Universities like Cambridge appreciate evidence that applicants have undertaken super-curricular work, i.e., that they have explored the subjects that interest them, beyond their school or college curriculum.
A genuine and informed interest in your subject, that makes you persistently want to investigate it further, is a great indicator that you’ll enjoy studying it at degree level. There are lots of ways to test this and they needn’t cost you any money.
Reading is the best way to find out more about your intellectual passions. Visit libraries, see what’s available in your areas of interest, and dig in. Look for relevant magazines and publications or keep an eye on news media. If you like having something to listen to then subscribe to podcasts or hunt for local talks and public university lectures, whether in-person (if you have a local university) or online. The internet can be a fantastic resource and there’s an ever-growing body of educational videos and other media out there.
Follow lines of enquiry into the areas that interest and engage you most. Pursue these analytically and critically, and don’t feel you have to spend time with material that doesn’t interest you. Hopefully, this should come naturally and be enjoyable – if it isn’t, this might be a sign that you are yet to find the subject that fits you best. Explore what genuinely stimulates you and see where your investigations lead.
Where To Begin
Cambridge’s Super-Curricular Activities
A good place to start, signposting a range of super-curricular resources.
Subject-specific events for Year 12 students offering a chance to experience undergraduate-style teaching and get a flavour of what it’s like to be a Cambridge student.
An impressively large archive of podcasts covering just about every subject you can imagine.
A wide range of lectures on topical subjects.
Arts and Humanities Resources
A great resource for those who’re interested in economics, analysis, and public policy.
Engaging reviews of books on all subjects.
A fantastic online catalogue of resources and lessons – a must for anyone interested in history.
News and videos about the biological sciences.
Isaac Physics and Isaac Chemistry
Problem-based learning for those interested in physics, chemistry, and cognate subjects, from school to university.
Resources for chemical engineering.
A visual guide to computer programming.
A website with maths and physics problems designed to help you compete for engineering places at top universities.
A Royal Academy of Engineering website, introducing the study of engineering with STEM resources.
Advanced Mathematics Support Programme
Further Maths Support Programme Wales
Government-funded initiatives which aim, amongst other things, to increase participation in AS/A Level Mathematics and Further Mathematics.
An education initiative for 3-19-year-olds focussing on increasing mathematical understanding, confidence, and enjoyment, developing problem-solving skills, and promoting creative and imaginative approaches to maths.
NRich has thousands of free maths resources designed to challenge, inspire, and engage.
Cambridge’s free online STEP Support Programme to help university applicants develop their advanced mathematical problem-solving skills and prepare for STEP maths exams.
A repository of STEP past papers, solutions, and examiner reports, as well as booklets with worked examples.
Resources to help students explore the connections that underpin maths.