How to Apply to University via UCAS A Step by Step Guide Please also refer to the general guide and UCAS checklist you’ll find in the pack given out on Futures Day) 1. Futures Day June of Year 12 Register for the online UCAS application process. Fill in as much of the online application form as possible. Begin personal statement (to be finished later once courses chosen) Resources: UCAS website 2. Summer Holidays Mid-July/August Research careers, courses and colleges/universities. Resources: UCAS website University websites “Useful Websites” page (Sharnbrook VI form site) 3. References Year 13 first two weeks - part 2 Politely ask your form tutor to write your main university reference. Fill out your Student UCAS Profile Form (in this pack, and online) to help your reference writer by giving them some background information on you to use in your reference. You will also need to ask each subject teacher to write a subject reference. You MUST use the green cards for this (pink if you’re a medic/dentist/vet/Oxbridge applicant)or orange cards for non UCAS references (issued in Jan 09). Fill out your name, form, subject/teacher being asked, UCAS course being applied for (and/or career aspirations) and the name of your main reference writer. Oxbridge/med/vet/dent applicants (pink sheets) should also circle the type of applicant they are in the box at the top. Resources: Green/pink reference request cards. Student UCAS profile form 4. Predicted Grades and Course Choices Year 13 first two weeks - part 3 Talk to your teachers to find out your predicted grades for each A level subject. Use this information to guide you in choosing your courses and universities. DON’T apply to universities whose required grades are higher than your predicted grades. THEY WILL NOT CONSIDER YOU, so you will have wasted your time! You should also choose one or two universities whose entry requirements are lower than your predicted grades as a safety net (i.e. to make sure you get some offers if the other universities say no). You can choose up to 5 universities/courses. Medical/veterinary/dental applicants can only choose 4, plus one non medical/veterinarian/dental courses. It’s usually not a good idea to apply to two different courses at the same institution. If they’re both run by the same department, it could lead to the department refusing your offer to both. If they’re quite different courses, it might make the two departments think you’re not committed to their course, also leading to both applications being rejected. Check with us and/or ring the university itself for advice. Resources: Your teachers UCAS website University websites “HEAP” guide to university grade requirements (copy in sixth form office) REMEMBER - if you’re a medic/dentist/vet/Oxbridge applicant, your deadline for applying is much earlier than everyone else’s! It is OCTOBER 15th, though we’ll need it a long time before then to process it in time! 5. Application Form Year 13 first two weeks - part 4 Finish filling in the Personal Details, Additional Info, Choices, Education and Employment sections of the application form. Finish the first draft of your personal statement (remember to ask your form tutor to check it). Resources: UCAS website University websites Sharnbrook’s Application Easy Guides Sharnbrook’s Writing Personal Statements guide AS results 6. Application Form Checking Year 13 first/second half term Work with either your form tutor or your head of house on drafting your personal statement. When you think you’re ready, print out a completed draft copy of your application form with completed personal statement, and hand it in to the sixth form office for checking in the plastic wallet with your FULLY completed blue front sheet. Look for your name on the whiteboard regularly (i.e. many times each day). When your name appears, go and see the member of staff checking your application as soon as you possibly can!!! They’ll go through the errors/issues with you so you can redraft it. Then, print it off again and hand it back in for a second check. It’s a complicated form, so there are always errors to deal with, and it usually takes a few attempts. When it’s right, you’ll need to pay UCAS £17. You can do this either online, or via a cheque, payable to Sharnbrook Upper School (if by cheque, you’ll need to hand it in with your application form printout). INTERNAL DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSION OF FULLY COMPLETED APPLICATIONS TO GUARANTEE DESPATCH BY UCAS DEADLINE: Monday 1st December (earlier for Oxb/med/vet/dent - SEE ABOVE) Resources: Draft application printouts Draft personal statement printouts Plastic wallet and blue front sheet 7. Admissions Tests Year 13 first half term If you’re aiming for law/medicine/dentistry/vet/Oxbridge, check to see if you need to book for and take any admissions test. The requirements for these change each year, so do check. Resources: UCAS site admissions test page Other sites… BioMedical Admissions Test (BMAT) for entry into Medicine and Veterinary schools BMAT Key Dates Register with Mrs Tennent Standard entry closing date Tuesday, 30th September 2008 Late entry closing date (subject to penalty fees) Wednesday, 15th October 2008 th Test Date (in school) Wednesday, 5 November 2008 st Results Release to Centres/Candidates Monday, 1 December 2008 History Aptitude Test (HAT) for entry to Modern History and a joint honours degrees involving Modern History at Oxford University HAT Key Dates Yet to be confirmed by Oxford, but usually late Oct/Early Nov - papers sent to school by Oxford in second half of October Modern and Medieval Languages Test (MML) for entry to Modern and Medieval Languages at the University of Cambridge MML Key Dates There are none - tests will be sat by candidates during their interviews in the Cambridge college they apply to, if successful in getting an interview in the first place. The National Admissions Test for Law (LNAT) for entry into law LNAT Key Dates Yet to be confirmed by LNAT, but, last year, as a guide only: Last year, LNAT registration began 1 August st Last year, tests began 1 September th Last year, Oxbridge candidates registered and booked test by 15 October Last year, Oxbridge candidates took test by 1 November th Last year, others registered and booked test by 15 January th Last year, they sat test by 20 January Late applications are possible, but ill advised Sixth Term Examination Papers (STEP) for entry to Mathematics at the University of Cambridge STEP Key Dates You need to tell your maths teacher as soon as you can that you’re applying to Cambridge to do maths (Mrs Tennent too). The papers are sat in school during the normal exam period. You’ll need extra help to prepare for these papers. Thinking Skills Assessment (TSA) for entry to Computer Science, Natural Sciences, Engineering and Economics at the University of Cambridge TSA Key Dates There are none - tests will be sat by candidates during their interviews in the Cambridge college they apply to, if successful in getting an interview in the first place. UK Clinical Aptitude Test (UKCAT) for entry to Medical and Dental Schools UKCAT Key dates UKCAT registration opened: 1 May 2008 UKCAT testing begins: 7 July 2008 Bursary and voucher application deadline: 26 September 2008 UKCAT registration deadline: 26 September 2008 UKCAT testing deadline: 10 October 2008 UCAS application deadline: 15 October 2008 Oxbridge candidates will also find it useful to look at the following two sites which give information about entry into Oxford and Cambridge: Oxford (www.admissions.ox.ac.uk/apply) Cambridge (www.cam.ac.uk/admissions/undergraduate) 8. Interviews Year 13 first half term Think about practice interviews (most often for law/medicine/dentistry/vet/Oxbridge candidates). Do you need them? Ask us early to arrange these. We’ll do our best, but we can’t guarantee it! Most interviews take place in the second half term of year 13. Resources: University websites SFT Mr Cartwright Volunteer interviewers 9. Offers Year 13 second half term Once your application and references are done, we’ll send them off (electronically) to UCAS. Shortly afterwards (usually within a week), you’ll receive a tracking number by post. Keep it with you at all times as it enables you to track the progress of your application, accept and decline offers and it’s particularly useful for us if there is a problem we need to investigate. Offers will come at various times, depending on when your application was sent, and what sort of workload the universities you applied to are dealing with. If you applied by the January deadline, you should expect decisions no later than early May. Most come in much earlier than this, usually in the term after Christmas. It can be a tense time, as many of your friends will get offers quite quickly, but your universities might take their time (Warwick, for instance, often make their offers quite late). Don’t panic, but if you do feel there might be a problem, do come and see us! Offers are usually confirmed via the Track process mentioned above. You can also opt for Track to alert you when decisions are made by universities via e-mail (though you still have to check on Track itself to see what the offer is). Rarely, universities themselves will also contact you by letter if there is a particular reason to do so. UCAS may also send a letter if there is a particular reason to do so with most correspondence being on line this year to avoid delay. Resources: Tracking number UCAS Track pages 10. UCAS Extra Year 13 mid March - end of June If you receive no offers at all from any of the universities you have applied to (or if you decline all five of them), you become eligible for UCAS Extra. This is a second chance at applying. It works differently from the first round of applications as, rather than applying for a number of courses at once, you apply for one at a time. If you are successful and accept an offer, that’s it. If not, you can apply to another university, and so on. There is a separate section later in this guide on how to do it, and UCAS will automatically contact you with details as soon as you become eligible. If you originally applied for less than your possible five courses, before you can use Extra, you will need to apply again using the normal process for however many UCAS places you have left. Resources: Extra details direct from UCAS. UCAS site Extra pages 11. Deciding Which Courses to Accept Year 13 Jan onwards When you have received all of your offers, you then need to make a decision about which ones to go for. You will receive a “Replying to Offers” letter and leaflet from UCAS once all decisions have been made by your universities. You can choose a maximum of two. They are called your Conditional Firm (CF) and Conditional Insurance (CI). These are important decisions as, once you’ve made them, you can’t alter them (apart from withdrawing from the application process entirely for that year). If you achieve the grades you need for the CF, you must go to that university. If you don’t, but you do gain the grades you need for your CI, then you must go to that university. Advice When making decisions, be sure that you do so carefully. Your CF should be your most favoured choice of those universities that make offers. Your CI should be your next favourite, but making sure that its grade requirements are less than (preferably) or equal to (at a push) your CF’s. There’s no point selecting a CI whose grade requirements are higher as, if you don’t make the grade for your CF, you will automatically not for your CI. Of course, it’s not quite as simple as that. Some universities will make offers based just on your three main A levels (or less). Others will make points offers, but which might feasibly include points from core subjects (i.e. general studies, critical thinking, financial studies), or even an AS level (i.e. the one you dropped in year 12), or both. This is something that is usually made very clear indeed in your offer, but which it is worth checking by contacting the university personally to be sure if it is at all unclear. As a result, though one university might appear to be asking for a higher points score than another, if those points include your AS (etc.) as well, it might in fact be easier to meet those requirements. For instance: in the example below, though the second offer appears to be higher, it is, in fact, lower. This is because the total number of points required can be accrued not just through the 3 main A levels, but also with the points already accrued in the AS level from year 12. Uni A: 300pts (main 3 A levels only - equivalent to BBB) Uni B: 330pts (main 3 A levels plus 1 AS level equivalent to BBC+b) Do check this carefully. Not all universities will accept AS points in this way. 12. Results Day August Make sure you are in school on this day. DO NOT BOOK A HOLIDAY. This is so that, when you receive your results, if there are any problems you are able to deal with them there and then. Often, if you just miss your grade requirements, a telephone call to the university on the day from you (as early as possible) will still secure your place on the course. If your results are better than required by your CF (firm offer) and you want to reconsider your choice, you can. For a short time your original choice will be held enabling you to look for an alternative course that has places available. If not, and if your CI requirements are also not met, you will at least be able to get good advice from the sixth form team about what to do next! 13. Clearing August/September Clearing is the third way of getting a university place (after the main process and UCAS Extra). You become eligible if you hold no offers, if you have not met the grade requirements of your offers or if you decline your offers. The system will be changing this year to an electronic clearing system. UCAS will send more information nearer the time. You will automatically receive a “clearing passport” from UCAS when/if you become eligible for clearing. It contains a number (also available from the Track service) that you can use to go through clearing. Universities will publish details of courses (and A level requirements) on the UCAS site (and in some national papers). You will look at the list, select a university and course that looks interesting (and for which you have the right A grades) and then contact the university with your clearing number to see if they’ll take you. Only YOU can do this. The admissions tutor will want to speak to you directly. Don’t wait for your clearing passport to arrive, though. If you hold no offers, and are considering clearing rather than reapplying the following year, start checking the lists and contacting universities straight away. If they accept you, they’ll tell you and ask for your clearing passport. Once received, they’ll write back confirming your place. This goes on until late September. There is no limit to the number of universities you can contact in this way. Don’t make a rushed decision! You’ll be talking to a number of universities and, if they sound receptive, do be prepared to go and have a look at the uni to make sure it’s the right place for you. Some of them might even want to talk to you face to face anyway. Resources: Clearing passport direct from UCAS. UCAS site clearing pages 14. Applying the Following Year You may not find the right course through clearing! Don’t be disheartened. There’s nothing to stop you from applying for the following year’s UCAS process. And, of course, you have the advantage of knowing what A level grades you’ve got all ready, so it’s easier to select a university (and for them to select you). You also get a chance to spend a year outside education. This is often a good thing (in fact, quite a few Oxbridge colleges actively encourage it). It tends to provide you with a broader experience of life, and staying on rates for those that have taken a year out tend to be higher than those who don’t, which is something universities are always pleased about. And you can always save some of the wages you earn in your interim job to make university life a little easier! Be careful though - don’t lose your focus on your future aspirations during that year just because you’re getting a wage. If you do intend to take a year out like this, make sure you tell us as you will still need to use us as your gateway to the UCAS process (including references, etc.).