ENGAA Basics: The Complete Guide

If you are applying to study Engineering at Cambridge you have likely come across the ENGAA, but what actually is it?

Last Updated: 11th May 2022

Author: Chloe Hewitt

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If you are thinking of applying to Engineering at the University of Cambridge, you will likely have come across the ENGAA.

But what is the ENGAA and why do you have to sit it?

We go over everything you need to know for the ENGAA.

What is the ENGAA?

The Engineering Admissions Assessment (ENGAA) is a subject-specific Admissions Test.

It must be taken by all candidates applying to Engineering. Questions draw upon a candidate’s ability to use and apply their scientific and mathematical knowledge.

The assessment is designed to be challenging to differentiate effectively between able applicants, including those who might have achieved the highest possible grades in school examinations.

It is worth going through the ENGAA syllabus to identify any areas you have not covered at school, and some independent study may be necessary.

Although the ENGAA is an important part of your application, it is used alongside other aspects of your application to assess your suitability for the Engineering course, so it is not the be-all and end-all of your application.

Nevertheless, with sufficient practice and understanding of the test structure, you can become more confident in your abilities when sitting the ENGAA.

Early preparation is the key to a successful Cambridge Engineering application.

Writing the perfect Personal Statement, scoring highly on the ENGAA and interviewing like a pro is how you get your dream Cambridge Engineering offer.

Discover our Engineering Programme for comprehensive admissions support by clicking the button below to enrol and triple your chances of success.

What Is the Format of the ENGAA?

The ENGAA is a two-hour exam, assessing your knowledge and ability of Mathematics and Physics.

The paper is split into two sections, with 60 minutes allocated for each section.

Section 1A tests Maths and Physics. There are 20 multiple choice questions in this section and you are not allowed a calculator.

Section 1B tests Advanced Maths and Advanced Physics. There are 20 multiple choice questions in this section and you are not allowed a calculator.

Section 2 tests Advanced Physics, in a multiple-choice question setting and there is still no calculator allowed. Candidates are expected to apply conceptual knowledge to deconstruct and solve problems in Physics.

Some questions involve the straightforward application of this knowledge, but others require more creative thinking, problem-solving, and the application of principles in less familiar contexts.

Why Do I Have To Sit The ENGAA?

Cambridge Engineering applicants tend to be a bright bunch and therefore usually have excellent grades with many having over 90% in all of their A-Level subjects.

This means that competition is fierce – so Cambridge uses the ENGAA to help differentiate between applicants who are otherwise academically indistinguishable.

Furthermore, the ENGAA helps determine a candidate’s potential to achieve in an academically demanding undergraduate course.

When and where do I sit the ENGAA?

Candidates need to be registered to sit the ENGAA by 15th October (UCAS deadline day), with the assessment usually taking place in the first week of November.

You can only sit the ENGAA once per admissions cycle, meaning you cannot resit the Admissions Test. This also means if you are reapplying the following year, you will have to take the ENGAA once again.

Usually, you will sit the ENGAA at you school or college if they are a registered test centre. However, if your school is not a registered test centre of you are not attending a school or college, you can sit the ENGAA at any authorised test centre.

In 2022, the ENGAA will be sat on 19th October. In line with this, there are different dates to be aware of which you can read about here.

How To Prepare For The ENGAA

The syllabus for the ENGAA is lifted from A-Level Maths and Physics, it is therefore important to start by getting to know the syllabus inside out. Make sure to compare it with your A-Level syllabus as depending on your exam board there may be topics you have not covered.

Try answering more involved A-Level questions, as the ENGAA questions are designed to be more challenging some of the easier ones will be of a similar level to the harder end of A-Level.

Getting comfortable with answering standard A-Level problems is important preparation.

Furthermore, the most obvious way to prepare for the ENGAA is to do practice papers. Doing as many past papers as possible will expose you to the different styles of questions that are asked.

Once you have familiarised yourself with the styles of questions, it is important to practice doing the ENGAA under timed conditions.

The general advice is that you spend one and a half minutes per question in Section 1, and three minute per question in Section 2. Of course, some questions you might answer quicker meaning you have more time on ones that are harder – it is all relative.

By doing this you will be more likely to actually reach the end of the paper giving yourself the best chances of scoring highly.

How is the ENGAA Scored?

Similarly, to many other pre-Interview assessments at Cambridge, the ENGAA is graded on a scale from 1.0 to 9.0, where the average candidate is expected to score a 4.0.

In Section 1, each correct answer will score 1 mark. No marks are deducted for incorrect answers. Results for Part A and Part B will be reported separately.

The same goes for Section 2, with each correct answer gaining 1 mark and no deductions for incorrect answers.

There is no set score necessary to be invited for an Interview as it varies from college to college, and the distribution of ENGAA scores may vary from year to year.

How is the ENGAA used?

Different Cambridge colleges will place different weightings on the different components that make up your application (grades, Admissions Test, Interview and Personal Statement), so it is important you find out as much information about how your marks will be used by emailing the college admissions office.

In general, the university will Interview a high proportion of realistic applicants, so the ENGAA score isn’t vital for making the Interview shortlist. However, it can play a huge role in the final decision after your Interview.


You should now have a better idea of what the ENGAA is, and begin preparing for the Admissions Test.

The Cambridge application process is highly competitive, and the ENGAA is an effective way for the Admissions Tutors to gauge a realistic representation of you.

It is best to think of the Admissions Test as another opportunity to show the Admissions Tutors how impressive your Maths and Physics skills are rather than as another hurdle.

Our expert tutors will guide you to Cambridge Engineering success.

Applying to Oxbridge is immensely competitive, and you must give yourself the best chance of success. We help you craft the perfect Personal Statement, achieve a highly competitive ENGAA score and teach you how to Interview effectively – covering all areas of your Oxbridge application.

Discover our Cambridge Engineering Premium Programme for comprehensive admissions support by clicking the button below to enrol and triple your chances of success.

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