Admissions staff at leading universities have an in-depth knowledge of what type of applicant is likely to be a successful student on their course.

Admissions staff will consider the predicted grades, the personal statement and reference regarding a student’s suitability for the course. They may also use tests and interviews at one or more stages of the process.

  1. Admissions staff will check that the applicant is predicted to meet the entry requirements.

Staff look at each application and at the predicted (or actual) results in individual subjects and qualifications. In some cases this may include details of marks rather than just grades.

For many leading universities, there is also a minimum requirement for GCSE grades (or equivalent), particularly in mathematics and English.

Predicted grades and GCSE (or equivalent) grades are important in helping admissions staff assess an applicant’s academic potential.

  1. Admissions staff will look for evidence that the applicant has good subject knowledge and is enthusiastic about the course. The personal statement should demonstrate this.

Admissions staff look for a personal statement that clearly outlines why the applicant wants to study that particular subject, what interests them about the subject and what they know about it.

Students only have one personal statement and it should be relevant to all five choices.

The personal statement can be used in different ways depending on the university and the course applied for. Some university admissions teams score a personal statement against set criteria, while others will check that it is broadly satisfactory.

For many competitive courses, it is the personal statement that can make the difference between an offer and a rejection.

  1. Admissions staff will look for an appropriate and supportive reference from the applicant’s school.

The reference should be written by someone who knows the student and should concentrate on his or her academic ability and suitability for the course that is being applied for.

  1. Many courses do not use interviews or additional tests. However, interviews and tests may be used for courses that receive a very high number of applicants or have additional professional requirements.

There are many different approaches. Interviews and tests may be used to differentiate between very strong applicants or to assess professional suitability, for example, for the medical profession. Some courses may require other types of additional information such as a portfolio of work. The key is to do your research and plan ahead so that if you are required to sit an additional test or provide additional work you are prepared.