Facts about Pre-U: who they are for, subjects, what's involved in taking one, and assessment and grades.


There are 26 principal subjects available. Each is a two year course with exams at the end, either resulting in a certificate or a diploma. You can take up to four Pre-U subjects, which can be combined with other qualifications.

How to complete the Cambridge Pre-U diploma

  • Take any three principal subjects (or a combination of A levels and principal subjects) alongside global perspectives and research (GPR).
  • The GPR involves preparing a research report – an extended piece of writing based on your own reading and research on your chosen topic.
  • The diploma is routed in subject specialism, so you have to choose from five themes – ethics, economics, environment, technology, and politics and culture.

Assessment and grades

Assessment happens at the end of programme. 

The Cambridge Pre-U principal subjects have three grade bands – distinction (1), merit (2), and pass (3). These relate to the six A level grades A* to E. There is also a distinction 1 grade which is above the A* grade at A level.

The full Cambridge Pre-U diploma mark is based on the total scores for three principal subjects, or A levels and the GPR.

Taking Pre-Us this year?

Ofqual's student guide gives you information about this year’s arrangements and explains what support is in place when you're taking exams and assessments.