Some universities have a General Entrance (or 'matriculation') requirement, a basic minimum set of qualifications that all students have to have.
- Most students will meet the requirements, but it is worth checking to be sure.
- The university may include an English language requirement, or require a criminal records (now called a DBS check) or fitness to practice check.
- Most universities will have some caveats to enable them to admit good students with unusual backgrounds even if they don't meet the General Entrance requirement.
Each course will also have its entry requirements, both in terms of subjects you must already have studied and the examination grades required for entry.
- Most mathematics courses, for example, will require previous study of mathematics.
- The UCAS website is the easiest and most independent way to check this.
- If you have the right subjects, the grades required will vary between universities and also between subjects.
- There is little point in applying for medicine unless you are confident of getting straight As at A level (or their equivalent in other qualifications) while a collection of C grades may get you into a course such as engineering at some less popular universities.
- Many universities provide entry profiles on the UCAS website, a more detailed guide to entry requirements and what the university is looking for than can be summarised in a prospectus. This information will also be in course or departmental booklets, or on websites.
- Have a look, too, at our individual university profiles, where the universities state their basic entry requirements.
The UCAS website, should be consulted to give specific details on course requirements and entry profiles.
- Please note that the UCAS tariff scores published in The Complete University Guide are not the entry requirements needed to enter that degree but do give an indication of the average calibre of the students who enter that degree and the additional A levels or other qualifications they may have taken.
- A good tip is to construct a basic table of entry requirements or typical offers for the 20–30 universities you are considering.
- Consult with advisers and teachers at school/college for your predicted grades (realistic of course).
- Narrow the choices down to five for the UCAS form.
Using a spread of grades is a good idea, too – perhaps choose three courses with entry requirements on your predictions leaving the two further choices for a safe bet (lower entry requirements but a university you like) and an aspirational choice.
- Your aspiration choice might have typical offer requirements one or two grades higher than your predictions but one you feel is worth a gamble.
- UCAS Extra may allow a Plan B if you receive five rejections or decide to change direction.
Next page: Qualifications