Who is a post-qualification applicant?

You're a post-qualification applicant if you took your school-leaving qualificationsin the academic year that's just finished, or in the academic year before. These qualifications could beA-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 finishingschool 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 froma university if this is relevant for you.

Can I start this October?

Ultimate FrisbeeIn most cases, the answer is a definite no - sorry. You would need to complete the full application process: You apply by 16 October the year before you want to start your course. So it is not possible to apply for October 2023 entry. If you are interested in applying for 2024 entry, you can do this once UCAS is open in early September 2023 for the next applications cycle.

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 ().

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, thosewho haveexceededthe Cambridge standard offer are, on average, more likely to receive an offer than those who havemetthe standard offer but notexceededit. 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.

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

Squash in the Old Combination RoomNo. Post-qualification applicants follow the normal application process set out on thehow to apply page.

There are a few notes worth bearing in mind:

  • 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, pleaseemail usfor advice.
  • You will also see that depending on your course, you may need to sit a that requires pre-registration. 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 atanother test centre. Registration deadlines are before the UCAS application deadline - your deadline could be as early as 15 September, depending on your subject. See the information about and please be careful because the details of admissions assessments, including which subjects require them, what the registration deadline is and which assessment is used in a subject do change from year to year.
  • UCAS provides a page on. If you are applying post-qualification you enter all of your qualifications and results asqualifications 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 interviews in late November / early December. You will need to arrange any gap year plans 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?

Painting workshop in the Fellows' Garden
Painting in the Fellows' Garden

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 thestandard 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 Ϻ, please email us to discuss this.

Note that some details can change from year to year (and some of the changess can be quite big!) so please read all information carefully (as carefully as you did the first time)! In particular, be careful to check if you have an that requires pre-registration and what the registration deadline and test date is if so. This information could be completely different to last year and some registration deadlines are as early as 15 September.

Ϻ Post-Qualification Advice Clinic

PQAAt Ϻ, we run an annual advice clinic in August as one of our widening participation initiatives. This is a brief zoom appointment in late August with a member of our admissions team for students who took A level, IB or equivalent exams at a UK state school. If you have achieved results this summer thatare better than expected, have met our typical offer requirements, and are considering the option of a post-qualificationapplication to Cambridge, please consider requesting an appointment for advice on whether you can make a competitive application before finalising your decision.

NB. We don't mind whether or not you have thought about your College choice, as whilst weare obviously keento give specific advice for students who are interested in an application to Ϻ College, we are just ashappy to provide more general advice for students who have not yet chosen a College.

We run the Ϻ Advice Clinic soon after the publication of results. The 2023 dates were Wed 23 August, Wed 30 August and Wed 6 September. The dates for the 2024 clinic will be confirmed here nearer the time.

What about STEP?

LibrarySTEP 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.

What do our students say?

Ana-Maria, one of our student writers, applied to Ϻ from the US as a post-qualification applicant. Hannah, from Plymouth, also applied the year after she sat her A-levels. You can read about their experiences below:

Do attend some events and get in touch!

Third Court
Third Court

If you're thinking of making a post-qualification application to Ϻ, we encourage you to attend one or more of our events (some are online, some in-person, some hybrid), and to email us (admissions@christs.cam.ac.uk) 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 via email, the current applicants section and the university-wide so please don't worry about that too much - just make sure that you've read the relevant Ϻ subject page in full.