ENGAA Preparation: Your 6-Month ENGAA Cambridge Preparation Timeline
Written by: Matt Amalfitano-Stroud
Welcome to Exams.Ninja’s 6-Month Preparation Timeline for the ENGAA.
The Engineering Admissions Assessment (ENGAA) is an essential element of the admissions process for Cambridge Engineering. Scoring a high mark and the underlying preparation that comes along with it are no easy feats as they require a lot of commitment and diligence. The first step to reaching your true potential is to plan out how you’re going to get their, which is why we’ve developed a 6-month preparation plan with the help of an experienced ENGAA expert! Carry on reading to see how you can use your time to smash the ENGAA!
Understand the ENGAA Format
The best starting point for your preparation should be understanding the format of the exam and evaluating the contents from the Physics and Mathematics A-level curriculums. The University of Cambridge updates its Engineering prospectus site yearly with the Content Specification which lists all topics that may be covered in the exam. Make sure you’re reading the specification from the current admissions cycle, as the content will subtly change from year to year. Since not all schools complete courses in the same order you should take note of this syllabus and aim to have a firm command of the topics tackled.
Beyond the actual content, you’re going to need to know how the exam is actually laid out. This table gives you a basic overview of what you can expect:
Beyond the official resources, there are plenty of videos, blogs and websites (like The Student Room) to answer any specific questions or gain knowledge from an applicant’s perspective.
Building a Preparation Plan
Once you have gained a better understanding of the assessed ENGAA contents, it’s high time you made a preparation plan tailored to your own needs. Start out small by compiling a brief monthly plan and then break it down into weeks towards the beginning of each month, updating it as you go along in accordance with any unforeseen circumstances.
From our ENGAA Expert:
When creating your plan, I accounted for any scheduled exams or certain crunch points due to other academic and extracurricular activities. Some may find it easier to focus and put in more effort during the summer break, others may prefer spreading tasks evenly. Nonetheless, it was highly beneficial for me to begin in late spring when I first acquired a rough idea of the task at hand and the effort it would entail.
The preparation plan should account for the resources at hand such as textbooks, topic-specific questions and past papers. We suggest leaving the latter until later on in your schedule since you’ll want to be more familiar with the content knowledge and question styles before attempting to sit a whole paper.
As not all students study the same, there is no established learning style that suits everyone. However, there is one general rule that we feel is very clear: starting out early is of the essence. You may be wondering how early is early enough and this remains for you to decide upon analyzing our 6-month timeline. While we obviously recommend 6 months (it’s in the title!), this may not be possible for everyone so the answer really isn’t set in stone. The secret is to assess all external factors and events that may come into conflict with the preparation timeline and subsequently plan ahead to make adjustments when necessary.
In order to become a well-rounded Engineering candidate, sheer talent only makes for a stepping stone toward success as this needs to go hand in hand with hard work. Additionally, this hard work cannot be strictly concentrated in a short period of time as this allows room for error. Cramming everything at once and solving all mock and past papers does not simply ensure one’s success. On the contrary, procrastination is your main enemy: working out a preparation plan in less than two months would only induce stress that could have otherwise been avoided.
Just take a look at these two graphs featuring the two different learning strategies. Whilst the effort put in maybe the same, the graphs overlook something: it is not the amount of work that matters but the quality of that work. Humans are unlike computers and whilst a machine can perform complex computations with no prior training, we need time to learn to perform certain tasks. The same goes with your ENGAA preparation, it is a step-by-step journey.
Get Ready for Revision
Upon closely analysing the syllabus, compile a list of subjects you are unfamiliar or less confident with and subjects in which you perform best. Become aware of your weakest and strongest points and spread your effort accordingly. A typical revision session can focus on one chapter, for example, Forces, Moments or Equilibrium.
Start out by putting together an overview of theory and important formulae extracted from your own class notes and textbooks. Then progress to worked examples which are key to identifying main solving techniques. Once you are done with these steps you can practice solving the questions on your own.
May was a busy month, but now it’s time to properly begin your revision!
The ENGAA has two major subjects that you will need to prepare for, mathematics and physics. The content of these topics and the ways you can go about learning them are very different, so it may be a good idea to focus on one of these subjects each month.
Building upon what you’ve learnt from the content specification, try creating a table tracking down all physics and maths subjects and your current progress with each element, carefully recording any additional revision tasks identified for areas in need of improvement.
Start out with anything you would like, be it solidifying your favourite topics or starting from scratch with the weakest ones. The aim is that of gaining confidence in all aspects of the exam prior to getting to grips with the practice papers. There is a limited number of ENGAA papers publicly available and it would be rather unfortunate to start tackling papers before establishing proficiency in all of these topics. If your looking for extra ENGAA practice resources, Exams.Ninja’s ENGAA Preparation Platform has got you covered, with 100’s of tools to perfect your ENGAA skills.
It doesn’t matter too much which subject you pick first, it’s really just down to personal preference. Perhaps you want to get your stronger subject done first, or maybe you want to brute force your way through the topics you most struggle with. As long as you feel you’re getting value from the work you’re doing, then no answer is the wrong answer. For the sake of this timeline, however, we’ll start off by talking about ENGAA maths!
ENGAA Maths Revision
Maths revision is a bit different from your typical idea of revision. It’s not really about content knowledge but using processes to solve problems. At its core, mathematics is essentially about problem-solving, so there’s not much in the way of context or facts that you can read in a textbook.
So how do you revise it then? The best way to do it, in our opinion, is to go straight into answering questions! Of course, if you’ve never seen a certain process before then you’ll want to read up on what you actually need to do. But when you know a process already, there’s very little value in re-reading how you tackle problems. Instead, that time can just be used to solve problems!
One of the great things about maths is that it’s universal across specifications and syllabuses. The algebra you’ll find in the ENGAA won’t be different from any other exam that you’ll see it in! Therefore, you could get practice questions from any maths exam and still be preparing for the ENGAA. ENGAA practice questions do have the benefit of getting you accustomed to the exam format, but at this stage, we aren’t worrying too much about your exam technique. We just want to be good at the maths in the specification right now!
ENGAA Physics Revision
Physics is probably the most mathematical out of the three core sciences. The good news then is that a lot of the skills you’ve been practising for the maths portion of the ENGAA will transfer across pretty easily!
However, physics does also have a lot of the context that standard mathematics lacks. Therefore, you’re going to need to focus a good amount of your revision on reading through any resources you have that go over the subjects in the ENGAA specification.
You could get this information from a lot of places, be it your school textbooks, educational blogs and videos or even in the 100+ tutorials that our ENGAA Preparation Platform provides. Whatever you choose, you’re going to need to brush up your knowledge before you get serious about taking on practice questions and past papers.
Extra ENGAA Revision Tips
As you further progress with the revision you may deal with certain blockers, be it topics that are not to your liking or that you may find difficult to grasp. Don’t be afraid to seek help from your teachers, mentors, tutors or friends that are also preparing for their university admissions test.
Keep track of your progress and be aware of any setbacks that may occur, try to compensate when straying away from the learning plan but do also reward yourself when considerable progress is achieved.
If you’re an international student following a curriculum different to A-levels, your work is twofold as you may have to teach yourself topics from scratch rather than revising them. This requires far more effort on your part and thus you should take complete advantage of the time available over the summer holiday to fully up to speed with the ENGAA syllabus.
From our ENGAA Expert:
When I was preparing for the ENGAA, I had to teach myself integration as this was a subject that would have been covered in December under my national Mathematics curriculum, long after the ENGAA exam was scheduled. I was fortunate to benefit from the support of my Mathematics teacher who directed me to the right resources and closely tracked my progress.
It’s never too early to get yourself ready for the ENGAA!
Six months may seem like a long time, but it’ll fly by fast. That’s you need the best ENGAA resources possible, which you can find in our ENGAA Preparation Platform! Whether you’re looking for tutorials, practice questions of past papers, we’ve got everything you need to ace the exam!
Although your revision is nowhere near finished, you’ll likely be getting to a point where most topics have been covered to a satisfactory degree. From there, your best option is to begin focusing on practice questions. You may begin with a simple task such as solving 10 practice questions a day, first covering Section 1A and moving further to Section 1B. Furthermore, focus on getting questions right without a time limit and on consolidating your understanding of the subjects. Take notes of methods and questions that came across as difficult in order to review the content later.
Once you build your confidence, you could introduce a time limit to practice efficiency. Sections 1A and 1B have 20 questions each that should be solved in 60 minutes, thus allowing about 90 seconds per question. Try to give yourself 2 minutes for each Section 1 question and 3 minutes for questions in Section 2. Do not get discouraged if you miss the time mark, after all, success only boils down to sustained practice and perseverance.
Observe and adopt tackling strategies for each exam component. For instance, it is important to scan for keywords and values in problem statements and identify the important information by either highlighting or underlining. It is also essential to pay attention to the potential answers so you can eliminate incorrect options and maximize the chances of success. Finally, should you get stuck, teach yourself to skip questions since all are worth equal marks. You can always come back to them later, even in the exam provided you’ve saved enough time in the end.
Most importantly, when you start answering questions seriously (or even before), don’t use a calculator! Calculators are not allowed in the ENGAA, just like most other exams, so don’t get comfortable using one in your practice. All this will do is make things harder in the long run.
As with most things in life, you could use the Pomodoro method to shake up your practice a bit. For those who don’t know, the Pomodoro method is basically a way to separate your workload into smaller chunks by setting a timer to go off every 3-5 minutes. The idea is that you will work throughout four or five of these timers and then take a break on one.
One way you could use this is by seeing if you can answer one question before each timer reset. Alternatively, you could see how many questions you answered in between your short breaks and try to set new records.
Taking Past Papers
There are only six past papers available through Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing (CAAT), starting with 2016 when the exam was first organised. Exams.Ninja’s ENGAA Preparation Platform actually has two more papers than this, but it’s still important not to rush out the gate to try and tackle these straight away. The reason why is that past papers are a great way to assess your performance in simulated exam conditions. Ideally, you would start this stage once you’ve got a good understanding of how to tackle the practice questions you have available. As such, you can identify any areas that you need to improve on such as timekeeping, skipping questions or paying more attention to your problem-solving.
Here are a few key points to consider when taking past papers:
In 2023, the ENGAA will be sat on October 18th. The exam is organised by CAAT and is taken at an authorised assessment centre. Most likely, your local assessment centre will be your school or college, so make sure you speak to your teacher or UCAS advisor in order to complete the registration. Registrations will open on September 1st and will be open until September 30th (modified papers will need to be registered before September 16th). It is important that you register with your centre well in advance of this deadline as it may take time for the centre to answer your request.
Here is how you register for the exam via your school:
- First, you need to find your nearest test centre. This could be your school, but if you’re not sure you can check for your nearest location here.
- Next, you will need to speak with your school’s exam officer. You’ll have to provide a few personal details, including your name, date of birth and UCAS number, as well as confirming which course you’re applying for.
- Once you’ve been registered, you’ll be given a candidate entry number. This will be your proof of registration so make sure you save it somewhere safe.
UCAS Application Deadline
October 15th will be the deadline for submitting your UCAS application, including your personal statement. You must not neglect this part of the application as it’s a super important aspect of your path to Cambridge. With the ENGAA taking place just four days after this deadline, you should aim to get the bulk of your personal statement work done in the months before October.
For applicants in 2023, the decision has been made by CAAT to hold the ENGAA on October 18th instead of its typical time slot of early November. This will likely cause a setback to your preparation plans, as you have lost over two weeks of revision time. However, you can offset this loss in time by starting your preparation early, just as we have suggested in this timeline.
Final Weeks of Revision
How can you make the most of your final weeks of revision before the exam? Here are a few tips to make the most of your time:
Go over questions from mock and past papers you have marked as difficult to grasp and check whether you are now comfortable with the content. These situations may occur more often in Section 2 since it explores complex topics of Maths and Physics. Don’t limit yourself to ENGAA papers, should you need more resources look for similar questions in the Physics Olympiad and PAT Past Papers.
Allow yourself a final revision of the contents and compile a formulae sheet with everything you should know and have applied so far in your preparation. Should you have one already compiled, it is still worth reviewing and updating it.
Most importantly, try to approach your final revision calmly without causing yourself burnout. There is no need to push yourself to the limit, just be mindful of the months’ worth of work and effort you have already put in. You should be confident with the experience you have gathered and use it to your advantage.
ENGAA Testing Day
The ENGAA is scheduled for October 19th. This exam is difficult, but it is designed to be as such and with the right level of practice evenly spread out the timeline, any student can score well. Before you sit the exam, you need to be sure you follow the following tips:
Most importantly, keep everything around you as stress-free as possible. The last thing you need is a massive drama hours before you sit the exam!
A final word from our ENGAA expert:
By now it should be clear that slow and steady wins the race when it comes to your ENGAA preparation. You will achieve better results by adopting a consistent approach, starting with a lighter workload and gradually building up from there. It’s a technique that worked for me so there’s no reason why it wouldn’t work for you as well! All this information may be overwhelming at first but provided you plan ahead and create your own timeline, there is no doubt that you will master the syllabus and ENGAA solving strategies by October when the exam is scheduled.
So that’s potentially the next 6-months of your life planned out! You’ll still have the interviews to contend with and you’ll need to wait for your results, but your actual exam revision will be finished, for now!
In all seriousness, this timeline shouldn’t feel like a prison sentence for half a year, it’s simply a way for you to maximise your study time and make the most of the resources you have. The goal isn’t to be revising every single day until the exam, you’ve still got a life to lead. You should always be realistic with your schedule. Definitely don’t underreach, but there’s no point in planning to study for 10 hours a day, it’s probably not going to happen! And if you do struggle to keep up with the schedule you set three months ago, it’s okay to tweak things a bit so you’re not stretching yourself too thin.
At the end of the day, you’re only going to perform well if you feel good and aren’t too stressed out. It’s our hope that this guideline will help you build your own preparation plan that leads you to victory!
If you’re looking to learn more about the ENGAA itself, our Definitive ENGAA Guide will show you everything you need to know!
You can get started with your ENGAA preparation in any month of the year!
You’ll have everything you need for engineering success with the ENGAA Preparation Platform! When you sign up, you’ll get access to all of these amazing features:
Training Temple- Need help with your revision? Our 100+ expert tutorials will teach you everything you need to know, along with plenty of exam tips and tricks.
Practice Dojo- There are over 900 practice questions to take on covering every section and topic of the exam. When you get stuck, learn how to get it right with a worked solution for each question.
Exam Arena- If you’re ready to take on an actual paper, the Exam Arena is for you! Try out one of our 8 past papers in true exam conditions, then see how you did with our accurate marking.
Sign up today to try the ENGAA Preparation Platform for free!