Your Guide to Understanding University Applications – OurWarwick
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Your Guide to Understanding University Applications

It’s come to that time of year when you have to select a ‘Firm’ and an ‘Insurance’ university. Or are you considering doing a gap year? Perhaps you’ve already deferred your offer until next academic year. Whatever you’re doing, here’s a quick guide to understanding what some of the key words related to uni applications really mean.

Firstly, it is important to mention that I’m basing this post on the terms used on UCAS. If you have applied through any other system, the words used may not be the same so don’t worry if I mention something you haven’t heard of!

So, what does ‘firm’ and ‘insurance’ choices really mean and what’s the difference between them? In many cases, the offers universities give out are conditional, meaning you need to meet certain grade requirements. Your firm choice is the offer you accept as your first choice, whereas your insurance choice is your second choice and is there just in case you miss the conditions of your firm offer. In the case that you don’t meet the grade requirements for both of these offers, don’t worry! There is always the option to go through clearing where many universities allow you to apply for courses that still have vacancies. You can also go through clearing if you didn’t receive offers or declined your offers. If you didn’t receive any offers, you may also want to consider UCAS Extra, where you can apply for alternative places if you don’t hold an offer from your first five choices. Also, if you do better than predicted, you can go through adjustment where you may be able to get on a course with higher entry requirements. 

With some university courses, you may be asked to attend an interview. This is when the university will assess whether you would be suitable for the course. You can find out whether you are likely to be interviewed on the entry requirements pages of the university websites.

Many students also decide to take gap years because they want to have a year’s break travelling or working. This is a common option for people who miss their grades or defer their entry by a year. Also, you might hear the term ‘sandwich year’ when applying which basically means your course will have an additional year where you work in the profession you’re studying for. 

There are a few key words you will probably hear a lot on your UCAS journey but if you have any other questions, feel free to message me or leave a comment below! 

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