Preparing for life after GCSEs

The most important thing during your GCSEs is to put as much effort in as you can to your studies – most pupils don’t realise that GCSE results can affect whether or not you are accepted onto courses in college, sixth form and even university! The second most important thing is for you to start thinking about what you might like to do later on in life so that you know you’re making the right subject choices in college/ sixth form. Visiting university campuses are a great way to find out more about student life – click here to find out what events are coming up. It’s also worth checking out our course pages to find out further information about the subjects available at university.

What should I do when I get to year 12?

In year 12, it is important to research the universities that you may be interested in. Try to attend higher education fairs, where you can find out about a lot of universities at the same time. Your school will be able to advise you what fairs will be taking place in your area. Alternatively you can find a full list of events at ucasevents.com.

Draw up a list of universities you want to consider, and try to attend their open day or arrange a visit. There is no better way to learn about a university than to go there and experience it yourself. Open days are amazing opportunities for you to see the university in action, speak to current students and talk to the academic staff.

There are some other considerations that may apply!

If you are thinking of applying to health-related courses then it is important to start considering work experience and becoming involved in community work. Work experience is not always easy to gain, so looking as early as possible will be a real advantage.

Certain courses may also require admissions tests. This is an additional assessment of your ability that you will need to take as part of your application. Medicine and Dentistry are common courses that require an admissions test, although this is not always the case. They sometimes require students to sit the UKCAT, or the BMAT. If you want to apply to a university that requires these tests, these will need to be sat in year 12 (if you want to submit an application in year 13). Other courses may require other tests, which will be detailed in the entry requirements.

Your teachers will be able to provide more information on this but it is important to check as early as possible if you need to take any extra admissions tests.

What to do in Year 13

This will all be explained to you again nearer the time. But to give you an idea, here is the process.

The application form

In September you will start to complete your actual UCAS application. This is completed online. You will pick your five top universities and write a personal statement. Your personal statement is your opportunity for you to persuade the university why you should be accepted for their course.

You should include information such as why you are applying for the particular course/subject you have chosen, what work experience you have done, details about your hobbies and any positions of responsibility you have had. Your teachers and careers advisors will be able to help you!

Do I need to have an interview?

This really depends on which course you have applied to, and your choices of university. The university will provide clear details if they interview and how they interview. Interviews can run throughout the year.

Key Dates

  • October 15: Deadline for applications for medicine, dentistry and veterinary courses. This is also the deadline for all Oxford and Cambridge University courses
  • January 15: Deadline for all other courses and universities
  • February 25: A process called UCAS extra becomes available if you failed to achieve a place in the first round of applications. Suitable applicants will be notified through UCAS

What happens after I apply?

Universities reply to students through the UCAS system. There are three main results to an application:

  • Unconditional – you have a firm place at university as you have met their requirements. For most students, they will not receive an unconditional offer as they are still sitting their school exams. These are more common for those who have taken a gap year and have already achieved their grades.
  • Conditional – you have a place that is conditional on you achieving certain grades in your exams, or other requirement. If you meet the requirements stated, you will be made an unconditional offer
  • Unsuccessful – If the competition was too high for a course, then you may not be offered a place.

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