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The Tab guide to using UCAS: Everything you need to know

Wait, what does UCAS even stand for?


When it comes to applying to university, you're going to hear about UCAS quite a lot. You spend a huge percentage of your life on the UCAS website, using UCAS, doing your UCAS applications. It's all UCAS UCAS UCAS.

But who even are they? What do they do? How much is an application? What's this clearing thing everyone keeps going on about? What do you do on results day? Wait, what does UCAS even stand for?

We've got the answer to all of this and more, in a full guide. Uni applications are going to be a breeze.

What does UCAS stand for?

It stands for University and College Admissions Service. Hold on, do people actually know this??

What are UCAS?

UCAS are the organisation that deal with all applications for British universities. They give info and advice to students applying for higher education and operate a number of admissions services.

Prospect students will register with UCAS before putting together their applications for uni, using their online portal.

What is the cost for a UCAS application?

The fee for applications is £13 for a single choice or £24 for multiple courses and applications after June 30th.

How do you apply?

You register on the site, choice your courses, fill out your application with things like your personal statement and general info about you, get a reference and then send everything off.

When is the UCAS deadline?

For most courses, the deadline to send off your application is January 15th, but to study medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine or veterinary science, or to apply to the universities of Oxford or Cambridge – the deadline is October 15th.

All UCAS deadlines can be found here, including when you need to decide on your uni choices and when you should receive replies.

What to do if you missed the deadline

If you miss your deadline for applications, it's still not too late to send it in. Universities don't just cut off their applications and close their doors – they're not like TurnItIn, you'll meet that when you get to uni.

Most universities will look to see if they have vacancies left on the course you apply for, but there are no set guarantees. So basically, get your application finished and send it off ASAP to avoid potential disappointment.

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Who knew applications could be this fun

What is an unconditional offer?

This is when you meet the entry requirements, so the place is yours if you want it. If you accept this offer you are then committing to go to that uni, so can't change your mind to go to an insurance choice or use clearing.

What is a conditional offer?

A conditional offer is when a university has made you an offer, but only given certain conditions. These are usually that you get certain grades, which transpire into an amount of UCAS points.

Here is a breakdown of what to do when replying to offers.

What are UCAS points?

So you want to go to a certain university but you need points to do that. What does that even mean?

The UCAS tariff is used to allocate points to all of your qualifications. Grades from qualifications like A-Levels will be converted into points giving applications an overall amount. Different universities and courses will require applicants to have a certain amount of points to be accepted.

Is there a UCAS points calculator?

There is a UCAS tariff points calculator on the UCAS website where you can work out how much your grades are worth.

How to get your UCAS results

UCAS receives your exam results and then matches them to your applications and send them to the universities you have offers from.

Then on results day at 8am, Track on UCAS goes live. On here you'll be able to see your uni confirmation but your grades won't show up.

On the day, you have to go in person and pick up your grades from your school or college.

This is everything you need to know about A-Level results day 2018.

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Ahhh, results day. So proud

What is clearing?

In a nutshell, it's how universities fill any places they still have on courses.

Generally, it's used by applicants who didn't get into their firm or insurance places so have to look elsewhere to gain a place at uni. It can also be used to get onto a different course, if you didn't get the course you wanted to. If you're not sure which university to pick, check out The Tab's uni guide here.

How do I use clearing?

You basically get in contact with other unis to see if they would offer you a place. Here's the full process of how to use clearing – it's a lot simpler than you may think and can be completely stress free.

What is adjustment?

Adjustment is for applicants that did better than they expected, so are considering if they could get on to a different course with their grades.

How to use adjustment?

You register for adjustment on UCAS Track, talk to any unis you want to apply to, and let them know you're applying through adjustment then see if anyone offers you anything you want.

If you don't find anything, you can still go ahead and keep the course you first applied for.

What is UCAS Extra?

UCAS Extra is a service that allows you to continue applying to university courses in the next academic year, even when you have used your initial five options.

It's for when you included five choices in your application, but didn't receive offers or declined your offers.

How to contact UCAS

The UK phone number for UCAS Undergraduate is 0371 468 0 468.

You can also get in contact via their Facebook or Twitter pages.

UCAS have a page on their website with full FAQs and contact phone numbers and details for all of their departments.

The Tab is a university news network across the UK. Like your uni on Facebook here. Sign up here to write for The Tab at your university.

Related stories recommended by this writer:

1) The Tab guide to UCAS Clearing 2018: Everything you need to know

2) The Tab guide to A-Level results day 2018: Everything you need to know

3) Want to know how good your uni is? Here is the Tab's University League Table 2018