If you have any queries or doubts about what you should submit or by when, please contact the relevant College’s Admissions Office as soon as possible for clarification.

Your school/college will be asked to complete a cover sheet to verify it’s your own work and provide details of the circumstances in which it was written. If you're asked to send in some work, we recommend that you submit work that you’d be happy discussing during an interview and it's a good idea to make a photocopy before submitting it so you can re-read it before your interview.

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