UCAS - Need to Know

What is a Personal Statement?
Your Personal Statement is part of the UCAS Application Form. This is your opportunity to add that vital, personal touch to your application. You can detail your achievements so far, your interests and the reasons for your choice of course and career. As the form does not allow much space, it is important to plan your Statement carefully. It is an important part of your Application, and you are likely to be asked questions about your Statement at your interview.

What is an interview?
You may be invited for interview at your chosen institution as part of their selection procedure. Not all institutions use interviews, and certainly not for every course. Interviews are usually conducted with students individually. If you are invited for interview, the institution should tell you what to expect. If you are not certain, contact them and ask for clarification. It is important to prepare well; make a list of things to find out and questions to ask.

What is the UCAS tariff?
The UCAS tariff is the points score system for admissions to higher education courses through the UCAS scheme. It enables comparisons to be made of the many different qualifications that HE applicants have taken. New qualifications are being brought into the tariff system annually. It is not obligatory for institutions to use the Tariff and some do prefer to use grades for their entry requirements. More information can be found on the UCAS site.

What is an Unconditional Offer?
An Institution after considering your application (and interview if you have one), can make you an unconditional offer. This is rare because it means that they have offered you a place more or less irrespective of what your exam results are. Unconditional Offers are usually reserved for those who already have their exam results. If you accept this offer, it is final and commits you to the institution, unless you accept it as your “Insurance”.

What is a Conditional Offer?
An Institution, after considering your application (and interview if you have one), can make you a conditional offer based on your exam results. This means they will set you a target set of grades that you will need to achieve in your exams. Once exam results are published and you achieve the required grades, the institution will confirm your place and you are committed unless the institution is your “Insurance”.

What is a Rejection?
An institution may reject your application based either on your application form/interview, or on your exam results. If all applications are declined or rejected, students then go through the “Clearing” process in July.

What is a Firm Acceptance?
If a place makes you an unconditional offer and you give them a firm acceptance then you are committed to that institution. You cannot change your mind. If you offer a firm acceptance to a conditional offer then one of three things can happen. If you make the required grades, then you are committed. If your grades are very close to those required, and the institution still offers you a place, then you are committed. If you don't achieve the required grades and the institution is not prepared to offer you a place, you are now reliant on any “Insurance” offer you may receive.

What is an “Insurance Acceptance”?
You are allowed to accept two offers open through UCAS; one firm acceptance (where you will be going if you make the grade) and one insurance acceptance (where you will be going if you miss your preferred choice, but meet the insurance requirements). There is therefore no point in having an insurance choice that requires the same or higher grades than your firm choice. You are not obliged to accept an insurance offer; you may prefer to take your chances in “Clearing”.

What is “Clearing”?
UCAS operates a system called “Clearing” which provides details of unfilled places. This operates during the summer. Eligible applicants are automatically sent full details about Clearing arrangements and publication of course vacancy lists. It is recommended that you make your application as early as possible.

What is UCAS Extra?
This system allows you to apply for further courses before Clearing if you have no outstanding applications and hold no offers. Universities will be able to place courses into the Extra system to which you can apply, but not all courses will be included. Your application should be considered quickly (within 10 days) and an offer or rejection sent to you by the University. If you accept the offer you can not make any further Extra applications. The system runs from 25th February to 2nd July after which the normal Clearing system comes into play. [More details from UCAS]