Are non A-level students at a disadvantage?
Absolutely not. A large, and growing, number of our applicants, both from the UK and overseas, sit other qualifications, such as the Scottish Advanced Highers, the International Baccalaureate, the French Baccalaureate, or the Abitur. We have standard offers to suit almost all examination systems. Do not be put off by the frequency of references to A-levels in our literature: this simply acts as convenient shorthand for A-level or equivalent.
What subjects should I take?
The most important thing is to choose subjects that excite your interest and enthusiasm, and, in some Arts subjects, the College can be very flexible. Inevitably, however, some subjects, particularly in the Sciences, do have to specify particular qualifications as preparation for your course, and where these are stipulated they are clearly set out in the subject pages.
Should I take four A-levels rather than three?
No. We, in common with the other Colleges at Cambridge University, recognise that schools differ in their approach to A-levels. At some schools it may be the norm to take four A-levels, but at many others, it is unusual. For that reason we always base our offers on the core three A-levels, however many papers they have taken. Please note that if you are taking more than three, we do expect you to continue to take all of the papers that you declare on your UCAS application, and any of these papers may form part of any offer.
Am I at a disadvantage if I take particular A-levels?
Advice on subject combinations can be found on the University’s website.
What are the GCSE and A-Level requirements for Cambridge and are retakes accepted?
Exam requirement information can be found on the University website.
What grades do you ask for?
The Colleges of the University of Cambridge have agreed that the A level conditional offer made by the Cambridge Colleges for 2020 entry will be A*A*A for Sciences (excluding Psychological and Behavioural Sciences and Veterinary Medicine) and Economics and A*AA for Arts (excluding Economics), Psychological and Behavioural Sciences and Veterinary Medicine. At Emmanuel, in a limited number of cases, non-standard offers may be made, appropriate to particular circumstances. In some subjects there may be additional requirements. Further details can be found on the subject pages.
Do you approve of a gap year between school and University?
Yes, if you have a clear objective in mind for it. Although gap years may present particular problems for Mathematics candidates, and these are discussed in the Mathematics section. A gap year can help to broaden your outlook on life, and for many people it proves to be very valuable. It does carry the risk of losing touch with the academic way of life, and so in order not to lose the habit of studying it is as well to keep up with some academic-related activity.
Can I apply whilst registered at another University?
Emmanuel College will only, as a matter of principle, consider applications from students enrolled on degree courses at other UK universities in very exceptional circumstances.
Any application to study at Cambridge would need strong support from your course director or other academic tutor at your current university. A reference/letter of recommendation from that person to the College would be required before we could consider an application, and such applications would still be subject to the same academic assessment as any other application to the University.
How much time does the course take up?
Cambridge degree courses are extremely stimulating, but they are also demanding. Specific workloads vary from subject to subject, but you will usually find yourself busy for at least 35-40 hours a week. Much of this work can be done at times that suit you, however, so that you can keep appropriate afternoons free for sport, or evenings free for music or drama or other social activities. You do need to be well-organised to fit everything in, and there certainly isn’t time to go home every weekend - Cambridge is emphatically not a 9-to-5, five-day-week university.
What kind of person are you looking for?
Academic ability is a fundamental prerequisite, and we look for people who are excited by their subject and keen to pursue it for its own sake. Otherwise, we do not have a blueprint of the ideal Emmanuel student. One of the features that makes College life so stimulating and rewarding is that the College contains people with a wide variety of talents and interests.
Are you biased in favour of (or against) independent school candidates/men/white/middle-class students?
No: the College is firmly committed to the principle of equal treatment of candidates, although this will inevitably involve taking a student’s particular circumstances into account in some cases. Our interviewers are instructed in equal opportunities good practice, as part of the University training scheme for admissions interviewing, and we constantly monitor our admissions statistics and procedures. We do not operate quotas, either formally or informally, and we believe that the balance of our undergraduate body reflects the profile of our applicants. We are aware that the state to independent ratio is a matter of great contention, but the difference is, every year, very small.
Will I be interviewed?
Interviews form an important part of our selection procedure. We will review the gathered field and consider each applicant’s individual circumstance before deciding which candidates to invite to interview. We try to see all applicants with a realistic chance of being offered a place on their chosen course at Cambridge; so if you have a good examination record and a favourable reference, you are likely to be asked to attend for interview. There will, however, be some applicants each year who will not be interviewed.
Do I have to read or study any texts prior to the interview(s)?
For certain subjects (please see the individual subject entries) candidates will be asked to collect an unseen text approximately 20-30 minutes prior to the start of one of both of the interviews. At registration applicants may receive passages, diagrams, pictures and/or essays to study before each interview. Further details will be sent to applicants in their interview email. Some subjects may have reading material, accessible to applicants in advance, for reading prior to the interview.
Will I need to take an assessment?
All applicants* will take an assessment. Some subjects are pre-interview and others at-interview. Further information and content specifications are available on the University's website. * Mathematics and Music applicants will have aptitude and knowledge tested during their interviews.
When are the interview dates for entry in 2021-22?
The interviews at Emmanuel will take place between Monday 7 December and Wednesday 16 December 2020 (excluding Sundays). If you are applying to us please keep these dates free. Specific dates for each subject will be sent to applicants early in November.
Does Cambridge interview overseas?
Information on overseas interviews is available on the University's website.
Does the College offer Skype interviews?
We strongly recommend that all applicants attend for interview, as Skype* interviews have not worked particularly well in the past. Interviews (in Cambridge) will take place during the first few weeks of December, and if you indicate on your application that you will be available for an interview in Cambridge, we will send you further details in your application acknowledgement pack.
*We will only consider interviewing via Skype in exceptional circumstances.
As an international student, do I need a visa to enter the UK for interview?
For full details, please visit the International Student Team website.