Can any UCAS University Application really be perfect? Well, maybe not perfect, but with this 'how to' guide from Craig Van de Velde, you'll be close!

How to make the perfect UCAS University Application

Craig Van de Velde
June 7th 2018

Can any UCAS application really be perfect? Maybe not perfect, however with this “how to” guide, you’ll be close.

What is UCAS?

Universities and Colleges Admission Service (UCAS) is an independent body that regulates and processes all undergraduate university applications to any UK university. These will either be completed with a personal login (unique to you) or will be completed at school using a school login. There are a number of university advisors and UCAS advisors, mainly located in London, available to aid you through this process; they work with both foreign and domestic students.

What will you find on your application form?

Personal details

This section is exactly what it says on the tin – it is the section in which you will input your name, how old you are, where you currently reside, whether you have any disabilities or special needs, etc. Fill this form in with as much detail as you can offer and as accurately as possible. Remember that no information supplied will tarnish your application, however omitting information can mean your application will not be taken any further that academic year.

Additional information

This section is very short and is looking at equality information such as your ethnic background and parents’ employment amongst other things.

Student finance

This section is only applicable if you selected that you would be using student finance to fund your studies at university; you had to select this as an option in the personal details section.

Choices

This is what you’ve been waiting for…where do you want to go and what do you want to study? Remember, you only get 5 choices so choose wisely and thoughtfully. You can of course choose less than 5 courses, however it is always recommended that you select all 5, as this increases your chances of succeeding in one of your preferences.  

When thinking about your choices, if you’re struggling to decide, think about these things:

  • What have you studied at A-Level?

  • What would you like to do as a career?

Certain vocations and courses require specific prerequisite A-Level subjects. For instance, subjects such as medicine or veterinary medicine require you to have studied chemistry, so these will be ruled out if you have not studied this subject at A-Level.

Review your strengths and passions. Take a few days and think about what you enjoy, and what interests you.

The most important decision you have to make when applying to university is which course to choose. Allow this to lead your decisions; see what universities offer your course, and then see if they marry up with where you would like to be location-wise.

Warwick, for instance, is an excellent university for science, as is Imperial College London; the two are only separated by a few places in the university ranking table (https://www.timeshighereducation.com) but separated by almost 100 miles in terms of distance. What’s more, Warwick is a campus university and Imperial College is a city university. Do these factors affect your decision?  

Education

This section is all about your educational background; the schools you’ve attended and the subjects in which you’ve already received a qualification (GCSE’s for instance). This is also the section where you’ll enter your predicted grades for your A-levels/ PreU’s/IB’s, etc.

Employment

Again, like the education section this section is relatively self-explanatory. It simply wants to know what part-time (or full-time if appropriate) employment you have had or currently are in. Include any summer jobs, volunteering, temp-work, etc. Universities want to see that you can apply yourself as an employee (be it paid or unpaid). Of course, it is better if the work experience is relevant to your course, however don’t underestimate your weekend retail job. Showing responsibility, diligence, drive, are key parts of your application.

Statement

This section is without a doubt the most important of the entire application. Remember, you only get one statement and it goes to all 5 of the courses to which you are applying. This is particularly important to consider if you are hoping to do a joint-honours course, as your application has to coincide with both of your choices (e.g. history and sociology).

Your statement has to be completed in Times New Roman, and must be kept to no more than 4000 characters and 47 lines long - that’s the equivalent of 1 full page of A4 writing. Keep it streamlined and focused on the relationship between you and the course to which you want to apply. Do not write too much about yourself, and avoid, taking up too much time and space on ‘I am passionate about blah, blah, blah’. You need to get straight to the point – why do you want to apply to this course? Another thing to try and avoid is something we are all guilty of – not giving evidence. “I want to read Medicine because I really like chemistry and biology.” That’s great, but rather than telling the admissions tutor this, show them with evidence. That sentence alone has taken up nearly 100 characters. So, instead of “I like” sentences, demonstrate it with what you have studied already and what you have already achieved. Tell them about clubs you are involved with, or volunteer work you have completed. Have you won any prizes? Have you been to any seminars?

Think about what you are trying to get across and then find interesting ways to prove your point. Then don’t forget to check for grammar and punctuation at the end!

Reference

Whilst teachers are legally not allowed to give a bad reference they can absolutely choose not to pay as much attention to your reference as you would have hoped. So, where possible, build positive relationships with your teachers. Let them know along your educational journey that your course choice is one which you are interested pursuing.

When to start applying and thinking about your application

We recommend that you start having a casual look at universities in January of year 12. Begin to look at literature on your ideal course and potential cities of study.

Closing dates for applications are the 15th October for Oxbridge and the 15th January for all other universities. If you are completing through UCAS at school, most schools will want the applications completed by end of November. Therefore, June to September is a critical time for completing your application. Be ready for the closing dates with more than enough time to make any amendments.

 

William Clarence Education offers unbiased advice on UK School and University PlacementOxbridge AdmissionsUS College ApplicationsUCAS application and extensive support for parents and students in all aspects of preparing for entry to the UK. Please contact us on 02074128988 to discuss your particular needs, or email info@williamclarence.com