How to Prepare for the ENGAA

The Engineering Admissions Assessment (ENGAA) is an admissions test used by Cambridge University to assess your skills and knowledge of Physics and Mathematics. It is designed to be challenging to all candidates, no matter their current attainment, so it’s important that you prepare adequately and cover all of the topics in the ENGAA specification.

That’s where The Profs’ expert ENGAA tutors can help. With first-hand experience of the exam content, tried-and-tested strategies for approaching the questions, and an understanding of how it fits into the wider admissions process, our tutors are able to help you perform well in the ENGAA and secure a place on your chosen course at Cambridge.

Please note: The ENGAA is being discontinued. The Engineering and Science Admissions Test (ESAT) will be used for degree programmes in Engineering, Natural Sciences, Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology, and Veterinary Medicine at Cambridge. It will also be used for Physics and most Engineering degrees at Imperial. Information on the ESAT is available here. We will also be releasing an article on the ESAT shortly, so keep your eye out.

What is the ENGAA?

The ENGAA (Engineering Admissions Assessment) is a subject-specific admissions test for students applying to Engineering at Cambridge. It is designed to assess your ability to use and apply a range of scientific and mathematical knowledge.

There are many elements to the ENGAA that candidates struggle with. Not only is the content challenging, but the time allocated is short and the questions are often different in style to those in school-level exams. It is therefore crucial that you prepare thoroughly for the ENGAA. Read on to find out how to begin preparing or get straight in touch with our team of ENGAA experts to get started today.

Which courses require the ENGAA?

The ENGAA is required by Cambridge University for Engineering. This is an incredibly competitive course at Cambridge and not only requires a strong performance in the ENGAA, but also an excellent application and successful interview. Reach out to The Profs’ admissions consultants to help secure a place on your chosen Cambridge course.

What is included in the ENGAA exam?

The ENGAA is a 2-hour exam consisting of 2 sections. Section 1 is a 1-hour assessment consisting of 40 multiple-choice questions. The first part (part A) of section 1 is on Mathematics and Physics, while the second part (part B) is on Advanced Mathematics and Advanced Physics. You are recommended to spend 30 minutes on each part of section 1.

Section 2 is also a 1-hour assessment consisting of 20 multiple-choice questions. These questions are on Advanced Physics only and require candidates to apply their conceptual knowledge to deconstruct and solve problems in physics. Although some questions involve the straightforward application of this knowledge, many of the questions in section 2 require more creative thinking, problem solving, and the application of principles in less
familiar contexts.

You are not allowed to use a calculator in either section of the ENGAA. The topics that the questions will be based on (Mathematics, Physics, Advanced Mathematics and Advanced Physics) are covered in the ENGAA content specification provided by Cambridge. They consist of the following topics listed in the table below.

MathematicsPhysicsAdvanced MathematicsAdvanced Physics
Ratio and proportion
Thermal physics
Algebra and functions
Sequences and series
Coordinate geometry in the (x, y)-plane
Exponentials and logarithms
Graphs of functions
Forces and equilibrium
Newton’s laws

How is the ENGAA marked?

In section 1 of the ENGAA, each question is worth one mark, giving a total of 40 available marks. Results for part A and part B of section 1 will be reported separately (20 marks for each). In Section 2, each correct answer is also worth 1 mark.

In both sections 1 and 2, no marks are deducted for incorrect answers, so it is recommended that you answer as many questions as possible. Once every section of your exam has been marked, the raw marks for each part of section 1 and section 2 are then converted to a score ranging from 1.0 (low) to 9.0 (high).

What is a good ENGAA score?

The average scores of all applicants and successful offer holders differ from year to year, however it is a good idea to use the average scores from previous years to gauge what you should be aiming for in the ENGAA. The average scores from each section of the ENGAA in 2021 are listed in the table below.

Maths and Physics (Section 1 Part A)Advanced Maths and Physics (Section 1 Part B)Advanced Physics (Section 2)
Average score of all applicants (2021)4.6
Raw marks: 9.6/20
Raw marks: 6.4/19
Raw marks: 7.3/20
Average score of successful offer holders (2021)6.6
Raw marks: 13.3/20
Raw marks: 9.4/19
Raw marks: 11.6/20

As you can see from the average raw marks listed in the table above, the average applicant achieves less than 50% in every section of the ENGAA. This demonstrates just how difficult the exam is and why good preparation is so important in order to boost your marks and achieve a score closer to the average score of a successful offer holder.

When is the ENGAA?

The ENGAA takes place on Wednesday 19th October. You must ensure you have registered for the test through an authorised test centre (see below) before 30th September to ensure that you are eligible.

It is not possible to re-sit the ENGAA more than once in the same application year. If you feel you did badly due to extenuating circumstances, such as being ill on the day of the test, then your test centre can submit a special consideration form for you. However, application forms must be received within 5 days of the test date.

How do you register for the ENGAA?

To register for the ENGAA, you will need an authorised test centre to register you on your behalf. For most candidates, their authorised test centre is their school or college, however you should check this with your Exams Officer to make sure. If your school or college is not authorised, they can register to become a test centre at any time before the 16th September. Alternatively, you can find an open test centre to register with. You can find your nearest test centre via the Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing (CAAT) website.

In order to register, you will need to provide your personal details and UCAS number, as well as the name of the university (Cambridge), course and course code, which you can find on UCAS. You can register from the 1st September and you must have your candidate entry number as proof of entry by 30th September.

Please note that while registration is automatic for some admissions assessments at Cambridge, it is not automatic for the ENGAA, so you must register through a test centre before the 30th September.

How much does the ENGAA cost?

Cambridge University does not charge candidates to take the ENGAA. However, some independent test centres do charge an administration fee to candidates, so contact your local test centre for details.

When can you find out your ENGAA results?

Your ENGAA results will be published to Cambridge’s online results system, Results Online, on 11th January.

4 tips for preparing for the ENGAA

1. Check the content specification

We strongly recommend that you check the details of the up-to-date ENGAA content specification released by Cambridge University. The material included in the exam is aimed at A-level Maths and Physics (plus knowledge of material covered at GCSE), however you may not have covered some of this material at school by the time of the test date. You should therefore ensure that you have learnt everything included in the syllabus in your own time.

The contents of the syllabus ranges in difficulty and includes topics all the way from algebra to electricity and magnetism. It’s important not to skip anything you think you find too easy (that you might have covered before) or too difficult (that you might not have covered yet). Ensure that you give yourself the best chance of success by covering as much material in as much depth as you can.

The Profs’ ENGAA tutors have extensive knowledge of the specification and can help you get to grips with all of the content you’ll need to know for the exam. Reach out to our team today to find out how we can help and to begin your ENGAA preparation.

2. Practise questions from a range of sources

ENGAA questions will look different to A level Physics and Maths questions, so try to avoid using only your school textbook to prepare for the topics included. Instead, use materials from a range of sources, including websites and books, to familiarise yourself with different types of questions. Some resources to try include:

Cambridge also provides two specimen papers which come with answers and explanations for those answers. These can be helpful in your preparation as they can help you to not only learn what the right answers are, but understand the ways in which you can come to these answers yourself in the exam.

3. Take practice tests under timed conditions

One of the best ways you can prepare for the ENGAA is to complete past papers under timed conditions, just as you will face in the real exam. One of the main areas candidates struggle with is time-keeping and finishing all of the questions in the ENGAA, so practising with time pressure will help you to work out how much time you should be spending on each question to ensure you complete the paper within the 2 hours.

You can find the past papers from 2018-2021 on the Cambridge Engineering page, so use these to your advantage in your preparation. Work your way through as many papers as you can throughout your preparation, as these really are the best way of familiarising yourself with both the content and the types of questions that you will encounter. This will ultimately give you a huge advantage on the day of your test.

The answers to each of the ENGAA past papers are also included at the end of the test, so you can mark your paper yourself to gauge what you know and don’t know, and predict how you will perform in the real exam. You can also ask a teacher or professional ENGAA tutor to mark your past papers, as they will be able to offer more insights into what you got wrong and why, where your weaknesses are, and what you need to learn in order to maximise your score.

Top tip: There aren’t a huge number of past papers available for the ENGAA as it is a relatively new admissions test, so if you find yourself needing more papers to practise, try using PAT past papers as well. The PAT (Physics Aptitude Test) is used by Oxford to assess applicants for Engineering among other Physics-based courses, and covers many of the same topics as the ENGAA. However, just note that the time conditions are not the same for both tests and that you should not sit the PAT to prepare for this element of the ENGAA, but rather for the content and style of questions.

4. Get help from a professional ENGAA tutor

How you perform in the ENGAA will impact how likely you are to be offered a place on your chosen course, so it’s really important that you are prepared to do as well as possible in the exam. Unfortunately, schools and colleges are oftentimes not equipped to provide specialist ENGAA preparation due to a lack of experience, expertise or resources. In addition, Cambridge does not publish the mark schemes for each of the past papers, so only a teacher or an experienced ENGAA tutor can mark your practice papers based on their knowledge of the subject and the test.

As a result of these difficulties, we advise seeking a professional ENGAA tutor to help you through the process. The Profs’ ENGAA tutors have many years of experience preparing students for the ENGAA exam, with many having actual experience as university admissions officers as well. Over these years, they have built a bank of previous questions and developed in-depth knowledge of the mark scheme, so they know exactly what examiners will be looking for.

If you work with The Profs, you are more than three times more likely to get into Cambridge, ranked as the best university in the UK for Engineering. You’ll also gain invaluable independent study skills that will prepare you for higher education, as well as a deeper and broader understanding of the subject area.

Plus, you can trust us to guide you through every stage of the admissions process to ensure that you don’t just succeed in the ENGAA, but also achieve top A level or IB grades and perform well in your interview. Reach out to our team today to get started.