UCAS - University Applications

UCAS is the central organisation through which applications are processed for entry to full-time higher education courses in the UK.  It handles applications for all British First Degree Courses (overseas universities not through UCAS).  Applications MUST be made through UCAS – students cannot apply direct to a University.

It can be quite a daunting process as students need to choose just 5 courses to apply for out of the 50,000+ on offer through the UCAS system.    The key to success is identifying subjects students want to study intensively for three years at least, and making sure that they can realistically achieve the required grades.   After that they will boost their chances by producing a top-rate Personal Statement.  

The first step in this process is to register for UCAS on their website http://www.ucas.ac.uk.    There are a great range of tutorials and videos which will ensure students have a full understanding of what is expected of them, and you.

 The UCAS website has a section specifically for Parents which you may want to read http://www.ucas.ac.uk/parents/.

What is CUKAS?

CUKAS is the Conservatoires UK Admissions Service, not to be mistaken for UCAS, but with a very similar application process.  Full details can be found at https://www.ucas.com/ucas/conservatoires. This is a service designed to provide the facilities to research and apply for practice-based music, dance and drama courses. 

UCAS Deadlines & Timescales

There are different dates to be aware of when making an application and waiting for decisions from your chosen universities and colleges. The application deadlines below specify the dates when UCAS need to receive your application.

Timetable for 2018 applications

6th September 2017 -2018 entry applications can be sent to UCAS.

 29th September 2017- Archbishop Holgate’s internal deadline for submission of university applications (competitive).

 2nd October 2017- External deadline for receipt at UCAS of applications to the Conservatoires to reach UCAS.

15th October 2017- External deadline for receipt at UCAS of applications to the Universities of Oxford or Cambridge, and all with choices for courses in medicine, dentistry, and veterinary medicine/science to reach UCAS.

10th November 2017- Archbishop Holgate’s internal deadline for submission of university applications (non-competitive). 

16th August 2018 GCE A level and Advanced Diploma results are published and the full Clearingvacancy information service starts. UCAS Adjustment also opens forregistration. For advice & guidance on Clearing & Adjustment, please speak to the Sixth Form Team.

31st August 2018 UCAS Adjustment closes.

General Information about Oxbridge Applications

Why Oxbridge?

The clearest reason for Oxford and Cambridge standing out from the other UK universities is that they are repeatedly ranked top of academic league tables worldwide, performing best not only within the UK, but also in competition with international universities, including the American ‘Ivy League’. It is generally accepted that whilst the UK boasts a great number of excellent and highly selective higher education institutions, Oxford and Cambridge Universities offer a standard of academic excellence that is unmatched by any of its British rivals. This is not only confirmed by their position at the head of the leader-board for graduate results, but also by their excellence in the areas of academic study and research. applications to UK universities for full-time courses are made through UCAS, the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service. UCAS works closely with the school to ensure that all applicants have access to this system. Students apply online through the UCAS website, which means they can access their application from any computer, whether at home or at school.

Things you must consider about your Oxbridge application:

  • You cannot apply to both Oxford and Cambridge in the same year, unless you are applying for a choral or organ scholarship.
  • It should be the course that interests you and not just the thought of being at Oxbridge.
  • The ratio of places to applicants is 1:3 or 1:4, although it may vary according to subjects.
  • Admissions Tutors will always expect you to be passionate about your subject. Make sure you know exactly what the course involves and be prepared to talk about it at interview.
  • You will need to undertake significant additional reading and have additional knowledge in your chosen subject (beyond that which is required for the A level course syllabus).
  • Extra-curricular activities (sports, hobbies, projects etc.) or relevant work experience are important to support your application.
  • You should work on your personal statement during the summer holidays between Year 12 and Year 13 and return to school in September with a completed draft.
  • You will need to demonstrate enthusiasm and self-motivation and your referees will need to be able to give evidence of this also – bear this is mind!
  • It is likely you will have to undertake additional tests as part of the application process. More detail is given about these in the Admissions Tests section.
  • Every year there are 10,000 unsuccessful applications to Oxbridge – don’t be put off from applying, but make sure you have a plan B.

Important Deadlines for Oxbridge applications

Your application must be submitted to UCAS by 15th October 2017. This will usually include all of the other courses at other universities which you are applying for, so make sure you research those also.

Though the deadline to UCAS is 15th October, our internal Sixth Form deadline for submission of your completed application is 29th September 2017. Offers will be made in January 2018.

What are they looking for?

A decision to apply to Oxbridge should not be taken lightly; it is a competitive process, which requires a great deal of dedication and hard work. Both pupils and parents must be aware of the level of commitment that is expected.

  •  MotivationAdmissions Tutors want to see that you are genuinely interested in your subject and that you have the motivation to pursue this interest beyond the A level syllabus. The process requires a willingness to undertake wider reading relating to your subject and to attend additional sessions to develop your knowledge and skills. You will also need the drive to achieve highly in your exams and to grasp any other opportunities on offer, for example the EPQ, societies, seminars and work experience. Though you will receive support from a variety of people, at home and at school, you must also realise that ultimately you are responsible for your own application; you are the one who can improve your chances of receiving an offer through acting on the advice and help you are given. 
  • Academic success: Both universities are looking for students with a very strong academic record. You must ensure that you achieve the best GCSE and A level grades that you can.
  • GCSE: If you are considering applying to Cambridge or Oxford University, you should have a strong record of A/A* grades at GCSE.
  • A Level: Conditional offers range between A*A*A and AAA, depending on the subject.

For Cambridge University, you can find the selection criteria for the subject you are applying for on the faculty website.

Oxford University has collated this information, which can be found at: http://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/undergraduate_courses/courses/selection_criteria_for_subjects_links/index.html

Who are the Russell Group?

The Russell Group was formed as a group of universities who are committed to research. The group includes many, but not all, of the universities that tend to come high up in league tables. Both Oxford and Cambridge University are part of the Russell Group. www.russellgroup.ac.uk

Admissions Tests

For many courses, applicants are required to undertake admissions tests to help decide your suitability for the course. As soon as you know which university, which college and which course you are applying to, you must check with individual subject departmental websites for information about admissions requirements and tests. Some of the tests which you might have to take are:

 The Law National Test (LNAT)

The LNAT is a test to be taken by candidates applying to study undergraduate Law. The test is taken on-line and involves multiple choice and essay questions. Information about the test is available on the general undergraduate admissions websites. More information is available on the LNAT website www.lnat.ac.uk .

Cambridge Law Test

Most colleges will be using the Cambridge Law Test, which is paper based and will be taken during the interview process. More information is available at: www.law.cam.ac.uk/admissions

Mathematics – Sixth Term Examination Papers in Mathematics (STEP)

Students applying to study at Cambridge University may be required to sit STEP papers which are used to supplement A Level in assessing applicant’s aptitude for university study in Mathematics.

Mathematics/Physics/Computer Science Aptitude Test

All students applying to study Mathematics/Physics/Computer Science at Oxford University will need to sit an aptitude test.

More information is available from: www.maths.ox.ac.uk, www.physics.ox.ac.uk,  www.comlab.ox.ac.uk

Medicine and Veterinary Science - The Biomedical Test (BMAT)

Students applying to the following courses will be required to sit the BMAT before coming to interview:

• Medicine and Veterinary Science (Cambridge University)

• Medicine and Biomedical Sciences(University of Oxford Medical School)

History – History Aptitude Test (HAT)

Students applying to any course involving History at Oxford University will be expected to sit the HAT. The test aims to examine the skills and potentialities required for the study of History at university. It is designed to be challenging in order to differentiate effectively between the most able applicants for university courses including those who may have achieved or can be expected to achieve the highest possible grades in their examination. More information and specimen papers can be seen at: www.history.ox.ac.uk/prosundergrad/applying/hat_introduction.htm

Thinking Skills Assessment (TSA)

Cambridge and Oxford use the TSA, a non-subject-specific test, as part of the admissions process for a large number of courses. Check faculty websites to see if you are required to sit the TSA.

Modern and Medieval Languages

The Modern and Medieval Languages test (MML) is used by Cambridge University as part of their admissions process. The written test will form part of the interview process. More information is available from http://www.mml.cam.ac.uk/prospectus/undergrad/test.html

English Literature Admissions Test (ELAT)

Oxford University will be using the ELAT as part of the admissions process for students applying to study:

• English Language and Literature

• Classics and English (3 and 4 year courses)

• English and Modern Languages

Candidates applying for English and History will be required to take the ELAT and HAT.

More information about all tests, including dates, practise questions and test centres, is available from Cambridge Assessment Admissions Test website: http://www.admissionstests.cambridgeassessment.org.uk/adt/

 Oxford lists its tests on their website: https://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/undergraduate

UCAS Jargon Buster

Below is a list of commonly used words and phrases, together with a summary of their meanings.

Apply: the online application system for applying for higher education courses..

Adjustment: applicants who have met and exceeded the conditions of their firm choice are given an opportunity to look for an alternative place while holding their original confirmed place.

Clearing: a system used towards the end of the academic cycle. If you have not secured a place, it enables you to apply for course vacancies.

Conditional offer: an offer made by a university or college, whereby you must fulfil certain criteria before you can be accepted on the relevant course.

Confirmation: when conditional offers that you have accepted become unconditional or are declined. Confirmation is dependent on your qualification/exam results.

Deferral: holding an offer until the following year.

Entry Profiles: comprehensive information about individual courses and institutions, including statistics and entry requirements. Entry Profiles are found on Course Search.

Extra: the opportunity to apply for another course if you have used all five choices and not secured a place. Extra runs from the end of February until the end of June.

Firm offer: the offer that you have accepted as your first choice.

Institution: a university or college offering higher education courses.

Insurance offer: the offer that you have accepted as your second choice, in case you do not meet the requirements for your firm offer.

Invitation: an invitation from a university or college to attend for interview, audition, or provide a portfolio, essay, or other piece of work.

Personal ID: a 10-digit individual number assigned to you when you register to use Apply. It is printed on every letter we send you and is displayed in the format 123-456-7890. You will be asked to provide this number if you contact our Customer Service Unit.

Point of entry: your year of entry to the course, for example, 2 refers to the second year of the course.

Scheme Code: used in conjunction with your Personal ID to uniquely identify your application.

Track: a system where you can track the progress of your application online, reply to any offers received, and make certain amendments, for example, change of address or email.

Unconditional offer: an offer given to you by a university or college if you have satisfied the criteria and can attend the course.

Unistats: a website for students who want to research and compare subjects and universities before deciding where to apply. You can also look at student satisfaction ratings and explore the figures about getting a graduate job after completing a course.

Unsuccessful: you have not been accepted by the university or college concerned.

Withdrawal: either you or a university/college cancels a choice before a decision has been made - a reason will be included if the withdrawal was issued by an institution.

yougo: yougo is a student-only networking site, where you can meet people doing your course or going to your university or college before you start. You can also access university and college profile pages and contact UCAS advisers online.

Useful websites to look at when applying to HE:








Up arrow
Scroll up