The Canvas Student Guide

Nailing your UCAS application

Want to apply to uni for 2023/24 but still trying to figure out the UCAS application process? Don't worry, there's still time to get your application sorted and we've got you covered! This year's UCAS application deadline is Wednesday 25th January, so be sure to start working on it as soon as possible to relieve some of the pressure for yourself.

Check out our step-by-step guide to help you nail your uni application via UCAS:


To kick start the UCAS application process, you’ll need to register for UCAS HUB. Here you’ll be asked some basic questions to create your UCAS account. You’ll then be given a username and can set up your password and security questions – don’t forget to write these all down somewhere.

Note, you can only apply to uni through UCAS once per cycle.


Now that you’ve got your account login, you can sign in to your UCAS Hub account to answer some more personal questions. These will include your funding and sponsorship options, residential status, disability information and details of any criminal convictions. Don’t worry if this seems a bit daunting at first, each section has a red question mark at the end, which you can click for some additional information on what exactly you’re being asked.

You’ll also be able to verify your email in this section so UCAS can notify you to know whenever your application has been updated.


You might be directed to this page based on your answers to certain questions in the sections above – this may only need to be completed if you’re applying from the UK or EU, so if this page doesn’t appear then it means this shouldn’t apply to you.

While UCAS don’t provide student finance itself, you can give them your permission to share your information with student loans and awards organisations to help speed up the process of getting a loan. You can find out more about the process HERE.


Here you'll need to add details for any schools or colleges that you've attended since the age of 13, including your grades and qualifications. Make sure you add all your qualifications, including any that you might not have the final result for yet - these can be listed as pending. We suggest having any certificates you've received to hand when doing your application, to help you remember any important details (such as their awarding bodies) since you might not know these things off the top of your head. 

Can't find your qualifications from the UCAS options? If you're an international student and your qualification isn't listed, you can select 'Other' and add the details there. You may have to send proof of your qualifications to your uni if this is the case - they will contact you directly.


This section of the UCAS application process is to list any paid jobs that you've had to date - these can include both full-time and part-time, but only if they were paid. You can add a max. of 5 jobs into this section and will have to provide details like company names, addresses, job descriptions and employment dates. 

If you've done any unpaid or voluntary work, don't worry, you can talk about this in your Personal Statement (later section) to highlight the kinds of work you were involved in and the reasons why. If you haven't had any paid jobs yet, you can note that or leave the page blank.


You can choose up to 5 courses to apply to (all now or some later). Make sure you’ve done plenty of research into what each course covers, what the uni is like, the exam-to-coursework ratio etc, to make sure you’re happy with your selections. Your course choices can be across several different unis, or all at the same one – it’s completely up to you. Order of preference doesn’t matter here so you can enter them in any order, and your chosen unis won’t be able to see where else you applied.

For some courses and unis (Oxford and Cambridge for example), there are limitations on how many other courses you can apply for in the same cycle. You can double-check any restrictions HERE.


This is your opportunity to let the unis know the reasons you want to study that particular course and why they should accept your application. Note, you can only write one Personal Statement for your UCAS application, so you'll need to make sure it covers the reasons why you want to study each course if you're applying for different ones. 

It's got to be at least 1,000 characters long - but you have up to 4000 characters or 47 lines, available to fill here. That may sound like a lot but you'll soon find yourself close to the cut-off once you've covered everything you want to show off about yourself. Here are some ideas on things to include:

  • Relevant experiences from work or school
  • Any wider reading you've done around your chosen subject
  • Trips abroad or visits to museums, galleries etc. that have inspired you
  • Interests and hobbies outside of school
  • Clubs and schemes you've been involved in
  • Positions of responsibility you've held

Take your time with this as it might take a while until you're happy with it. UCAS recommend starting your application in Mircosoft Word (or something similar) and pasting it into your application as the application doesn't have spell check. While you're in both Microsoft Word and the application, hit save regularly to avoid losing any work. Make sure you check it through with your teachers or advisers before submitting it to ensure you're presenting the best version of yourself. 

UCAS supplies tonnes of information on the different ways to tackle your Personal Statement - check out some of their tips HERE.


Make sure to read through all the sections of your UCAS application to ensure you're happy with everything. We suggest taking a break to go for a walk or grab a cuppa after reading it through once, then going back to your application with fresh eyes to ensure you haven't missed anything. You can mark each section as complete as you go through them to confirm you're ready to submit. 

Once you're happy and have marked all the sections as complete, you'll be able to read and agree to UCAS' declaration - this will allow UCAS to process and send your information to your chosen unis. You can then move on to the final section to complete your application.


For the final step of the UCAS application process, you need a written recommendation from a teacher, adviser, or professional who knows you academically or professionally. UCAS won't accept a reference submitted by a friend or family member.

Applying through a school:

If you're applying to UCAS through a school, you'll need to enter the buzzword supplied by your school to ensure your application gets sent directly to them once submitted. This will give your teacher authorisation to submit your reference and can also look over your application to help you with anything at the final stage.

Your school will also let you know if you need to pay them a fee to be transferred to UCAS. The application fee is £20 if you’re applying to just one course, or £25 for multiple courses and late applications. You may not need to pay, or your school might tell you to pay UCAS directly via debit/credit card at the end of your application.

Applying independently:

If you're applying to UCAS independently, you can still get your school to provide a reference, you'll just need to organise this with them first. If you select 'Ask a registered school, college or centre to write a reference only', you'll be asked to enter a buzzword provided by your school. Alternatively, you can simply enter a chosen referee's contact details directly and UCAS will send them an email with instructions on what to do. You'll need to pay the application fee here by debit/credit card to submit your application.


Once you've submitted your UCAS application in the reference stage, you're pretty much done. You'll receive an email to confirm once your referee has completed their recommendation, which means the application has been sent through to your chosen unis and you've officially applied to uni! 

All that's left to do is keep your fingers and toes tightly crossed and wait to hear back from the unis about offering you a place - we're sure you'll nail it!


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