Clare College Cambridge

Information for Applicants

What is a College?

A College is where students live, eat, and socialise - much like a Hall of Residence. It is the Colleges, rather than the University, that are principally responsible for students' welfare and pastoral care. But Colleges also have an important academic dimension. They assess students for admission to the University, and they are responsible for arranging the small group teaching from senior members (called supervisions) which is one of Cambridge's distinctive features. This teaching provides students with a further opportunity to explore the subjects which they have learned about in the lectures and practicals arranged at University level in the Faculties and Departments.

How do I choose a College?

Choosing a College can seem complicated. It needn't be. Most of the differences are obvious: some are centrally located and some are not; some are large, and some small; some are old foundations and some relatively recent - though it's worth noting that 'old' does not necessarily mean 'traditional' in atmosphere. Colleges also differ slightly in the social facilities that they offer, and these differences are usually clear in their literature. Having chosen your basic Cambridge course, you can therefore choose a College in exactly the same way as any other University - by looking at location, size, accommodation and facilities, and the level of offer you are likely to get.

About Clare

Clare College is a lively and forward-looking college, with a strong history of academic achievement and a particular reputation for its friendly and unpretentious student community. In size, the college is in the middle of the range for Cambridge, admitting about 135 undergraduates a year. Clare students come from every type of school and college and from many parts of the world, and the College's gender balance is one of the best in Cambridge . Students are valued here very much as individuals, and the College has a well-deserved reputation for the high quality of its teaching and its effective networks of pastoral support.

Why should I apply to Clare?

As suggested above, there is actually much less to choose between many of the Colleges than you might at first think: what is important is the educational experience that Cambridge has to offer, and that is common to every College. Students in the past have chosen Clare for a number of different reasons: for its central location and setting by the river, for its firm offer of accommodation for at least three years, for its excellence in music, or for its combination of high academic standards with a friendly and unpretentious student community. The best way to choose is to come to Cambridge for an Open Day, where you will be able to talk directly to current students and teaching staff.

What do we look for in an applicant?

At Clare, candidates matter to us above all as individuals, and in assessing them we look carefully at every aspect of their academic and educational experience.

We want simply to attract candidates with the best potential in their subject, as measured by their academic record, their school or college references, their performance at interview, and in the written work that we look at as a part of the interview process.

The single most important thing we are looking for is academic potential. Successful candidates will be amongst the most able students in their school or college in the subjects most closely related to the University course. They are normally predicted A*AA or better in their A2 level subjects (or equivalent) appropriate for their chosen course, unless they are applying using the The Extenuating Circumstances Form They show intellectual flexibility, analytic ability, clarity of thought and the ability to argue logically. They are not afraid of complex and challenging new ideas.

We shall be looking for these achievements and attributes in all candidates through their academic record (including GCSE and AS or equivalent), school/college reference, personal statement, written work submitted or written tests and performance at interview.

The Application Timetable

Students thinking of applying to Cambridge can come to some of the College and Faculty Open Days

Detailed information about applying is available.

Supplementary Application Questionnaire

In addition to the information you give us about yourself on the UCAS application, you will also be asked to fill in a Supplementary Application Questionnaire.

The purpose of the SAQ is to ensure that we have complete and consistent information about all applicants. It also enables us to collect information that is not part of the UCAS application but we find helpful when assessing applications, such as the topics you have covered as part of your AS/A level (or equivalent) courses (which helps our interviewers decide which questions to ask) and, if applicable, registration numbers for admissions tests.

Once your UCAS application has been received by the University a message will be sent to the email address specified in that application. In this email you will be given the web address of the online Supplementary Application Questionnaire, your personal login details and a date by which you must complete it. The deadline for the SAQ is Wednesday 22 October.

Detailed information about the SAQ can be found at

Pre-Interview Tests and Submission of Previous Work

Some courses require you to sit a test before soming for interview, or to submit examples of previous work. Full details can be found in the Interviews section.


Please go to Interviews for further information.

Deferred Entry

In most cases, we are neutral about Deferred Applications, and prefer to leave it up to individual candidates as to whether they want to come straight from school or college, or to have a gap year.

Post A-Level

We welcome applications from those who have just done their final-year school or college examinations. We treat them just like other applicants, but would have expected them to achieve grades comparable to our usual conditional offers. Some applicants who have previously applied unsuccessfully to Clare write to us for advice about trying again. Our usual advice is that they may be better to start afresh at another College.


The Extenuating Circumstances Form (ECF) for UK and EU students

The Extenuating Circumstances Form (which has replaced the Cambridge Special Access Scheme) has been designed to ensure that the Cambridge Colleges have the information they require in order accurately to assess any applicant who has experienced particular personal or educational disadvantage.