Questions about Making an Application

Does the college I apply to affect my chances of getting an offer?

No, the admissions process is designed so that regardless of the college you apply to, or if you make an open application, this doesn’t affect your chances of being made an offer for either an interview or a place. There is also the 'pooling process' that means the best students get offers regardless of what college they originally apply to. 

What if I’m applying for different subjects at different universities?

Cambridge is aware that some of its courses are very specialised or run differently to studying similar subject areas at other universities (such as Natural Sciences). The general guidance is to write your personal statement suited to whatever course you are applying to at most universities. On submitting your application, Cambridge will email you with another form to fill in, the SAQ (Supplementary Application Questionnaire) asking for more details about you. In the SAQ there is additional space to write a “mini personal statement” suited to your course at Cambridge. It is, however, not compulsory to complete this section of the SAQ, so only use it if you have more to say about your subject and application!

Do I need to pass the admissions assessment?

None of the admissions assessments are pass-and-fail examinations with a minimum threshold. Every application is considered on a case-by-case basis (as part of a holistic process in which all parts are considered) and there are always a wide range of marks on any admissions test, even for those students who receive offers. The admissions assessments are designed to be challenging for all, and it will be very difficult to self-assess how you’ve done; it is therefore not worth worrying about how well or badly you think you did.

Should I make an open application?

If you make an open application you will be randomly allocated a college. This doesn’t affect your chances of being made an offer for either an interview or a place, as the college will not know if you directly applied there or not. Open applications are designed to even out the number of applications per place between colleges. If you genuinely can’t decide what college to apply to and have no specific requirements from a College, then making an open application could be the right option for you. Find out more on the Ucas open-application information page 

What is the SAQ?

The SAQ stands for Supplementary Application Questionnaire and is sent to all students on submitting an application to the University of Cambridge. It MUST be completed by the deadline for someone to be considered further in the admissions process. It asks for example for further details about your education and any extenuating circumstances so helps with looking at individual applications in context. There is also space for a “mini personal statement” which can be used to explain your motivation for applying to the course at Cambridge specifically, there is no obligation to fill this in and it will not affect your application in a positive or negative light.

If you do get a place, the photo on your SAQ will be used on your university card, so make sure that you’re happy with it  but don’t worry, nobody else will be paying any attention to it.

For more information on the SAQ please see the University's Information page on the SAQ.

Where do I sit the admissions assessment?

The admissions assessment is usually sat within your school or registered exam centre; everyone will complete it at the same time on the same day. Make sure your school registers you for the assessment by the deadline.

Do I have to sit an admissions assessment? When will it be?

Although a lot do, not all subjects have to sit an admissions assessment, so it is best to check out the specific course websites and the admission assesments information page