The Climb Foundation’s mission is to uncover and promote computing and mathematical young talent, regardless of background or privilege. It strives to level the playing field and to offer more opportunity to shine.
Climb is a spin-off from the University of Cambridge. Its members hold decades of cumulative experience in university teaching, admissions and assessment.
Computer Science Aptitudes Test
The CSAT is designed to allow candidates to show their strengths wherever they lie, rather than their ability to perform in a test, independent of access to a privileged education.
Since 2015, the CSAT has been used at the University of Cambridge for undergraduate admissions in Computer Science.
Learn how to think through non-trivial mathematical and computing problems. Practice[+] leverages a variety of exotic questions, and a unique style of progressive hinting, meant to build solid reasoning skills and technical ability, and also help you discover the areas you resonate with most.
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I found Practice[+] to be a great way to prepare (I prepared for both computer science and pure maths applications, after a small career in sports). The hinting system is great. It definitely improved my problem solving ability and gave me more confidence handling unfamiliar problems. The model solutions were very nicely written, giving a clear idea of the level of reasoning and explanation to aspire to. I appreciated the CSAT questions being “exotic”, as it means they are difficult to prepare for in any kind of rote learning fashion, and favours aptitude rather than expensive training available only to the wealthy. It’s great to see such efforts towards equality of opportunity for applicants. Really impressed with all the effort of this foundation, please keep up the good work!
Interviews are meant to bring a new challenge and test problem solving skills. If a problem is too familiar, it doesn’t matter how hard/easy it is. I saw the CSAT as a good supplement to the interview. Interviews had the issue of “bad luck”: they only ask a couple of questions so the candidate may not get a chance to prove themselves. The CSAT provides a much wider pool of problems to identify the different skills of candidates from varied backgrounds. It also provides “shy” candidates a different environment to perform. I appreciated that the CSAT required me to think more than anything and that it is non-standard. This made me much more relaxed and I felt it was a test of my skills, knowing I could rely on my own strengths. Standardised tests do not obtain the same results; as soon as a test becomes too standardised − e.g., by using multiple-choice questions, a very clear curriculum, very clear format etc − it becomes mechanised, and students can find shortcuts to optimise their grades.
I teach primarily A Level/Further Maths. On a voluntary basis I run extra classes for entrance exams in Maths, Computing, Physics and Engineering. We are recommending this site to all our prospective Maths and Computing university candidates, as a way to develop problem-solving skills, and have not seen anything that fulfills the same role in such an accessible way. Our head of 6th form is going to be spending time developing the high end Maths talents within under-privileged groups, including outside our own school environment, and is particularly keen to make use of the Climb resources.