Education Blog

Question: Our daughter did better than expected in her exams, can she still apply to Cambridge? 


The Telegraph, 17 August 2017 – Read the article in full here.

Vivienne Durham: It is not uncommon for students to have second thoughts

It is not uncommon for students to have second thoughts prior to starting higher education, but that adage about “a bird in the hand being worth two in the bush” comes to mind.

Your daughter has a confirmed university place for this autumn.  If she wishes to re-apply to Cambridge for the next academic year starting in autumn 2017, she will need to reject her current university offer and submit a new application via Ucas before October 15 2016.

Her updated Ucas personal statement should include plans for a constructive gap year.

However, your daughter’s IB results are no guarantee that she will be successful in gaining a place at one of the most competitive universities in the world. Cambridge University was placed second in the 2015 QS World University rankings for psychology and 380 candidates applied for 80 places for psychology.  

The Cambridge admissions process is rigorous; selection interviews will seek to test a student’s ability to work through problems and assimilate new ideas, beyond the intellectual complexity of A-levels or the IB Diploma. 

As I am sure you know, university degrees come in all shapes and sizes – and in few subjects is this more true than in psychology.

As I am sure you know, university degrees come in all shapes and sizes – and in few subjects is this more true than in psychology.   There are two undergraduate psychology courses offered at Cambridge: psychology can either be studied as part of the natural science tripos or as the Cambridge BA honours course in psychological and behavioural Sciences (commonly referred to as “PBS”). 

PBS is a research-led, multi-disciplinary degree course, which includes practical sessions in laboratories. In addition to lectures and seminars, the so-called “supervisions” in small groups, commonly one or two undergraduates, ensure that the quality of tuition is at Cambridge is exciting, intense and intellectually challenging.

Before making any decision, your daughter should contact the psychology faculty at the university she originally chose as soon as possible and talk through her thoughts with someone such as the admissions tutor.  She should also ask whether she could re-apply via Ucas for a place in 2017 should an application to Cambridge be unsuccessful.

As regards the bird in the hand and the two in the bush:  your daughter might consider applying to Cambridge for a post-graduate degree?

Vivienne Durham, schools advisory director at Enjoy Education and former head at Francis Holland School, Regent’s Park

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