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UCAS and the application process

UCAS and the application process

Once your child has decided to apply to university, what next?

If your aspiring student intends to study in the UK they will need to apply through UCAS. We have put together a PDF step-by-step guide to the UCAS application process.

You may also wish to have a look at our videos on the UCAS process, and Royal Holloway's guide to applying to our undergraduate degrees.

This is often the part of the UCAS application which causes the most worry!  You can help your future graduate by encouraging them to reflect on:

  • What is about them that makes them a good student?
  • Why do they want to study that particular subject?
  • How will their degree studies support them in their career choices?

The trick is to write about themselves and make it all relevant to their choice of degree. For further advice, have a look at our writing a personal statement guide, and our online resources related to personal statements.

There are three potential responses that your child might receive from their chosen universities. 

  1. Conditional offer: This offer is based upon the student attaining the entry requirements set by the university for a specific course. It will give the student a goal to work towards and you can encourage them in achieving these grades.
  2. Unconditional offer: If the student has already achieved the necessary academic grades to meet the entry requirements for the course, they will receive an unconditional offer. This means that if the offer is accepted, this is the course and university where the student will study. 
  3. Unsuccessful: Unfortunately, this means that the student has not met or is not expected to meet the entry requirements for the specified course. The university may provide feedback at this stage, or it might be worth contacting the admissions office at the university to find out why they have made this decision.
UCAS Extra

If each of the five chosen universities gives an unsuccessful response or the student declines the offers they have received, UCAS Extra is available. This is free to use and will allow the student to apply to one course at a time until they have received an offer they are happy with. UCAS Extra closes on the 17 July 2024. 

UCAS Track

UCAS Track is accessed by logging in to UCAS and gives the applicant an overview of their status with each of their chosen universities. Once all of the universities have given their responses, your child needs to decide on a firm and insurance choice, essentially narrowing down from five choices to two. The firm choice is the preferred university and, if the applicant achieves the grades specified in the offer, this is where they will go to study. The insurance choice is the back-up and the prerequisite grades are normally lower than the firm choice. Universities have a set date by which they need to make a decision on your child’s application, which varies depending on when the application is received. Applicants then need to reply by a certain date which is based on when they have received all of their decisions from UCAS. If your child is unsure about making their firm and insurance choices, it may be worth revisiting the reasons why they chose that course/university in the first place and they may wish to visit or contact the university to gain further insight.

First point to remember – don’t panic! We’ve compiled a snapshot of what could happen on results day for you - see our parents' and supporters' guide to results day.

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