The Application Process
Use this section to gain insight into the application process to understand what makes a successful application.
After studying this section, if you notice that there are parts of the application process you do not understand or if questions arise in your mind, feel free to contact the Trinity Hall Admissions team via email@example.com.
It is important to note that while application process is very similar for all the Colleges of the University of Cambridge, you must consult the website of the specific college you have applied for for up to date information. Full details are given in the Applying section on the University’s website.
How to Apply
The University of Cambridge application process for potential undergraduates is made up of several unique elements, from the UCAS application process and, depending on the subject, the submission of written work and assessments, to the Additional Questionnaire and Interview process. Read on to find out more about some of the different elements.
The elements of the application process
- UCAS application: Academic record and personal statement
- My Cambridge application
- Written work: Pre-interview assessments; at interview assessments
- Teacher reference
- Extenuating circumstances form
Choosing a Course
Perhaps you already know which course you would like to study at undergraduate level or maybe you’re trying to figure that out. Regardless, exploring your options is important because there are many subjects available that you cannot study at school or college. We consider choosing the right subject for you to be the most important part of the application process. This is because your fascination for a subject and dedication to the field will shine through in your application; drive you to succeed in your post-16 qualifications; and subsequently motivate you across the 3+ years of your undergraduate degree. Use this video and our courses page to start considering your options, or contact the Admissions team at firstname.lastname@example.org to seek advice.
Choosing a College
Assuming you have already chosen your course, the next decision to make is which Cambridge college to apply to. This can seem like a difficult decision, but it is far less crucial than the choice of course. Colleges are more similar in terms of student experience than they are different, and it is very rare indeed for a current student to feel that they have made the wrong choice.
Many applicants wonder if some colleges are statistically ‘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 applied to.
Your UCAS Personal Statement is your chance to tell us (and other universities) what makes you tick – why you are interested in the course, what you have done both in school and outside school to develop your understanding of the subject. At Cambridge we are particularly keen to hear about your academic pursuits and how they relate to your chosen course, so these should take up more space than your non-academic achievements.
If you are applying to different courses at different universities, it can be hard to phrase your UCAS personal statement accordingly. Don’t worry – after you have submitted your UCAS application you will also get an opportunity to complete a Cambridge-specific application form, which includes a space for an additional personal statement if you wish to write specifically about the Cambridge course.
For further reading and ideas, CUSU (Cambridge University Students’ Union) have produced a very helpful Guide to Personal Statements and Wider Reading.
Written Work or the Portfolio
For some of our courses, we require written work or a portfolio to be submitted during the application process. For written work, we will normally ask for 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.
If you are keen to check if you will be required to submit written work or a portfolio, check out your chosen course webpage. It will be listed under Entry Requirements.
Sometimes an interviewer might want to ask questions about the work you have sent in. It is therefore a good idea to keep a copy of what you send so that you can read it again before the interview to refresh your memory.
Current second-year architect Callum talks us through his portfolio. Please note: there is not one successful kind of portfolio. This video is for your own interest, rather than a guide.
Most applicants are required to take a written admission assessment, either ‘pre-interview’ (usually at your school) in the weeks prior to your interview or ‘at interview’ which will take place in the weeks prior or on the day of your interview. The course-specific written assessments are designed to supplement the information in your application and to gauge your abilities – 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. Performance in any required written assessment won’t be considered in isolation, but taken into account alongside the other elements of your application.
It is so important that you check whether you need to register for any of your pre-interview assessments. For some courses, the deadline for registration can be late summer or early autumn. So be prepared and check early. Contact the college you are applying for if you are unsure.
To find out what kind of assessment is used in the subject you are applying for, have a look at our Courses section.
Interviews are an important part of the application process, and we interview everyone with a realistic chance of being offered a place.
At Trinity Hall, applicants are usually given two interviews, 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 and, believe it or not, can actually be quite interesting!
Financial support for in-person interview travel costs
When in-person interviews were commonplace, the Colleges provide support for travel costs to students who meet one of the following criteria: a) are/have been in local authority care for any period of time, b) are currently eligible for Free School Meals AND who attend a UK maintained sector school or college, c) are mature applicants currently eligible for benefits that would entitle any dependent children to Free School Meals. The Colleges will contact eligible applicants directly with further information in circumstances where they’re invited to an in-person interview.
The Winter Pool
|Coronavirus & Interviews
For the 2021/2022 admissions round, all interviews were conducted online. Keep up to date with changes to the interview process during the pandemic by consulting the University of Cambridge Undergraduate Study website.