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Department of Veterinary Medicine

Cambridge Veterinary School

Which subjects should I take at A level?

You should be taking Chemistry, and at least one of Biology, Physics or Mathematics. The latter three subjects are considered equally.

If you are taking Further Maths, contact the college(s) to which you are considering applying to find out how they view this subject.

Many applicants are taking three science/maths subjects in total, and our experience suggests that they are more likely to be successful than those taking two - although every year we admit strong applicants who have taken only two science/maths subjects. However, we realise that most applicants have had to choose their full A-level subjects soon after their GCSE results, with little opportunity to change afterwards, so the important thing is to work hard in the science/maths subjects you are doing!

If you are doing or have done two rather than three maths/science subjects, check this link for which colleges require three.


What grades do I need to achieve at GCSE and A level to be competitive for a place?

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*’/8/9s at GCSE. 

Our typical offer at A-level is A*AA in Chemistry and at least one, but more often two, other science/maths subjects. Some colleges may ask for the A* in Chemistry - check this list.


Will I need to complete any other tests before applying? 

All Veterinary Medicine applicants will be asked to take the University’s pre-interview ‘Engineering and Science Admissions Test’ (ESAT). 

Our analyses suggest that performance with the questions in the ESAT is a good predictor of public exam grades and subsequent performance on Cambridge science courses. However, applicants' ESAT scores are considered alongside all the other information available to us.

More information can be found at this link.


Is it ok if I take my exams independently, and not while I'm at school?

We are in general happy for applicants to be studying for A-levels (or equivalent) by whatever route they wish. For example, some mature students choose to study independently from textbooks or the internet, and then register privately to take exams at an exam centre. However, it would be a good idea to contact the individual college to which you are thinking of applying to discuss:

1. Whether the college includes any practical requirement when they set conditional offers - as you will probably not be able to do assessed practicals as part of your course. You may find that many colleges do not as for this anyway.

2. Who should be your UCAS referee? Usually this is someone at an applicant's school or university, but you may not be able to identify such a person. This is unlikely to adversely affect your application to Cambridge, but you will still need to find someone to write your reference.

3. Your probable lack of A-level predictions. Again, this is unlikely to be a problem as far as Cambridge is concerned as long as you explain it to the college in advance.

Also, you might want to explain all the above when you are asked to complete the MyCambridgeApplication Questionnaire.


How can I tell which Cambridge College will be best for me?

The Colleges are one of the main reasons why being a Cambridge vet is so enjoyable and rewarding, but you certainly should not worry about the choice of college to which you apply. Instead, you should view it a positive decision allowing you to choose where in the University you would live and study.

- Your choice of college will not affect your chances of getting onto the course, because our 'pool' system reallocates approximately 20% of applicants between colleges to ensure fairness across the University.

- Also, colleges which take more vet students tend to get proportionally more applicants anyway.

- Admission processes are carefully coordinated and moderated across the Cambridge colleges.


If I find it difficult to get a particular type of work experience, e.g. working with cattle and pigs, will I be at a disadvantage?

It is important to emphasise that we do not demand large amounts of veterinary vocational experience.

We merely suggest 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. Prolonged, varied and ‘impressive’ work experience will confer no additional advantage.

We do not have an absolute requirement for work experience, but a total of two weeks of EITHER 'seeing practice' with vets working with any species OR in a farm, pet shop or animal charity is a good idea. Your work experience does not have to be done in a single 'block', so our suggested amount could be thought of as 'a cumulative total of 10-12 working days'.

Do not delay your application because you have not yet gained any work experience.


How will my application be viewed if I wish to defer for a year so I may travel or work with animals?

We are happy to accept applications from candidates who wish to take a gap year before starting their course. Your plans may involve travel, or it may simply be an opportunity to earn some savings prior to starting the course, and the time certainly need not necessarily be spent in veterinary-related employment. Our only advice is that you should apply at the first opportunity (i.e. while at school) so that if you are unsuccessful the first time, you can try again in your gap year.


How much will it cost to study Veterinary Medicine at Cambridge?

Many prospective applicants assume that studying at Cambridge will be expensive – yet nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the University subsidises the teaching of each home-fees-paying veterinary student by several thousand pounds per year. In addition, Cambridge is a very well funded university, so does not need to subsidise its non-teaching activities from its student income.  For more information, please have a look at  


Can I apply if I am a mature or graduate applicant?

We enthusiastically welcome applications from candidates who already have a degree, and we set aside perhaps six places each year for such students – although there is considerable flexibility in this number. We strongly encourage potential affiliated 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. They must apply to one of the 'graduate/mature' colleges. Further information is provided here:

We also welcome applications from candidates without a degree, but who are classed as 'mature' (i.e. over 21 on the day they would start the course). Each year we allocate a number of places on the course for mature candidates. We strongly encourage potential mature candidates 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. Non-graduate mature applicants do not have to apply to a 'mature/graduate' college, but we advise them to consider it - for most it turns out to be the best option.


Do you accept applications from international applicants?

We want the unique Cambridge Veterinary Medicine course to be available to applicants from around the world, so we endeavour to attract and welcome students from outside the UK. We have no minimum or maximum ‘quotas’ for UK, EU or other applicants – we simply seek candidates with the most veterinary/scientific potential, wherever they come from.

Cambridge has many years of experience in assessing applicants who have taken a wide variety of examination systems. The Vet School is able to draw upon this experience when considering applicants from outside the UK.

You can find out much more about the application process and the financial side of studying Veterinary Medicine at Cambridge at

Candidates from outside the UK can apply to any college which admits vet students.


Who should I ask if, after reading the website, I have any further questions?

Please feel free to email us on: