How to get into Cambridge - Crimson Education ID-EN (2023)

The University of Cambridge is a collegiate research university in the UK. It is the world’s third-oldest surviving university. Cambridge is consistently ranked as one of the top universities in the world. Its notable alumni include Sir Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Stephen Hawking, and David Attenborough, among others. In fact, Cambridge has produced 121 Nobel Prize laureates, 47 Heads of State and 210 Olympic Medalists. Being a globally diverse institution, Cambridge accommodates students coming from 141 different countries. As an aspiring international student, are you thinking about applying to Cambridge? This blog will provide you with some useful information and tips.

What is Cambridge’s acceptance rate?

Entry to Cambridge remains notoriously competitive. While it may seem like Cambridge’s acceptance rate is a lot higher than theacceptance rates of top American universities, it is important to note that there are higher barriers to applying – including the restriction that one can only apply to eitherOxford or Cambridgeand that one can only apply to 5 UK universities in the academic year. Here are some statistics showing the overall acceptance rate into Cambridge over the years.

Overall Cambridge Acceptance For the Last 5 Years
YearNumber of ApplicationsNumber of OffersAcceptance Rate

Source: University of Cambridge

Most Competitive Courses at Cambridge
CourseAcceptance Rate
Computer Science9.3%
Economics 10.9%
Psychological and Behavioural Sciences10.9%
Human, Social, and Political Sciences12.7%
Land Economy14.8%

Cambridge Undergraduate Admissions Statistics 2021

For a complete breakdown of admission statistics at Cambridge, check out their Annual Admissions Statistical Report for 2021.

Differences between Oxford and Cambridge

Collectively, Oxford and Cambridge are known as Oxbridge in the university world. Both are prestigious institutions which have similar offerings. Applying to any of them would hardly be a mistake. Nevertheless, you may want to take note of some small differences between the two to inform your decision on which to apply, especially since applicants are only allowed to apply to one of the two for each year.

  1. Oxford is more expensive as an international student, but depending on where you are from, Oxford has more scholarship opportunities.
  2. Oxford is more well known for its humanities and social sciences courses while Cambridge is slightly stronger at its natural sciences courses.
  3. Assessments-wise, Oxford usually assesses its students in its first and final years to determine degree classification while Cambridge assesses its students at the end of each academic year and degree classification is based on the students’ collective results over the three years.

What Do You Need To Get Into Cambridge?

You definitely need to be competitive academically to meet the entry requirements of Cambridge. As a global institution, Cambridge accepts a whole range of UK and equivalent international qualifications.

Generally, here are the expected academic qualifications needed:

International A-levels and AS levels

  • Recognised as equivalent to UK GCE A-levels on a grade-for-grade basis
  • Grade requirements differ per course. A typical conditional A Level offer will be A*AA or A*A*A, depending on the course. In countries where an A* grade at A Level is not available, three A grades would be acceptable

International Baccalaureate

  • Typical offers are 40-42 points out of 45, with 6s and 7s in Higher Level subjects
  • Standard Level subjects will satisfy AS Level subject requirements, and Higher Level subjects will satisfy A Level subject requirements

European Baccalaureate

  • An average of 85% or above, with scores above 9 in the subjects most closely related to the course you want to study

Access to HE Diploma

Advanced Placement (AP) Tests

  • A minimum of five AP Test scores at grade 5, normally taken within two years of matriculation and with particular focus on APs that are taken in subjects related to the course applied for

Course-specific Requirements

For courses that do not have particular subject requirements, high grades are expected in the subjects most relevant to the course. Even for each course, entry grade requirements may differ slightly at each College. For example, some colleges may require an A* in a particular subject while for other Colleges, an A will suffice. Hence, as an applicant, you should check the entry requirements for the subject and corresponding College you are applying to.

Here are a few entrance tests that are course-specific:

Natural Sciences Admissions Assessment (NSAA) for Chemical Engineering & Biotechnology, Natural Sciences and Veterinary Medicine

Test of Mathematics for University Admissions (TMUA) for Computer Science and Economics

Engineering Admissions Assessment (ENGAA) for Engineering

National Admissions Test for Law (LNAT) for Law

BioMedical Admissions Test (BMAT) for Medicine

3 Tips To Help Your Application To Cambridge Stand Out

1. Show enthusiasm for the subject

It is important to start thinking of which subject you would want to apply for university early on in your high school career so that you can start to prepare your application early. Importantly, to develop your interest and enthusiasm for a subject, you may want to consider taking part in relevant extra-curricular activities. For example, if you are interest in the humanities courses (e.g. English, History, Politics), it would help to join clubs such as Debating or Model United Nations to hone your argumentative skills and grasp knowledge on the relevant subject matter. This will also help when you are writing your UCAS statement, given that participating in these activities can show a demonstrated interest in the academic subject.

2. Wider reading

Given that Cambridge courses are known to be very academic in nature, academic tutors tend to look out for potential students who have genuine academic interest through the books that they read. They would want to see students who have read widely and beyond their high school academic syllabus. In part, this shows potential that the potential student would be able to handle the heavy independent reading required for surviving and thriving in the Cambridge academic setting.

3. Prepare well for the Interview

Cambridge is one of the few universities in the UK which require an interview for admission. The interview allows you to meet your potential academic tutors. In essence, the interview is a friendly academic interrogation which allows the tutors to tease out how you think about various academic subject matter, whilst also allowing them to see if you’re the type of student they can see themselves teaching. It is important to re-read what you’ve written in your personal statement, especially the books you’ve mentioned you’ve read and the projects you’ve undertaken. Interviewers may quiz you on what you’ve written in your personal statement. It would also help to have a mock interview with your school’s career advisor before going for the actual Cambridge interview.

Final Thoughts

Applying to Cambridge can be stressful. Hopefully, this article has covered some ground in guiding you through the application process. Believe in yourself and whatever the outcome, enjoy the process and good luck!

If you need additional help with the application process,book a free consultationwith one of our expert UKadmission strategists. They can provide individualized and highly informed support in every aspect of your applications.

Our support includes:

  1. Matching every student with a team of supporters who are graduates from Oxbridge and other top UK universities
  2. Addressing every part of the UCAS application in detail - from test prep to personal statements, extracurriculars to interview prep.
  3. Providing oversight by former Oxbridge admissions officers
  4. Sharing years of inside UK admissions consulting knowledge unavailable elsewhere

What Makes Crimson Different

Key Resources & Further Reading

  • Join our free webinars on college applications
  • Free eBooks and guides to help with the college application process
  • How to Choose your 5 UCAS Universities
  • Supercurriculars: Boosting Your Application for Top UK Universities
  • How to apply to UK Universities
  • Oxford vs Cambridge: Which university should you apply to?


What are Cambridge entry requirements? ›

Entry requirements

Certain grades may be required at Higher Level. Cambridge usually requires A*A*A for most sciences courses and A*AA for arts courses or 40–42 in the IB, including core points, with 776 at Higher Level. AAA is usually required at Advanced Higher grade, for students in Scotland.

What GPA do you need to get into Cambridge? ›

What GPA Do You Need to Get Into Cambridge? The GPA requirement for admission into the University of Cambridge is 3.7 at least. However, it doesn't mean that the possession of the minimum GPA requirement guarantees acceptance. The same is true with the possession of a higher GPA.

How do you get into Cambridge graduate school? ›

Apply using the Applicant Portal
  1. create an application.
  2. request and track your references.
  3. submit supporting documentation.
  4. apply for funding.
  5. pay the application fee (if applicable) by card via our secure server.
  6. save your application and return to it later.
  7. submit your application.
  8. track the progress of your application.

What is the acceptance rate for Cambridge? ›

Is it hard to get accepted into Cambridge? ›

Although the average Cambridge acceptance rate is 15.7%, this rate is inevitably lower for its most competitive courses. These courses include Medicine, Computer Science, Architecture, Economics, Engineering, and Law. The acceptance rate for Computer Science, for example, is just 10%.

Can you get into Cambridge with low grades? ›

Yes, it is certainly possible to get into the University of Cambridge with bad GCSEs. It may hinder your application to have poor GCSE results since they are taken as a performance indicator, but since Cambridge does not have any GCSE grade requirements, it is not a barrier to entry in itself.

Is Cambridge harder to get into than Harvard? ›

Like Harvard, the University of Cambridge is a highly selective school. While the published acceptance rate, which is 21.6%, isn't a single-digit figure like the acceptance rate for Harvard, only the most competitive applicants get in. The acceptance rate for international students is slightly lower: 21.4%.

Does Harvard accept Cambridge level? ›

Over 880 universities in the US formally accept Cambridge International AS & A Levels, including all Ivy League and Ivy Plus universities. These universities include Brown, Harvard, MIT, Stanford and Yale. Many more US universities accept Cambridge qualifications on application.

Which Cambridge college is the easiest to get into? ›

Which Cambridge college is the easiest to get into?
  • Hughes Hall College.
  • St Edmund's College.
  • Wolfson College.

Which is better Oxford or Cambridge? ›

Oxbridge World Rankings

In terms of university world rankings, historically, Oxford and Cambridge have been fairly neck and neck. Here are The Times University Rankings for 2023: Overall Ranking: 1st Oxford, 3rd Cambridge. Teaching: 5th Oxford, 7th Cambridge.

What GPA is needed for Oxford? ›

Undergraduate qualifications

If your graduate course at Oxford requires a 'first-class undergraduate degree with honours' in the UK system, you will usually need a bachelor's degree from a recognised university with an an overall grade of 85% ('A') or 'Excellent', or a GPA of 3.7 out of 4.0.

Does Cambridge have an entrance exam? ›

The BMAT, ENGAA, NSAA and TMUA are organised by Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing (CAAT) and are taken at a local authorised assessment centre.

Is Cambridge as prestigious as Harvard? ›

By contrast, the Times Higher Education Rankings puts Oxford in the first position, with Harvard in joint second and Cambridge in joint fifth. The CWUR 2021-2022 Edition puts Harvard at first, with Cambridge at fourth, and Oxford at fifth.

What is the hardest subject to get into Cambridge? ›

Getting into Oxford or Cambridge University is an achievement in itself, but cracking your way into economics and management is another feat entirely. The subject has been revealed as the hardest Oxbridge course to gain access to, with an acceptance rate of just 7%.

Is Cambridge harder to get into than Oxford? ›

Students around the world dream of studying at one of these prestigious universities. Check out our university profiles to learn more about Oxford and Cambridge.
Oxford vs Cambridge Application Overview.
Overall Acceptance Rate16.7%19.6%
International Acceptance Rate9.3%12.1%
9 more rows
Dec 6, 2021

How can Americans get into Cambridge? ›

Examples of qualifications that would be considered suitable for admission to Cambridge include:
  1. A Levels.
  2. International Baccalaureate (IB)
  3. five or more Advanced Placement (AP) courses.
  4. possibly the first year of an undergraduate degree at a university outside the UK.

How many American students go to Cambridge? ›

In the 2020–21 academic year more than 1,200 students studying at Cambridge are from the USA and Canada.

How to apply to Cambridge as an American? ›

How does an American high schooler apply to the University of Oxford/Cambridge? In the same way as everyone else! You apply online through UCAS, on Choose your future . You can apply to up to four other UK universities at the same time, by filling in the one form, and then sending it off to UCAS.

What grade is 80% in Cambridge? ›

The Cambridge IGCSE is graded from A* to G.
The Grading.
GradePercentage uniform mark range
4 more rows
Oct 12, 2021

What happens if you fail Cambridge? ›

If you did not get the result you wanted, it will help you to decide which skills you need to improve. Your Candidate Profile will not be shown on your certificate. NB: the bands on the candidate profile do not correspond to grades. There are no pass or fail levels in the individual papers.

What is the lowest grade Harvard accepts? ›

You should also have a 4.18 GPA or higher. If your GPA is lower than this, you need to compensate with a higher SAT/ACT score. For a school as selective as Harvard, you'll also need to impress them with the rest of your application.

What is the easiest Ivy League school to get into? ›

Cornell is considered the "easiest" Ivy League to get into because it has the highest Ivy League acceptance rate.

Is it harder to get into Ivy League or Oxford? ›

The class of 2025 Ivy League admission rate average is 5.4 percent, which is around four times lower than Oxford's average acceptance rate of about 20 percent.

Is MIT better than Cambridge? ›

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is the world's best university, followed by the University of Cambridge, Stanford University, Oxford, and Harvard. This classification is according to the QS World University Ranking 2023, which features 1418 institutions worldwide, and was released this week.

What Ivy League is in Cambridge? ›

Harvard University, oldest institution of higher learning in the United States (founded 1636) and one of the nation's most prestigious. It is one of the Ivy League schools. The main university campus lies along the Charles River in Cambridge, Massachusetts, a few miles west of downtown Boston.

Does Cambridge require AP classes? ›

Our requirement is for a minimum of five AP Test scores at Score 5, normally taken within a two-year period and with the most recent tests achieved within two years of application. AP Tests should be taken in subjects that have a particular focus on subjects related to the course applied for.

Is Cambridge better than Ivy League? ›

However, this does not mean that it is any less prestigious or well-regarded than the Ivy League universities. In fact, some might argue that Cambridge University is even better than the Ivy League universities, with its long and illustrious history and its reputation for academic excellence.

Which is the richest college in Cambridge? ›

Trinity College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge. Founded in 1546 by King Henry VIII, Trinity is one of the largest Cambridge colleges, with the largest financial endowment of any college at either Cambridge or Oxford.

What is the nicest college at Cambridge? ›

The Top 10 Best Colleges in Cambridge According to Students
  • Selwyn College. ...
  • Emmanuel College. ...
  • Queen's College. ...
  • Churchill College. ...
  • Peterhouse. ...
  • Pembroke College. ...
  • Trinity College. ...
  • Christ's College. So now we've made it to prime position - top of our list of the best colleges in Cambridge: Christ's College.

What is the most popular major in Cambridge? ›

Top Ranked Majors
  • Business. 69 Graduates.
  • Human Services. 38 Graduates.
  • Early Childhood Education. 25 Graduates.
  • Psychology. 25 Graduates.
  • Healthcare Management. 22 Graduates.
  • Liberal Arts and Humanities. 14 Graduates.
  • Foods, Nutrition, and Wellness Studies. 5 Graduates.
  • Finance. 3 Graduates.

What major is Cambridge known for? ›

  • Computer Science.
  • Engineering.
  • Health.
  • Social Science and Humanities.

How much does it cost to study at Cambridge? ›

The tuition fee for Home fee status students starting their first undergraduate degree in 2023 will be £9,250 for the year. The government regulated tuition fee for 2024-25 hasn't been set.

How much are tuition fees at Cambridge? ›

Is it hard to get into Oxford as an American? ›

How hard is it to get into Oxford? Getting into Oxford is a competitive process; you'll need exceptional academic achievement, as well as a wide range of extracurricular activities and personal qualities. Generally, Oxford has an acceptance rate of approximately 13-17%.

What GPA does Harvard require? ›

The GPA requirements for Harvard University are between 3.9 to 4.1. You will need an incredibly high GPA and will likely be graduating at the top of their class in order to get into Harvard University.

Do average students get into Oxford? ›

You stand just as much a chance as anyone else. The acceptance rate at Oxford is about 17.5% which is far higher compared to Harvard, Stanford, MIT and other Ivy League Universities. That said, the application and selection process can be quite rigorous and complex to follow precisely.

Who accept Cambridge exams? ›

Cambridge qualifications are accepted and valued by universities around the world, including MIT, Harvard and Cambridge. They are recognised as qualifications that prepare and equip students with the skills they need to succeed both at university and beyond.

How do I prepare for the Cambridge exam? ›

Tips to help you prepare for the CAE
  1. Give yourself enough time to prepare. ...
  2. Get familiar with the style of the exam. ...
  3. Use mock exams to practise. ...
  4. Make use of grammar apps. ...
  5. Avoid distractors. ...
  6. Don't waste time. ...
  7. Familiarise yourself with different accents. ...
  8. Read the questions and highlight keywords.

What exam board does Cambridge use? ›

Oxford and Cambridge Examinations and Assessment Council (OCEAC)

What is the best school in the world? ›

The University of Oxford tops the ranking for the seventh consecutive year.
World University Rankings 2023.
RankName Country/Region
1University of Oxford United Kingdom
2Harvard University United States
=3University of Cambridge United Kingdom
=3Stanford University United States
21 more rows

What percentage of Cambridge is owned by Harvard? ›

Based on data from Harvard's building records, Harvard owns 9.56 percent of the land in Cambridge, 5.70 percent in Allston, and 0.27 percent in Boston. Nearly 27 million square feet, or over 600 acres, of land is owned by Harvard, much increased from its inception.

Is it stressful to study at Cambridge? ›

The Cambridge workload is notoriously heavy, and the last three years have been very intense – working eight-hour days in the library, even on weekends, and reading throughout every vacation to get a head start on my reading list is something I won't miss.

Is maths at Cambridge the hardest degree in the world? ›

Part III of the Mathematical Tripos (officially Master of Mathematics/Master of Advanced Study) is a one-year Masters-level taught course in mathematics offered at the Faculty of Mathematics, University of Cambridge. It is regarded as one of the hardest and most intensive mathematics courses in the world.

What is the hardest degree to get into? ›

What are the hardest degrees in the world? Ranked by Experts
  • Chartered Accountancy.
  • Astrophysics.
  • Quantum Mechanics.
  • Law.
  • Aerospace/ Aeronautical Studies, Engineering.
  • Biomedical Studies, Neurosciences, Biochemistry.
  • Nursing.
  • Dentistry, Medicine.
Dec 16, 2022

Is Oxford more elitist than Cambridge? ›

The University of Cambridge made nearly 2,953 offers to four home counties, and 2,619 offers to the whole of the north of England. Whereas Oxford made 2,812 offers to applicants in five home counties and 2,619 to students in the whole of northern England.

Is Cambridge safer than Oxford? ›

In fact, Cambridge is considered one of the safest cities in the UK, with Travel Safe Abroad giving this English fairy town a ranking of 78, unlike London, which ranks with an index of 68, followed by Oxford with 66.

What grades do you need to get into Cambridge medicine? ›

Typical offers require
  • A Level: A*A*A.
  • IB: 40-42 points, with 776 at Higher Level.
  • Other qualifications: See Entrance requirements and International qualifications.

Do you have to be a genius to get into Cambridge? ›

You do not, however, need to be some kind of genius. There probably are a few geniuses at Cambridge, but most of the people who study (and teach) here are not that; they are simply clever and hard-working. Which is the next thing successful applicants will usually be able to show: evidence that they work hard.

Does GPA matter for Cambridge? ›

Cambridge University requirements vary from country to country. You certainly need high grades to get in, considering the unspoken GPA requirement is 3.7 minimum on a 4.0 scale. For US applicants, you'll need a minimum of five grade 5 AP scores and passing (high) marks on your transcript.

What is the easiest college to get into at Cambridge? ›

Robinson is generally considered the easiest Cambridge college to enter. It's newer than the other colleges, and therefore less prestigious.

Is Oxford or Cambridge harder to get into for medicine? ›

Cambridge interviews around 75% of its applicants and are very selective post-interview to give their final offers. Around 16% of students are successful in receiving an offer. At Oxford, a smaller proportion of applicants are invited to interview (approx. 26%) and 9% receive an offer.

What is the hardest college to get into at Cambridge? ›

Which college is the hardest to get into at Cambridge? According to statistical data in the past 20 years, the hardest colleges to get into are Kings, Clare and Emma, whether they get the best applicants overall is a different matter entirely.

What is the most competitive degree at Cambridge? ›

Most Competitive among programs with at least 5 offers
MB,BChir Medicine (Graduate Entry)7.8%
MB,BChir Medicine14%
BA Law14%
BA Human, Social, and Political Sciences15%
BA Land Economy18%
5 more rows

What IQ do you have to be to go to Harvard? ›

Ranked by IQ Test Score Estimates of Undergraduate Students
RankingSchoolStudents IQ Test Score Estimate
21 more rows

Which is better Harvard or Oxford? ›

They have consistently ranked among the top 10 institutes in the global rankings. According to the world university rank 2023, Oxford University ranked top and Harvard University ranked second in the list, whilst in the QS world university list Oxford University ranked fourth and Harvard University ranked fifth.

What is the hardest University to get into? ›

Top 10 Hardest Universities to Get Into In The World
  • Stanford University.
  • Harvard University.
  • Columbia University.
  • London School Of Economics And Political Science.
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
  • Yale University.
  • Princeton University.
  • University of St. Andrews, United Kingdom.
Feb 28, 2023

Is it harder to get into Oxford or Harvard? ›

Oxford University has a fair acceptance rate of 17% in comparison to Harvard where only 5% of all the applications received are accepted. You may gain a chance to get admission at Oxford if you have exceptional academic performance and skills.

Is Cambridge an Ivy? ›

Princeton, Columbia, Dartmouth, Brown, Pennsylvania, Cornell, Harvard, and Yale make up the Ivy League. The Ivy League schools can be likened to the British institution of higher learning, Oxbridge, which comprises Oxford and Cambridge Universities.


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