Can any UCAS University Application really be perfect? Well, maybe not perfect, but with this 'how to' guide from Craig Van de Velde, you'll be close!

What you can expect to find on a UCAS University Application form

Craig Van de Velde
January 18th 2021

If you’re planning to study at a UK university, you will need to complete a UCAS application form.  

Of course, this is easier said than done. There are a number of different sections that make up the form, and for many university hopefuls, the prospect of completing the form can be relatively daunting. 

We have therefore put together the following UCAS application form guide, which outlines each of the sections in helpful detail: 

  1. Personal details 
  2. Additional information 
  3. Student finance 
  4. University/course choices 
  5. Education 
  6. Employment 
  7. Personal statement  
  8. Reference 

It also explores how to complete these sections to ensure you have the best possible chance of being presented with an offer by your chosen universities. 

First of all - what is UCAS?  

The Universities and Colleges Admission Service (UCAS) is an independent body that regulates and processes all undergraduate university applications to any UK university. These will either be completed with a personal login (unique to you) or can be completed at school using a school login.  

Here are the sections you’ll find on the UCAS form, and how to complete them: 

1. Personal details 

This section is exactly what it says on the tin – it is the section in which you will input your name, age, where you currently reside, whether you have any disabilities or special needs, etc.  
Fill this form in with as much detail as you can offer, and as accurately as possible. Remember that no information supplied will tarnish your application; however, omitting information can mean your application will not be taken any further that academic year. 

2. Additional information 

The questions in this section are only asked if you’re a UK applicant.  It’s very short and looks at equality information, such as your ethnic background, sexual orientation, gender identity and parents’ employment among other details.  

This section is purely informational, and what you disclose will only be shared with the university you are offered a placement with at the end of the application process. Although it will not affect your application, it is advisable once again to be as honest, accurate and detailed as you possibly can.  

3. Student finance 

This section is only applicable if you selected that you would be using student finance to fund your studies at university; you will have had to select this as an option in the personal details section. 

4. University/course choices 

This is the section you’ve likely been waiting for…where do you want to go and what do you want to study?  
Remember, you only get five choices, and cannot choose two different courses at the same university, so be sure to choose wisely and thoughtfully.  
You can of course choose less than five courses; however, it is always recommended that you select all five, as this increases your chances of succeeding in one of your preferences.   

If you’re struggling to make a decision, think about these things: 

  • What have you studied at A-Level
  • What would you like to do as a career, or what did you enjoy most at A Level? 
  • Do any of the courses provide unique features that excite you, such as specific modules or additional learning opportunities? 
  • Is there a particular part of the UK that you would like to study in or be local to? 

Certain vocations and courses will require specific prerequisite A Level subjects. For instance, subjects such as medicine or veterinary medicine require you to have studied chemistry, so these will be ruled out if you have not studied this subject at A Level. 

When completing this section, review your strengths and passions. Take a few days and think about what you enjoy, and what interests you. 

The most important decision you have to make when applying to university is which course to choose. Allow this to lead your decisions; see what universities offer your course, and then assess if they marry up with where you would like to be location-wise. 

Warwick, for instance, is an excellent university for science, as is Imperial College London; the two are only separated by a few places in the university ranking table, but separated by almost 100 miles in terms of distance.  

What’s more, Warwick is a campus university and Imperial College is a city university. Do these factors affect your decision?   

5. Education 

This section is all about your educational background; more specifically, the schools you’ve attended and the subjects in which you’ve already received a qualification (GCSEs for instance).  

This is also the section where you’ll enter your predicted grades for your A Levels/PreUs/IBs and so on. If you’re unsure as to what your predicted grades are, ask your subject teachers. 

If you have already been to a college or university but did not complete the course, you’ll need to supply these details as well, including the start and finish date. 

6. Employment 

Like the education section, this section is relatively self-explanatory. It simply wants to know what part-time (or full-time if appropriate) employment you have had or currently are in.  

Include any summer jobs, volunteering, temp-work, etc. Universities want to see that you can apply yourself as an employee (be it paid or unpaid).  

Of course, it is better if the work experience is relevant to your course. Don’t underestimate your weekend retail job, however; showing responsibility, diligence and drive are key parts of your application! 

7. Personal statement 

This section is without a doubt the most important of the entire UCAS application.  

Remember, you only get one statement, and it goes to all five of the courses to which you are applying. This is particularly important to consider if you are hoping to do a joint-honours course, as your application has to coincide with both of your choices (e.g. history and sociology). 

Your statement has to be completed in Times New Roman font, and must be kept to no more than 4000 characters and 47 lines long - that’s the equivalent of one full page of A4 writing. Keep it streamlined and focused on the relationship between you and the course to which you want to apply.  

Do not write too much about yourself, and avoid taking up too much time and space on ‘I am passionate about [insert passions here]’. You need to get straight to the point – essentially, by answering the question: Why do you want to apply to this course?  

It’s also essential that you use evidence to back up any claims you make in your personal statement. For example, “I want to read Medicine because I really like chemistry and biology,” while honest, takes up nearly 100 characters without supplying much substance. 

So, instead of “I like” sentences, demonstrate your enthusiasm with what you have studied already and what you have already achieved. Tell them about clubs you are involved with, or volunteer work you have completed. Have you won any prizes? Have you been to any seminars? 

Think about what you are trying to get across, and then find interesting ways to prove your point. Then don’t forget to check for grammar and punctuation at the end! 

You can find more tips and advice for completing your personal statement outside of this UCAS application form guide by reading this blog.  

8. Reference 

Your reference is a written recommendation from someone who knows you academically, such as a teacher or other educational professional.  

Whilst teachers are legally not allowed to give a bad reference, they can absolutely choose not to pay as much attention to your reference as you would have hoped! 

So, where possible, build positive relationships with your teachers and work hard in your academic endeavours.  Let them know along your educational journey that your course choice is one which you are interested pursuing, too. 

When should you start thinking about your application? 

We recommend that you start having a casual look at universities in January of Year 12. Begin to look at literature on your ideal course, and the potential different places where you can study it.  

And when should you apply by?

Closing dates for applications are the 15th October for Oxbridge and the 15th January for all other universities.  
If you are completing through UCAS at school, most schools will ask for your completed applications by end of November. Therefore, June to September is a critical time for completing your application. Be ready for the closing dates with more than enough time to make any amendments! 

How William Clarence can help 

Hopefully this UCAS application form guide has eased any anxieties you may have had about completing the process! 

At William Clarence Education, we employ a number of university advisors and UCAS advisors who aid you through this process, whether you are a foreign or domestic student.   

They offer unbiased advice on UK School and University Placement, Oxbridge Admissions, US College Applications, UCAS applications, as well as extensive support for parents and students in all aspects of preparing for entry to the UK.  

For more information, do not hesitate to contact us on 02074128988 or email