What are my chances of acceptance to Cambridge University?

Hello all,

I am a rising senior studying in the US and I am thinking of applying to cambridge for law. I am wondering if some of my test scores would entirely disqualify me from being admitted as I know you have to submit every single one.

These are the APs I have taken:
9th: AP human geography(5)
10th: chemistry(3), drawing(5), world history(5)
11th: calc AB(2), European history(5), US history(5), Art history(5), English language composition(5), environmental science(5), art and design(4)

In my senior year i will be taking 7 AP classes: Ap 3D sculpture, ap lit, ap stats, ap gov, ap econ, ap psych, and ap french

I am worried about the 2 and 3 in calc and math, would they entirely disqualify me even if I’m applying to a field like law?

For my other test scores i have taken them a few times so I wonder if that will work against me.

SAT: the first time I took it was no studying and I got a 1360, then i took it again at school and got a 1410, i am planning to retake once more for a score of 1500+

ACT: I’ve only taken this once and as practice so I got a 31. I plan on retaking for a few more points

I have a 4.0 gpa and a 5.3 hpa (though I know they don’t put as much weight on these).

What’s the long term plan? Become a lawyer and live in the UK? Come back to the US and ??? And only Cambridge or your have other overseas U’s you are interested in??? Financial constraints?

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I would either study history or law. A career in law in the UK is something I would be amenable to. I’m also looking at Oxford but I know you can only apply to one or the other. Finances aren’t exactly what I’m worried about right now, more if my test scores would disqualify me from applying entirely.

Tagging @Twoin18

Tagging @collegemom3717

I’m not certain, but I do think you’ll ideally need a higher ACT or SAT score. The 31 and the 1410 are the same, so I suggest focusing your energy on whichever test you preferred and really concentrating on that, rather than trying to prep for two tests. And as you’ve already taken the SAT twice, I caution against a third time.

You can only find out if the test scores are a problem by applying. Unfortunately, I do suspect your ACT/SAT scores might be an issue, but I’m not sure. I think your AP scores of five are helpful and might help offset the two lower scores you got.

Finally, why are you taking seven APs in a year? You need to maintain a high GPA. I am not sure AP 3D sculpture adds to your app, unless you particularly want to take it.


Do you have a visa status such that you are allowed to practice law in the UK?

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My daughter went to Oxford from the US. I recommend that you go to the Cambridge web site and check the requirements for students from the US. These were very clear for Oxford and my D was able to apply without any external counseling and got in.

I don’t think your low scores on Chemistry and math will impact your chances for law or history. You have impressive AP scores in the area of interest, and this is what matters (again check on the website)

I also don’t think they care much about SAT/ACT beyond a minimum threshold. You will have to sit an entrance exam (LNAT for law and TSA for history) that is much more difficult than the US ones. Make sure to prepare for those

I think the SAT/ACT scores are more disqualifying than the AP scores. Really you should be easily able to get 1500+ with no practice in order to be Oxbridge material. One shortfall may be forgivable but you’ve already missed the standard three times (adding SAT and ACT attempts together). Cambridge is also much less keen on admitting American undergraduates than Oxford and eliminates more applicants based simply on the raw qualification minimums (eg five 5s rather than 3) and will view the SAT shortfall more seriously. At Oxford you might have a chance of getting an interview if you knocked it out of the park on the pre-interview test.

I do also agree that applying for law is a bad idea, unless you are from a Commonwealth country with English law (or have a UK passport). An applicant from the US is unlikely to be viewed as having serious intent to become a UK lawyer, and that will potentially be held against you when they are shortlisting for interview.


Yes, do make sure to consult with a British immigration lawyer to find out what employment restrictions your student visa has, both during your studies and after.

If I were to only take the ACT would I then not submit my SAT scores? It’s not normally a faux pas to take the SAT 2/3 times for US schools, so thank you for letting me know how it would look to a UK one.

I go to a pretty competitive arts high school, it’s required to take 2 art classes a year to remain enrolled - thats the reason for the 3D class haha. As for the 7 APs, that isn’t an uncommon number for someone at my school to take, I actually opted to take an easier math class and my counselor raised an eye at me.

Thank you for the advice. My guidance counselor doesn’t have much knowledge on overseas (or even canadian schools) so I’ve been figuring a lot of this out on my own. There is no pre-law in the US so I assumed if it was an option I should take it without entirely considering the logistics.

Lots of good points above, and a few to add:

  1. Law at Oxbridge is much more theoretical than. you may be thinking. Everybody who completes a law degree also has to complete a Legal Practice Course (where you learn the applied vs the theoretical stuff) and then a Training Contract (often done concurrently). Make sure you are interested in the actual courses: they are grueling and I know more than a few Oxbridge law students who wish that they had gone the Law Conversion Course route.

  2. The (structured) time to become a qualified solicitor is typically 6 years (vs 7 in the US). The challenge for a US student is that getting a Training Contract is hard for a non-national. Graduating from Oxbridge does help- because there will be no legal barrier- but the cultural barrier is real, especially in the ‘Magic Circle’.

  3. If your ultimate goal is law in the US, you will need to sit the bar. NY will allow you to sit the bar (after they validate your degree, which can take a time), but realistically to pass the bar most people need to take a prep course and/or do an LLM.

  4. As @Twoin18, Cambridge is more resistant to US students than Oxford. Imo, it would take a very strong LNAT to compensate for your SAT/ACT. And, although UCAS no longer divides APs into a higher/lower tier, several of your 5s are in subjects that are not seen as being as rigorous.

  5. Remember that at either Ox or Bridge you are interviewed by the people who will actually be teaching you, and as one of them said “we want you to love our subject as much as we do”. Figure out what you really are interested in - history or law. It is hard to overstate just how intense either course will be, and if you don’t love it to start with it’s brutal.


You have to disclose ALL exams you are taking. As other posters have stated, they will see that it took you at least four attempts to get a qualifying score and they won’t like that.

They will also see that you have a lot of breadth in your AP classes, but they prefer depth. And while scores in unrelated subjects don’t matter…what is a subject related to law, or unrelated to law? How about a subject that is related to your facility with constructing logical arguments and understanding complex systems? If you look at the law faculty’s website:

“ For 2017, 2018 and 2019 entry, the majority of applicants from an A Level background achieved at least grades AAA (62% of entrants). These successful applicants typically took at least one of English (Language, Language & Literature, or Literature, 86%), History, or a language. All remaining entrants took Mathematics and at least one of the ‘good choice combination subjects’ recommended by Subject Matters.”

So, for your fellow candidates, they will consider mathematics A level and want at least an A, if not a A*. They will look at your 2 in calc AB, which is a lower standard than BC, which is still a lower standard than A-level, and it will be found wanting.

Third, they will not understand why you would want to get a degree that is useless to you in the jurisdiction you can work in because employers will want to see a US law degree and useless to you in the jurisdictions you could use it because you won’t have a work permit. And yes, they will want to know.

IMO, you could make a much better case for history.

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