How to use the UCAS website

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Your UCAS application

The UCAS website will prove invaluable at all stages of your university application and when you start your course. To help you make the most of it, we’ve compiled a brief guide. Use it as a starting point to explore the UCAS web pages and get familiar with where different info can be found. It’ll be time well spent.

An overview of the UCAS website

Like all organisations, UCAS will update its layout and its pages from time to time but it will generally focus on signposting information on the UCAS home page.

  • The tabs across the top direct you to the relevant section of the site depending on whether you are a student, a parent, an educational adviser or an institution. Universities and colleges log into UCAS to update and modify their information so that it’s all bang up-to-date.
  • The vertical menu on the left shows you where to go next. From here you can decide to investigate the universities available, what courses are on offer and you can research the main steps in the application process. When it comes to making an application, you can do this through the UCAS site itself and you’ll need to set up your login. Your college will help walk you through this and can give advice if you run into any problems.

UCAS for students

Clicking the student tab(see image below) will take you into a page with a left hand vertical menu showing the steps that you need to follow to make a university application:

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  • Step 1 – information that you will need to choose the course you want at the university
    of your choice. This sounds simple but, of course, there are around 120 different universities to pick from and each of them might be offering several hundred courses.
    • If you know which course you want you can use the UCAS course search to look for which universities offer it. You can check entry requirements, what the UCAS tariff means and whether a particular university requires admission tests.
    • You can also start looking for universities in particular parts of the country – theUCAS university and college map is a good place to start.
  • Step 2 – the application process This is absolutely required reading. The site has been
    well written and set up to make everything very clear, but there is a lot of information. UCAS explains the application process – what you need to do, where to get help and what to do if you run into problems. Your college will help too. The UCAS website also explains what they do with your application once they receive it. Take careful note of the information on deadlines– not all courses at all universities have the same application cut off points during the year.
  • Step 3 – getting your university offers Everything happens through the UCAS website and once your application is in, although your chosen universities may send you emails, texts and/or letters, the progress of your application is also UCAS-tracked. You can log in and check what is happening any time. This section also explains the process, what to do if you get an offer of an interview and how to reply and respond to your offers. Again, look at the information in timing and deadlines.
  • Step 4 – using the UCAS website on results day In the heat of the moment, if your results are worse or better than you expected, it can be difficult to think straight. But, whatever you do, check the UCAS website. Once you are logged in you can look up your track status. If you drop a grade, this may show that your first choice university has confirmed your place, so there is no need to panic. Or it will signal and rejection and let you know what has happened with your other choices.
  • Step 5 – the next steps you need to take, including clearing and adjustment. If you did worse than expected, you need to move fast with clearing and the UCAS advice articles can help you do that. If your results are much better, you may want to consider adjustment to see if you can get in somewhere that is better academically than your first choice.
  • Step 6 – going to uni The UCAS website also devotes many pages of its site to information for new and current students. Preparing to go, money management, what happens if you have problems and need help. The site also has large sections on how student finance works and information about applying.