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The Lucy Cavendish College Summer Preparation Programme 2023 is designed to bridge the gap between GCSE (National 5/equivalent) study to A-Levels (IB/Scottish Highers and Advanced Highers/equivalent) by providing students with a month-long programme of academic enrichment tailored to their stage of the curriculum. The programme will consist of study skills workshops on a range of important themes such as time management and essay writing, university readiness sessions to support students as they plan their next steps to top Universities like Cambridge, and substantive knowledge sessions, designed to supplement students' foundational academic knowledge so that they can hit the ground running when they start their A-Levels (IB/Scottish Highers and Advanced Highers/equivalent). 

The Summer Preparation Programme 2023 will build on last year's programme, following which 97% of students felt more confident about starting their A-Levels (IB/Scottish Highers and Advanced Highers/equivalent).

“[The Summer Preparation Programme] helped me fill in any gaps from GCSE, as well as bridge the gap for A-Levels. The presentations really inspired me and gave me a huge boost of motivation and excitement for sixth form, deepening my interest in my field as well as helping me understand how I can excel in my studies and further explore my interests outside of the school syllabus.”

“After [this programme], I feel much more confident in my academic skills, so I believe studying will be more efficient and I will be able to perform better in exams. I feel like the advice given will stay with me for a long time, and will be highly beneficial in the future.”

“I have been able to have serious conversations about going to Oxbridge and learn from Cambridge itself what it takes to be a Cambridge candidate. What would initially seem a daunting experience has been made easy, accessible and understandable.”


What does the programme involve?

The programme will take place entirely online, and will run over the summer holidays for four weeks, from 24th July to 18th August 2023. 

Students participate in weekly Substantive Knowledge Sessions relevant to their A-Level (IB/Scottish Highers/equivalent) subject choices, aimed to develop key subject-specific skills in their chosen field. These sessions are being designed in consultation with education specialists, and aim to supplement students' GCSE (National 5/equivalent) knowledge with the foundational academic knowledge necessary to make a strong start to their post-16 studies.

Alongside these weekly stream-specific sessions, students will also benefit from weekly Study Skills Workshops, which aim to improve students' general study skills in preparation for starting post-16 study, and University Readiness Sessions, which will strengthen students' understanding of how to make a competitive application to top Universities and Cambridge.

The Summer Preparation Programme 2023 timetable has not yet been finalised, but a provisional programme schedule can be found below. This will be updated as and when sessions are confirmed. 

  University Readiness Sessions Study Skills Workshops Substantive Knowledge Sessions (Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences) Substantive Knowledge Sessions (Sciences & Maths)
Week 1 (24th July-28th July) Introduction to Oxbridge and the Russell Group Time Management Introduction to Political Thought

Grammar for A-Level (French, German, Spanish)

Week 2 (31st July-4th August) Subject Matters: The Importance of Post-16 Subject Choices Problem Solving Why Shakespeare?

Nature vs Nurture

Week 3 (7th August-11th August) Introduction to Supracurricular Exploration Note Taking

Mental Wellbeing
Philosophy of Religion

Practical Criticism and Close-Reading

Week 4 (14th August-18th August) Q&A with Cambridge Students Essay Writing

Revision Methods
Key Issues in Economics

Methods of Language Analysis



All students who participate in the Summer Preparation Programme will also be invited to participate in the following subsequent two stages of the broader Lucy Cavendish College Academic Attainment Programme, which will support students with regular subject-specific tuition throughout Year 12 (S5 - Scotland, Y13 - N.I) and comprehensive guidance on making a competitive application to university. Find out more about the Academic Attainment Programme here



In order to be eligible for the programme, students need to be:

  • In Year 11 in England or Wales, S4 in Scotland, or Year 12 in Northern Ireland in the academic year 2022-23
  • Attending a non-fee-paying school in the United Kingdom
  • Predicted to achieve at least five grades 8-9 in their GCSEs (or equivalent, such as A grades in National 5s)
  • Planning to take post-16 academic qualifications (A-Levels, International Baccalaureate, Scottish Highers and Advanced Highers, or equivalent) from September 2023 at a non-fee-paying UK school

We hope to offer this opportunity to as many eligible students as we can. In the case of oversubscription, we select based on a combination of academic merit and the following widening participation priority criteria:

  • Are in care or care-experienced
  • Are eligible for Free School Meals
  • Belong to an underrepresented ethnic croup:
    • Black British African or Black British Caribbean
    • British Bangladeshi/Bengali, Pakistani or Arab
    • Roma, Gypsy or Traveller
  • Have experienced disruption in their education such as:
    • Medical/health issues (including mental health), particularly those that have resulted in long or extended periods of absence (over 8 weeks) from school in the last 6 years
    • Bereavement of a close family member (e.g. parent/carer) in the last 6 years
    • Being a young carer
    • Becoming a parent
    • Being an asylum seeker or refugee
    • Becoming estranged from close family members (e.g. parents/carers)
    • Moving schools two or more times in the last 6 years
    • Other (to be specified)
  • Have a disability or Special Educational Needs
  • Attend a school with low progression to Oxbridge
  • Are resident in areas with relatively low participation in higher education (using POLAR4) or in areas with less advantaged socioeconomic characteristics (using IMD)


Important Practical Information

Dates and academic commitment

We do not expect students to be able to attend every session, but we do hope that students will commit to attending the programme as fully as they are able to. For some sessions, students will need to complete preparatory work so they are able to make the most of the session. There will also be an option to complete some extension follow-up work if students wish to deepen their knowledge of a particular subject after the live online session has taken place.

Accessing the online programme

The programme is entirely online, and all live sessions will take place over Zoom. Resources for all sessions will be uploaded to a webpage to be used online by students on the programme. Students will therefore need a reliable internet connection, a working webcam/microphone, and a pen/paper to take notes with and complete work for the subject sessions.


How do I apply?

Please submit the application form by 5pm on Friday 16th June at the latest. Your application must also be verified by your teacher by 5pm on Friday 23rd June. We aim to confirm places by the 30th June.

Click here to complete the application form

Full guidance is on the application form, but please also take a look at the dropdown boxes below for detailed guidance on the application:

In the form we will ask you the following:

  • ​​​​​Your basic details - first and second (family) name, date of birth, postcode, school/college
  • Name and contact details of your teacher referee, who will verify your application
  • Details of your predicted GCSE (Scottish National 5/equivalent) grades 
  • The strand you wish to apply for - Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences or Sciences & Maths
  • The degree courses in which you are currently interested
  • Details of the post-16 academic qualifications you will be starting in September 2023
  • Short personal statement in support of your application
  • Further contextual information related to our widening participation criteria
  • Information about making any adjustments should you attend the event
  • Permission from a parent/guardian to attend this event
  • An opportunity to sign up for our prospective applicant newsletter

You will receive a confirmation email if you have successfully submitted the form. If you do not receive this email (and after checking your spam box), then you must get in contact with us as soon as possible at

You must discuss this opportunity with your teacher so they are aware of what information they need to verify and provide by the relevant deadline. You must also ensure that they are happy for you to provide us with their contact details on the form.

We will contact your teacher referee to verify the following:

  • Your eligibility for the programme and your postcode
  • The predicted grades you have supplied us with

We will also ask your teacher referee to write a short reference in support of your application. The reference has a character limit of 100 (around 150 words). It may be helpful if your teacher focuses on the following aspects in their reference:

  • Your academic ability and potential
  • How attending this programme would benefit you academically
  • How attending this programme would help you to achieve your goals in relation to University 
  • Anything else we should know

Your teacher should automatically receive a link to the verification form when you submit your application form. If they do not receive this email (and they have checked their spam box), then please ensure they get in contact with us as soon as possible at

The deadline for teacher verification is 5pm on Friday 23rd June. Please note that your submission will be considered incomplete without this verification, so it is very important that you let your nominated teacher know in advance that they must verify your work. 

The personal statement is useful for us in order to understand a bit more about whether the programme would be a good fit for you academically. You might like to explore the following:

  • Why you chose to apply to this programme
  • How you think this programme would benefit you academically
  • How you think this programme would help you achieve your goals in relation to University
  • Anything else you think we should know

The character limit is 3000 (around 500 words). Please try not to worry too much about writing this; it is just one piece of information that is useful to us when shortlisting applicants.


Contact us

Please do not hesitate to contact our Outreach Officer, Hayley Hilson, at should you have any questions or concerns.

Prospective applicants

Explore further information, resources and opportunities for prospective applicants to Cambridge