The application process can be slightly daunting, but please don’t be put off by it! Newnham want to consider your application as carefully as possible, so they need as much information as possible to help them do this.
As the application process varies so much between subjects, we suggest that you look at Newnham’s official website for the specific advice and details that are relevant to you – there’s a really comprehensive overview of admissions here. Your department website may also have some helpful advice.
If you are an international student then this section of the university website is really helpful, as it covers everything from entry requirements to the application process, fees and information about student visas – it can be found here.
Whilst the admissions process does differ a lot between courses (and colleges), interviews happen in all subjects. Interviews can seem scary and intimidating experiences and they are the thing most applicants worry about – so if you are worried then you are not alone! Please try to believe us though when we say that virtually everyone finds their interviews to be better experiences than anticipated!
Interviewers want to see how enthusiastic you are and how you think about things, or work through problems – whatever you may have heard, they do not try to trick you as they want to see you thinking at your best! Watching a mock interview is the best way to get a proper idea of what a Cambridge interview is like, as they tend to be more of an academic discussion than a traditional interview; you can watch one here.
If you come to Newnham for your interviews (there are various other places international applicants can be interviewed, so check the college website), then you will be offered a room to stay overnight, should you need it. On the day of your interviews, there will be lots of student helpers (called sheepdogs, don’t ask why!) around to help you and make sure that you get to the right rooms in time.
Finally, in an attempt to make you feel less daunted and more reassured, here are some accounts of how current Newnham students found their interviews:
“I was really nervous about my interviews, as I hadn’t even been able to string a coherent sentence together in the practice one I had at school. They turned out to be more of an academic discussion than a traditional question-answer interview and both my interviewers were very friendly – I actually quite enjoyed them in the end and managed to stay vaguely coherent!” Nina, archaeologist
“When I first came to Newnham for my interview I was very nervous, quite lost and expecting to have a really tough and exhausting weekend full of trick questions and tests. Fortunately all my worries disappeared when my first interview started, and the lovely chat I had with the interviewer almost felt like meeting an old friend.” Fruzsi, architect
“I had one interview at Corpus and one at Newnham, and the Newnham one was by far the nicest – I was well taken care of and everyone was very friendly. My interviewer was kind and interested in me; it didn’t feel much like an interview, more a fascinating conversation with someone who knew loads more than me about something we both liked.” Katy, classicist
We hope you now feel a bit better about your interviews! If you have any specific questions or concerns not answered here or on the college website, then please email Felicity, our super lovely Admissions Coordinator (firstname.lastname@example.org), or our JCR Access Officer (email@example.com) – a current student who is here to help you!
Extenuating Circumstances Form
Cambridge knows that not everyone’s education goes as smoothly or as easily as we would all like. Whether due to illness, difficult home situations or schooling issues, sometimes other things can stop you from reaching your full academic potential. Colleges want to make sure that they have the best possible picture of you, so that they can properly consider your application. If your education has been disrupted or severely affected then it is worth filling in an Extenuating Circumstances Form. There isn’t a strict eligibility criteria for being able to use this form, as everyone is considered individually, but you can find out more info here.
Sometimes it is more reassuring to hear things from someone who has been in a similar-ish situation to you, so here is a current Newnham student:
“I must admit that the Extenuating Circumstances form left me a bit baffled. As I was the first Cambridge applicant from my school, they were unable to give me helpful advice and I therefore had to make my own judgment on whether or not to use the form. I was torn because I knew that honestly I had a good reason to use it (I’d missed nearly half of Year 12 due to serious illness, and was pretty unwell for most of my Sixth Form education), but I was paranoid that using it would make me look weak and desperate. I didn’t want it to eclipse the rest of my application and have them consider me more carefully purely out of ‘pity’.
It was only later – after biting the bullet and using the form – that I learnt that it does none of the things I worried about. It simply means that Admissions Tutors have an even fuller and clearer picture of you as a person and your journey before applying to Cambridge. It does not detract from your other credentials – if anything, it makes you seem even more impressive! If you have faced extenuating circumstances of some description, and I were you, I would just be honest and use the form. Ultimately, they are considering you as a whole package and the form is only one part of your application.”