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Decisions will be communicated by mid-January, after the interview period, and there are three possible outcomes:

  • If your application is successful you will receive an offer
  • If the College feels you are suitable for a place at Cambridge but is not able to offer you a place at St John's then you will be placed in the Winter Pool for consideration by other Colleges
  • If your application is unsuccessful then the College will notify you

Further information can be found below.


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College admissions complaints procedure »

All enquiries about admissions decisions are dealt with on an individual basis with the applicant or the school/college concerned. In the case of complaints, these should be forwarded as soon as reasonably practicable to the Admissions Tutor. Such complaints should normally be received by the end of February, and an initial response will normally be sent within four weeks.*

Complaints can be initiated by:

  • An applicant’s school/college
  • An applicant**

Complainants are asked to put all specific concerns in writing, after seeking advice from the author of the school/college reference in support of their application.

Specific concerns or complaints about the admissions process will be investigated by the Admissions Tutor in the first instance, who will consult interviewers, the Senior Tutor, and other relevant persons.

A written account of findings and any action to be taken will be provided for every formal complaint received.

Where it appears, after the investigation of a complaint, that a procedural error has occurred, consideration will be given to what steps (if any) should now be taken to reconsider the matter, and what steps (if any) should be taken to avoid similar errors occurring in the future. A report on all complaints will be made to the Admissions Committee of the College.

* Files are not normally retained for more than 6 months after the Admissions Meeting in December.
**  An applicant’s parent or guardian may only initiate a complaint if the letter of complaint is accompanied by a signed statement from the applicant authorising the parent or guardian to act on their behalf.

Offer letters »

Successful applicants will receive offer letters by mid January.  Although we give details of the academic conditions of the offer, the formal offer will be made via UCAS.  Applicants who are applying to other universities as well as Cambridge should wait until they have received decisions from all the institutions on their UCAS form before deciding which offer to accept as their first choice, and which to accept as an insurance offer.  In the meantime, if the terms of the offer are unclear in any way you should contact us to ask for clarification. Offers will be 'firm' for Post-A-level candidates, 'conditional' for Pre-A-Level. If you are informed that your application has been placed in the Winter Pool for consideration by colleges with unfilled places, you may be interviewed in early January by another college, which may then make you an offer. If you receive notification that your application has been unsuccessful, this is the end of the Cambridge application process, although you can apply to a college other than St John's the following year. 

Once an offer has been formally accepted via UCAS the focus should be on making sure that the relevant student support body is contacted, and that paperwork is completed on time.

As we make more offers than we have places available, we find that there is very little room for manoeuvre in August when the A-level results come through.  In effect, this means that those who do not meet or exceed the conditions of their offer are normally passed on to the university where they are holding their insurance offer.  We have a meeting of the Admissions Committee to finalise all decisions, and to consider the cases of those who, for legitimate and exceptional reasons, have failed to make their offers.  All offer-holders must meet all the conditions of their offer by 31 August.

All those whose first language is not English will be required to achieve a qualification in English (either GCSE or IELTS examinations) and this will be a mandatory part of their conditional offer.

If you receive a conditional offer but do not meet the grades in your A-levels, all may not be lost! We set our conditional offers high because the higher we set them, the more offers we can make, thus giving more applicants the chance to compete for a place. But we do not realistically expect to fill all our available places with applicants who satisfy the conditions we set; so in practice some relaxation of the conditions may be made for certain applicants once the examination results are known. If, however, we are still unable to confirm your place, then your application may be placed in a 'pool' in August where it will be available for consideration by Colleges still be looking to fill some of their places. In this instance you will not be required to come for further interviews. Final decisions about all conditional-offer applicants are made by the end of August, and generally within a week of the publication of A-Level results.

The Winter Pool »

The pool is designed to even out applications across the Colleges to ensure that the best applicants are offered places.  If your application is pooled, you may be asked to attend a further interview at another College in early January, or you may possibly be offered a place at another College without further interview.  We pool only those applicants who we feel are deserving of a place at Cambridge but we have no room for; applicants who were very strong on paper but gave a poor performance at interview; or those applicants whose interview scores differed considerably between interviewers.  This normally amounts to around one in five applicants at St John’s, and, of these, around one in five receives an offer of a place or an interview at another College.  If your application is pooled, but no College is able to take it forward, you will hear from us, normally by the end of January.