Charlie Barty King doing a tour for students

Application FAQs

The most common questions asked by students applying as mature undergraduates.

Charlie Barty King doing a tour for students

This page aims to answer some of the more common questions that are asked by potential applicants. If you would like further information please contact the Undergraduate Administrator, who will be happy to answer your questions.



Which courses are taught at Wolfson College?

Wolfson admits undergraduates for all subjects except Mathematics and Economics. You can find a list of the subjects offered on our website

Additionally, we are one of only four colleges to accept applicants for the Cambridge Graduate Course in Medicine, or for affiliated entry to Medicine and Veterinary Medicine.

How old are Wolfson undergraduates?

We accept applicants who will be twenty-one or over at the time of their admission to Cambridge (1 October in any given year). The majority of our students are in their early to mid-twenties, but we also regularly admit undergraduates in their thirties, forties and beyond. No matter where you fall on this scale, you will find that Wolfson, both socially and academically, is tailored to your needs.

Is there an upper age limit for applicants applying to Wolfson?

There is no upper age limit for Mature applicants, but we would expect evidence of recent academic achievement (usually within two years of applying) at a high level; for example, an Access to HE Diploma, A Level(s) or an Open University course (Level 2 or above).

More information can be found on the university website.

How many applicants have applied for the course I wish to study, or been made an offer?

Undergraduate admissions statistics are available on the University of Cambridge website.

Where can I find a reading list for the subject I wish to study?

Students can find reading lists for all our subjects that we teach on our website.

Where can I find dates for upcoming open day and outreach events?

You can find details of open days and outreach events on our website.

I have received an offer to study at Wolfson College, what should I do/consider before arriving?

You can find useful information on our Offer Holder Information and Getting Started pages. Please note that we can only answer enquiries from confirmed offer holders who have questions regarding the information on these two pages.

Can I apply for an undergraduate qualification at Wolfson which I already hold?

We would not consider applicants for a course who already hold a degree in the same qualification. Priority will be given to applicants who have not already obtained the qualification. 

Can I apply for the STEM SMART programme?

Any questions you have regarding the STEM SMART programme application process and your eligibility to apply need to be directed to the STEM SMART Team contact details which can be found here


Requirements & Qualifications

Should I take A-Levels?

The majority of school leavers come to Cambridge with A-levels (or an international equivalent) and many mature students choose to do the same. For some courses, especially in the sciences, specific subjects are a requirement and it is difficult to find alternative UK qualifications; for others, it is sometimes reassuring for mature students to know that they have followed the same syllabus and attained a comparable standard to their younger peers.

What if I didn’t take A Levels?

If you didn’t take A levels, we will consider your performance in equivalent qualifications such as the IB, BTECs or Access courses. You can find a list of equivalent qualifications on the University of Cambridge website.

Which international qualifications are equivalent to A Levels?

We accept a wide variety of qualifications from all over the world and expect students to be achieving the highest grades. You can find a list of recognised international qualifications on the University of Cambridge website.

What if my international qualifications are not accepted by Cambridge?

If your international qualifications are not considered as suitable preparation, we strongly recommend that you undertake further study.

Examples of qualifications that would be considered suitable include:

  • A Levels
  • International Baccalaureate (IB)
  • five or more Advanced Placement (AP) courses
  • the first year of an undergraduate degree at a university outside the UK*

*We would expect to see a high 2.1 (or higher) module scores in order for your application to be considered.

Should I take an Access to Higher Education Diploma?

An Access to HE Diploma is formally recognised as qualifications for admission to most arts & humanities subjects, and can be a good choice if you lack confidence in basic study skills. In any Access to HE Diploma you will achieve 60 credits with 45 of those credits at Level 3. We would be looking for a distinction grade in every graded subject unit. In addition, you will need to check that your Access to HE Diploma meets any specific subject requirements.

It is a good idea to declare your intention to apply to Cambridge when you enrol on an Access to HE Diploma, so that your tutors will know what you are aiming for, and can advise and support you accordingly.

An Access to HE Diploma alone is not sufficient preparation to study a science subject or a medical course at Cambridge. Psychological and Behavioural Sciences is an exception to this (though in that instance we would expect the Access course to contains significant maths and/or biology).

Does Wolfson accept applicants with a Certificate of Higher Education (CertHE) qualification?

A CertHE is equivalent to the first year of a degree (120 credits at level 4) and can be excellent preparation for a degree at Cambridge.

These are often awarded at the end of a university Foundation Year (including the Cambridge Foundation Year), can be studied as a standalone qualification (e.g. with the Open University), or can be awarded as the result of combining credits (e.g. two undergraduate certificates from Cambridge Institute of Continuing Education).

Some students come to us having previously studied a year at another university, but have left before applying to Cambridge. Whilst we are happy to consider such requests, do note that we cannot transfer credits and students will have to start our courses from the beginning of the first year.

Will a 'false start' on another degree programme count against me?

A significant proportion of our applicants have made subject choices at school and/or university that they later regret, and one 'false start' elsewhere is unlikely to have a bearing on our assessment, provided you explain it sensibly. Please note, however, that applications from students who have failed at or been excluded from another medical school will not normally be considered for entry to Medicine at Cambridge.

What if my first language is not English?

It is essential that your English language skills are good enough for you to undertake an intensive and challenging academic course that is taught and examined in English. Therefore, if your first language is not English, you may be asked to achieve a formal English language qualification as part of the conditions of any offer.

Wolfson College considers the Singapore Integrated Programme (SIP) as an acceptable English language qualification.

How long does an English language test remain valid?

English language test results are only valid for two years from the date of the exam and should still be valid on the first day of the Cambridge course. Component scores should all be achieved in a single sitting.

How important is additional preparation for candidates who have met the entrance requirements some time ago?

We recommend that all applicants who achieved the academic standards required for entry more than two years prior to application undertake some additional preparation, and applicants who have taken a break from study lasting more than three years are likely to be disadvantaged if they do not prepare formally.

Many recent applicants who were initially reluctant to undertake additional preparation have reported how much they enjoyed modules offered by Birkbeck College, Cambridge Institute of Continuing Education, the University of London International Programme, Oxford Department for Continuing Education, and the Open University, amongst others.

What health experience do I require for a Medicine or Veterinary Medicine application?

Standard and Graduate Medicine

For the Standard Medicine and Graduate Medicine courses we look for relevant healthcare experience from applicants. You should look to support your application with proof of sustained and varied experience of over a year or more in order to show your commitment to the course. We strongly advise obtaining medical/healthcare experience as a paid or volunteer worker in the private or public healthcare industry and the shadowing of medical professionals in hospital/GP practice. We look for varied and consistent hands-on patient care along with experience working within an NHS environment. We are not prescriptive about how this is obtained, recognising the widely differing opportunities available.

Veterinary Medicine

For applicants wishing to apply for the Veterinary Medicine course we realise that some of you may be having trouble gaining work experience prior to your application for Veterinary Medicine, but our message to you is do not worry. Although we recommend it (at least two weeks), we do not require you to gain work experience, and every year we receive applications from candidates who could not secure work experience for logistical or insurance reasons, or who decided to apply for Veterinary Medicine quite late, such that they could not gain experience before the UCAS application deadline or their interview.



How can I make my application more competitive?

At Cambridge you are expected to have achieved the same academic standards as those required of school leavers. The intensive nature of Cambridge courses, with the requirement to produce independent work every week, does require rigorous academic preparation. We are looking for students with the academic ability and potential to flourish at Cambridge. 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.

Applications are assessed objectively taking a range of factors into account. Our assessment includes the following criteria:

  • Recent academic achievement, as evidenced by transcripts, high-school qualification or more recent academic study;
  • Contents of the UCAS reference;
  • Evidence of interest in the subject to be studied and of engagement with that subject outside of formal academic study;
  • Performance in pre-interview admissions assessments (where relevant);
  • Performance in standardised tests of English language proficiency such as IELTS (where relevant);
  • Contextual factors, as signalled in the UCAS application, My Cambridge Application, and Extenuating Circumstances Form (where relevant);
  • Predicted grades (where relevant).
Will I be disadvantaged if I apply in the March Round?

We assess all applications in exactly the same way, and competitive applicants for subjects available in the March round stand as good a chance of securing a place as those who apply in October. Delaying your application may, in fact, be to your advantage if you have only recently returned to study, since it allows you more time to build core knowledge and academic interview skills, collect examples of written work, and obtain an appropriate reference.

The three 'mature' Colleges operate a small March Round Pool which operates in the same way as the Winter Pool. Find out more here.

Is the application process different for international applicants?

The application process is the same for all applicants. You can find further details about the application process on our Applying page.

Who should write my reference?

Ideally, your UCAS reference should be written by someone who is familiar with your academic work as well as your recent history. For example a teacher on a recent relevant further education course. If this is not possible, you should ask a responsible person who knows you. This could be an employer, training officer, careers adviser, or senior colleague in employment or voluntary work.

What if my referee is unable to provide me with predicted grades in my UCAS application?

If your referee is unable to provide any predicted grades on your UCAS application, they should leave this section blank and provide their reasoning in their reference. Please contact UCAS for further advice and guidance.

What if I have a disability or chronic illness?

We welcome applications from disabled students and will do all that we can to accommodate you. You can find more information and resources on our Applying page. Please contact us well in advance of an application to discuss any supporting facilities that the College or University could provide. The University has a Disability Resource Centre offering specialist help, information and advice to people with a disability or chronic illness.

What is an affiliated applicant?

An affiliated applicant is someone who has graduated with a first or 2.1 Honours degree who now wishes to pursue a second undergraduate degree. You can find further information on the University of Cambridge website and our Applying page. 

Does Wolfson accept late applications?

In general, late applications cannot be accepted, and we would usually have to reject any such application that we received. There are a narrow set of serious extenuating circumstances that may cause us to reconsider, so if the reason for not being able to apply by the deadline is health-related or an emergency on the day of the deadline, we may need more information in order to reach a decision.

Can I transfer from another University?

It is not possible to transfer from another University directly onto a Cambridge degree course, or to take into account credit accumulated elsewhere. Work undertaken as part of another degree course would be taken into consideration within an application, but it can only be regarded in preparatory terms for a degree course that is started afresh.

We normally do not consider applications from students enrolled on a degree course at another UK university.

We will only consider this if:

  • you have exceptional circumstances
  • you want to change the subject you are studying

You will:

  • need strong support from your course director
  • need a written reference or letter of support
  • be assessed in the same way as any other applicant
Can I apply through Clearing?

The University of Cambridge does not normally enter Clearing.

If your examination results are much better than expected and you decide that you wish to try for a place at Cambridge, you will need to apply within the following year’s application round.

What should I do if I experienced a technical issue when submitting My Cambridge application?

Please contact the application support team at

What should I do if my offer has been automatically declined on UCAS?

If you did not accept your offer on UCAS by the deadline your offer will be automatically declined.

If you still wish to accept our offer and have the automatic decline reversed you will need to call UCAS  within 14 days of the automatic decline.

We will be unable to confirm your offer if you have not accepted the offer on UCAS.

Does Wolfson provide specimen assessment papers?

Wolfson does not provide specimen assessment papers. However, the University of Cambridge website has specimen papers for some subjects. If a course has specimen and/or past papers available, these will appear on the relevant course webpage under the Entry Requirements tab. 

Will my application be considered for the Cambridge ‘pools’ if unsuccessful?

The University of Cambridge has three ‘pools’ in the admissions cycle. These happen in January (Winter Pool), March (Spring Pool – only for the mature student March application round), and August (Summer Pool).

If we are impressed with your application but do not have a place for you, we may put your application forward to be considered by other Colleges. Please note that Colleges would rather admit a strong applicant that applied to another College, than a weaker applicant who applied to them directly or was allocated to them.

When assessing applicants for the pool Colleges consider the following criteria:

  • look at applications that were assessed by another College first
  • consider these applicants for courses where they have places left
  • make offers to the best applicants

You can find further information on the University of Cambridge website here.

Can I apply for the August Reconsideration Pool if my application is unsuccessful?

There are strict eligibility criteria for Adjustment at Cambridge. Please see the following webpage for further details.


Fees & Finance

How much will the undergraduate course cost?

You can find information about tuition fees, College fees, and living costs on the University of Cambridge website.

What is my fee status?

Your fee status will influence the level of fees you are charged, and the type of financial aid available to you. A Student’s fee status is classified as either ‘Home’ or ‘International’. If you are unsure of your fee status, please visit the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) website for further information. Please note that we only formally confirm fee status for applicants who have reached offer stage, due to the number of applications we receive each year.

Is there financial support available for international students?

The University of Cambridge provides limited financial support to international students details of which can be found here.

Is there financial support for Medical and Veterinary students?

Details of financial support for Medical and Veterinary students can be found on our website.

Does Wolfson College provide financial support to students?

Details of financial support provided by Wolfson College can be found on our website.

How do I select the correct undergraduate loan from Student Finance England?

Applicants will be asked to search for a university. When searching for Cambridge, multiple options will be presented as all our Colleges are set up as separate ‘universities’ on the Student Loan Company database.

Under the ‘University or college’ list you will need to select ‘Wolfson College – University of Cambridge’. Please do not select ‘University of Cambridge’ as this is the option for postgraduate loans.

The UCAS course codes for our undergraduate qualifications can be found under the individual subject pages of the University of Cambridge website.

If you have selected the incorrect loan you will need to amend this via your online account or submit a Co1 form. If you do decide to upload the Co1 form to your account, you can access a helpful ‘how to’ video here.

How much funding will I receive from the Student Loan Company?

You can find out how much you will receive by using the Student Finance England calculator here. This calculator is for students from England or the European Union (EU) starting a new undergraduate course. You cannot use the calculator if you are from ScotlandWales or Northern Ireland.


Standard Medicine (A100)

What are the minimum requirements?

All mature and affiliated medical students applying to the mature Colleges are expected to have passed three A levels with grades A*A*A or its equivalent. The A Levels need to be in Chemistry and one of Biology, Physics, or Mathematics. Further details of the Standard Medicine course can be found on our subject page.

Do I need to sit the BMAT examination?

All applicants are required to take the Biomedical Admission Test (BMAT) at an authorised assessment centre, for which you will need to be registered in advance.

Will the minimum pre-medical requirements and a good pass in the BMAT examination be suitable requirements for a place?

Although the minimum pre-medical requirements are all that is formally required to be considered for the medicine course, to make a competitive application it is desirable for at least three science/maths subjects to be offered at A level. To put this into perspective, mature applicants are in direct competition with school-leavers who have achieved at least three science/maths subjects at A level at grades A and A*.


Graduate Medicine (A101)

What are the minimum requirements?

In order to be considered we expect applicants to either have a first-class degree and a minimum of AAB at A-level, or a 2.1 degree with a minimum of A*A*A at A-level. Those still to complete their degree will need A*A*A at A-level to be considered. International equivalents are accepted (though note that this course is only open to students with UK home-fee status). If a candidate has significant extenuating circumstances that have affected their academic achievement but they are still very close to this standard, they may be considered.

What are the subject requirements?

A-level or equivalent Chemistry, passed within the last 7 years before entry, and one other science. Grades of A or above are expected. If you do not have these subjects (or the required grades) it is possible to sit the A-level exams in the summer before entry.

What if I have Chemistry at the required level but 7 years ago or more?

Depending on what you have been doing since and whether it involves study and/or use of Chemistry, the requirement may be waived. We would seek further details from those being interviewed. If the requirement is not waived, it is possible to sit the A-level exams in the summer before entry.

Do I need to sit the BMAT examination?

Applicants to the Graduate Medicine course are not required to sit the BMAT. Please note that BMAT and UCAT scores are not considered as part of the application process for this course.