How to fill in your UCAS application form
Don’t leave submitting your UCAS form till the very last minute. It’s important to give yourself plenty of time, and remember, the form isn’t finished until your referee has put in the reference. It’s not unknown for eleventh-hour applicants to miss key deadlines because of problems such as temporarily losing internet access.
The first step is to register. This is free and takes about 15 minutes. You’ll need to enter basic details such as your name and address. You can save your work as you go and mark each section as complete when you’re ready.
There are seven sections for you to fill in, and a reference must then be added:
Personal details. This includes your email address and details of any special needs or disabilities.
Additional information. This is for UK applicants only and includes equality questions and details about any preparation for higher education such as summer schools and tasters. Enter information about these here even if you are going to say more about them in your personal statement later.
Student finance. You can sign up to receive an email that will let you know when applications for student finance are open. You are advised to apply for student finance early – you can do this before you have been offered any places. Check our information about applying for student finance.
Choices. You can make five choices (four in medicine, dentistry or veterinary science). This is where you can say if you’re applying for deferred entry (outline your reasons in your personal statement).
Education. List all the schools you’ve been to since the age of 11, along with the dates you were there, all of your exam results (not just the A to Cs) and any exams still to be taken. Check your certificates or result slips carefully so you can input the correct exam board and dates. You may have some additional entrance tests to include in this section, such as LNat for law.
Personal statement. Don’t type this straight into the application form – use a word processing application and copy and paste it over when you’re ready (and have given it a thorough spell check). You have 4,000 characters to talk about your enthusiasm for the course you are applying for, relevant work experience and interests, and how you will fit in at university. It’s very important to write this for yourself, as all personal statements are scanned for evidence of plagiarism. You’ve already done the hard part by researching and choosing the courses you are interested in; now you just have to explain why you would be a good match.
Employment. You can list up to five paid jobs in this section, including both full-time and part-time work. This isn’t the place to mention volunteering or unpaid work experience, which you should cover in your personal statement. If you have not had any paid employment you can leave this section blank, but you will still need to mark it as complete even if it doesn’t have any information in it.
Reference. This is added by your referee. If you are applying through a school or college, your reference will be written for you and you won’t have access to it.
Your school or college will send the application form with the reference included on to UCAS on your behalf, and will let you know when and how to pay your application fee. For 2015 applications, the fee is £12 for a single choice and £23 if you apply to more than one university.
What happens after you submit your UCAS application?
UCAS will check that everything is OK and that your personal statement has not been copied. You’ll then receive an email explaining how to use the Track service to check on the progress of your application. Your application will be sent to all the universities and colleges you have applied to. None of them will know where else you have applied. Whenever any of them make a decision you need to know about, such as inviting you to interview, you’ll receive an email so you know to check your application in Track.
Apply for student finance as early as possible
There are separate funding systems in Scotland, Wales, Nothern Ireland and England, and they typically open for applications in the spring. You can find out more about this from our advice on the cost of a university degree.