Student Advice

What is a UCAS application? Everything you need to know

Ben Maples  · Nov 9th 2023  · 5 min

Your UCAS application is the spark that lights the fire beneath the simmering pot that is your university application. Clunky metaphors to one side, your UCAS application is one of the first things you will fill out when you start your university journey.

Students jumping up and down.

A UCAS application is one of the main things you will need to fill out before you apply to university. Your personal statement is perhaps the most important, but your application contains all the details a university needs to build its profile of you.

What is UCAS?

UCAS is the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service. UCAS is the centralised system for students looking to go to university in the UK.

Almost all universities will require students to apply through the UCAS system. Some universities may accept direct applications, but in most cases, students must submit their UCAS application and personal statement to the UCAS platform.

What is a UCAS application?

Your UCAS application is the application you put forward for a course or university on the UCAS platform. You will need to answer a series of questions before you can fill out your application. These questions will be standard data qualification questions, asking you to provide your email address, your personal circumstances and financial qualification questions.

It is an application that is made up of seven different sections, including:

  • Additional information (for UK applicants only)
  • Course choices (up to five choices)
  • Education so far
  • Employment history
  • Personal details
  • Personal statement and reference
  • Student finance arrangements (UK applicants only)

After filling out these specific aspects of the application, you will then need to choose your university or course.

How to fill in your UCAS application

The application itself is pretty easy to fill in. If you find yourself struggling, you can usually ask your teachers, guardians or friends to help you out. The application doesn't take too long to fill out and you can go back and edit it as many times as you like before you submit.


First of all, you will need to register with UCAS via the UCAS Hub. Here, you’ll need to confirm the year you want to study and what level (undergraduate or postgraduate).

After you’ve done this, you’ll have the option to begin your application. Simply click start to get going.

Your details

With this section, it is best to fill this in your details as they appear on other documents. For example, don’t abbreviate names or surnames, fill them in as they appear elsewhere.

You won’t be able to skip any sections. You will have to fill in all elements of your UCAS application before you can submit it. Make sure you have an up-to-date email address.

For international students, there are specific questions relating to your studies. This will mainly be around your ethnic origin, national identity, and occupational background.


Don’t worry; you won’t need to add your nurseries here! In this section, you will need to add all of your exam results from secondary education onwards (if you don’t have them yet, don’t worry as these can be added later).

If you have previously been to college or university, but did not finish the course, then you will need to mention this here. Make sure you include your start date and your finishing date as well as the fact that you have no qualifications from the institute.


You might not think that your employment history is all that relevant, but it is! If you have any paid jobs, whether full or part-time, then you need to include them here. Include the company name, the address, the job description and your start and finish dates.

You don’t need to enter voluntary or paid work experience work here. These are both better suited to being mentioned in your personal statement, rather than in your UCAS application.

Personal statement

Your personal statement is probably the most important part of your entire application. This is a statement that informs the university about you and lets them get to know you.

Your statement does have limits. You must write at least 1,000 characters – but you have up to 4,000 characters/47 lines – whichever comes first. You will need to copy and paste your statement into your application.

Be aware, your UCAS application does not have spell check! You will need to check and re-check your statement for spelling errors and grammatical issues before you fully upload it.

What is the UCAS application deadline?

The deadline for your UCAS application will vary depending on what you are applying for and when. Typically, UCAS has two deadlines each academic year:

Any applications submitted after June 30th are automatically entered into Clearing.

What happens after you send your application?

After you’ve sent your application, it’s a matter of waiting. Universities will need to assess your application and personal statement, and will come back to you when they have a decision about whether they will take you on and offer you a conditional or unconditional offer.

Use this time to prepare for potential university interviews and study for exams. Your application has been sent and there’s nothing more you can do at this point.

Do I need to have a UCAS application if I’m applying directly to the university? This depends on the university you are applying to. Generally, a university won’t ask you for a UCAS application if you are applying to them without UCAS.

That’s not to say that the information in your UCAS application isn’t helpful. Universities will likely still ask you to provide all the information you would supply in a UCAS application, just provided to them directly.

Do I need to have a UCAS application to apply through Clearing?

Yes, you will. You won’t need to create a separate UCAS application, however, as UCAS will just use the existing application they have on file.

You can make changes to the application at any point. However,you won’t be able to make changes after the application has been submitted.

Are my UCAS points part of my UCAS application?

Yes and no. UCAS points are not filled in as part of a normal UCAS application by you, the student, at any point.

That being said, they are an important part of your application. UCAS points are automatically sent over with your application and will be used as a means of figuring out whether you are able to study the course you have applied for.

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