Top UCAS myths busted

Only Russell Group universities count, Clearing is for dummies, can I blackmail my teacher to give me better predicted grades? No, no and no. 

Our university support team have come together to put an end to the top applying to uni myths that could mess up your application. Get clued up here. 

Students at college gates

Researching universities

1. Entry requirements are a guide to the quality of the course 
These requirements are set by admissions tutors to ensure that you are able to cope with the content of the course and with the assessments. 

There are usually less places available versus the number of students applying so entry requirements are also used to help control numbers. 

2. That universities are going to believe A*A*A* predictions if you got CCC at AS 
Don’t try and blackmail your teachers to provide more impressive predictions. Your teacher reference is crucial to making your application a successful one and schools are given a lot of guidance on what they need to include by UCAS and by unis. Trying to blag it now will only set you up for a big fall later down the line.

3. The ABB/BBB grade range means if they really like you you'll get the lower offer'. 
The lower offer will be for those applicants who are eligible for a 'widening participation' offer. Everyone else will be made the higher offer. 

4. If a university specifies two sciences or maths or a language or whatever at A level and you haven't got them, it doesn't really apply to you. 
It definitely does. So don’t try and get around this by applying anyway, it will only lead to disappointment when you don’t receive an offer. Cut your losses now and apply elsewhere which has different requirements or reconsider the subject you want to study at uni.

5. X University doesn't like applicants from private schools/state schools/the south/Wales. 
This isn't true. Universities want committed, interested students. With thousands of applications to wade through, they haven't got time to play these sort of games.

6. Future employers hold encyclopaedic data bases of what university was top for which subject in year X. 
No chance. Though it’s worth mentioning that some employers might get excited when they notice on your CV that you went to the same uni as them. It means they can get all nostalgic and chat with you about the good times at uni rather than carrying out the interview. 

Find your perfect uni in 60 seconds


7. Future employers will really care about you going to a Russell Group university. 
For the record the Russell Group universities are focused on teaching and research and are awarded a high proportion of funding and grants to deliver this. They do offer excellent courses but those courses might not be perfect for you or in line with your career aspirations. 

8. That a university's rank on a league table is the be all and end all. 
League tables can be a good place to start and get some ideas but they don’t include information like resources, modules and assessment methods which will shape your uni life. 

Be thorough with your research, compare course content and universities, and compare graduate employability and student satisfaction rates.

Choosing a course because you love the content and performing brilliantly overall is far more important to your future career than choosing a university over another because of its position in one of the many league tables. 
 

More on TSR: 
Applying to uni - what you need to do and when 
University league tables - The applying to uni guide 
How to avoid getting 5 uni rejections

 

Personal statement

9. Plagiarising your PS won't get found out or have any consequences. 
Huge mistake. UCAS use software to identify plagiarism and it goes back years so don’t think you can get away with scraping paragraphs from your big brother’s application from five years go

10. An excellent PS can make up for poor grades. 
If your grades don’t meet the entry requirements your PS probably won't be read. It's also very likely that most applicants with good grades will have good personal statements as well.

11. You have to do an in-depth analysis of how each of your A Level subjects link to the degree you're applying for in your personal statement 
This is probably going to be a waste of space! Focus on how the skills you have will propel you to excel on the course you want to do.

12. You need to write lots about your volunteering and other activities you enjoy in your personal statement to show what a well-rounded individual you are 
These are all great experiences to have but universities will be more interested in subject-related extracurricular. If you’re unsure about this make sure you speak to a tutor at an open day to ask whether they have a preference. If you want to include extra-curricular information make sure it’s relevant.

13. The character-count in Microsoft Word works the same as UCAS' character count 
We've seen a angry posts on TSR by people who have written perfect 4000 character personal statements in Word and then find it's too long for UCAS. It's worth putting it in to UCAS' online form as you draft and re-draft so you don't get a nasty surprise when you think you've finally finished and feeling like a champion. 


14. Applying for two or more very different courses with one personal statement is good idea. 
This is going to be tricky. Be bold and decisive now and choose one or the other before making your five choices. 

15. Completing your part of the form on Jan 15th means it will get there on time, because your referee has literally nothing to do on that day but write and add your reference, which you haven't mentioned until now. 
It’s not going to happen. Start the conversation with your teacher now (before the beginning of December). Don’t spring it on them and expect to them to meet the deadline.
 

More on TSR: 
Teacher secrets for writing the perfect personal statement 
Do's and Don'ts of writing a personal statement 
How to turbo-charge your grades
Writing your personal statement

Application

 

16. You must use all your 5 choices on UCAS Apply 
You can just apply to only one university if you want too. 

17. If X sees you're applying to Y they'll reject you. 
Unis can only view your application and your personal statement, they aren’t informed of your other choices. 

18. That universities know if you've applied to Oxbridge and will reject you on that basis. In fact, the belief that universities can see other applications at all. 
They can't. And they also don't reject the top candidates out of a sense of hurt feelings.

19. It doesn't matter if I lie on my UCAS form, or leave out a grade I don't like - nobody will find out. 
Fibbing about your grades and then acting all oblivious when the uni pulls you up on it is a really bad idea. It could result in you losing your place at uni or worse, you are kicked out of uni just before you graduate because they have discovered your application was fraudulent. 

20. If you meet or exceed the entry requirements you'll definitely get an offer. 
Don’t place all your eggs in one basket. There is no guarantee that this will happen. Breathe a sigh of relief if you get an offer and an even bigger one when Track changes on results day to unconditional firm. 

21. Universities make offers to the first people who apply and if you apply after November you are less likely to get an offer. 
Universities stick firmly to the 'equal consideration rule' set by UCAS. You have as much chance of receiving an offer if you apply in early January as you do applying in October.
 

More on TSR: 
Declaring your grades on your uni application FAQ 
Must-read: Applying to uni FAQ 
Get personal statement advice here

Getting offers

22. That ABC is equal to BBB (or any other combination) to a university which doesn't make points offers. 
It isn't - the BBB university wants a baseline of no subject below a B.

23. That they won't get accommodation if they don't firm offers immediately. 
Not true. Accommodation isn't allocated until after results day when they know who is coming.

24. My life is over because I didn't get an offer from LSE/Warwick/Imperial It’s natural to feel really disappointed if you had your heart set on a particular university. Remember though, that there are plenty of other really credible universities, one which could suit you far better. 

25. Receiving an unconditional offer means the university must really want me 
It's true that the uni rates you. But be aware that they are also used by universities to ensure bums on seats and to prevent applicants from trading up during adjustment, since you can't do that with an unconditional.
 

Results Day


26. UCAS Track always opens at midnight on Results Day or just after so it's worth staying up 
The best thing you can do is get some kip so you're ready for your big day. Track won't open until around 8am on Results Day morning so there's no point regularly clicking refresh at 1am hoping to see an update. 

Results day

Clearing

27. Clearing means that universities will drop their requirements by 5 or 6 grades. 
They don't.

28. Last year's clearing lists are a guide to what will be in this year. 
They won't be - the uni will adjust the number of places this time or the types of offer to avoid being stuck with places left over next year.

29. Clearing and Adjustment are both open to the same people on results day. 
Clearing is used by students who have not met their firm or insurance offers and don’t have a place at university on results day. 

Adjustment is for students who have exceeded the offer from their firm choice and can “trade up” and apply to a uni with higher entry requirements. 

30. That anyone can predict with any certainty what will happen on results day if you miss your grades. 
This is absolutely impossible. If you think things might have gone wrong research your options ahead of results day. This means having a think about your insurance choice and checking out courses at other unis in case you’ve missed meeting both your offers.

31. Clearing is only for low achievers. 
Not true. Clearing is now used as a route into uni for first-time applicants. Other than Oxbridge try and spot a university that doesn't offer a course through Clearing.


Think there's a myth we've missed? Add it below..... 

 

More on TSR: 
How to make yourself irresistible to universities in Clearing 
How to change university through adjustment 
Guide to A-level results day
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