Applying to university?
Check out our UCAS guide for 2022 entry!

So, it’s the time of year where students all over the UK are making some big (but exciting!) decisions about their futures. And if you’re thinking about going to university, you may have heard about UCAS. Whether it’s the first time you are learning about applications or you’re looking for more advice, NERAP is here to help break it down! 🙋‍♂️

What is UCAS? 🤔

UCAS stands for the Universities and Colleges Admission Service and is the online service that all students will use when applying to university in the UK. You can find their website at which is where you will submit your application. They also have some fantastic resources and guidance on the UCAS process so make sure to have a look!

Where do you start? 🏁

Before you begin your application, you’ll need to have an idea of the universities that you want to apply for. The best way to find out more information is directly on their websites! Here you will find specific information on entry requirements, course content, and university values. A really useful way to get a feel for the university is to attend any open days where you can tour the facilities and talk to current teachers and students.

📣 TIP: If you’re applying for any course at the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, or for most courses in medicine, veterinary medicine/science, and dentistry, the deadline will be earlier! For 2022, this deadline was on the 15th October while other applications aren’t due until 26th January.

You will get 5 choices with your UCAS application which will be narrowed down to a ‘firm’ and ‘insurance’ choice. Your firm should be the university you feel is most suitable for you, and your insurance may be a suitable course with lower entry requirements. This just allows for a bit more freedom when it comes to results day!

What details will they need? ✍️

After making an account on the UCAS website, you’ll be asked to provide some basic details such as contact details, residency status, and personal circumstances. You must fill this section in, making sure that all details are up-to-date. You’ll then be asked to complete your education and employment history. This will include your secondary and further education details. Don’t worry if you haven’t had any paid work before, just leave it blank. If you do have any volunteering experience, this will be great to include in your personal statement!

What is a personal statement? 💭

Your personal statement is essentially a way to tell the university about your skills and interests and can be written in your own style. It’s a chance for you to talk about why you want to study at the university and what qualities you can bring as a student there. You have up to 4000 characters or 47 lines, whichever comes first!

📣 TIP: Make sure you proofread before submitting – you want to make a good impression! Reading it aloud can be really useful.

You only have one personal statement for all your university choices so avoid mentioning the institutions by name. But do tell them all about your experiences in and out of education. Any extracurricular activities or volunteering work you have is great to include, as well as why you want to study in the area you are applying for. Remember to keep it as natural as possible, they want to get a feel for your personality!

📣 TIP: Be careful with including humour in your personal statement, you want to stand out but the admissions tutor may not share the same sense of humour you do!

So you have talked about why you want to study and evidenced your skills and experience, what now? You can also include your personal circumstances in your statement. Anything that may have impacted your studies or that you feel is important to include would be written in this section. This could be something like a physical or mental health condition, or if you have ever received any financial support throughout your studies.

UCAS have their very own personal statement builder tool which you can find here; and they have lots of articles with helpful tips surrounding the structure and content of your submission.

The NERAP team wishes you the best of luck! 🙌

Don’t forget that the NERAP team is always available for any questions on our live chat in the bottom right corner of our website. Keep up-to-date by following our Twitter @NERAP_Team and see what we are getting up to!

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