Below you will find the questions most frequently asked of the Admissions Office.
Life at Pembroke
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. See our page on Accommodation for more information.
What will the other students be like?
Pembroke is a diverse and welcoming College. As a guide, over the last three years around two thirds of the admitted UK students were from maintained (‘state’) sector schools, and around 14% of the intake came from outside the UK. The cohort is usually split roughly equally between men and women.
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. 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 JP (Junior Parlour) Committee
Is Cambridge Affordable?
Cambridge is not a particularly expensive place to study, and financial help is available to those who need it. See the Costs and Financial Support pages for more information.
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 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.
Do I need to submit written work?
Shortly after the October application deadlines have passed, the Admissions Office will email you to let you know if you need to send in any written work.For some Arts and Social Sciences/Humanities degree courses, we ask candidates to send in two samples of written work by early November. We don’t expect you to write essays especially for your Cambridge application. You can send in pieces that you’ve done at school in the normal course of study and had marked by a teacher. The word limit is 2,000 words per piece.
Can graduates of other universities apply for undergraduate courses?
Yes. Graduates can apply as 'Affiliated students' for many, but not all, courses. At Pembroke we do not accept affiliated applications for Architecture, Law, Veterinary Medicine or Medicine.
Can current students in the first year at other universities apply for undergraduate courses?
We can only consider applications in this situation where the current institution supplies a letter of support for your Cambridge application. This needs to be submitted directly to the College during the application stage.
Can I take a gap year?
Postponing your start date to spend a constructive ‘gap year’ away from formal study is something we’re happy to welcome at Pembroke, if it will suit you.We do expect you to have clearly thought-out plans for your gap year – but beyond that, what you do is up to you! You can either apply before your A Level or equivalent exams for deferred entry, or apply in the October following your A Levels/equivalent exams as a post-qualification applicant. The application process is the same in both cases.
Where can I find more details about admissions assessments?
A table of subjects and which assessments will be administered in late October/ early November, and which at interview in December can be found in the University website.
How does Pembroke use the admissions assessments?
The assessments provide a useful element in informing decisions about the comparative strength of all applications. They help us gauge your potential to succeed in the Cambridge course applied for as part of our holistic admissions process.
Do you interview all candidates?
We interview all those who stand a realistic chance of a place with us; in recent years this has been between 70 and 75% of the field. Candidates are notified in mid/late November if they have been selected for interview.
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. 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 we decide which candidates to call to interview?
At Pembroke we interview all those applicants who are competitive for entry in their chosen field. 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 assess 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 assessment of applications 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.
Can I be interviewed via Skype?
We will only offer interviews via Skype in exceptional circumstances. We endeavour to give as much notice as possible to overseas applicants but expect them to prepare for the possibility of coming to Cambridge for interview by researching visa requirements in advance. You are unlikely to be offered a Skype interview if you have failed to obtain a visa. In most cases we will only offer an interview via Skype due to unforeseen and last minute incidents, such as grave family illness or cancellation of flights.
Our Admissions Decisions
What are my chances of getting a place?
The overall success rate for Cambridge applicants is 1 in 5. The better your exam results and predicted future results, the better your chances. That said, at Pembroke we assess candidates in a holistic way, looking at all academic elements of your application. This means no single factor determines who is offered a place. Instead we make our selection based on your exam results and predictions, plus your interview performance and other factors, which include:
- School references
- UCAS personal statement
- Written work – for Arts/Social Science subjects
- Portfolio – for Architecture
- BMAT – for Medicine
- Tests taken before or at time of interview in Cambridge – i.e. the Cambridge Law Test
How do you make decisions about which candidates to offer places to?
This process is holistic, involving all academic 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 many 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 please visit the University's Application Statistics page.
Can I obtain feedback on my application?
We are happy to offer feedback to unsuccessful candidates or their schools on request until 28th February following the 15th October deadline.