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UCAS and the application process

UCAS and the application process

UCAS is the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, you UCAS to submit your application for most UK undergraduate degree courses. 

Once an application has been submitted, its progress can be monitored through the online service, UCAS Track. For other types of HE qualifications, such as HNDs, HNCs and full-time foundation degrees, applications are usually made directly to the institution, and not through UCAS.

Personal statements

Personal statements are your opportunity to sell yourself and demonstrate why you have what it takes to be successful in on the course. It’s a good idea to come across as engaged in extra-curricular activities during your time at school or further education. These could include:

• Duke of Edinburgh Award
• Ten Tors
• volunteering
• sports or music clubs
• part-time jobs
• summer schools or residential trips

Admissions tutors love to see these types of activities, as they show commitment, teamwork, time management skills and much more!

Results day

Level 3 exam results day can be a stressful day for both students and their parents and carers, especially if the results are not what were expected. Familiarising yourself with the possible outcomes below so you can feel confident you have the tools for each eventuality.

Possible outcomes on results day

Receiving the grades required for the (first) choice.
Well done! Check with UCAS Track (online) to ensure the system has updated (this might take a day or two), then start planning for the exciting times ahead!

Receiving the grades required for the insurance (second) choice, but not the firm choice.
This is still a reason to be cheerful! Although not the first choice, you’ll be going to university or college. Check that UCAS Track has updated, and then start planning. If you’ve only just missed out on the grades required for your first choice, it might be worth contacting the HEI, as sometimes (but not always) they will make an exception.

Receiving higher grades than expected.
In this case, you’ll have secured your firm choice, but have the option to make an Adjustment and apply for a course that has higher entry requirements. This could be at the same, or a different HEI.

Not receiving the grade required for the firm, or insurance choice.
Don’t panic! All is not lost. Check in with UCAS Track, or contact the first and second choice HEI, as there’s still a chance of being accepted. If not, you’ll be automatically entered into Clearing.

Clearing and adjustment

When a student doesn’t achieve high enough grades to get onto their firm or insurance offers, UCAS Track will show their status as being in Clearing, along with their Clearing number.

Clearing gives you a chance to apply for a different course at the same, or different, institution. It’s also a chance for universities and colleges to fill empty spaces. Remember, thousands of students get into university or college each year through Clearing. Many report that although they were initially upset about not making their first choice, going through Clearing worked out best for them in the end.

Adjustment is for those who have exceeding their results, it allows you to apply for a course that has higher entry requirements, if you wish. For those that have been accepted to university or college, but have decided to take a gap year, deferred entry might be an option. This is when a place on a course is held for a person to start the following year.

View or download our Applicant Guide and Clearing Guide 2023

Find out more: UCAS

Next: Support for students in higher education

Previous: Choosing a course, and university and college


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