Q: How do I apply to the UK? What are the requirements?
A: The vast majority of students use the UCAS system for undergraduate admissions in the UK. UCAS, short for Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, is a system that allows student applicants to apply to up to five universities in the UK through a single application. This application will contain your personal statement and all of your academic qualifications. The admissions requirement will depend on the discipline and the university you are applying to. You will be able to find the requirements on both the UCAS system and the admissions websites of individual universities. If you are unsure as to how to proceed, make sure to contact one of our consultants at UNIKEY ACADEMY.
Q: How should I prepare? What do I have to submit?
A: Before you apply, you should first ascertain your academic and career interests. There’s no point spending 3-4 years of your life doing something that you will regret and have no interests in. That will be a massive waste of time and money. What you should do is to plan and strategize early-on in your secondary education so that you can truly know the path you want to take and at the same time meet the admissions requirements. All of this requires long-term commitment.
Once you are ready to apply, which should be around the summer of your penultimate year in secondary school, you should prepare all of your documents ASAP. The UCAS system will require you to input your personal information, reference letters by your teachers or other prominent figures, your academic qualifications, your university choices, and other supporting documents that may be needed. Having all of your documents ready is important for a smooth-running application process.
Q: How should I prepare my personal statement?
A: The content of the personal statement is entirely course-dependent, but there are a few major aspects that must be included. It should contain a good mixture of your motivations for applying to the discipline, your academic and relevant extracurricular experiences, and other notable achievements. A good personal statement should be able to weave these aspects together to show a compelling case of why you are the best candidate. This means that students are recommended to plan 2 – 4 years in advance. A longer period of preparation will give students ample opportunities to gain the relevant extracurricular and work experiences that will make their personal statements shine. Planning ahead will also give students time to build awareness and knowledge of the course through their own independent learning and research, essential aspects that admissions officers look for. If you leave all of the preparations the summer right before your application, it will be too late. Your personal statement will lack several key aspects that many other candidates will have. In summary, a lot of planning and proper guidance in advance is vital to the application process.
Q: How important are work experiences? Will I be disadvantaged if I don’t have them?
A: Work experiences are great ways to show that you have taken the extra steps to commit to the discipline and gain practical experiences. With more practical experiences, your motivations in the personal statement will also seem more credible. However, work experiences are not the only ways to showcase these things. There are other practical experiences that can be relevant as well, including your extracurricular activities and awards. It’s a matter of presentation as to how you effectively translate these experiences into a strong personal statement. You should think about how you can demonstrate your interest towards a subject and develop arguments and observations through your activities or other responsibilities. For example, doing an internship at a hospital vs. attending a medical conference as a school representative may be used to demonstrate different things. The latter provides you an opportunity to research on ethical topics, thereby giving you substantive knowledge directly relevant to your university studies. Whereas the former is more of a practical experience reaffirming your determination to commit to the undergraduate degree. How to effectively use practical experiences in personal statements also require guidance and brainstorming, and it’s important that you consult experts in the various fields that you are interested in.
Q: Is there an Oxbridge type?
A: No. Both the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge are diverse higher education institutions that attract passionate and determined students from all over the world. It would be impossible to remain such prestigious universities by only attracting one single type of students. Furthermore, both universities are also increasingly trying to increase the number of disadvantaged and ethnic minority students into their undergraduate and graduate cohorts. Whether you fit the criteria of Oxbridge depends almost entirely on your academic performances, your personal statement, and your extracurricular experiences.
Q: My school advises against reaching out to admissions consultants. Help me understand this?
A: Most schools have school counselors that handle all-things related to university admissions. While they provide valuable services, and you should certainly consult them as much as possible, what admissions consultants provide is beyond the logistical supports that counselors provide. Our experts at UNIKEY ACADEMY will be your mentors on all-things related to the application, the academic field, your personal statement, and career development paths. These are guidance services that counselors can only touch very minimally on. Furthermore, our discipline-specific experts can also help you understand the subjects that you are interested in far better than any counselors; this is because we bring graduates and alumni from these schools you are applying to directly to you to help you along the way. Our years of handling admissions services also ensure that we know exactly what universities want in an application. While counselors generally have many years of experience as well, their job also includes a vast variety of other responsibilities, including counselling students with emotional troubles, setting down the academic schedules and structures of the school year. Admissions consultants, in contrast, are single-purposed specialists that will maximize your chances of entering your dream university.
Q: Should I apply to foundation courses instead?
A: Foundation courses are a fantastic choice for university admissions when you do not meet the academic qualifications needed for entry. This might be because your grades were not good enough or it may also be because the qualifications you received are not accepted by the universities in the UK. Whether you should take a foundation course should depend on the following questions:
Have you met the minimum requirements for admissions?
If you have only barely met the requirements, are your choices limited by this? If so, the foundation courses will offer better prospects for university entry later on.
It will also depend on your academic goal; you should consult a UNIKEY ACADEMY expert on whether you should apply for foundation courses.
Q: Should I plan my IB Diploma courses for University admissions?
A: Most universities will have subject-specific entry requirements for each faculty. To even qualify as a candidate, you need to plan ahead during secondary school so that you are eligible for the admissions selection process. For example, if you want to study economics at Oxford, you should take both HL economics and mathematics. You should beware of the internal course-selection process of your secondary school as well. Sometimes if you choose the easiest courses during the first two years in secondary school, your academic office might not permit you to take HL courses since you do not have the adequate skills to excel in those. Thus, plan as early as possible.
Q: Should I take the A-Levels or the IBDP?
A: If your school offers both A-levels and the IBDP, you should consider carefully about what kind of a learner you are. If you are incredibly interested in mathematics and natural sciences, but have no interests whatsoever in social sciences and humanities subjects, then you should consider the A-levels as your most suitable choice. This will guarantee that you will do well in subjects that you are interested in. However, if you are a well-rounded student, and wants to gain knowledge in a wide variety of subjects and gain skills in research, dissertation-writing, and extracurricular activities, then the IBDP is perfect for you.
Q: Can I apply to both Oxford and Cambridge?
A: Unfortunately, it is not possible to apply to both Oxford and Cambridge in the same year. You will have to decide which one suits you the best. Things you should consider include the curriculum, research and work opportunities, the social and professional environments, and scholarship opportunities.
Q: Do SAT subject tests matter in the UK application process?
A: While the SAT is primarily for universities in the US and Canada, surprisingly, most universities in the UK also accept these as appropriate qualifications for entrance. Most universities will also require students to take SAT subject-tests as well. If you are unable to access IB or A-levels courses, but do have access to SATs, this may be another way for you to apply to UK universities.