Below you will find the questions most frequently asked of the Admissions Office.
Can I afford to come to Pembroke? Most probably. Cambridge is not a particularly expensive place to study, and financial help is available to those who need it. See the Fees and Financial Support pages for more information.
Where will I live? You will live either in a room in College or in a College-owned house within a few minutes’ walk from College. First year undergraduates are offered rooms in College, to help them settle in. A room ballot determines where students live in later years. First and second year students living in College are entitled to nine weeks of accommodation each term; the teaching term itself is eight weeks long. Students in higher years living in College-owned houses are permitted to stay in residence for longer. See our pages on Accommodation & Facilities for more information.
What can I study? We admit undergraduates to any subject apart from Education and Geography. Find out more about the courses available.
What will the other students be like? In our experience, students from different school backgrounds, both from the UK and overseas, are equally happy here. About 15% of our undergraduates are from overseas (this includes EU countries). As a guide, the statistics for offers for admission in 2017/18 are:
- Applications from the maintained sector = 63%
- Applications from the independent sector = 33%
- Offers from the maintained sector = 63%
- Offers from the independent sector = 37%
We admit on the basis of merit. Historically some subjects have attracted more applicants from one gender than another. Of those made offers of an undergraduate place for admission in 2017/18, 52% are male, 48% female.
What if I have a disability? This need not be a bar to studying at Pembroke. Find out more about the facilities and help available.
What about sports, acting, music, politics, journalism, etc? There is plenty to get involved with at Pembroke. If there is not a College society which caters exactly for your interests, then there will undoubtedly be one at the University level. (University societies involve students from all the Colleges). At the beginning of each year there is a huge Societies Fair at the local Sports Hall, where you can go along and meet those who share your present interests, or investigate new ones. Societies and publications at Pembroke include:
- Sports teams in football, rugby, cricket, rowing, hockey, lacrosse, etc
- The Pembroke choir and orchestra
- The Pembroke players – for acting, directing and producing
- The Stokes Society – for scientists
- Pembroke Street – student newsletter
- The Pem – poetry magazine
- The Winnie the Pooh Society
- The JP (Junior Parlour) Committee
- The Pembroke Art and Photographic Society
Can I come and see the College? Of course. We run an extensive programme of Open Days, but you can also come and visit in your own time. (Please note that there are some restrictions on visiting the College, particularly during University exams.) Find out more about visiting the College.
Will I be disadvantaged in the admissions process if I do not visit the College beforehand? We are often asked this question! We do not give ‘pre-interviews’ or in other ways make preliminary assessments of prospective candidates who visit us. It is in no way a disadvantage not to have visited the College before applying.
How do I apply? All undergraduates must now apply on-line through UCAS. Find out more about the application process.
What if I miss the application deadline? It is your responsibility to ensure that you meet both the UCAS deadline and that for the Cambridge Supplementary Application Questionnaire (SAQ). Failure to do so may lead to your application being rejected without consideration. Once you have submitted your UCAS application, you will automatically receive an email from the University with the information necessary to fill in the SAQ. Sometimes this email can go to your spam/junk mail. If you have not received this email and the deadline for submission of the SAQ is looming, you should first check your spam/junk mail and, if you do not find it there, you must contact the Cambridge Admissions Office (see mail address on the University website) to obtain the information. We may not be able to consider an application where the SAQ is submitted late and the candidate did not contact us to indicate that they had not received their automatic email.
Can graduates of other universities apply for undergraduate courses? Yes. Graduates should apply as ‘Affiliated students’.
What if I am applying from overseas? We welcome applications from overseas candidates, who contribute greatly to the life of the College.
I have heard that Cambridge’s admissions process is changing. How? We are committed to making decisions about applications on the basis of the fullest and clearest possible base of evidence. In response to on-going changes now affecting post-16 qualifications in England, and to help the Colleges with as much evidence of candidates’ skills and knowledge as possible, whether they are taking linear A-levels, AS-levels and A-levels, Pre-Us, the International Baccalaureate or other national qualifications, the Collegiate University is introducing a system of common format written assessments, specifically tailored for each subject. This will give us valuable additional evidence of a candidate’s academic abilities, knowledge base and potential to succeed in the Cambridge course for which they have applied. These assessments will be designed by subject specialists in Cambridge, and depending on the subject will be administered in early November in schools, without cost to the candidates, or on the day of their interview in Cambridge. The assessments will provide a useful new element in informing decisions about the comparative strength of all applications. They will help us gauge your potential to succeed in the Cambridge course applied for as past of our holistic admissions process.
Where can I find more details? Here is a table of subjects in which assessments will be administered in November, and which at interview in December.
* = new course for 2017 entry
** = new course for 2017 entry: applicants for History and Modern Languages will take both the History pre-interview and Modern Languages at-interview assessment
++ = Pembroke does not currently admit undergraduate students to read Geography or Education Please note that there will be no common-format written assessment for Mathematics or Music, but Colleges will assess aptitude, knowledge base and potential through short tasks at interview.
Conditional offers in Mathematics will continue to make use of the STEP examination. A dedicated webpage on the University of Cambridge website has been set up to provide further information on the format, duration, subject content of each assessment. Pembroke’s own subject admissions pages will also contain links to this information.
I am studying for different qualifications in different subjects. How will you regard a combination of linear A-level, Pre-U, stand alone AS- and A-levels in which UMS scores continue to be available? We are committed to continuing to make decisions about applications on the basis of the fullest and clearest possible base of evidence. Examination results to date and examination predictions have always proved one part of that process, and we expect them to continue to be in the future. We are looking for evidence of very strong examination performance and predictions across a range of subjects relevant to the Cambridge course for which you have applied, whichever qualifications you are studying. We do make allowances for exceptional circumstances and those who have faced difficulties which have affected their exam performance. The latter should explore whether an application should make use of the University of Cambridge’s Extenuating Circumstances Form. It should be repeated that we do make allowances for exceptional circumstances and those who have faced difficulties which have affected their exam performance. The latter should explore whether an application through Cambridge University’s Extenuating Circumstances Scheme might be appropriate.
Does Pembroke have a standard offer? Details of our offer levels can be found here. For further information about the University of Cambridge entry requirements, please visit the following webpage: www.undergraduate.study.cam.ac.uk/applying/entrance-requirements
Do you interview all candidates? We interview the vast majority – around 75%-80% of those who apply. Candidates are notified in mid/late November if they have been selected for interview.
How do we decide which candidates to call to interview? At Pembroke we interview all those applicants who are competitive for entry in their chosen field; as indicated above, this is usually around the top 75%.
In the light of the reformed A Level, and without the AS Level unit scores that latterly have been central to Cambridge admissions selection, we will rank applicants holistically using their examination records, contextual data, UCAS references, and their performance in any pre-interview assessment set by the collegiate University.
These key elements will all be considered. While track-record in exams is likely to be the most important single element in our decision-making, no single factor will predominate.
In practice, decisions on who to call to interview will be made as follows:
- The core of the pre-interview ranking will be academic track-record: GCSE or IGCSE results or equivalent, or, for students who have not sat age-16 public examinations, school transcript;
- Contextual data, especially in respect of school performance, will be used positively where available to help us understand applicants’ records more completely. If you are a UK student from an underperforming school, it is likely that such data will be applied to ‘weight’ your GCSE results upwards;
- UCAS reference will be factored in;
- Finally performance in Section 1 (the multiple-choice section) of any pre-interview admissions assessment will be considered.
Please note that, in deciding who to call to interview, we will only use performance in admissions assessments positively, not negatively, i.e. no one will be ruled out of interview by their performance in an admissions assessment alone, but applicants who perform strongly in an assessment, but who otherwise we were not planning to call to interview, may be invited.
Does being asked to send in written work mean that I have got an interview? No. Although written work is not taken into account in our decisions about who to call to interview, we routinely ask all applicants in certain subjects to submit marked school essays by mid November because of the very short timeframe in which our admissions process takes place: if we waited until we had decided who to call to interview before we requested this work, it would not give candidates enough time to submit work and interviewers sufficient time to read it in advance of interviews. This means that you may be asked for an essay and then not called for interview after or before you have sent the work in. We understand that this is not easy for candidates, but unfortunately we have no choice but to ask for written work routinely soon after applications have been received.
How do you make decisions about which candidates to offer places to? Again this will be holistic, involving all elements in an application. At this point in our decision-making we will consider performance in Section 2 (as well as Section 1) of the pre-interview assessments/ performance in at-interview assessments for subjects where they exist. While performance in interview may in some cases be decisive, experience tells us that in the large majority of cases, it will not. This is because most applicants who are very strong on paper also perform strongly in interview; it is also possible for candidates with strong track-records in public exams to under-perform in interview and still receive an offer. As ever, contextualised track-record in public exams is likely to be the single most important factor in our decision-making.
How do you decide what level of offer to set? Academic research has consistently and decisively demonstrated that performance at A Level (or equivalent) correlates strongly with performance at university. The most complete study is available on the National Archives Website. Another up-to-date study is available from Cambridge Assessment.
Accordingly, in the interests of rational and valid decision-making, at Pembroke we intend to make the maximum number of offers we can for each available place, allowing as many students as possible to compete for entry via their performance in public exams sat at the end of their school or college career.
In order to be able to do this, we will need to make some challenging offers. The minimum A-Level offer for Cambridge entry is A*AA in the Arts and Humanities and A*A*A in the Sciences, and, while we will certainly make offers at this level, we are also likely to pitch some offers a grade higher than this, or stipulate A* grades in certain subjects. In practice successful Pembroke applicants tend to exceed the typical Cambridge offer in their final exams by one or two grades. For more information on the academic strength of entrants, see www.undergraduate.study.cam.ac.uk/apply/statistics.
Can I obtain feedback on my application? We are happy to offer feedback to unsuccessful candidates or their schools on request until 30th April following the 15th October deadline.