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Tips on successful applications to UK universities

The UCAS application process

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The application process for admission in an undergraduate program at UK universities is very simple. There is one application platform that you use to apply to undergraduate programs in the UK which is called UCAS. You can either apply through your schools (in that case your school has to have a UCAS account) or you can apply as an individual, you can do it either way.

Here is an ultimate guide to study in the UK and the best tips for a successful application.

1. Think about what you need to study

The first thing you need to do is to think about what you need to study. Because in the UK you can’t change your mind. Once you have decided that you want to study a particular course or a particular subject that’s what you have to study for 3 or 4 years there as an undergraduate student.

2. Go to the UCAS website to apply

In order to apply, you need to go to the UCAS website. Create an account and then start filling out all of the different sections. Most of the sections are very straightforward.

3. Choose the course or program you want to study

Do an initial screening to get an understanding of what courses are out there. Visit some of the universities websites and see what courses they have to offer? All of the UK universities list the programs they offer on their websites. For example,  the Oxford university website shows the list of the majors they offer. Click on a particular course to see what you are going to study in your first year, second year and third year.

Make sure that the combination of subjects or majors you want to study are available at the particular university. You cannot create a particular combination of courses by your own. For example, Politics, Philosophy and Economics is a combination that is offered by Oxford and some other universities but suppose you want to study Psychology and French that might not be necessarily offered everywhere.

4. Choose the universities

You will be asked to choose five universities that you want to apply to. It doesn’t matter whether you are a British national or an international student, at the undergraduate level you can only apply to five universities.

Every UK university tells you about their minimum entry requirement on their website  before they are willing to consider you for admission. The minimum entry requirement varies by course and the university. Your predicted score in grade 12 should be either this or above for you to be eligible to apply. So keep your academic ability in your mind when choosing a university. At a safer side, choose two or three universities that ask for less than your predicted score in grade 12.

5. Fill out your personal information

The application platform will ask you to fill out some personal information section. You can also talk a little bit about your work experience if you had any.

6. Write your personal statement

The UK application platform allows you to write only one personal statement. That is a 4000 character statement where you justify to the university why you are a particular fit for that course or that major? It is a very particular kind of statement that makes your first impression. Make sure you invest ample time writing it and making it up to the mark.  It is really about you identifying what skills you have, what you have done in school and outside of the school related to that particular subject you want to study.

All of the five universities are going to see that one personal statement and that’s why you can only choose one subject or one program in all of the five universities. For example,  you can’t apply to Chemistry at one university and History at the other because if you do that your personal statement is going to be divided and both the universities are going to say that this student really doesn’t want to study History or Chemistry and you are unlikely to get an offer. 

7. Nominate a recommender

You also have to nominate a recommender, who would write a letter of recommendation for you. That can either be a school counselor or a subject teacher.

And that’s it and then you click on submit.

8. Conditional offer

Once you have submitted your application, you will get a notification on your UCAS account. If  your application is successful they will give you a conditional offer that if you get an A, A, B in your A levels than you can come. So that’s a successful outcome. Sometimes the news might be that your application is unsuccessful and for that particular cycle the relationship with you and that university is over. You cannot re appeal or reapply in that particular cycle.

9. Interviews

Some of the UK universities also conduct interviews as part of the admission process. For example, Oxford and Cambridge will conduct academic interviews. If you are studying medicine, you will have either a mini medical interview or a panel interview. Other colleges might ask for specific courses.

10. Deadlines

In UK, conditional offers come out on a rolling basis, so the earlier you will apply, the likely you are to hear. Typically the deadline for an international student to apply is November 15th. But if you are applying to Oxford, Cambridge, Medicine or Veterinary Science, the deadline is October 15th.

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