How to Apply

Students sitting on bench at Wychfield

We welcome you to apply to Trinity Hall, whatever your educational background. Make the most of our advice on this page to ensure you understand everything you need to do before and during the application process.

Key steps

Applying to Cambridge is a largely standardised process, but there may be some additional steps you need to fulfil to apply to the course or college you want.

  • The core elements of the application process are:
  • UCAS application
  • My Cambridge application
  • written work, pre-interview and at-interview assessments
  • interview
  • teacher reference
  • extenuating circumstances form.

Choosing a course

Take your time to choose the right course. At university, there are a number of subjects you can study that aren’t available at school or college. Think about your strengths, passions and future career ideas to find the right course for you. If you make a good choice for your circumstances, this will shine through on your application form, and will drive you to succeed. Use this video and explore the options on our courses pages.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact our admissions team at

Choosing a college

Your college will become your base and a home-from-home for the duration of your degree. While each college has its own feeling, most students are not disappointed by their choice of college. Consider things such as whether you want a larger or smaller college, and if you’d prefer to be in a particular location. Many applicants wonder if some colleges are easier or harder to get into than others. However, the university’s application process is designed to ensure that this is not the case, and there is sufficient moderation across all colleges that the best applicants are successful regardless of which college they apply to.

Student enjoying a coffee

Personal Statement

The personal statement on your UCAS form is your opportunity to tell us why you’re interested in the course, and what you have done to develop your understanding of your chosen subject. At Cambridge we are particularly keen to hear about your academic pursuits and how they relate to your chosen course, so make sure the academic aspects take up more space than your non-academic achievements on the form.

As well as the UCAS personal statement, you will also have an opportunity to complete a Cambridge-specific application form. This includes a space for an additional personal statement if you wish to write specifically about the Cambridge course, rather than all the courses you are applying for through UCAS.


Written work or portfolio

We sometimes require written work or a portfolio to be submitted during the application process. Look at the entry requirements on the web page for your particular course to see if this will be necessary for your course. If we ask you for written work, this will usually be two essays written as part of your school work, to be submitted by a certain date. You do not have to send this work before applying, we will write to you after you have applied and let you know exactly what you need to send and when.

Make sure you keep a copy of the work you send in to refresh your memory before the interview. Sometimes an interviewer might want to ask questions about the work you have sent in.

Admissions assessments

Some applicants are required to take a written admission assessment. You can find out what kind of assessment you’ll be asked to do on the course web page. The course-specific written assessments are designed to supplement the information in your application and to gauge your abilities. This is to assess skills (such as comprehension and thinking skills) and, where appropriate, levels of current knowledge and understanding relevant to the course for which you have applied. Your written assessment will be taken into account alongside the other elements of your application.

Some subject require you to register in advance. The deadline for registration may be late summer or early autumn, so be prepared and check early.


We interview everyone with a realistic chance of being offered a place, and this is an important part of the application process.

At Trinity Hall, applicants are usually given two interviews that last around twenty-five minutes, each with two interviewers. The interviews are all academic in nature. The questions asked will range from topics that you have already covered at school, to new material that you have not seen before. The interviews are designed to get you thinking and discussing. We want you to enjoy the conversation and recognise that a relaxed candidate is likely to leave a truer impression of themselves than one who is tongue-tied with nerves!

If you are invited for in-person interviews, you may be able to get financial support for travel costs, if you meet certain criteria. This includes if you: a) are/have been in local authority care for any period of time, b) are currently eligible for Free School Meals AND attend a UK maintained sector school or college, c) are a mature applicant currently eligible for benefits that would entitle any dependent children to Free School Meals.

Hand holding compass

The Winter Pool

If you apply for a course at a particular college and are unsuccessful with that college, you may be entered into the Winter Pool. This is the University’s moderation process to ensure that all applicants who have the potential to succeed at Cambridge have the opportunity to be offered a place, regardless of whether they applied to an oversubscribed college or a college with a very strong field of applicants. This process takes place in early January.

If you are ‘fished’ from the Winter Pool, you may be offered a place on your course with a different college, or a similar course at a different college – for example, an applicant for History & Modern Languages may be offered a place for History if the Admissions team at that college believe they are stronger in History than Modern Languages.