Applying for University in the UK

So you are thinking about applying for university in the United Kingdom. What now? The good news is that applying for university in the UK is quite a straightforward process compared to applying for college/university in the US. However, there are also some differences that you may need to be aware of.

What you need

  1. IB, AP A-level Predicted Scores
  2. These are some of the most commonly taken and accepted scores for entry into universities in the UK. The IB (International Baccalaureate) Diploma Program is a two-year high school program, usually undertaken in the last two years of high school, that requires students to complete six IB subjects as well as some core requirements. Similarly, AP (Advanced Placement) Courses and Exams are advanced courses undertaken during high school, that require an exam at the end of the course which may allow students to gain advanced standing in American colleges/universities. Continuing in the same vein, A-level (Advanced Level) qualifications are subject-based qualifications offered by educational bodies that are British Crown dependent, requiring students to undertake courses usually in the last two years of high school, and also involve taking exams in each subject.

    Your school should designate you a predicted score foreach subject, which is then evaluated as part of your application to the universities.

    Universities in the UK will specify requirements for each type of curriculum undertaken, such as the minimum required overall score. Furthermore, specific subjects (majors) in universities may have subject-specific requirements. This means that in order to major in physics, the course may require you to have undertaken a higher-level maths course such as IB HL Mathematics, AP Calculus BC or A-level Further Mathematics.

    As these exams are usually taken at the end of the school year, it is likely that you will not have your actual scores during the time of applying to universities. Thus, your school should designate you a predicted score for each subject, which is then evaluated as part of your application to the universities.

    If your school does not offer any of these courses, do not worry! The UK universities are also open to accepting other types of high school qualifications that they deem to be at the same level as these courses. To verify whether or not your school's curriculum qualifies, you can check on each individual university's website or get in touch with the admissions office.

  3. Know What Subject You Want To Study
  4. If you are looking to go to the UK to study, then you should have an idea of what you want to study. This may sound daunting to you, but because the UK university system is usually three years for a Bachelor's degree, you will not have time to take many electives or foundational courses in various subjects. In the UK university system, you apply to the specific course (major) that you want to study and get accepted into that course. This means that you will not be able to just switch courses without applying again to the new course.

    Universities will indicate the names as well as topics covered by the courses in each year of your degree. This may help you decide on a program that interests you.

    When trying to decide on your course, think about your interests as well as your career goals. To get an idea of what you can study at university, you may wish to look through the course pages of some universities. Usually, universities will indicate the names as well as topics covered by the courses in each year of your degree. This may help you decide on a program that interests you. If you find that you are indecisive between two similar courses, do not worry. It is common for students to apply to up to two different courses in one application. For more information, read the section below on the UCAS Application.

    Once you know what subjects or courses you are interested in, you can move on to look for universities that offer your course. If what you want to study is quite common like mathematics or biology, then it is likely that most universities will offer it. However, something more specific like veterinary Medicine or fashion design may only be offered by some specialized universities.

    Something to note is that in the UK, studying medicine is something that can either be started in your first year of university, or can be a graduate course. Starting as a first year means that it will take 5-6 years for you to receive an MBBS degree and be able to practice. On the other hand, if you choose to study medicine-related subjects at undergraduate level, you may wish to apply for graduate-entry medicine, which will be 4-5 years.

  5. FIND UNIVERSITIES THAT OFFER YOUR COURSE
  6. Applying to universities in the UK involves directly applying to the course(s) and not just to the university. In the UK, incoming freshers are expected to have decided majors and will most likely have to stick to those courses. You should also be aware that different universities may have slightly different names for the same subjects. Thus, when searching through the course catalogue, be sure to look for variations of your course's name.

    Once you have found universities that offer your course, you should be able to find the specific course's UCAS course code. If you cannot find this information, you can check here. Save the list of course codes of courses that interest you for later.

  7. A UCAS APPLICATION
  8. Arguably, this is the most important part of making an application to UK universities. Universities in the UK have a united system called UCAS where students can go and fill in their application. The application form involves questions about the student's background as well as one section for the Personal Statement. Unlike applying to colleges/universities in the US, where each institution has its own requirements, applying to universities in the UK is a streamlined process.

    Each student can apply for up to five courses. Note that you may choose to apply to multiple courses at the same university.

    Each student can apply for up to five courses. Note that you may choose to apply to multiple courses at the same university. However, most students choose to apply to closely-related subjects as the same personal statement has to be submitted for all of your applications. Many students will apply to four of the same courses at four different universities and one different course.

    For example, someone wishing to studying Biomedicine may apply to four Biomedicine courses and one Biology course. As studying Biology usually has a lower entry requirement, this allows the student to have a fallback option if his/her grades do not get them into the programs that was his/her first choice. There are always opportunities to take on further studies for graduate degrees in your desired field if you study something similar at undergraduate level.

    A final note: for students that wish to apply to Oxbridge (that is, Oxford and Cambridge), please be aware that you are only allowed to apply to one of these two universities. In other words, it is not possible to apply to both Oxford and Cambridge, but only one or the other.

  9. A REFERENCE (RECOMMENDATION)
  10. From a tutor, teacher, principal or head teacher who knows you well and can vouch for not only your abilities in the area you wish to study, but also your enthusiasm in the field. This is to be submitted by your referee directly to UCAS. For further information on how your referee should be submitting their reference, click here. If you would like more information on how to ask for a recommendation, see our blog post.

What you MAY need

  1. IELTS Scores
  2. IELTS exams are for students who are not native speakers of English. It is usually for international students who wish to demonstrate their proficiency in the English language. Different universities have their own policies on who needs to take these exams as well as the scores required to apply to their institution.

    If your school’s main language of instruction is English, then you do not need to take this exam.

    However, as a rule of thumb, if your school's main language of instruction is English and you have attended an English-speaking school throughout your school years, then you do not need to take this exam. The best way to find out whether or not this is true is to ask your school's administration office, as sometimes your school's official language of instruction depends on how they registered with the government.

  3. BMAT Scores
  4. The BMAT (BioMedical Assessment Test) is for students who wish to apply for medicine or dentistry courses. The test allows students who have potential to succeed in medical and health-related fields to demonstrate their abilities. Topics tested include the ability to apply scientific and mathematical knowledge, problem solving, critical thinking and written communication skills. There are multiple test sessions throughout the year that are administered in multiple countries.

    Similar to other entry requirements, each university will have its own required score for the BMAT.



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