Detailed explanation of the UCAS application process

Especially useful for you Bulgarian students applying to the UK

I already shared my experience with personal statements. It had a great response and I have been getting some questions about applying though UCAS. Naturally, I figured I’d share my experience and prove that you can easily apply on your own.

I will assume that you already know which university and course you want to apply to. If you are still wondering here are a few links to help you with that:

  1. Guardian league table 2018
  2. What uni
  3. 5 steps to choosing a university
  4. UCAS undergraduate: what to study?
  5. Choosing a degree

And of course, don’t forget that there are plenty of seminars, lectures, exhibitions, etc held during the school year. You can visit some and see whether they help you make a decision.

Please keep in mind that all dates are for 2017 applications, so for 2018 — all dates +1. Now let’s get down to business.

Step 1: Personal details

Very basic, right? Should I say that your names have to be written in the same way they appear on your ID card and passport? No? Great! Then you’ve got step number 1 figured out. In case you are having trouble with the extra details you have to fill out, here’s something to help you out

A screenshot from (my application) UCAS Track

Step 2: Choices

This is very basic. Very easy to work out, so I won’t go into detail. You basically select your choices from a list.

A choice is the specific course and university. You can select multiple course varieties at one university (e.g. one choice can be English and Creative writing at a given uni and the second choice can be pure English at the same institution). Of course, it is also recommended that you stick to one area. In other words, don’t select a Biology course as one choice and then Filmmaking as another. These contemplations should be sorted out prior to your application.

Don’t forget that you have only one personal statement, which is sent to all of the universities you’re applying to so do not mention any names. Keep your preferences private.

Step 3: Education

You don’t have to write your full education history. Your secondary education (high school) is enough.

Easy right?! Here comes the tricky part: grades. I will explain the process Bulgarian students have to go through.

Select Bulgaria-Diploma za sredno obrazovanie from the qualification list. The date taken should be: June 2017 (since that is when you receive your diploma). In order to fill out your grades you will have to get an academic reference (академична справка) from your school. This reference contains all your grades from 9th to 11th grade.

As for module details: in Date write the year, when you last studied it.

Example: I studied Information Technologies until 10th grade, so I set the date to 01/06/2015. I studied English 9th, 10th and 11th grade, so I set the date for 01/06/16.

In Grade you have to calculate your average grade.

Example: I studied History and Civilisation 9th, 10th and 11th grade. In 9th I have a 5, in 10th I have a 6 and in 11th I have a 5. The average is 5.33, so I write that in the Grade section.

Here’s what my completed qualification looked like:

Date: 01/06/16 Title: Bulgarian Language and Literature Grade: Excellent
Date: 01/06/16 Title: English Language Grade: Excellent
Date: 01/06/16 Title: Russian Language Grade: Excellent
Date: 01/06/16 Title: Mathematics Grade: Excellent
Date: 01/06/15 Title: Informatics Grade: Excellent 6
Date: 01/06/15 Title: Information Technologies Grade: Excellent 6
Date: 01/06/16 Title: History and Civilisation Grade: Very good 5.33
Date: 01/06/16 Title: Geography and Economics Grade: Excellent 6
Date: 01/06/14 Title: Psychology and Logics Grade: Excellent 6
Date: 01/06/15 Title: Ethics and Law Grade: Excellent 6
Date: 01/06/16 Title: Philosophy Grade: Excellent 6
Date: 01/06/16 Title: Biology and Health Education Grade: Excellent 5.66
Date: 01/06/16 Title: Physics and Astronomy Grade: Very good 4.66
Date: 01/06/16 Title: Chemistry and Environmental Studies Grade: Very Good 5
Date: 01/06/14 Title: Music Grade: Excellent 6
Date: 01/06/14 Title: Fine Arts Grade: Excellent 6
Date: 01/06/16 Title: Physical Education Grade: Excellent 6
Date: 01/06/16 Title: Compuls. Elective — Chemistry and Environ. Studies Grade: Excellent 5
Date: 01/06/16 Title: Compluls. Elective — Biology and Health Education Grade: Excellent 5.50
Date: 01/06/16 Title: Compuls. Elective — English Language Grade: Excellent 6
Date: 01/06/14 Title: Comp Elective — Chemistry and Environ. Studies Grade: Very Good 5
Date: 01/06/14 Title: Comp. Elective — Biology and Health Education Grade: Excellent 6
Date: 01/06/15 Title: Free Elective — Chemistry and Environ. Studies Grade: Excellent 6
Date: 01/06/16 Title: Free Elective — Bulgarian Language and Literature Grade: Excellent 6

Step 4: Employment

This step is not mandatory, but if you feel you have some work experience relevant to your course, do add it. These are my employment details straight from UCAS track:

I decided to add them, because I had mentioned GLOW Association in my personal statement and because I found it relevant to my university life (and my contributions to the community), rather than my course. Universities are often interested in such details.

Step 5: Personal statement

You can read all about writing a personal statement in my article for Student Voices here.

Step 6: Referee details

In this step I will explain what a referee does and what you have to do if you are applying independently.

There is no one way of approaching this part of the application, so I’m going to explain how I did it. It was quite simple. You enter the details of your referee (the referee is the person who is writing your recommendation). The details are name, occupation (e.g. English teacher), organisation (name of school or other organisation they work for), address, telephone number and email. It is essential that the details are correct so double check, triple check, etc.

Firstly, make sure your referee is aware of what you are asking of them. Here’s an explanation from the UCAS website and a more detailed guide on writing a UCAS undergraduate reference.

When you don’t apply through a school or collage (as was the case with me), your referee receives an explanatory email about the process from UCAS once you’ve requested a reference in the respective section of your application.

Assuming you are happy with all parts of your application, you’ve reviewed all your details (erm) a few times, check all sections as complete (if you haven’t already) and save (always save). Then you pay and send your application.

After you’ve done so, your referee is left to attach their reference to your application and send it through to UCAS, which on their part send it to your chosen universities.

I sat down with my referee to make sure they did everything correctly, because applying through UCAS was something foreign to both of us. She pasted her reference in the provided field. Wrote down the predicted grade for my diploma (which I had provided her with, because I knew my grades from the past years and I had an idea of the ones I’d receive in 12th grade as well). And that was basically it. There is plenty of information on the subject, so read on if you need more details.

Step 7: Breathe

You have now completed your UCAS application! Congratulations! Now chill out and wait for your letters.

Like what you read? Give Gery Galabova a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.