Applying to Economics at Cambridge University

Economics at Cambridge University provides a sound understanding of core, pure and applied economics. However, while students may study economics in considerable depth in Cambridge’s specialised degree, they will also employ ideas and techniques from many other disciplines too; including history, sociology, mathematics and statistics, and politics.

Cambridge faculty - past and present - include some of the largest names in Economics, including Alfred Marshall and John Maynard Keynes. Notable faculty members have also been awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics (Sir John Hicks, James Meade, Sir Richard Stone, Sir James Mirrlees and Amartya Sen)

Academic Requirements
- A-levels: A*A*A
- IB: 40-42 points, with 776 at Higher Level

How did you decide between Cambridge and Oxford?

I wanted to do straight economics, not economics + management/politics & philosophy. Also, I heard that the economics courses at Cambridge were more mathematical (which I think I would prefer) than the ones at Oxford. (Profile 241)

Wanted straight economics, not PPE or E+M (Profile 171)

Oxford didn't offer pure Economics (Profile 242)

They design interviews so that prep doesn't help, don't stress if your school isn't very good at this kind of thing, or you haven't done any. BUT, if you do prep you will feel much more confident going into the interview, which helps - I'd done so much prep I wasn't at all nervous going into the interview. (Profile 1208)

The best choice for me was cambridge because i liked their teaching style, facilities, general atmosphere and social atmosphere better than oxford. (Profile 50)

Do you have any advice for future applicants in terms of preparation?

Oxbridge forms - keep them neat and dont go over the top on the personal statement addition part. Do a lot of reading (financial current affairs) and concentrate on at least one book to read (I recommend Schumacher's 'Small Is Beautiful'). (Profile 50)

Be absolutely on top of the stuff in the A-level syllabus. Read lots of books - I particularly like Paul Krugman's books. Also, there is an archive of his (very insightful) articles at: (Profile 241

Don't write down books you've supposedly read on your PS before you've read them. I had to quickly read Wealth of Nations because of this. Find a topic in Economics you enjoy or find most interesting, and read up on that. It's more pleasurable than reading a massive Economics tome and more productive. It also means that you can show a real passion for the subject in the interview, by displaying an in depth knowledge of a specific area which interests you. (Profile 242)

Make sure u have a sound grasp of economics and some knowledge of current affairs. My interview was more about thinking on my feet, so dont over-prepare, but dont take it too easy either. (Profile 239)

What questions were you asked during your Economics interview(s)?

I was quite surprised at the questions- they were pretty standard fare. I was expecting some very scary, very very hard weird off beat questions, but they didn't come. Nothing you woudn't encounter in your standard textbook (Samuelson?). Thats not to say I waltzed through. I certainly messed up quite a few, and most of my answers were pretty unconvincing. To be honest, I felt my performance was pretty ordinary and I was surprised I got an offer. (Profile 241

1st interview with economics fellows, was given data, concentrated on macroeconomics particularly development and trade.

2nd interview with admissions tutor (classics fellow) general problem, which was in fact economic in nature - to do with funding the college. then discussion about deflation and a little economic history thrown in. (Profile 171)

Sketch: (3x-2)/(x^2-3x+2) 

Two train companies running from Cambridge to London (A and B), each has trains running every 20 minutes. Man arrives at Cambridge station between 8-9am each day (random time, all times are equally likely). After a few weeks he notices that he uses company A three times as much as company B. Give a possible train schedule that would explain this.

What would make the man more certain that this was the schedule?

5 pirates (in order of age) have to divide 100 coins between them using the following method; oldest pirate proposes a way of distributing the coins, if 50% or more vote in favour (they can vote for their own proposals), it is settled, if not, the oldest pirate is thrown overboard. This then continues with the next oldest pirate until the distribution is agreed. Assuming all the pirates are rational (trying to maximize their own payoffs) what will the first pirate propose?

Would pirate X accept is the first pirate offered Y instead?

I toss a coin but do not look at it, my three friends all look at it and each tell me whether it is heads or tails. However, 1/3 of the time, they are lying. Given that all three of them say it is heads, what are the chances that heads actually came up?

Had to talk about an economist article about opec overproducing oil, what they did, why they are doing it, and what will happen in the future. (Profile 1208)

Economics questions surprisingly. No general questions were asked, asked me to sketch a rather difficult graph which I messed up a bit, and then other economic stuff. It was mostly application of knowledge, but there was a bit of factual recall.  (Profile 239)