Applying to university or for an apprenticeship is an exciting prospect but can also be extremely daunting. The below information has been put together as a guide to explain the process, key times and dates, and provide additional advice.
Level 4 and 5 apprenticeships are an excellent way for students to transition to the world of work. The opportunity to earn good money whilst studying and training, obtaining qualifications equivalent to a degree and further is a very good solution for those not wooed by three more years of studying after sixth form. The following websites provide excellent advice on the next stages:
UCAS is the University and College Admissions Service that all students must apply through for admission to UK higher education.
When choosing where you would like to study, the most important thing to do is careful research. This will help you make your own decision in an informed way. There is the option of choosing up to five university courses unless applying for medicine or dentistry or veterinary medicine / veterinary science when there are only four choices. It is not possible to apply to both Oxford and Cambridge. You are encouraged to seek the advice of your tutor, subject teachers, the Progressions Coordinator and your Head of Programme, and are also encouraged to contact university departments directly with questions. In fact, this sort of initiative is often praised by admissions tutors. Each university department has its own website containing details of the application requirements for that course and other details such as the range of offers that they might give, the number of students on the course and how that department has been reviewed by inspectors.
Good sources of information are:
- university websites
- university prospectuses
- www.ucas.com course search
- http://unistats.direct.gov.uk for course comparisons, average grade profiles etc
- teachers and friends or relatives with recent experience at university
- admissions tutors and recent graduates who come and speak at Impington International College
15 October: all Oxford and Cambridge applications and all other applications for medicine, dentistry and veterinary medicine / veterinary science.
15 January: all other courses. Music Colleges have their own application system. It is important to check with the Colleges themselves for their deadlines and requirements. The CUKAS system administers applications to the music conservatoires.
Many Art Colleges also have their own deadlines. They require very different types of personal statement and reference. Be aware, preparation for these applications takes a lot of time and work, especially with regard to portfolios.
Impington International College deadlines for 2025 university entry or for 2024 deferred entry
These deadlines are in place to enable us to complete student references and check that your application is the best that it can be. We advise that you complete your application as early as possible.
The progressions programme begins in the autumn term of Year 12. Following the Christmas break you will be directed to a range of resources to help you make decisions on your future. The deadlines below are specific to UCAS applications.
Before the end of the summer term: sign up to UCAS Hub and begin your application. Get advice from the Progressions Coordinator, your subject teachers and tutor on university courses and attend key open days. If applying to Oxbridge, obtain suitable reading lists and tasks to do from the relevant faculties and confirm preferred colleges. (Remember, you can do an open application if you do not have a specific college in mind).
Summer holidays: review decisions so far and fill in the gaps in the personal statement. Complete the personal statement as much as possible ready for first day of term. If wishing to make an early application this should be to final draft stage.
7-11 September: Those applying to Oxford and Cambridge or to study veterinary medicine / veterinary science, medicine and dentistry need to share their draft personal statements with Progressions Coordinator.
21 September: UCAS applications for all early applicants to be complete, including full application details, entry of examinations, pending examination and personal statement. References are then finalised and the whole application is checked by the Progressions Coordinator.
End of October: You are strongly advised to complete your application by the end of October at the latest, particularly if considering a high-demand course.
Early December: Any last applications to be completed.
Please note: Applications completed in January do not give us enough time to assist and check. A late application will additionally put you at a disadvantage as universities will have already made a lot of offers by this point.
Applications to the most competitive courses
On paper, it is very difficult to identify the top applicants – there are a lot of people with the very best grades, fabulous work experience and great extra-curricular achievements. Consider the following:
- To make yourself stand out, identify an area of your subject in which you have a particular interest and explore this aspect in literature, debates or lectures to discover whether you are truly interested by the subject matter and, more importantly, to be able to prove your willingness and enthusiasm
- Find out what additional requirements are needed for your subject and university
- Contact the university; explore the website thoroughly
- Be realistic; apply to a range of universities. With four or five choices you should make sure you include a location and course that is likely to give offers more easily
- If there is an interview (and many now do interview) - expect to be challenged and expect to deal with questions you cannot, directly, prepare for. Adopt a risk-taking mentality. You must show you are able to push the boundaries of your learning
- In your application and in interview demonstrate that you are an independent learner. Your DP extended essay and CP reflective project is a must to discuss
- The best advice is to work hard and secure great results
- Be resilient; you may give it your all but not get a place. Learn from the process. With five choices, you will get a good university place, even if not your top one
Some courses require an additional application form to be completed. These forms are sent or made available to the applicant online once their application has been received and processed past its first stage. It is important to check to see if this is likely to be required as, typically, very little turnaround time is given for the return of such forms.
In order to distinguish between applicants with very similar or identical results, university courses are increasingly opting for their own tests which are done in advance of any interview and may be used as part of a de-selection process. Information about each can be found via the websites below:
- BMAT – BioMedical Admissions Test
- UCAT – University Clinical Aptitude Test
- LNAT – National Admissions Test for Law
- MML – Cambridge University, Modern and Medieval Languages
- STEP – Cambridge University, Sixth Term Examination Papers – normally part of the conditional offers from the Mathematics Department
- TSA – Cambridge Assessment Admissions Test
- ELAT – Oxford University, English Literature Admissions Test
- HAT – Oxford University, History Aptitude Test
- Physics Aptitude Test – Oxford University, Physics
We use high quality internal assessment marks, progress test scores, internal end of Year 12 examinations, and teacher experience and judgement, as evidence to base our predictions on. The predictions will be a grade for each subject and then a total points score. Your predicted grades should match the university’s standard offer.
Personal statements are a significant part of the university application. They are often the deciding factor in obtaining an offer or an interview and this is especially the case for the most competitive courses. It can be helpful to consider personal statements from the point of view of the university admissions tutor. It is likely to be their one opportunity to ‘meet’ you, to understand a little about how you think and whether you have thought about the course to which you are applying.
Personal statements should have two sections:
Academic (three quarters): A discussion of the subject you have chosen; your motivations and your strengths as they relate to the subject. In your personal statement you must try to provide suitable evidence for what you are saying. For example, the much used but still useful phrase, “I enjoy reading” should not only indicate what exactly you enjoy reading but perhaps how your reading has shaped the ways in which you think.
Personal (one quarter - absolute maximum): Your wider interests, particularly where they involve leadership or organisation or self-discipline. Universities want to take students with commitment and are increasingly cautious to ensure that they do not accept undergraduates who might drop out during their course.
As a conclusion, do not simply repeat an earlier comment or end with something bland. End, just as you began, with something of impact and of interest.
- be honest
- be clear
- provide evidence
- be between 3,500 and 4,000 characters in length (including spaces)
- avoid clichés
- avoid hyperboles
- avoid quotes – unless very skilfully used
- avoid summaries of the subject
- avoid seeking the opinions of too many people (your teachers and others) on your statement – it is personal, you will therefore get different but equally correct advice from different people
Make it interesting! Remember it needs to stand out for positive reasons.
If you are considering taking a year out before university then you can apply for deferred entry; this is a simple matter of entering a different year on the UCAS form. The application is made in the same way and during Year 13 offers are made and you should respond to them in exactly the same way as if you were intending to start the course immediately.
Alternatively, you can apply during your year out. If this is the chosen route, you must stay in close contact with us and meet all the same deadlines that Year 13 will be required to meet.
Again, the UCAS website gives some excellent guidance to taking a gap year, with advice on internships and gap year programmes:
There is no doubting the reputations and the uniqueness of the university experience at institutions such as Oxford or Cambridge. However, not everyone thrives at Oxbridge and there are many other excellent universities with highly rated courses.
Oxbridge terms are shorter than elsewhere at only eight weeks and, in consequence, are significantly more intense. For essay-based subjects, students are usually asked to produce one or two essays each week and each is discussed in a small group tutorial (Oxford) or supervision (Cambridge) with an expert in that particular field.
In other subjects’ expectations are equally high with a combination of classes to attend, practical work to complete and problems to solve, again with the support of the tutor / supervisor.
All of this is on top of a weekly programme of lectures and seminars.
Any students applying to Oxbridge should make sure that they are capable of withstanding, or better, thriving, in an atmosphere of intensive pressure and competition. If you decide to go ahead with an Oxbridge application, you will need to undertake some additional work over the summer holidays and meet regularly with the Lead Teacher for sixth form who is best placed to offer guidance.
Choosing a College at Oxford or Cambridge
Oxford and Cambridge universities are collegiate so applicants can either do an open application, if they don’t have a college preference or they can choose a College of preference to which to apply. By being a member of a College, one becomes a member of the university.
- Remember that the university course is more important than the College choice. Try not to set your dream on one particular College at the potential expense of getting the offer from the university
- It is not possible to study every subject at every College. Some of the undergraduate teaching will take place in your College, some of it will be in other Colleges where specialists happen to be based
- Check to see what your course (and College) requires in terms of submitted work, tests and interview
- One College may seem particularly attractive because of one of its Professors. Take time to find out who might actually be teaching the undergraduates
- If you can, try to find out if any of the teaching fellows are due to go on sabbatical in the following year – this may cause a College to reduce its intake for a particular subject
- Seek the advice of your tutor, your subject teachers and the Progressions Coordinator
For more information, please visit:
Full instructions on how to apply through UCAS will be given to you via your tutor and the progressions advisor. The application can take several days to complete and you will need to be ready to give contact details, qualifications, make university and course choices and provide a personal statement. Time will be dedicated to this in tutor time and you will be expected to complete and check in your own time.
It is possible to make changes to the application at any stage before the form is submitted to UCAS. We check the qualifications as entered on the form and write the reference including predicted grades. If fewer than the maximum number of choices is made when the form is submitted the student can add further choices up to the maximum at a later date before the UCAS deadline. The College will then send the application to UCAS who will confirm that they have received it in an email to the you within a couple of days.
Each university will consider the application and then communicate with you directly and via UCAS Track. Occasionally, universities can issue an unconditional offer if the student accepts them as their first choice. This is an interesting situation and students are strongly advised to discuss it with the Progressions Coordinator.
The UCAS website provides excellent information to students and parents about the whole process including how and when to respond to the offers and what to do on the results day in the summer. Do read the sections carefully on services such as confirmation, clearing and adjustment.
Many of our students, both overseas and UK, wish to apply outside of the UK for higher education. Although most overseas universities require applications made directly to them, there are a number of helpful websites:
- studyinholland.co.uk (For study in the Netherlands)
- http://www.eunicas.ie (For study in Europe)
- thecompleteuniversityguide.co.uk (For study in Europe)
- fulbright.org.uk (For study in the US)
- commonapp.org (For study in the US)
- prospects.ac.uk (For study in Canada)
- universitystudy.ca (For study in Canada)