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Undergraduate Study


All undergraduate admissions decisions are the responsibility of the Cambridge Colleges. Following the assessment of your application, there are two possible outcomes.

1) You're made an offer

This might be from the College you applied/were allocated to, or from a different College as a result of your application being ‘pooled’ (see below).

If you've already gained the qualifications required, you may be made an unconditional offer. If you're still studying, an offer will be conditional and dependent on achieving certain grades in the qualifications you're taking (the University makes unconditional offers only to those who have already met the conditions for entry to their chosen course).

Accepting your offer

If you're offered a place, you'll be informed by the College and through UCAS.

  • You must reply, observing UCAS requirements and deadlines.
  • If you accept Cambridge 'firmly' you must meet the conditions of your offer by the deadline set by UCAS or the College that made you an offer.
  • In a few cases, offer holders who haven't quite met the conditions of their original offer may still be offered a place, either at their original College or at another College following a small 'summer pool' (see below).

Upon accepting your offer you agree to the PDF icon Terms of Admission.

If you subsequently decide not to take up your offer, please notify your College by 1 August at the latest; failure to do this may result in another student missing out on a place during the confirmation period in mid-August.

2) Your application is unsuccessful

With around five applications for each place, every year we have to turn down many good students whom we’d like to have taken. If your application isn’t successful, although this may be disappointing, we hope you’ll have found the process a useful experience and valuable preparation for your other university choices.

All Colleges provide, on request, feedback on unsuccessful applicants to schools/colleges.

The pools

The Winter Pool

The ‘winter pool’ is designed to ensure that the best applicants who have been squeezed out by the competition at their original College are offered places. Colleges would rather admit a strong applicant from the pool than a weaker applicant who applied directly/was allocated to them.

Although impressed by your application, your College may not have a place for you and so may pool your application for other Colleges to consider.

Some pooled applicants may be asked to attend another interview in early January. When all pooled applications have been reviewed, you may be offered a place by a different College. If no College can offer you a place, your original College will advise you of this decision by 25 January.

Typically, one in four applicants is pooled and, of these, around one in five is made an offer of a place by a different College to the one they applied/were allocated to (1,005 for 2019 entry and deferred entry in 2020).

In a few cases, offer holders who haven’t quite met the conditions of their original offer may still be offered a place following a small ‘summer pool’ that takes place once examination results are released.

For more information read our PDF icon Guide to the Winter Pool.

The Mature Spring Pool

A Mature Spring Pool also takes place as part of the Mature student second application round, following a similar procedure to the Winter Pool. If you are not offered a place by a different College, your original College will advise you of this decision by the end of April.