Skip to main content


UCAS stands for Universities and Colleges Admissions Service. It is a centralised service that students use to apply to university. Almost everyone who wants to study an undergraduate degree in the UK will make their application through UCAS.

Students can access a wide range of information and support through UCAS’s online services, to select their options, complete their application and send it off to their chosen universities.

What does it mean?

Definition of UCAS Hub

UCAS Hub is a digital space for young people considering their post-18 choices, including university, apprenticeships, student loans, personal statement advice and more!

Definition of Personal statement

A personal statement supports your application when applying to study to university or college. It allows you to express why you are interested in a particular course, and what skills and experience you have to offer the institutions that you’re applying to.

UCAS: How to write a personal statement

Definition of Conditional Offer

A Conditional Offer means you must meet certain requirements, whether this is achieving certain grades, attending an interview, or presenting a portfolio.

Definition of Unconditional Offer

An Unconditional Offer is made by an institution which guarantees you a place on your chosen course regardless of any outstanding grades.

Definition of UCAS Extra

UCAS Extra is another chance for you to gain a place at university or college, between 25 February and 5 July. If you used all five of your choices on your original application and you’re not holding an offer, you’ll be able to add another choice using Extra.

Definition of Clearing

Students who were not offered a place at a university can apply through clearing via UCAS once you have your Level 3 (A levels and BTECs) results. Clearing will open on 6 July 2020.

Definition of UCAS Adjustment

Adjustment is a chance for you to reconsider where and what to study after you have received your exam results.

Definition of UCAS Track

Once you’ve submitted your UCAS application, you will be able to see how it is progressing by signing in to UCAS Track.

More information: UCAS Track

Definition of Firm Choice

When you are accepting your offer, your Firm is your first choice, if it is an unconditional offer the place is yours and you cannot choose an insurance. If the offer is conditional, the place is yours if you meet the conditions.

Definition of UCAS Points

UCAS Tariff points are used to convert grades and qualifications into a numerical value. The A levels and BTECs that a student achieves at school/college will have a UCAS Tariff value which you can check on the UCAS website.

The value will depend on the grades awarded, for example a C in A Levels is 32 points, and an A at A Level is 48 points.

UCAS Tariff Calculator 

Definition of Insurance Choice

When accepting an offer, your Insurance is your back-up choice. An insurance choice should have lower offer conditions than your firm. You will only attend your insurance choice if you do not meet the conditions of your firm choice.

Step-by-step guide

  1. Sign Up to UCAS Hub – Here you can find lots of different resources to help you make an informed decision about your future, including university course overviews, dates and deadlines, and a tariff point calculator.
  2. Register with UCAS – This is your first step in applying to university!
  3. Apply online using UCAS – When applying, you need to ensure that you have all your personal information to hand. You will also need to write your personal statement, which is 4000 characters long! This allows you to express why you are interested in a particular course, and what skills and experience you have to offer. Take your time on this, it’s important!
  4. Universities consider your application – Once you’ve submitted your application, the universities you have applied to will start making decisions, which you will be able to review on UCAS Track.
  5. Universities give offers or rejections – You will receive email updates from the universities you have applied to once they have made a decision about your application. Your offers may be conditional or unconditional.
  6. Make your firm and insurance choice – Once you have received all of your offers, you will need to select your firm and insurance choice (i.e. your first choice university and your back-up choice university). Once this has been submitted, it cannot be changed.
  7. No offers? If you did not receive any offers, don’t worry! You can apply to another university and course through UCAS Extra!
  8. Collect your results – You should check your UCAS Track to find out if you’ve been accepted by your firm or insurance choices, even if you didn’t meet the conditions of your offers, you may still have been accepted.
  9. If you did not get in – it is important to talk to an adviser in your school or college about your options. There will be many alternative routes available to you through Clearing.

Further useful resources

  • Writing your Personal Statement

    How to structure and what to include in your personal statement.
  • Choosing the Right Course

    Some students fear that they may make the wrong choice when it comes to picking what to study, we have broken this down into the 4 C’s of key things to consider.

I need more information about...