Cambridge Announces the ESAT to replace the NSAA and ENGAA

In 2023, it was announced by the University of Cambridge that many of their established admissions tests would stop being run after the 2023 - 2024 admissions cycle. In January 2024, we have now learned what admissions test will be used for courses such as Medicine, Natural Science, Economics and Engineering.

Author: Matthew Amalfitano-Stroud

You are here:

Table of Contents

In 2023, it was announced by the University of Cambridge that many of their established admissions tests would stop being run after the 2023 – 2024 admissions cycle. In January 2024, we have now learned what admissions test will be used for courses such as Medicine, Natural Science, Economics and Engineering. 

A wide variety of updates have been announced by the University of Cambridge and Pearson VUE in relation to admissions tests used throughout the university. In this guide, we will be covering each of the announcements and explaining how it will affect your application. 

How Will You Be Affected? - Students

How Will You Be Affected? - Schools

What is the ESAT?

The Engineering and Science Admissions Test (ESAT) is the newly announced admissions test to be used by the University of Cambridge to be used on a number of their science and engineering-based course applications. The ESAT will be replacing the Natural Sciences Admissions Test (NSAA) and Engineering Admissions Test (ENGAA) to act as the admissions test for the following Cambridge courses:

The ESAT is said to be a computer-based, multiple-choice admissions test that is split across 5 individual assessments, each of which lasting 40 minutes. The five assessments available are: 

It is stated that all applicants will be required to site Mathematics 1. However, no applicants will need to sit all of the 5 assessments, with most applicants needing to sit two of the additional assessments listed above, leading to a total exam length of 120 minutes. The assessments that you will be required to sit are dependent on the course you are applying for – details on which assessments will be required for which courses are currently unavailable but will be made available in March 2024. 

When is the ESAT?

These tests are sat back-to-back over the course of one sitting and must be sat by Cambridge applicants between the 15th – 17th of October 2024.

It is stated that the ESAT will not feature negative marking, meaning no points will be deducted for incorrect answers, and there will be no cut-off score or Pass/Fail grade. This was also the case for the NSAA and ENGAA.

The ESAT is being administered by Pearson VUE, which means applicants will need to register for their admissions test via their registration portal. Tests will need to be sat at a registered Pearson VUE testing centre, of which there are over 5,500 available globally.

Does the ESAT Require a Fee?

As with other Pearson VUE admissions tests (including the University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT) and Law National Aptitude Test (LNAT)), applicants will need to pay a fee to sit the ESAT. This fee is £75 for UK and Republic of Ireland applicants, and £130 for international applicants. Bursaries are available to cover this fee so you may wish to check if you are eligible. 

Is Imperial College London using the ESAT?

Another major announcement made in relation to the ESAT is that applicants for science and engineering courses are Imperial College London will now also be required to sit an admissions test. This will affect applicants for courses within the following departments: 

The ESAT will be replacing the shorter admissions test that was previously required of Imperial Physics applicants (among others). Imperial applicants will have the option to sit the ESAT on the previously stated October 2024 dates, but they will also have the option to sit it between the 7th – 9th of January 2025 if they are not also applying to Cambridge. 

How Should I Prepare for the ESAT?

The University of Cambridge has confirmed that further details about the ESAT, including which subjects will require which assessments, in March of 2024. In May 2024, it has been confirmed that they will be releasing the first proper look at the admissions test in the form of practice materials. 

Until these practice materials, and eventually a specification, are released, we cannot say for certain what the ESAT will look like and at what level the difficulty of the questions will be. However, until then, we recommend that any applicants wanted to start their preparation within the next 5 months utilise practice resources created for the NSAA and ENGAA. 

Due to similarities that can be determined between these exams and the ESAT, including the subjects of the different assessments and the multiple-choice format, we believe that the final format of the ESAT will be close enough to the NSAA and ENGAA to make using these resources beneficial until official ESAT materials are available. 

The only difference we currently know between the ESAT and these tests is that the amount of time available to complete each sub-test/assessment has been reduced by 20 minutes in the ESAT, going from 60 minutes to 40 minutes. Good NSAA and ENGAA materials include question banks, past papers and workbooks. 

When Are ESAT Results Released?

Cambridge has stated that results for the ESAT will be released around 6 weeks after the testing period, meaning applications should expect results in late November, around the same time that Cambridge interviews will begin to be offered. 

Be ready for the ESAT with UniAdmissions

At UniAdmissions, we have spent over 10 years preparing students for the all manner of admissions tests, as well as the other aspects of their application. We have developed a comprehensive curriculum that can support you through admissions tests both new and old!

Discover our Cambridge Natural Science Premium Programmes below and find out how you can enrol and triple your chances of success.

Is Cambridge Still Using the TMUA in 2024?

Another announcement made by the University of Cambridge is that the Test of Mathematics for University Admissions (TMUA) will once again be run in 2024. The TMUA was previously on the list of admissions tests to be scrapped, alongside the NSAA, ENGAA and BMAT. However, this decision has been reversed and applicants for Computer Science and Economics at Cambridge will be required to sit the TMUA in 2024. No format or specification changes have currently been announced compared to 2023. 

When is the TMUA 2024?

While we don’t know why the TMUA has been kept, we do know that the test will now be administered by Pearson Vue alongside the ESAT. The TMUA will now be sat in the same timeframe as the ESAT (15th – 17th October), have the same registration process and require the same fee (£75 – £130). 

Is Imperial College London using the TMUA?

As with the ESAT, Imperial applicants who aren’t applying to Cambridge will have the option to sit the TMUA between the 7th – 9th of January 2025

How Should I Prepare for the TMUA?

As it currently stands, no major changes have been made to the TMUA test format, so all currently available TMUA preparation materials should remain relevant to your studies. Check out our TMUA Guide for more information about the test itself.

Is Cambridge Using the UCAT in 2024?

The final major announcement made by Cambridge in relation to admissions tests is that their medicine applicants will be required to sit the UCAT in 2024. Cambridge, along with 7 other universities, previously utilised the Biomedical Admissions Test (BMAT) until it was announced to be removed by Cambridge Assessments Admissions Testing in 2023. 

Since the end of the BMAT was announced, medical schools have slowly been announcing their move over to the UCAT as their admissions test of choice for applicants. University College London (UCL), Imperial College London and Brighton & Sussex Medical School have all already announced their move to the UCAT, but Oxford and Cambridge were the two universities that people we most unsure of to move to the UCAT.

Will Oxford Use The UCAT?

Due to Oxbridge’s emphasis on science in their medical courses, it was unknown if Oxford and Cambridge would want to move to the less scientific UCAT or create a new, comparable admissions test to replace the BMAT. Now that Cambridge has announced its move to the UCAT, it is expected that the University of Oxford will soon follow suit. However, no details have currently confirmed by Oxford and no dates have been set to make an announcement. 

With all of these changes now announced, there should now be few surprises left for 2024 university applicants. This year, applicants will be facing a variety of admissions test changes alongside changes to the UCAS application process that will affect the Personal Statement format. 

These changes will be hard to navigate, but we at UniAdmissions are always dedicated to providing the most up-to-date support for both our students and the readers of our articles. As always, we will be following the situation closely and be ready to update our programmes and report on new developments as they are announced. Thank you for reading and good luck with your application!

No matter what changes, secure your place at Oxbridge with UniAdmissions

No matter what changes in the admissions process, UniAdmissions will always be prepared to offer the most relevant and highest-quality support for you or your child. We have developed an expert curriculum over the last 10 years that gets results, meaning you are in safe hands. 

Discover our Oxbridge Premium Programmes below and find out how you can enrol and triple your chances of success.

0 +

UniAdmissions students placed at Oxford And Cambridge

0 +
UniAdmissions students placed
at Oxford And Cambridge
uniadmissions-successful-students-collage