A UCAS form is what university acceptance officers will look at when deciding on which students to bring in to fill up course places. If you write a kickass UCAS form you’ve got much more chance of being accepted to your preferred university, for the course that you want to study. The best UCAS forms are those on which students make themselves stand out from the crowd.
The problem with a UCAS form is that it’s a finite piece of paper – before you know it, the page will be full and you’ll be left with no more room to add anything. This is why you need to be concise and straight to the point, especially when it comes to writing your personal statement. A personal statement is your chance to sell yourself – so make sure you do!
Here are some simple tips you should bear in mind when it comes to filling out your UCAS form:
- Don’t settle for the first draft, rewrite it a few times, ask friends and family to read it. Add bits, remove bits, re-phrase sentences and so on. Make it as concise and as readable as possible. It should flow easily – not flit from one topic to another.
- Your spelling and grammar say a lot about you. If you’re not great at spelling thing properly or writing in grammatically correct sentences have one of your college tutors or teachers proof read your application for you. Do not rely on spell check in Microsoft Word – it misses a lot of common errors. An application form littered with spelling errors looks really, really bad and shows you don’t have a keen eye for detail.
- Make sure your application and your personal statement is directly relevant to your course. You might be a fishing addict, but if you’re applying for a place on a medicine course, it’s probably not relevant. Instead you should probably use the space to write about the work experience you did in your local pharmacy last year. It’s good to have hobbies but if they’re not related to your course and you’re struggling for space, leave them out.
- Make maximum use of the little room that you have. Leave out anything you’re unsure about.
- Be original – don’t go plagiarizing other people’s statements or application forms.
- Don’t exaggerate or BS – it doesn’t look good and generally admissions tutors will be able to tell when someone’s talking rubbish. It’s good to “big” yourself up – but don’t go over the top and make yourself sound stupid. Avoid looking like you’re gloating or showing off too.
- Don’t leave blanks on the application form – if there are questions you can’t answer as well as you’d like, just do your best!
Prior to applying for university you need to make sure you’ve got some good selling points as an individual. It’s not up to your parents, your teachers or anyone else to make sure you’ve got good things to write on your application form, it’s you! Back at my sixth form we used to do a series of lessons in our final year called “enrichment”. We’d basically have to ask around for volunteer work and other things that would look good on our application form. Most people took the initiative and found things to do that would look great on their application forms, but others didn’t.
If there’s nothing remarkable about you except your grades, make sure you do some worthwhile activities that you can use to trumpet your university application. Here are some ideas of things that you can do:
- Volunteer in a local charity shop – you can gain all kinds of experience from this.
- Become a member of any clubs or societies within your school, college or sixth form
- Get a work experience placement that’s directly related to the course you’re hoping to study
- Get a part-time job
If you go above and beyond to show university admissions tutors that you’re deadly serious about studying their course, they will take a liking to you and be more likely to accept your application. Usually there are a limited number of places on most university courses; if you’re applying for a popular course there is every chance that a place won’t be available for you. This is why you need to work extra hard to sell yourself to the university.
Things like your A level grades will obviously impact the university that you’re likely to attend, but your UCAS form is very important too. If there are ten applications for one place at a university and nine of the ten are for people who have made no effort to volunteer or gain work experience in the past, the one person who has done that and applied themselves is far more likely to be offered that final place.