First, you will have to register with Ucas and enter your personal details. You will then be able to apply for up to five courses. Make sure you cross reference the course requirements with your predicted grades and A-level choices so you won’t get rejected before you have even taken your exams.
You will then be asked to detail your education and qualifications to date and to give details of any jobs you have had. It’s also a good idea to nail down who will be providing your academic reference as soon as possible – make sure you give your teacher enough time to make it a good one.
Finally, before you submit your application, you will be asked to include your personal statement. This is your chance to convince your university or college that you are the right person to study their course.
For some people, writing a personal statement will come easily. But for those who are feeling daunted about the prospect of putting 4,000 characters together, you are not alone. As Stuart Balnaves, head of learner experience at Ucas, puts it: “Those three words – Ucas personal statement – can stike fear into students’ hearts", but there are ways to make the process easier.
To start with, jot down reasons why you want to study your chosen course. Is it a new passion or an old interest? Were you inspired by something you read or does it lead towards the career you would eventually like to pursue – in which case, what is it that appeals to you about that career?
Secondly, think about what you can say you have done to demonstrate why you are passionate about this particular subject. Have you taken part in a society or club outside of school? Do you enjoy reading about your subject, if yes, what books particularly interest you and why?
Have you worked in any roles that help with skills that universities might find appealing? Have you helped fellow students at school, have you volunteered or undertaken work experience in your field?
“The best statements will show that a student is interested in the subject; that they've studied it, that they've developed an interest it in outside school, and that they're developing their skills and abilities outside academia,” says Liz Hunt, undergraduate admissions manager at the University of Sheffield.
However, she advises students to avoid rambling: “Some try to tell you their life story,” she continues, “sometimes this can be quite useful, but it needs to be relevant rambling, it needs to tell admissions tutors why you have decided on a particular subject.”
James Williams, lecturer in education at the University of Sussex, agrees: “Admissions tutors are looking to see that you have an understanding about the course you are applying for,” he says. “Content of courses will be different at different universities, so we don’t look for applicants to be too specific, but candidates should look for common topics and address these.”
The key is balance. Contrary to what Oxbridge demand, most universities will look for candidates to split their statements betwe