The test date (typically early December) will be announced here before the end of October. You will be contacted to confirm the timezone of your location on the day of the test. Given the short time frame, your test time slot will be confirmed only a few days in advance. Please don’t panic, but do check your email (and Spam folder) during this time. The college you applied to will normally have informed you that you were shortlisted to sit the CSAT; don’t worry if you receive an email from Climb before you receive one from the College, it’s good news either way.
The test will be administered online by the proctoring company Mercer-Mettl, typically with the help of a webcam, microphone and access to the candidate’s screen, being invigilated throughout the test duration. You do not need to preregister. More information about the process will be provided by Mercer-Mettl at the time.
Any potential issues during the test are dealt with by Mercer-Mettl – please do not contact the college or Climb regarding issues during the test (including ID checking), as we’d be unable to help, but instead contact Mercer-Mettl via the support channels provided.
You can take the test from home or any other location, provided it is suitable for you to concentrate, meets the minimum technical requirements, and it adheres to any local Covid-19 measures (if any).
You will be emailed a personalized link by Mercer-Mettl in order to take the test, which will activate on the time of the test. Please make sure that the email address you mentioned in your application is functional.
You will be able to try the Mercer-Mettl system (via a demo link) a few days before the test in order to familiarize yourself with the environment and be able to undergo the same steps as during the test. Make sure you go through this trial completely, including uploading of scripts.
Toilet breaks are only on an emergency basis, so please visit the toilet before the test. The test timer does not stop.
Here is an example COVER PAGE which explains the test structure. The duration will be 3h30, which includes 30 minutes for uploading all scripts. You may not continue to solve questions after 3h00. All test questions are weighted equally, there are no sections. You may choose to answer any questions, and only your best 6 answers are considered (see also Tips below). Most questions have multiple parts, and some parts are easier than others.
The increase in duration from earlier years does not imply an increase in difficulty. It is in part in recognition of the fact that Covid-19 has affected school teaching world wide, and in part to offer you more time to think and help reduce anxiety.
Submitting your scripts
When your 3h00 is up, you are required to show to the camera every written page (for about 2 seconds each). You then need to photograph every written page and upload the photos online at a location indicated by Mercer-Mettl. You will be given 30 minutes beyond the 3h00 to complete these tasks. Do not underestimate the duration of this process. The timer for uploading the photos will stop after exactly 3h30. Please make sure to practise the entire process during the demo test that you will be given access to a few days before the CSAT.
Please make sure you read about the CSAT and how it is marked on the CSAT webpage.
Good time management can help you stay efficient and reduce anxiety. Aim for 6 complete questions, rather than more than 6, to reduce the likelihood of rushing them. At the start, give every question a quick read, and make a list of about 8 questions in order of preference. Realistically, you can assume you have just shy of 30 minutes on average per question. If after 10-15 minutes you aren’t making progress then it’s best to switch to the next question in your list; this allows you some time to come back to it later with fresh ideas. It’s ok to have solved part (a) or part (b) but get stuck at part (c). If you are still stuck without ideas at the last part after about 25 minutes then it’s best to leave it, and come back to it later only if time permits. At the same time, if you are making progress on the last part of a question then it’s ok to continue beyond 30 minutes, as some questions will be quicker than others, but don’t plan for this. It’s good to aim to solve questions fully, but it’s fine if you don’t solve all parts of a question. It’s always more important to be calm rather than anxious or feeling you need to rush.
As you now know, don’t worry if at first CSAT questions seem exotic. Mathematical recipes are not really that helpful in the CSAT compared to other tests. Allow yourself the time to think through the question and explore ideas. We cannot stress that enough.
Do not expect to get a perfect score, and know that we don’t expect that either. This is in contrast to other tests you may be familiar with.
How the CSAT is used
Once again, we highly encourage you to read the CSAT webpage, which explains the general scope, how it is marked, why we care only about your reasoning among other things. We want you to succeed, not to catch you out! We are interested in what you can do, not in what you can’t. There are no “pass” marks for either the interview or the CSAT. The CSAT is used by Cambridge colleges to offer you another chance to shine besides the interview. It is used in conjunction with the interview, and hence you are not expected to ace both of them. Cambridge applicants in the past have indeed been rescued by the CSAT, and went on to obtain great results as undergraduates at Cambridge. At the same time, if the interview goes well, then the college can ignore the CSAT. In other words, the CSAT can only help you. It allows you to show skills of your choosing which are relevant to the course that may not be tested during interviews, in order to decrease the likelihood that interviews miss out on quality candidates.
Candidates who benefit from extra time for school exams, e.g., due to disabilities, will typically do so here as well. Please make sure to provide evidence of this to the college when you apply.
Questions regarding the application or the course should be addressed to the college you are applying to.
Further questions regarding the sitting or invigilation online should be addressed to Mercer-Mettl after you receive the instructions and trial platform information.
Further questions about the CSAT can be addressed here.
We all wish you the best of luck this year!