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What is the Cambridge Winter Pool?

The Winter Pool is a system used at the university to ensure that the best applicants across all colleges end up receiving an offer to study at the university each year, regardless of which college they applied to. If a college is especially over-subscribed in any given course, applicants who are considered strong are put into the Winter pool (also known as the inter-College pool), where all colleges can consider them. Director of Studies for each subject then confer during the admissions period, comparing applicants to their college with the overall standard to see how they compare. They do this with the ultimate aim of accepting the best students from across the university – colleges can select strong candidates from the Winter Pool who were beat out of a place at their chosen college rather than accept a weaker applicant who applied to them directly.




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What happens to students in the Winter Pool?

Having been placed in the Cambridge Winter Pool, there is no need to contact anyone or undertake any admin to confirm your place in the pool – so no need to panic! Applicants who are placed in the pool can either: be accepted by a different college without further interview, be invited to attend another interview at a different college, or be unsuccessful in the pool and receive notification from their original college.

The pool itself takes place over a period of four days in January, during which all pooled applicants are made available for consideration by Admissions Tutors at all colleges. Most applicants who are offered a place by another college through the pool are done so without a follow-up interview, but in rare cases applicants can be invited back for a January interview.


Winter Pool dates 2023

13th January onwards Selected applicants invited to attend a second interview, with decisions communicated following the interview. Interviews likely to take place from the 16th of January onwards, with dates varying by college.
25th January Some offers are made to pooled applicants without further interview.
Pooled applicants who were not called for further interview and haven’t been successful are notified by their original College.
Other applicants who were not pooled are informed of their application.


How to Prepare

There is no guarantee that you will have anything to prepare for as part of the Winter Pool process. If you are not one of the applicants invited back for an interview, you can think of the pool as just an extension of the normal consideration process; there’s nothing more you need to do. If you are invited to interview again in January, we recommend just brushing up on the content of your personal statement and practicing interview techniques as if you were back in December attending your original interviews! Use the fact that you’ve already attended at least one interview to your advantage… think about how you fared in those interviews, if there were any topics that came up you found interesting or as if you could know a little more, and how your interview technique could be improved, if at all. The key is not to stress too much about it and remember that being put in the Winter Pool means you must have done something right in your original interviews! Just stick to the content you know and be confident in your abilities.


Mock Interview

If you’re being re-interviewed as part of the Cambridge Winter Pool and feel like you need a little more practice ahead of the big day itself, reach out to our Oxbridge-graduate consultants to book a mock interview with one of our expert tutors.

Are you being re-interviewed as part of the Cambridge Winter Pool?

Contact our Oxbridge-graduate consultants to book a mock interview with one of our expert tutors.

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Our Oxbridge-graduate consultants are available between 9.00 am – 5.00 pm from Monday to Friday, with additional evening availability when requested.

Oxbridge Applications, 58 Buckingham Gate, London, SW1E 6AJ

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