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Top tips for university application success

Published on 15/10/19

On paper, it is very difficult to identify the top applicants – there are too many people with the very best grades and with amazing work experience who have also done marvellous things as part of their school careers. Think about what you have done or could do that makes your passion stand out and then what you have done to pursue your goal. Universities are looking for students with motivation and can demonstrate they are an independent learner. This is why we encourage you to embrace opportunities from day one of Year 12.

See below our tips for university applications:

  • Make sure you find out early what is required for your subject and for particular universities / colleges. This might vary between universities and many subjects now have additional entrance tests. Some colleges also require work to be submitted. 


  • Go to a subject specific open day or to a department open day if you can. Contact the university; explore their website leaving no hyperlink unclicked. Many universities now offer virtual tours and online question and answer sessions with current students, UCAS runs a service called Unibuddy that offers student to student advice.


  • Don't fall into the trap of thinking that all degrees are the same. Every university course is different and may cover different material completely. Remember therefore you are choosing the course as much as the University, and some may well argue the course content is more important.


  • Look at the application to offer ratios and average entrance requirements. These figures are all on Unifrog. Remember that minimum entrance requirements are, just that, the minimum. Some universities may state a range but the lower end of this range is often their contextual offers.


  • Be realistic. Apply to a range of universities and with the help of Unifrog we can help you come up with a range from aspirational, two or three solid ones and a secure reserve. With four or five choices you should make sure you include a location and course that is likely to give offers more easily.


  • If there is an interview - expect to be academically challenged and expect to deal with questions for which you cannot, directly, prepare. Therefore, look to be academically challenged in your classes and adopt a ‘have a go’ mentality. If you are not prepared to push the boundaries of your learning, this does not bode well and the interview process will uncover your weakness. 


  • Work hard and secure great results. There is not much more to say about this one. All the top universities require high grades. There is little point in being able to say that you have canoed the Orinoco, captained the netball team or coordinated the social whirl of your new Sixth Form if you end up compromising your academic performance.


  • Be prepared to give it your all and still, perhaps, not get a place. However, the process will teach you a great deal and you will be a better Sixth Form student as a result.