Senior Tutor with students

Who is a post-qualification applicant? 

You're a post-qualification applicant if you took your school-leaving qualifications in the academic year that's just finished, or in the academic year before. These qualifications could be A-levels, The International Baccalaureate, the German Abitur, or one of the many other qualifications that students take around the world. 

If there's a gap of more than two years between you finishing school and starting your university course, you're just as welcome to apply, but you'll most likely be a mature student rather than a post-qualification applicant, and the information is a bit different. If this is relevant, do read the mature students page instead!

We also have a page for students who are applying from a university or after completing a university degree. See applying from a university if this is relevant for you. 


Can I start this October? 

In most cases, the answer is a definite no - sorry. You would need to complete the full application process: You apply by 15 October (earlier in some cases such as if you want an overseas interview in Malaysia, Singapore or any other countries in the GMT 7+ time zone) for entry the following October. So it is not possible to apply for October 2022 entry. If you are interested in applying for 2023 entry, you'll need to wait for UCAS to open in early-mid September 2022 for the next applications round. 

There is one exception for Cambridge applicants who are unsuccessful after interview but meet some specific widening participation criteria. If this is relevant in your case then you will be informed and given details in your January decision email. Further information.


What can strengthen my chances as a post-qualification applicant? 

As ever, we look at your grades in the context of the whole application, however in general it is true to say that: 

  • Of post-qualification applicants, those who have exceeded the Cambridge standard offer are, on average, more likely to receive an offer than those who have met the standard offer but not exceeded it. Of course, you must remember that this is a general statement - we consider every application we receive individually and very carefully and we look at all parts of the application before selecting students (see, for example, the point below).
  • For candidates who have met the standard offer, which subjects you have achieved your highest grades in may also affect our assessment, as some subjects are more relevant than others for specific courses. Remember that in each case we are considering your potential for a specific course. If you have achieved highly in the most relevant subjects, this will increase your chances of success. 
Students talking

Is the application process different if you apply post-qualification? 

No. Post-qualification applicants follow the normal application process set out on the how to apply page.

There are a few notes worth bearing in mind, however: 

  • We recommend that you get in touch with your former school / college as early as possible as they will need to provide a UCAS reference for you. If you have any difficulty in arranging this with your previous school, please email us for advice. 
  • You will also see that depending on your course, you may need to sit an admissions assessment. Again, we recommend that you look into this early as you will need to make arrangements either to sit the assessment at your old school or college, or to sit it at another test centre. Some of the assessments require pre-registration (and the registration deadline may be as early as 1 October, depending on your subject). See the information about registering and please be careful because the details of admissions assessments do change from year to year.
  • UCAS provides a page on filling in your UCAS application. If you are applying post-qualification you enter all of your qualifications and results as qualifications already completed. If you have made any previous UCAS applications, please bear in mind that this is a completely fresh application - you will need to provide full information from scratch. 
  • Please ensure that you've looked into the provisional dates for interviews in late November / early December. You will need to arrange your gap year so that you are available for interview, if invited, as we can't interview candidates at another time. 

What if I applied last year? Can I reapply?

Yes! We assess every application we receive as a fresh application, so if you have applied to Cambridge before you will only be assessed on the information in your current application.

Our advice for reapplicants is to make sure you do your research thoroughly for the new application, both in relation to Cambridge and to your other university options. It will help if you have both a gap year plan that you like and other university courses that you want to do if you are not offered a place at Cambridge.

When considering College, choice, note that the standard advice for students who are reapplying is not to apply to the same College for the same subject as last time. This will help you to feel that you new application really is a fresh go at it, avoiding a sense of deja vu related to people, processes and buildings. If you feel strongly about reapplying to Christ's, please get in touch.

Note that some details can change from year to year so please read all information carefully!

What about STEP?

STEP is an additional maths exam that students applying for Maths take at the end of Year 13.

For post-qualification applicants applying for Maths:

  • If you have already taken the required STEP papers and achieved the grades we need, you would include the results in your application as normal.
  • If you've completed your other qualifications but not taken STEP, you are still welcome to apply, but do bear in mind that if we make you an offer, it would normally be a conditional offer asking you to take STEP papers II and III. That said, STEP and the preparation for it can be a good way to keep your maths sharp and continue developing your skills during a gap year. Further information about STEP and how to prepare is on the maths page.


Do attend some webinars and get in touch!

If you're thinking of making a post-qualification application to Christ's, we encourage you to attend some of our regular online events, and to send us an email ( if you would like any advice. We're aware that you may not have school support if you are applying in a gap year, but we provide support directly.