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How to apply


All veterinary schools receive many more applications than there are places available, but if you are passionate about wanting to study veterinary medicine and have an interest in science, we would very much encourage you to apply. It is a competitive process but all applications are considered extremely carefully. The majority of our applicants are interviewed which provides a great platform for you to really show your passion for the subject and your broad scientific background.

It is important to realise that it is the individual colleges which conduct the admissions process, so you apply to them, not directly to the Vet School. Many applicants worry about the choice of college, but you should see it as a positive decision to allow you to pick the place where you may spend much of the next six years. Look at some college websites http://www.study.cam.ac.uk/undergraduate/colleges/, maybe attend an open day, and pick the college you think looks the most supportive and best for you. Most colleges admit students to read vet medicine, but do check this in advance.

If you still cannot decide which college to apply to, you can make an ‘open application’, and will then be allocated to a college which will process your application. Do bear in mind that the collegiate system gives you access to individual college admissions offices, which are a mine of useful information – just e-mail or call them if you have a query. Detailed information can also be found at http://www.study.cam.ac.uk/undergraduate/colleges/

The admissions process for veterinary medicine starts earlier than for other courses, so the deadline for submitting your online application to UCAS is 15th October. A detailed description of the admissions process can be found in the online prospectus at http://www.study.cam.ac.uk/undergraduate/apply/

When you complete your UCAS form, you will be asked to specify the college to which you’re applying, or you can decide not to pick a particular college and make an ‘open application’.

Please note that no one at Cambridge will know, nor would they care, where else you have applied to. Obviously it is likely that you will apply to other vet schools, but we consider it extremely important that you use the non-veterinary ‘backup’ spaces on your UCAS form. No interviewer at any university should ask where else you have applied.

What criteria do we use to make our decision?

At the outset, it important to state that all applicants must meet the University's basic pre-medical requirements - see the admissions section of the main university website.

It is generally accepted that the admissions process at Cambridge is more science-oriented than that for other veterinary courses. Because of this emphasis, applicants with weak science/maths GCSE grades or low science/maths AS module scores will be at a considerable disadvantage. Conversely, applicants who are confident at science and good at dealing with novel scientific concepts may find Cambridge the easiest veterinary course on which to secure a place.

1. GCSEs

GCSEs (or their equivalent) are not as important to us as A-levels (or their equivalent), but obviously it is encouraging if you have some A*’s at GCSE. Students wishing to study Veterinary Medicine must obtain:

  • grade C or above in GCSE (or equivalent) Double Award Science and Mathematics
  • two single awards in GCSE Biology and Physics may be substituted for Double Award Science

2. AS/A Levels, or Equivalent

Our research shows that performance in science/maths in the last two years of school is the best on-paper indicator of performance on courses at Cambridge.

  • Applicants must have AS or A Level passes in Chemistry and two of Biology/Human Biology, Physics, Mathematics. We do not count Psychology.
  • At least one pass must be at A Level, although most applicants for Veterinary Medicine at Cambridge have at least three science/mathematics A Levels and some Colleges require this or ask for particular A Level subject(s). See individual College websites for details. Applicants taking Further Maths should contact colleges to ask how they view this subject – some may consider it just as useful as Maths, Physics and Biology.
  • The typical conditional offer for 2014 entry was A*AA, and we will update this site with the typical offer for 2015 entry when it becomes available.
  • Although many Colleges consider applicants offering only two science/mathematics subjects at A Level, please note that the success rate of such applicants is much lower. In the past three admissions rounds, 95% of applicants for Veterinary Medicine offered three or more science/mathematics A Levels and, of these, 24 % were successful in obtaining a place. Of the 5% of applicants who offered only two science/mathematics A Levels, just 3% were successful in gaining a place.

Admissions offices at Cambridge colleges are used to considering applicants with qualifications other than A-levels. If you are studying for the IB, Scottish Highers, Pre-U, or non-UK qualifications, you can find more information on individual college admissions websites [link].

For more information, please go to the University’s online prospectus at http://www.study.cam.ac.uk/undergraduate/courses/vetmed/

3. The BMAT Test

All applicants to read veterinary medicine have to sit the 'BMAT' examination in the November of the year they apply, and the results of this are considered alongside all other information. Alternative arrangements may exceptionally be made for gap-year students unable to sit the Test at the usual time. The importance of the BMAT in veterinary admissions should not be over-emphasised - for example, performance at interview and in science/maths subjects in the last two years of school are considered more important. For details of the BMAT, click here.

4. The Interview

The college interviews are a very important part of the applications process and usually take place in early December. Most applicants will have two twenty-five minute interviews on the same day, often in quick succession, and each with one or more people. We look for candidates with commitment to a veterinary/scientific-related career, good problem solving skills and ability to discuss scientific and mathematical concepts, an ability to discuss veterinary cases they have seen, veterinary/scientific issues as well as their own interests, and evidence of an ability to balance work and leisure activities. Although you may be asked some difficult questions, do not worry – this is how we see how far you can take new ideas and concepts. We will do our best to help you perform to the best of your ability.

Everybody is nervous before interviews, it's natural. However, there's nothing to fear! It's not a test to see if you know the answers, but a way for the interviewers to understand your thought precessess and how to approach a challenge.

Callum 2013

5. Work Experience

Unlike other veterinary schools, we do not stipulate that you should have completed specified amounts of particular types of animal care/veterinary experience - merely that you should have done enough to be able to discuss and analyse your experiences at interview and have a realistic idea of what a veterinary/scientific career entails. Perhaps a total of two or more weeks 'seeing practice' with vets is sufficient. This limited requirement is very important as far as fair access to the course is concerned: not everyone has the time, money, contacts or parental availability to see remote hill sheep farming practice, but most people can arrange a few weeks with a local vet. Quality is more important than quantity - and by quality we mean the ability discuss the scientific and professional aspects of what you have seen.

6. Mature and Graduate Students

We welcome applications from candidates who already have a degree, or who are mature students (i.e. over 21 on the day they would start the course). Indeed, we have a number of places on the course which we intend to allocate to such candidates, if possible. We strongly encourage potential mature and graduate applicants to discuss their application in advance with the college to which they are thinking of applying, so they can be given advice about how best to proceed. Also, we recommend that they consider applying to one of the three colleges with particular experience of considering mature and graduate applications, and supporting such students once they start the vet course - Lucy Cavendish (women only), St Edmund's and Wolfson.

7. Overseas Students

We have a small number of international students on the veterinary course and just over 10% of undergraduate students within the University are from overseas and represent more than 120 countries. The application process is a little different for overseas applicants – for more information, please have a look at http://www.study.cam.ac.uk/undergraduate/international/