Frequently asked questions on Undergraduate Admissions

DiscussionThis page answers some of the most common questions that we receive about applying to Christ's College.

Please read it alongside the current Cambridge Admissions website, which sets out the Cambridge courses available and how to apply. Remember also that we consider applications carefully and individually, taking into account all of the information that you provide in your application.

If you've got a question and can't find an answer here or in the university or college admissions pages, please feel free to send us an email at admissions@christs.cam.ac.uk.

Can I visit the College before applying?
Yes! You would be very welcome to visit Christ's. We have a series of Open Days each year for potential applicants, and we recommend booking onto one of these if you want a detailed visit. Alternatively, if you are in Cambridge at another time you would be very welcome to visit informally and walk around the grounds yourself. Please be aware that apart from on open days, it is not usually possible to arrange informal meetings with a Director of Studies or the Director of Admissions, however you are very welcome to send any specific questions that you have by email after your visit, and we'll be happy to answer your questions tha way. See Visiting Christ's for more detail about informal visits.

NB. From early May to mid-June, while the Christ's students are working for their exams, we close the College to tourists. Potential applicants are still welcome during this period - please introduce yourself as a prospective student at the Porters' Lodge, and you will then be allowed to walk around the grounds.
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Do you have a Christ's College prospectus?
Yes, we do: 

We'd be happy to send you a hard copy if you'd like one. You just need to email us at admissions@christs.cam.ac.uk to request this, let us know what subject you are interested in studying, and also give us your address so that we can post it to you.

Does a Cambridge application differ from other Universities?
Yes - here are the key differences:

  • The closing date for the receipt of applications is earlier for Cambridge: Our application deadline is 18:00 UK time on 15 October, instead of 15 January for most subjects at British Universities. Students who would like to be considered for interview in China, Malaysia, or Singapore should note the earlier application deadline of 20 September.
  • After your UCAS application has been received you will be asked to provide additional information through a Supplementary Application Questionnaire (SAQ).
  • If you're applying from outside the European Union, you'll need to submit a COPA form in addition to the UCAS form and SAQ. We recommend that international students read our dedicated international students section for more detail about applying.
  • We have admissions assessments, and for about half of the subjects, you must be registered by 15 October to sit an assessment in early November. For Medicine the registration deadline is 1 October.

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What is the minimum age for entry?
Generally students are expected to be over the age of 18 before starting a Cambridge course. The College routinely accepts students who will be 18 by 1 January in their first year, and we are prepared to consider applicants who are younger. In all cases, however, one part of our assessment will be whether we consider that an applicant is mature enough and ready to commence a competitive degree course that involves self-motivated study and living away from home.
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Will I be interviewed?
We interview the majority of applicants but we do not interview all applicants. In some cases, it is clear from the application that a particular candidate would stand no realistic chance of receiving an offer, and in this case we would not invite the candidate for interview. Where we cannot interview somebody, we will always write to let them know. For students who are invited for interview, most interviews take place in Cambridge in late November or early December. Some of our international applicants apply for an overseas interview.
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What form do the interviews take?
The interviews are academic interviews. They are similar to a "supervision" which is one of the main methods of teaching at Cambridge, and they give our subject specialists a chance to work with you to find out more about how you think and how you work, which is important for assessing your academic potential. Most candidates invited for interview at Christ's have two separate interviews, which can vary in content and length (anything from 15 to 30 minutes). In all cases, our aim is to give you a chance to show yourself in the best possible light. They may also provide you with a chance to raise any particular questions that have occurred, and enable you to see the University and Christ's College in particular. Do have a look at the University-wide information about interviews, in particular the two films.

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Will there be a written test?
The following subjects require all applicants to sit a pre-interview assessment at an authorised centre. It's very likely that your local authorised centre will be your school/college – speak to your teacher/exams officer to find out if you'll be able to take your pre-interview assessment at your school/college. All assessments will take place on 2nd November and you must register for the assessment by 18:00 (UK time) on 15 October, except for the BMAT for Medicine - the registration date is 5.00pm UK time on 1 October.

  • Anglo-Saxon, Norse, and Celtic
  • Asian and Middle Eastern Studies
  • Economics
  • Engineering
  • English
  • Geography
  • History
  • History and Modern Languages
  • History and Politics
  • Human, Social, and Political Sciences
  • Medicine (BMAT)
  • Natural Sciences
  • Psychological and Behavioural Sciences

More information about pre-interview assessments can be found on the University's Admissions website

At-interview assessments will be taken in Cambridge for applicants invited to attend interviews in the following subjects:

  • Archaeology
  • Architecture
  • Classics
  • Computer Science
  • Education
  • History and Modern Languages
  • History of Art
  • Land Economy
  • Law
  • Linguistics
  • Modern and Medieval Languages
  • Philosophy
  • Theology, Religion, and Philosophy of Religion

Please note:

  • there is no common format written assessment for Mathematics (applicants will continue to sit STEP alongside A-levels), Colleges will assess aptitude, knowledge base and potential through short tasks at the time of interview
  • there is no common format written assessment for Music, Colleges will assess aptitude, knowledge base and potential through short tasks at the time of interview
  • applicants for History and Modern Languages will sit an assessment pre and at-interview
  • applicants for Chemical Engineering will sit the assessment in their chosen route (Natural Sciences or Engineering)

You may be requested to send recent samples of schoolwork if interviewers wish to see this, for example a couple of marked school essays for someone applying in an arts subject. The deadline for receipt of your essays sample(s) is 8 November. Economics, Engineering and Natural Science applicants are likely to be asked to attempt a few written problems during interviews and applicants for Mathematics are asked to work through some exercises before interview.

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How likely am I to receive an offer?
Overall, Cambridge Colleges in general, and Christ’s College in particular, receive about four or five applications for every available place with more applicants in the most popular subjects (such as Economics, Law, and Medicine). 
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What happens if I am not taking A-level examinations?
In addition to offers on A-level grades, similar offers are made to candidates who are taking Scottish Advanced Highers, International Baccalaureate, European Baccalaureate, Abitur, STPM, or other examinations at a comparable pre-University level. The comments in the paragraph below apply to all other examination systems as well as to A-levels.

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What conditions do you specify?
DiscussionFor those selected for a conditional offer, the precise target conditions are assessed individually.  If you are made a conditional offer, you would have a guaranteed place at Cambridge provided that you achieve your target. It is difficult to indicate in advance the precise combinations of A-level grades that will be set. The likely range of offers will be from A*AA grades (for arts subjects) A*A*A grades (for science subjects) to, exceptionally, A*A*AA grades in the most competitive subject areas. In general, offers for applicants taking four relevant subjects at A-level can be more flexible than for those taking three subjects.

For those taking the International Baccalaureate, conditional offers are usually set at 42 points overall (including bonus points) with 7,7,6 or 7,7,7 in relevant Higher Level subjects.

For those taking Scottish or Welsh Baccalaureates, conditional offers will be made on the SQA Advanced Higher Levels or A levels being taken within the qualfication.

Cambridge Colleges have agreed that offers for places to read Medicine at all Colleges will not normally be set at less than A*A*A grades (or equivalent).  Offers in Engineering will usually include minimum grade 1 in STEP I. Offers in Mathematics tend to be more severe than other subjects and may include A*/1 grades in Mathematics and Further Mathematics A-levels and STEP II and III.
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Do I need to take the A-level science practicals?
The University expects that students taking linear A-levels in science subjects will complete and pass the practical assessment. 

What is STEP?
STEP is a series of 3-hour examination papers in Mathematics based on A-level syllabuses and taken at the end of June each year. Details may be found here. There is further information and advice on the Faculty of Mathematics website.
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What if I were not selected for an offer?
There is an Inter-College Pool of applicants in January and some candidates who are not selected for an offer at their College of first-choice may be invited for further interviews and/or receive an offer from another College.
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What if I do not achieve the conditions?
We hope that applicants respond to their conditions as a realistic challenge, and are not daunted by them. In practice, an individual target may be slightly relaxed when all applicants' results are known (though no guarantee can be given). There is also a second inter-College Pool in August, and a few applicants who narrowly miss their target may then receive an offer of a firm place from another Cambridge College. No further interviews are held at the time of the August Pool.
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What about Scholarships and Exhibitions?
Entrance Scholarships and Exhibitions are no longer offered by Cambridge Colleges (apart from special Music Awards). However, at Christ’s College a £100+ Scholarship will normally be awarded to every student who gains a First Class result in a University examination.
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What about deferred entry?
We would not normally require a candidate in any subject (Engineering included) to take a break between school and university, unless there are special circumstances. However, the College does welcome applications from candidates who are considering taking a gap between school and university, and who are able to make sensible plans for the year.
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Is it expensive to study at Cambridge?
The cost of being a student will depend upon the extent of your chosen activities, but our experience is that it is no more expensive to live and study at Cambridge than at other British Universities. Indeed, because we can normally offer College accommodation throughout a student's course, it may even be cheaper. We also have a large number of Bursaries and small hardship grants available to assist in cases where students find difficulty in funding their studies and in recent years 40% of Christ’s students have received some support in this way.  In a joint scheme between the Colleges and the University, every UK student qualified for a student maintenance grant will be eligible on application to receive an additional Cambridge Bursary which is on a sliding scale for those in receipt of an annual student maintenance grant.
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Can I apply if I already have a university degree?
Christ's rarely admits more than one affiliated student each year and more often none at all. Christ's does not accept affiliated students to read for Medical Sciences and may impose restrictions on some other subjects.

Maintained by Jan Marshall | Last updated Wed, 18 Oct 2017 - 3:37am