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If you want to apply to any university in the UK for an undergraduate course, you need to do so through a centralised application system called Universities and Colleges Admissions Service or UCAS.

The deadline for all September 2019 courses at Oxford and Cambridge is 15th October 2018. If you are applying for a Medicine, Veterinary or Dentistry you should also apply by 1800 on 15th October 2018 to be considered for courses commencing in September 2019. For all other courses, the deadline is 15th January 2019.

Your first step is to go to www.ucas.com and create an account there. It is free.

Once you have your account, you need to start filling it up. There are sereral sections:

  1. Fill in personal details — name, Date of Birth (DoB), and your place of birth.
  2. If you are a UK-based applicant, UCAS will ask you for some extra information such as your ethnic and religious background — give this to them. This will NOT affect your chances of admissions as this information is not shared with the universities.
  3. Your university and programme choices. Each university has a unique code given to it. It is normall 3 digits — a letter followed by 2 digits. For Oxford it is U33. For UCL it is U80. On top of that, each degree you are applying to will have a unique UCAS code as well. This is normall 4 digits — a mix of numbers and letters. You need to carefully check for these codes as a mistake in giving UCAS the right code can lead to you not sending your application to the right place! You can check the codes for your university and the degree you are applying to on the admissions website. Alternatively, you can ring the Admissions coordinator. You are limited to 5 universities so use the limit wisely. It is a good idea to apply to a spread of universities — 1 or 2 really competitive ones, 2 mid of the road and one safety.
  4. Provide your education history. School you are enrolled at. Your year, name of Head teacher, grades etc.
  5. Provide your employment details. Paid and unpaid work must be included here. Any internships? Shadowing? Volunteering — this is your chance to shine. Admissions officers love to see applicants who meet the academic requirements whilst also being able to work on the side — this shows commitment, independence and proves the ability to manage your time well.
  6. Personal statement. Now, this are at least 10 separate articles that I will write about this. There are myths and legends about the “PS”. Truth is, this need not to be that complicated. You are given a 4,000 character limit — about a page and a quarter and this is your opportunity to demonstrate your passion for the subject and why the admissions person should select you. For help with personal statements, feel free to post your question on our Facebook — www.facebook.com/allenandjain or WhatsApp the team on + 44 7496 625 544.
  7. Provide details of your referee. Normally this is a teacher in your school. Be sure that they submit it well before the deadline!
  8. Double check all the information — you will be surprised how many silly mistakes you can make on the UCAS form. Can’t afford to make them, so go back and check everything at least 3 times.
  9. Pay the fee of £24. Press SUBMIT.

That’s it! You are now officially an applicant. What follows is a long process of waiting to hear back from universities. Looking back at my UCAS application, the process was super stressful and draining but it doesn’t need to be this way. Start filling in your UCAS over the summer and this will save you a lot of stress later!

Sunny Jain is a Managing Partner at Allen & Jain. He has completed his undergraduate and Master’s degrees at Oxford. He is an incoming Fellow at Harvard Davis Centre starting September 2019.

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