Applications Preparation University

UK Universities: UCAS Application Tips

Applying to UK universities? We’re here to help! Imogen at Oxford University and Nell at University College London take you through the application process. This advice was initially given at the August Global Virtual Summit. It has been written up by High School Ambassador Celine.

Application timeline

➝ Mid-October: UCAS deadline for Oxbridge, Medicine, Veterinary, and Dentistry 

➝ December: Interviews for Oxford and Cambridge

➝ January: Deadline of UCAS submission, making your firm (first choice) and insurance (the choice you’d want if you didn’t meet the conditions for your firm choice)

➝February: UCAS Extra opens; apply to another university, but a smaller pool of university options

➝ May: Uni outcome deadline; conditional offers are released

➝ July: Universities respond to your grades on IB results day. Clearing opens on results day. If you miss your offers for both choices, you can find a different university place.


All UK universities take applications are done through UCAS, a centralised system for finding university places and applying.

Applications always include:

  • Predicted grades
  • Teacher reference
  • Personal statement

They may also include:

  • Subject-specific tests (e.g. LNAT for Law degrees, UCAT/ BMAT for medicine, subject tests for Oxford and Cambridge degrees)
  • Extra personal statement for specific subjects
  • Interview (for Medicine, Law, and Oxbridge especially)

To choose your university, you make a Firm and Insurance choice. The firm choice usually has a higher offer condition. To get into your university, you need to receive the requisite IB grades. 

Personal statement

4000 character statement. Summarise why you want to study the subject at a higher level. Academic and focused – very different to US college essays!


  • Super-curriculars 
    • Societies/ clubs/ projects and your role in them
    • Events, workshops, summer schools, work experience etc.
  • Academic thoughts
    • Books, essays, films, talks, etc.
    • Your ideas (e.g. comparing perspectives, evaluating viewpoints, linking information)
  • Extra-curriculars
    • Try to relate them to the subject you’re studying, with transferable skills

When writing, be honest, clear, and thoughtful. Your aim is to show admissions teams that you’re intelligent, interested, and an asset to the university.

University offers

You’ll get a conditional offer for your universities. 

e.g. 38 points, 6 in HL History

e.g. 39 points, 776 at HL with 7 in HL Physics

e.g. 36 points, 16 points at HL

So a student may choose a Firm with an offer of 38, 766 and an Insurance with 36. 

Results Day

There is some flexibility! You can call up your universities, explain why you missed your grade, and you very possibly may still get a place. 
Otherwise, Clearing is for you. You can call up universities and ask for places on courses that aren’t full yet. There are still many great places up for grabs. And, because IB results come out much earlier than A-Levels, we have a better pick and less stressful time pressure 🙂

International students

Tuition fees:

  • EU students pay International fees starting from next year:(
  • Vary substantially, from £10,000 to £40,000

Financial assistance:

  • Look for scholarships given by your local government/organizations that pay for UK universities
  • Research, ask for what you want, reach out

Personal statement:

  • UCAS suggests you explain why you want to study in the UK
  • Relating your experiences of your country to your academic thoughts helps you stand out

Language tests:

  • You may have to prove your English level. Research whether you have to! Usually IB English subjects are enough, but not always. 


  • Most Oxbridge interviews can be done over video call (all are this year!)
  • Some require in-person tests e.g. Architecture (though there are verified test centres outside the UK)

You may also like…

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: