When Do Cambridge Offers Come Out?
If you’re planning on applying to Cambridge University for an undergraduate degree, it pays to know their admissions timetable.
The Cambridge offers come out in January. Letters are sent to hopeful applicants, letting some know that they have been accepted.
Others receive the bad news that they haven’t been offered a student place, but they have gone into what’s called the ‘Winter Pool’. This is an opportunity for your application to be considered by another college, which may result in your getting an offer.
However, the offer process starts long before January. Here’s our guide to how it works and when you might expect to receive an offer from a college at Cambridge University.
Understanding the college system at Cambridge
Your offer of a place to study at Cambridge is not made by the university. The offer comes from one of the 29 undergraduate colleges.
Cambridge, like Oxford, is a collegiate university. Many aspects of undergraduate life are handled by the colleges, not the university itself. This includes assessing applications for degree courses, and making offers of places.
There are 31 colleges at Cambridge. Two are reserved for postgraduate students, while the other 29 take undergraduates. Of these, three are exclusively for mature students, that is, those aged 21 or over. Two are reserved for women students.
The admissions process for Cambridge colleges and university
Securing a place in a Cambridge college requires completing several steps. In summary, these are:
- Apply via the UCAS website.
- Register and take the appropriate admissions test.
- Complete and submit your My Cambridge Application.
- Attend college interviews.
- Receive your offer from a Cambridge college
The steps you need to take depend on the degree you plan to study and your personal circumstances. You may also find yourself in the Pool system, which is designed to ensure strong applicants have the best chance of securing a place, even if their college of choice is over-subscribed.
Applications required for a place in a Cambridge college
You may be required to make three or four different applications, each covering a separate element of the overall process.
The first is your UCAS application. Everyone applying for a place in any UK university must complete this. You can register your interest and start filling in your application from May in the year before you hope to become an undergraduate. However, your UCAS application can’t be submitted until early September.
Depending on your choice of degree programme, you may be required to undertake an admissions test. The tests are typically required for the following areas of study:
- Medicine or veterinary medicine
- Engineering or chemical engineering
- Biotechnology or natural sciences
- Computer science or economics
These tests are usually taken in October.
My Cambridge Application
Everyone applying to study as an undergraduate at Cambridge must complete the My Cambridge Application.
This captures details of your education at school. It’s particularly relevant if you do not have the required number of GCSEs, Scottish National Qualifications, A-levels, Scottish Advanced Highers or the International Baccalaureate.
Your personal statement when applying for Cambridge University
An essential part of your application is your personal statement. While colleges choose who to admit based on their actual and potential academic performance, your personal statement will be carefully considered.
If you’re offered an interview at a college, aspects of your personal statement will be brought into the conversation. It could make the difference between you being offered a place or not.
Interviews at Cambridge colleges
When you’ve finished all your applications and they’re being considered by the college of your choice, you may be invited to attend a college interview. This is a sign that they are giving serious consideration to your application. Every undergraduate student attends a college interview.
Interviews usually take place in early to mid-December. They can take place online or in-person.
When the Cambridge offers come out
The final decision about whether you’re offered a place at a Cambridge college is made in early January. You’ll be informed of the decision and formal offer letters usually go out by the end of the month.
It may be that the college you applied to can’t offer you a place. If you’re considered to be a strong candidate for studying at Cambridge, your application goes into what’s called the ‘Winter Pool’.
For a few days in January the admissions tutors in colleges with places to fill will assess those available in the Winter Pool. It’s unlikely, but possible, that you’ll be invited for an interview with another college. Most of those given a place from the Pool are not interviewed again.
Whether or not you’re put into the Pool, if a college is going to make you an offer of a place, you should know by the end of January.
Your final chance of getting an offer from Cambridge
If you’ve not been successful in your application to Cambridge, you’ll be told in a decision letter in January. This letter might offer you the chance to go into the ‘August Reconsideration Pool’.
This is a final chance to have your application reconsidered, in the light of your summer exam results. There’s a specific process you must follow, and a strict deadline, if you want to be considered for this Pool.
Plan early for the best chance of an offer from Cambridge University
If you’re hopeful of studying at Cambridge University, you should begin planning well in advance. While the formal application process begins around eighteen months before you might hope to start as a student, there’s plenty you can be doing in the years before that.
Cambridge colleges offer places to students with an outstanding academic record, and who show potential for becoming successful leaders in the future. These students show initiative, they’re proactive about their self-development, they’re inquisitive about the world around them and they’re open to new ideas.
Improve your chances of a university place with Summer Schools
Attending a Summer Schools course doesn’t guarantee that your application to university will be accepted. However, it does demonstrate that you’re keen to learn and that you’re open to meeting new people and encountering new ideas.
A Summer Schools course can also help you to decide whether to pursue a particular subject. It can spark your interest in new directions. It also gives you a taste of university life, as many of the courses available through us are held in some of the world’s top colleges.
Take a look at the extensive selection of courses offered through our website. You’ll find plenty to choose from, whatever your interests.