Hello! The purpose of this page is to guide you through the process of applying to university. It’s not a guide on how to choose courses or particular institutions (though I can only strongly encourage you to pick Jesus College, Oxford as one of your options!). In order to choose courses/institutions, do browse the UCAS website, institution websites and coursepages whilst also speaking to friends, family, UCAS advisors and other teachers. Attending Open Days can be really valuable in determining whether an institution ‘feels right’ for you - though consider reading up on the online details before you go!
The process of applying is certainly complex and can seem daunting. In reality, an organised and forward-thinking approach based on careful research and regular conversations with your UCAS advisor, will make the whole process much more manageable and, ultimately, fruitful. The first step is to keep a dedicated ‘UCAS’ ringbinder where you can stash notes you made, helpful handouts from Open days, drafts of your personal statement and more!
Autumn Term, Year 12
Think about your A-level targets, your strengths and your weaknesses
Think about whether you want to make applications outside of UCAS (Universities in US, Europe, etc)
Think about whether you might want to take a gap year, or defer your university start date
Spring Term, Year 12
Some schools will have mock exams - this will give further clarity towards what you’re stronger/weaker at and allow you to adjust your ambitions accordingly
UCAS Convention & Higher Education Conference, might be worth attending!
Summer Term, Year 12
Open Day visits
Mock exams that will influence your predicted grades
Have a chat with your UCAS advisor before the holidays to talk about what you plan to get done over the Summer Vacation
Try and get a vague first draft of your personal statement sorted before the holidays to get feedback from your teacher - it doesn’t have to be anywhere near perfect!!
Top tip: Write your personal statement in MS Word, so your advisor can write in comments and track changes!
This is not prescriptive, just suggestions!
University visits - although Universities will not be in term-time, this is often the best time to visit. You can arrange tours and meetings through the admissions office and it will also give you an opportunity to experience the locale.
Work experience - many of you will have chosen courses that expect specific, targeted work experience (e.g. Law, Veterinary Science, etc.) and this will be your last chance to fo this before your application is sent off
Reading - it might be worth spending some time engaging in reading beyond the syllabus of the subject you’re applying for (or, if not a subject you currently study, starting with a beginners’ reading list).
Summer schools/courses - there are many of these available of varying quality, but they can often be extremely useful in preparing you for aspects of your course (not least in Languages, for example). You should discuss the appropriateness of any such course with your UCAS advisor and be careful - there are many people willing to take your money under the pretence of improving your chances of a successful application.
Personal Statement - you should spend some time re-drafting your personal statement
Enriching/engaging activities - theatre/museum/gallery visits, travel, volunteering etc.
Autumn Term, Year 13
Return to school - your plans may well have changed in light of research/work done over summer. You ought to let your UCAS advisor know as soon as possible.
Keep sending out drafts for friends, family and others to keep checking your personal statement! Read it out loud, see if your younger sibling can read it. You don’t want poor English/grammar to detract from what’s otherwise a fantastic application.
Note the deadline for early applicants (Oxbridge & Medics)
Entrance tests - in the first half of the Autumn term you will need to make sure you have registered to sit any entrance tests required by the courses you have chosen. For the LNAT and the UKCAT, this registration needs to be done entirely by you, and you should consult with your UCAS advisor as to how to do this and the best time to do it, to minimise disruption to your school work and give you sufficient time to prepare - remember the Summer Holidays would be a great opportunity to start early, if you’d like to lighten the burden of preparing for these tests alongside keeping on top of school work & your other activities.Other tests (such as HAT, EAT, BMAT, TSA, etc.) are usually sat in school on a designated date like any other external exam. You should ensure you are registered in good time for any exams that you need to sit (as determined by your choice of course and institution). There is a deadline for this!
Additional Application Material - some courses/institutions will require forms to be submitted (e.g. the Cambridge SAQ) so you will complete these as soon as is possible under the guidance of your UCAS Advisor.
Submitted work - you may need to send off work (in the form of essays or a portfolio) to various institutions. Again you will need to complete this as soon as possible under the guidance of your UCAS Advisor.
Interviews - Some of you will be called for interview (mostly Oxbridge & Medical applicants, but others as well). These can take place at any point between the receipt of your application and March.
Spring Term, Year 13
Offers - you should start receiving replies from your universities, hopefully in the form of conditional offers. Universities aim to reply to all applicants by the end of March. You do not need to, nor should you, reply until the start of May. If you have subsequently started to think about taking a gap year, then you may be able to negotiate a deferral of your offer to the following year. This must be done by you with the university, who, if they approve, will update your offer through UCAS Track
A-level Trial exams - these may help influence which universities you decide to be your 1st and 2nd choice.
Open Days/University Visits - might be an idea to visit universities to help you decide which university, of the ones you’ve received offers from, are the best for you!
Summer Term, Year 13
Replying to offers - at the start of term you ought to have replied to your offers and made decisions about Firm and Insurance choices after discussing it with your UCAS Advisor. If you are thinking about re-applying you should discuss this too.
Student Finance - most people apply for Student Finance and this will need to be done by you, by the end of May.
Results Day - clearing, remarks etc.
Information coming soon!
Completing the UCAS Form
You are responsible for ensuring that your UCAS form is completed accurately and meets the UCAS deadlines. If you’re ever unsure about what to do, speak to your UCAS Advisor or the appropriate senior Teacher.
Please note that the UCAS Apply website also has step-by-step instructions as well as a help function. This is without doubt the single most helpful resource when dealing with any queries you have about the application.
All applicants will complete their UCAS forms electronically on the UCAS Apply web-based application system. You can work on your application from any PC/laptop that has an internet connection.
Once the form has been filly completed, including the final declaration, you must send it to your referee (i.e. UCAS Advisor). At this point, you will not be able to make further amendments unless it is sent back to you by your UCAS Advisor. Following this, the form will be sent electronically to UCAS.
It is important that you retain a copy of your completed form (including the Personal Statement)
If you wish to apply now for deferred entry in the following year, you should indicate this in the ‘courses’ section by putting a tick in the box entitled ‘defer’, against all those courses for which you wish to defer entry.
NB - you must check with HEIs (Higher Education Institutions) and departments that a deferred application will not place you at a disadvantage. Most institutions and departments encourage Gap Years, some do not. Do the research.
If you do intend to defer you entry, remember to explain why in your Personal Statement - you will need to have a specific reason, purpose or plan (i.e. not just the intention to party your way around Europe).
The ucas form: registering
Registering as an applicant and logging on to UCAS Apply.
Select the “Start an undergraduate application” option and then “Register and Apply for <<year>> entry”. If you get a security alert, click OK or Yes to continue.
Before you can complete an application, you must register your details with UCAS. Follow the instructions on the screen. You will need to accept the terms and conditions of using Apply - scroll to the end of the page once you have read them, and click Accept.
At the fourth stage of the registration process if you have already obtained a UCAS card you get the chance to take a short-cut through the next few screens. If you have done so, enter the number as prompted; if not, type in your personal details. If you miss anything out you will be alerted by a red exclamation mark and a warning message to remind you to enter data into these fields. Click next to continue.
Note the information about methods of contacting you and complete according to your preferences.
Write down your username, password, security questions, buzzword* somewhere safe and private. Don’t lose them and keep them a secret from everyone else. This is your responsibility.
*If you are applying through a school you may receive a buzzword during the registration process.
The ucas form: outline
Remember the UCAS Apply programme provides step-by-step guidance and help when completing the form.
There are five sections to complete - they are listen on the left of the screen and each section can be selected by clicking on its name. You do not have to complete the different sections in any particular order; nor do you have to complete the form in one sitting.
But PLEASE remember to save what you input before logging out
The 5 sections are:
You should aim to complete sections 1,3,4 before the Summer Holidays and work on sections 2 and 5 over the Summer Holidays.
the ucas form: personal details
It makes sense to start with the Personal Details section, as some of the information you entered during the registration process will have been retained by the system. If a section is not applicable, leave it blank.
Preferred Given Name - Applicants will be asked to provide the name that they are normally known by, if it is different from the name provided in their registration details; for example Jim and James. This will hive UCAS additional information to use in the exam matching process and may also be used by UCAS and the universities and colleges to contact applicants.
Date of first entry to live in the UK - If you were born outside but now live in the UK, you must give the fate when you began living here permanently.
Payment of tuition fees - You need to choose a code to indicate how you expect to pay for you tuition fees. Most applicants will fall into category 02. If you live in England, your LEA will assess your eligibility for any financial support and they will inform the Student Loans’ Company. You can select your own LEA by clicking the link LEA selection. Your LEA is bared on where you live, not where you go to school. You must find out your own LEA. Please note that this is an area that always causes confusion and needs to be found out early in the process. Google “Local Authority Finder” to find your LEA.
NB - If you are not a British citizen you need to be aware that you will be considered an international applicant. if you are not a British citizen there are different rules for EU/non-EU nationals - it is important that you let your UCAS Advisor and appropriate senior teacher know immediately if this is the case and it may be that Universities will expect you to pay much higher fees.
Nominated Access - If you are likely to be away during the application period (e.g. on a Gap Year), you may if you wish nominate someone to act on your behalf. The nominated person (usually a parent) will need your Personal ID, application number (which you will receive shortly after you have submitted your application), username and password. These details will enable them to use the Track service on your behalf.
Disability/Special needs - If you have a disability or special needs, select the most appropriate code - this will help universities meet you needs whenever they are able to do so. You must select ‘none’ if you do not have any special needs. If you do have a disability/special need you MUST state it - you will NOT be disadvantaged.
Additional Information - The information requested about the occupation of your parents and their educational background is not used for selection purposes and is given to universities only after they have made their decisions. Some of this information is voluntary. National identity reflects how you choose to classify yourself - it is different to Ethnicity and Nationality and can be based on many things, including family history, language, culture.
Further details - You can also enter here details of any activities in preparation for Higher Education, such as summer or taster courses you attended. You can give further details in your Personal Statement.
Remember to save and mark the section as complete once you have finished it. If you subsequently wish to make further changes you will need to remove the tick, enter the relevant data and mark it as complete again.
the ucas form: choices
With regard to the practicalities of completing this section, be very careful to ensure that the course codes you input are accurate - they are linked to a UCAS Directory. You may enter you choices in any order by Apply will rearrange them alphabetically. It may be prudent to consider only applying to a single subject area across your 5 choices as you are only allowed to submit one personal statement.If you are applying for a Joint-Honours course, it is better to do so for most, if not all, of your choices.
The universities to which you apply will not be aware of the other institutions you have put on your form, though they may suspect that non-medical applications sent before the Early applicant deadline are Oxbridge applications.
the ucas form: education
This can be a particularly intricate part of the application form due to the fact that you may have completed several different types of qualifications with a number of different examination boards.
For those who have done Additional Mathematics at GCSE: Additional Mathematics is a Free Standing Maths Qualification (FSMQ):
Click “Add qualifications”
Select “Free Standing Mathematics Qualification”
In Qualification details select “Additional Maths”
Board is OCR
Date will be August <<year>>
put the result as relevant
in Level, select “Adv”
The key with your results is to be as clear and as consistent as possible throughout. Don’t try play the system or worse, be less than honest. It won’t end well.
The ucas form: Employment
You may include in this section any paid employment you have had. if you have not had any jobs, you still need to click on this section and tick the box to indicate it is complete. This is to include paid work but NOT include work experience, which should be included in the ‘Additional Information: Activities in preparation for higher education’ section.
the ucas form: personal statement
See the Personal Statement Section!
the ucas form: completing the process
Once you have completed all sections of your UCAS Form, check it again before sending to your referee. You must send your completed form to your Advisor by the date you two agreed when you met.
Click on view all to check your completed application - use the scroll bar at the right hand side to check the content
Click on print at the top right hand side of the screen to print a hard copy. DO THIS.
Click on pay/send once you have done all of the steps above.
NB - This might be your last opportunity to check the form before it gets sent to UCAS
the ucas form: declaration
Haing read the application screen, click on I agree.
You will then be presented with a screen asking ‘how do you want to pay?’ - which each school/student may have different ways of doing.
This completes the process of applying through UCAS - your Advisor’s reference will be added to your application before it is sent electronically. You will not be able to amend your application at this stage, unless it is sent back to you by your Advisor before they dispatch it.
Click log out. Say hooray. Take the day off and treat yourself.