Careful ongoing analysis of our admissions statistics shows that, for equally well-qualified applicants, making an open application or applying directly to a College does not affect your chance of being made an offer of a place. This is because we have rigorous procedures in place to compare all applicants for each subject before selection decisions are finalised. Strong applicants who’ve been squeezed out by the competition at their original College can be made an offer by another College through the pool. Colleges would rather admit a strong applicant from the pool than a weaker applicant who applied directly to them. See further information regarding how to choose a College.
What are my chances of getting in?
This is one of the most frequently asked questions about applying to Cambridge. On average across all subjects, we typically receive five applications per place, but naturally there is some variation between courses.
The University and Colleges are committed to offering admission to students of the highest academic ability and potential. Our admissions process involves a strong element of cross-College moderation – Directors of Studies in each subject meet during the admissions period to discuss the overall standard of applications so they can see how their own College’s applicants compare, and through our pool system we can ensure, as far as possible, that applicants in a given year are neither advantaged nor disadvantaged by the level of applications to their chosen/allocated College.
Despite application numbers varying considerably each year, our system means that success rates are very similar from College to College. This is because the pool results in many students (853 in the case of the 2016 cycle, about 20 per cent of all offers made) receiving an offer from a College other than the one they applied to, or were allocated to through the open application system.
NB: 'admissions cycle' refers to the UCAS Apply cycle in which applications are considered, eg '2017 cycle' refers to applications made from September 2016 onwards for admission to courses starting in October 2017 or by deferred entry for courses starting in 2018. Please note the source data for these graphs was last refreshed on 20 February 2017.
Interactive graph generator
Use our interactive graph generator below to view basic undergraduate application and admissions statistics using criteria that you define. Simply select from the options in the form below and click 'Show graph'.