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Old 12-29-2010, 01:19 PM   #1
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Default [FAQ] Application to UK Universities




Unlike universities in Singapore, UK universities utilise a common online portal for applications. The portal, called UCAS (Universities & Colleges Admission Service), can be found at

CHOOSING COURSES. Think carefully about the course you'd like to do at the university. There are thousands of courses available at hundreds of universities and colleges, and each one suits some people better than others. Choose your courses for the right reasons and do plenty of research before deciding where to go.

APPLYING. You apply for courses using UCAS Apply ( You send your completed application to UCAS (or to your school if applying through them) and UCAS will send it to the universities and you choose. Do check out the application deadlines.

OFFERS. Universities will decide whether to offer you a place or not. You can check if you're accepted on UCAS Track (, which shows your choices and any decisions made by the universities. If you're accepted, you need to reply to your offers. If you change your mind or aren't accepted, there are other options to help you find a course.


Choosing which university or college to go to can be a life-changing decision. Do as much research as possible so that you choose the right course for the right reasons.

You can apply to any course which interests you, but consider the entry requirements first. Some courses require particular qualifications, others require an admissions test.

Some subjects are managed slightly differently to the rest. Make sure you know if you need to take an admissions test. The courses that require admission tests are listed below:

BioMedical Admissions Test (BMAT)
For entry to medicine, veterinary medicine and related courses.

English Literature Admissions Test (ELAT)
For entry to English courses at the University of Oxford.

Graduate Medical School Admissions Test (GAMSAT)
For graduate entry into medicine and dentistry courses.

History Aptitude Test (HAT)
For entry to all degrees involving history at the University of Oxford.

Health Professions Admissions Test (HPAT)
For entry to certain medical courses at the University of Ulster.

The National Admissions Test for Law (LNAT)
For entry to law.

Mathematics Aptitude Test (MAT)
For entry to mathematics or computer science, or a joint honours degree involving mathematics at the University of Oxford.

Modern and Medieval Languages Test (MML)
For entry to modern and medieval languages at the University of Cambridge.

Physics Aptitude Test (PAT)
For entry to physics, or a joint degree involving physics at the University of Oxford.

Sixth Term Examination Papers (STEP)
For entry to mathematics at the University of Cambridge.

Thinking Skills Assessment (TSA Cambridge)
For entry to computer science, natural sciences, engineering and economics at the University of Cambridge.

Thinking Skills Assessment (TSA Oxford), formerly known as the PPE Admissions Test
For entry to politics & economics (PPE), economics and management (E&M), experimental psychology (EP) or psychology and philosophy at the University of Oxford.

Thinking Skills Assessment (TSA) UCL
For entry to European social and political studies at University College London (UCL).

UK Clinical Aptitude Test (UKCAT)
For entry to medical and dental schools.

Last edited by rui; 01-05-2011 at 10:18 PM.
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Old 12-29-2010, 01:20 PM   #2
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Once you've chosen your courses, you should be ready to start your application. Head over to UCAS Apply ( to create an account. If you're intending to matriculate in 2011 or 2012 (1 year deferment), you click on Register / Log in to use Apply 2011. If you're intending to matriculate in 2013, you will have to wait for Apply 2012 to open, before you apply for a deferred entry into 2013. Note that universities generally do not grant 2 year deferments, although there have been individuals securing 2 year deferments.

When filling in your grades, do also input your GCE 'O' Levels English Language, as that would be used as a gauge of your English language ability - not your 'A' Levels General Paper. Some universities however, might go further to request you take the IETLS or TOEFL, despite having an acceptable grade in your GCE 'O' Levels English Language.

For more FAQs on Applying, go to


There are three application deadlines for courses through UCAS - 15 October, 15 January and 24 March - it is important to check the deadline for your chosen course(s). If you are applying from the UK, you should submit your application by the relevant deadline below:

• 15 October - application deadline for the receipt at UCAS of applications for all medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine and veterinary science courses (course codes A100, A101, A102, A103, A104, A105, A106, A300, A200, A201, A202, A203, A204, A205, A206, A400, D100, D101 and D102), and for all courses at the universities of Oxford and Cambridge.
• 15 January - application deadline for the receipt at UCAS of applications for all courses except those listed above with a 15 October deadline, and art and design courses with a 24 March deadline.
• 24 March - application deadline for the receipt at UCAS of applications for art and design courses except those listed with a 15 January deadline.

Click here ( to view a list of courses with the 24 Mar application deadline (PDF)

If you're applying through a school or college, they might set an earlier deadline - you need to send your application to them by this date so that they have time to write your reference and send your completed application to UCAS before the deadlines.


Applications received by the above deadlines are guaranteed to be considered by the universities and colleges. Applications received at UCAS after the deadlines, up until 30 June, will only be considered by the universities and colleges if they still have vacancies for the course(s) you have selected.


The personal statement is your opportunity to tell universities and colleges about your suitability for the course(s) that you hope to study. You need to demonstrate your enthusiasm and commitment, and above all, ensure that you stand out from the crowd.

The personal statement can be different to application essays or personal statements from other countries, so please read the guidance in this section before completing the statement.

Explain why you want to study the course you are applying for. If you mention your personal interests and hobbies, try to link them to the skills and experience required for the course. Don't list, develop your thoughts. The goal is to promote yourself to the Admission Tutors, to persuade them that you are a candidate worth admitting. Hence, you could craft your Personal Statement towards why you would be suitable for the course, and what attributes you possess that would enable you to fit in well to the learning environment and the course curriculum itself.

The personal statement could be used as the basis for an interview, so be prepared to answer questions on it.

This may be your only written work that the course tutor sees before making a decision: make sure it is organised and literate. Get the grammar, spelling and punctuation right. A statement filled with errors will give a negative impression of your skills and the effort you have put in to being accepted. Your statement must be written in English (or it can be in Welsh if you are applying only to Welsh universities and colleges).

Some statements start with quotes, some include jokes, some set out to be unusual or eye-catching. Sometimes it works, but it might have the opposite effect to what you hoped. The admissions decision maker may not share your sense of humour so be careful when trying to make your statement stand out.

For more information, refer to UCAS's Personal Statement FAQ - Keypoints, What to Include, Dos and Donts, Presentation.


When you appy to Cambridge and Oxford, you might be required to undergo an interview.

For applicants to Cambridge, you will have to submit a Cambridge Overseas Application Form ( Cambridge will conduct interviews in Singapore in late-November or early-December. Note that your UCAS application must have been submitted by 20 September and your COAF must have been received in Cambridge by 20 September.

For applicants to Oxford, you do not need to submit any additional form starting 2011. You will however be assessed and be notified should you be invited for an interview. The interview will most likely be conducted via Skype/teleconferencing/telephone. Note that your UCAS application must have been submitted by 15 October.


If you wish to apply through your school, you have to check whether your school has a partnership with UCAS such that the school is registered under the UCAS list of schools. Certain colleges have such a partnership and others do not, hence requiring the latter's students to apply individually.

There isn't really a huge difference applying through your school and applying individually. Previously, the difference was that individually, you would have to input your tutor's referral letter on your own - when it was supposed to be confidential. Applying through your school allowed your tutor to input the letter and if applicable, your predicted grades, without you knowing what they are. However, UCAS has devised a new system whereby your tutor would be given a one-off link to a particular webpage to input the aforementioned information, while observing the confidentiality aspects.

Note that you can only have one Tutor Referral letter.


UK universities emphasise more on the academic achievements than CCAs. They want to understand the academic potential of the applicant; so unless your CCA is related to the field of study you are embarking in, you could write less about your CCA in your Personal Statement. You could also creatively weave in elements of your CCA into your Personal Statement such that they bring out the best of you, with respect to your field of study.
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Old 12-29-2010, 01:24 PM   #3
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Once UCAS has sent your application to your chosen universities and colleges, you wait to hear from them. The time it takes for decisions to be made varies but even if you have applied very early, universities and colleges have until early May to decide.

UCAS Track ( is an online system that allows you to follow the progress of your application. You can see what's happening with your application, like whether you've received any offers and the replies you've made.

You can use Track once you've received a welcome letter from UCAS. UCAS will send it to you after they have processed your application. Log in to Track with your Personal ID, which is printed on your welcome letter, and the same username and password you used when completing your application in Apply.

When each university or college makes a decision about your application, the details will be shown on Track. If you supplied a valid email address on your application, we'll email you when a decision has been made. To protect confidential information, the email will not contain the actual decision: you'll still need to go to Track to check the details.

You can also use Track to accept or decline offers and change some personal details, such as your postal address, telephone number and email address.


Conditional offer. A conditional offer means that the university or college will offer you a place if you meet certain conditions, which are usually based on your exams.

You may be asked to achieve specific grades in named subjects (for example, B in H2 Chemistry, Distinction in H3 Mathematics). You must meet the conditions of your offer by 31 August 2011, unless otherwise agreed by the university or college.

Each offer is specific to your qualifications and circumstances.

The conditional offer might also be given on condition you send them your transcripts (photocopied and stamped) for verification, if you're applying as an individual. You simply have to snail mail a copy of your transcripts to the Admissions Office of the requesting university. Note that not all universities would give you a Conditional offer if they need to verify your transcripts. They could give you an Unconditional offer but still require your transcripts.

Unconditional offer. An unconditional offer means that you have met all the academic requirements and the university or college is happy to accept you. The university or college will contact you if they need proof of your qualifications. They might have other requirements, like financial or medical conditions, that you need to meet before you can start the course.

Withdrawn application. A choice can be withdrawn by you or the university or college. The reason will be displayed in Track. It may be withdrawn because you didn't respond to any letters or emails from the university or college, or because you didn't attend an interview.

Unsuccessful application. This means that the university or college has decided not to offer you a place on the course.

Universities and colleges can decline an applicant for many reasons, one of which could be that the course is full, so it may not be based on the quality of your application. The university or college may provide a reason for their decision either when they send the decision through, or at a later date. If no reason is shown in Track, you can contact the university or college to see if they will discuss why you were unsuccessful.


You reply to each offer in one of the following ways:

• firm acceptance
• insurance acceptance
• decline.

Firm acceptance. Your firm acceptance is your first choice - this is your preferred choice out of all the offers you have received. You can only have one firm acceptance.

If you accept an unconditional offer, you are agreeing that you will attend the course at that university or college, so you must decline any other offers. We'll send you a letter which will explain whether there is anything else you need to do.

If you accept a conditional offer, you are agreeing that you will attend the course at that university or college if you meet the conditions of the offer. You can accept another offer as an insurance choice.

Insurance acceptance. If your firm choice is a conditional offer, you can accept another offer as an insurance choice. Your insurance choice can be conditional or unconditional and acts as a back-up, so if you don't meet the conditions for your firm choice but meet the conditions for your insurance, you will be committed to the insurance choice. You can only have one insurance choice.

The conditions for your insurance choice can be higher than your firm choice, but be aware that if you're not accepted by your firm choice, it's unlikely that you will be accepted for an insurance choice that requests higher grades.

You don't have to accept an insurance choice - if you're not sure about any of your other choices once you have accepted a firm choice, you're not obliged to accept one as an insurance option.

For more FAQs regarding Offers, click here (
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Old 12-29-2010, 01:26 PM   #4
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Applying with a Polytechnic Diploma []
Medicine Interviews, questions you may have []
Applying to do Medicine in the UK []
Costs of studying in UK []


Originally Posted by anonymous90
RE: Mathematics in the UK
For those who wish to apply for Mathematics in UK, it will be highly advisable for one to sit for STEP, especialy if you are applying to top tier universities, even if they do not require it. It gives you the extra edge in your application. STEP is not easy though. One needs months of extra practice and reading up of stuff outside our curriculum.

A grade of 1 or S in STEP I, II, III will almost guarantee you a place anywhere if you manage to achieve it and mention it in your UCAS application.

If you have any further questions, please create a new thread.
If you think there can be changes to this FAQ, please drop me a PM.

Last edited by rui; 01-05-2011 at 10:19 PM.
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Old 08-08-2015, 10:39 AM   #5
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Default For those applying to oxford/cambridge economics, here are some helpful videos

I thought these videos were helpful when I did my applications. They're a free video series on youtube showing the kind of interview questions one can expect:

Hope it helps!
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