What else do we look for?

In addition to excellent examination results, we look for evidence of:

  • Academic potential and aptitude for studying the chosen course. We are looking for students with the academic ability and potential to flourish at Cambridge. The typical A level offer is A*AA (or equivalent grades in alternative qualifications). Subject requirements are outlined in detail on our subjects page. Interview questions and tests aim to gauge potential and to assess qualities such as intellectual flexibility, clarity of thought, analytical skills and logic. Interviews therefore require candidates to encounter unknown territories and to grapple with concepts, ideas or problems they may be unfamiliar with.
  • Enthusiasm for and commitment to the chosen course. This may be demonstrated by reading around a subject, work experience and relevant extra-curricular activities. We are looking for students who passionately want to immerse themselves in their subject and are not merely interested in the degree result at the end – important though this is.
  • Motivation and self-discipline. The teaching and learning system at Cambridge requires students to be extremely self-disciplined and hard-working. We will be looking for an indication of a student’s ability to think critically and independently, and a willingness to argue logically, while remaining open to new ideas. Successfully balancing academic work with other commitments provides important evidence of an applicant’s time management skills.

Competition for places at Cambridge is traditionally very strong, and Admissions Tutors have to choose between highly-qualified candidates. Places are offered to those who demonstrate greatest academic potential and who are best suited to the course for which they have applied. While grades are important, they comprise only part of our decision-making process. Other vital information includes:

  • Academic achievement in examinations already sat or to be taken;
  • Reports from referees;
  • The applicant’s personal statement;
  • Interview performance;
  • Submitted work where requested;
  • Admissions test performance where required.

Submitted work, tests and interviews

These are designed to provide evidence of an applicant's academic potential in his or her chosen subject. Interviews may also be used to clarify any matters arising from the written application, and along with test questions challenge applicants to think beyond what might have been learnt in school/college.

The best applicants are those who respond imaginatively and spontaneously to the questions and enjoy the intellectual challenge of tackling new ideas.

Cambridge Extenuating Circumstances Form

The Cambridge Extenuating Circumstances Form has been designed to ensure that Cambridge Colleges have the information they require in order to accurately assess any applicant who has experienced particular personal or educational disadvantage. It must arrive by 15 October or 1 March depending on the admissions round applied for.

The majority of applicants to Wolfson College will have extenuating circumstances and we actively take the context of an applicants' background into consideration in all cases. For this reason, in many cases minor incidences can be noted in the Supplementary Application Questionnaire rather than submitting this separate form.

Circumstances which it would be appropriate to inform us of via this form:

  • A serious, acute or chronic medical condition which caused significant educational disruption
  • Significant caring responsibilities, bereavement or serious illness within close family during education

Wolfson College looks for potential as well as achievement in their applicants. Where this form can be used to explain past results or gaps in education, please note that we expect applicants to have achieved/ be set to achieve the same academic standards as school leavers.