Guide to Admissions - College admissions procedures

Colleges organise their assessment procedures in slightly different ways, but, in broad terms, all are looking for students who show:

  • A sound knowledge base and confidence in a range of skills. This includes not just the capacity to do well at A Levels, but the potential to go beyond the A Level syllabus and to use this knowledge in less familiar situations;
  • A wider engagement with the subject, expressed through an interest in new ideas and an enthusiasm for reading round the subject;
  • Self-discipline, self-motivation and commitment;
  • Capacity to learn.

For Engineering, evidence of motivation and commitment might be shown in a number of ways that could include:

Table 3 gives information about Colleges' admissions procedures for Engineering. To obtain more information about any part of an individual College's procedures you should contact the Admissions Office of the College concerned. Table 3 covers the following issues:

  • Typical Offer: For 2013 entry the standard Cambridge offer on A Levels will be A*AA. Any offer entailing at least two A or A* grades will require A or A* in Maths and Physics A Level.
  • Offers on 4 A Levels: If an applicant is doing 4 relevant A Levels, a College may make a conditional offer based on all 4 A Levels. This column indicates how often the College in question typically does this. Other Colleges may make, say, an A*AA offer but stipulate one or two subjects in which A or A* grades must be obtained (usually Maths and Physics).
  • STEP/AEA in Conditional Offers: How often the College in question uses STEP (Sixth Term Examination Papers) or the Advanced Extension Award (AEA) in Maths as part of its conditional offers. STEP or AEA Maths is most likely to be included in an offer for applicants not taking Further Maths.
  • Subject Interviews: The number of subject interviews (interviews focused on assessing the applicant’s aptitude for Engineering) that are usually given as part of the selection procedure, and how long such interviews are. Unless otherwise stipulated these interviews are one-to-one. If a ratio is given, the first integer gives the number of interviewers involved, the second the number of applicants.
  • General Academic Interview: Whether there is a separate “general academic” interview (usually with an Admissions Tutor), and, if so, how long it is. For Colleges where no such interview is given, a subject interview will include a more general component.
  • Test: Whether a test is used as part of the assessment procedure, and, if so, in what form. Applicants from overseas who are unable to attend for interview in Cambridge are often asked to do a special test. TSA stands for Thinking Skills Assessment, a 90 minute on-line or on paper multiple choice test. See the TSA website for more information. As the use of the TSA is kept under active review, potential applicants are advised to check this guide for updates in September.

At present no College requires applicants for Engineering to submit written work in advance or to bring it with them to interview.