From GCSE grade point averages to the way they hand out interviews, all universities have their own ways of selecting their future applicants for competitive courses. The main thing most high schools and colleges fail to tell students is the correct way to tactfully create an application that will ensure the most amount of offers possible. Below I will be highlighting the misconceptions and realities of ensuring an offer to your desired course.

Firstly, GCSE’s. Many join sixth form/college and assume that the results they obtained in the past will be no use to them and all is up to the grades they achieve after – however this is not the case. Even though courses vary on the grade point averages they need and the number of A* level GCSE’s they want, the one similarity for most competitive courses is that want a Grade 6 or equivalent in English Language and Maths. This requirement is often overlooked by students however a failure in this requirement would result in an immediate rejection. Of course, resits and other processes can right this but if you lie in this category try and see what you can do before it is too close to the time you need to submit your application. Additionally, most competitive universities do use GCSEs to choose between applicants with very similar scores so also keep this in mind.

Lakavi Suthan, a year 13 student, a medical applicant who originally did not meet the English Language requirement said, ‘No matter what the course is it is always useful to exceed the minimum requirement as you never know what university you will desire to do in the future that may require a higher grade than the one you obtained.’

Secondly, Work Experience. Most potential applicants this year have been in a frenzy during the COVID pandemic frantically looking for in person, subject specific work experience thinking that this is what competitive universities look for. However, this is far from the truth! Universities request for applicants to have work experience not for the in-person experience but actually the skills obtained from reflection, evaluation and to see if the applicants fully understand the qualities and skills needed to work in their desired sector. So, by completing an online course, attending webinars and reading subject specific books these skills can be shown and be just as worthy for universities.

Finally, university selection. Schools tell their students to just apply to the universities they desire if they have met the university’s minimum desired predicted grades. However, applicants must analyse their own strengths and weaknesses and apply tactfully. If your personal statement is strong, apply to universities that prioritise personal statements. Additionally, if your desired course requires an admissions test like the UCAT, BMAT, LAT, MAT, PAT etc, see their minimum requirements and aim to achieve higher than these to ensure interviews.

To leave you all with one final thought, Universities are not tough critics looking to eliminate applicants – they are looking to select the best suited candidates for the course. So, if you have a genuine passion and make sure you exceed all the requirements they have set, there is nothing stopping you from your dream. Best of luck to you all!

Written by Priyadarsine Suthan, Woodford County High School