Taking a Gap Year

We welcome applications from students who take a gap year between finishing school and starting at King's. Roughly one in ten students at Cambridge take this option, and it can be a good opportunity to develop all kinds of skills and gain work or other experience before starting your course.

If you are a citizen of a country in the European Union and thinking about taking a gap year, please ensure that you seek up-to-date advice about the fee status and financial arrangements of EU students.


When to Apply

If you are taking a gap year you have two options for the timing of your application to King's:

Option 1: Apply for Deferred Entry

If you apply in October of your final school year, this would be an application for deferred entry, and you would state the year that you are applying for on your UCAS application form. Other than that, you follow the normal application process and we assess you in the same way as we assess applicants who are not applying for deferred entry. If we make a conditional offer in January, you will need to achieve the grades by the end of the following summer. Assuming that all has gone well, we will confirm your place that August, but you then wait a year before starting at King's. Although we have no preference either way, there are some practical advantages to applying in this manner: 

  • you still have access to the people writing your reference

  • you would start your gap-year knowing where you will be going next

  • if you don't get the offers you want, you have the opportunity to make further applications to other universities and / or re-apply to Cambridge during your gap-year

Option 2: Apply After You Finish School

In this case you follow the normal application process but apply in the October after you have left school. As you already have your qualifications, if we make an offer in January, it would not normally have academic conditions. If you will be away from home during your gap-year, it is important to remember that you will need to be contactable, to make sure that you've understood the application process, and to think about arrangements you may need to make with your former school for your UCAS reference, the practicalities for taking any pre-interview written assessments and attending potential interviews in early December etc.

With the exception of applicants for Medicine and Economics, we do not mind which of the above options you take, and it will make no difference to your chances for making a successful application to King's. Applicants for Medicine who take a gap-year are advised to apply after they have finished school, as it is difficult for us to make deferred offers due to constraints in the number of offers we are allowed to make in Medicine. We are unlikely to accept requests to defer for more than one year for the Economics course. 

Re-applying to University

We will welcome your application if you are re-applying to University, whatever your reason.

It may be that you have previously applied to Cambridge but would like to re-apply now that you are further on or have taken a gap year. You are welcome to apply to King's even if you have applied here before, although students sometimes prefer to apply to a different College the second time in order to avoid a sense of déjà vu associated with buildings, people etc. This comes down to your personal preference. We assess each application as a fresh application, and all candidates are considered strictly on the basis of their academic promise.

Sometimes students decide to decline all their University offers in order to apply to Cambridge during a gap year. The decision to decline your university offers to re-apply to Cambridge is not one to take lightly. Please ensure that you have thought about it carefully, and that you have a good 'B' plan for if your application to Cambridge is not successful (statistically, roughly 1 in 4 applications to Cambridge result in an offer).


What To Do During Your Gap Year

We advise you to use your gap year productively, but we have no set views about exactly what you should do. Whilst some students participate in activities or employment that is related to their course, this is not a requirement.

A few pointers:

  • Where mathematics is important for your course at King's, it would be wise to take steps to ensure that your maths does not get rusty during your year out. Many students take a further qualification in maths (A-level Further Mathematics, STEP etc.).

  • Keeping language competencies going is also important for some subjects.

  • If you are planning to take a gap year for financial reasons to earn money before your degree, do ensure that you have read our finance section carefully first and looked at the financial support available.

  • In all cases (whether you are studying, working or volunteering) we hope that you will continue to develop your academic interests during your gap year.

  • We might ask you about your gap year in interviews so do be ready to discuss you plans / experiences

Thinking of applying to King's? See here for a breakdown of the process, from submitting your UCAS application to receiving your offer.
Applying for entry in 2022, or for deferred entry in 2023? Check the dates and deadlines for your application here.  

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