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Mistakes to avoid when applying to UK universities

The process of applying to university is one of the most important steps on the journey to higher education. It's not as simple as just getting the grades that you need and typing out your personal details. There's a lot of preparation that goes into an application.

University admissions departments are often very particular in what they are looking for in an application. Therefore, it's important to know what you should avoid when completing your applications, in order to maximise your chance of being accepted. 

In this article we will explore some of the mistakes that are made when applying to UK universities, how to avoid them and how to prepare for applying for university.


Common pitfalls when applying to UK universities

Your university application is one of the most important steps towards making your dream of studying in the UK a reality. Any mistakes could mean missing out on the course at the university you’ve set your sights on. These are some of the most common mistakes that are made:

  • Not considering all the costs - Some students only think about their tuition fees when budgeting for their studies, and forget about things like travel, accommodation, food and everything else that comes with living abroad.

  • Taking your visa for granted - Leaving visa applications till the last minute is a common mistake, but the UK requires visas from most countries to be able to study, so this needs to be remembered.

  • Not checking if you can work while studying - Not all visas allow you to work in the UK. Some may have conditions, so don’t take it for granted that you will be able to work.

  • Missing application deadlines - Leaving applications till the last minute is common, and with some deadlines, once they pass, you will have missed your chance.

  • Applying without being sure you want to study in the UK - Being unsure about where you want to study is not unusual, but is another big mistake.

  • Leaving your personal statement till the last minute - Being a big part of the application process, you’d think people would be proactive in writing their personal statements, but all too often this is left until the last minute. 

  • Relying on grades alone - Thinking that grades are the only thing required to get you into university is common, but this couldn’t be further from the truth, and an application is much more than exam results alone. 


  • Application details - While it sounds obvious and simple, entering incorrect details on an application is extremely common, and can be very difficult to resolve. 

Applying to UK universities: Avoiding mistakes

Competition is fierce for UK university places, especially for leading institutions and so, in order to increase your chances of getting accepted into the university of your choice, avoiding those common mistakes is important. Here are some tips to help you do so: 


Make sure you do your research. This includes researching every cost you might incur when choosing to study in the UK, from flights to food, and making sure you have the finance in place to cover it. Research potential scholarships that could fund your studies.

Research the course requirements for the courses you intend to apply for. This can help you in completing your application and preparing you for your studies.

Do some reading on the UK as a country - including what to expect, checking government websites regarding visa requirements, and any restrictions that might come with them; this is vital. Research the universities individually, their rankings but also their course rankings too. 

Ask for help

There are lots of places you can turn to for help. Family and friends aside, there are academic counsellors, embassies and consulates, international affairs offices, and the universities themselves. Everyone is there to help, and you should always ask for advice when needed.

Attending open days and admission talks

This is a good way to get a feel for the places you’re considering studying before you apply, while also understanding what admissions departments expect from your application. Many institutions host admission talks, so do some research and find one for the universities you want to apply to.

Super-curricular activities

Don’t just rely on exam results and extracurricular activities. It's important to show that you’re passionate about your chosen subject. A great way to do this is through super-curricular activities. These are activities that are above and beyond your school curriculum, but are still within the context of your chosen subject. 

Applying to UK universities: Train hard, fight easy

It is never too early to start thinking about applying to a UK university. If you want to study at the top universities in the UK, or study one of the more competitive subjects, then you are required to get your application in much earlier than most. It’s never been more important to be prepared early.

There are a number of simple things you can do to get ahead and enhance your application, including: 

  1. Familiarise yourself with the university application 

Make sure you are clear on what information you need to include in your application and how you can go about putting it together. 

Speak with teachers or tutors who will be able to tell you how to put your application together, which will make it much easier when the time comes to complete it. 

Also - put key dates from the application timeline in your calendar now. This way you won’t be rushing to finish your application on deadline day.

  1. Further Reading

Doing some extra reading into your subject of choice, especially outside of what you’ve already learnt, demonstrates that you are really interested in it and enables you to write more confidently in your personal statement. 

  1. Work experience

Getting some work experience, or even volunteering, within your chosen field shows a proactive attitude towards your subject.

  1. Choosing a specialist course provider to strengthen your application

Choosing a specialist course provider can help your application in many ways. If you want to study in the UK, then understanding UK universities and what they require before applying could be incredibly important. 

Finding a pre-university preparation course that is specific to your subject could be key to enhancing your application and your chances of being accepted into a top UK university.

Maybe you’re looking for an independent research project to boost your application, but don’t know where to start. Some specialist pre-university course providers have research project programs to help facilitate this for you, giving you the opportunity to add something that will lift your application.

If you’d like more information on the courses that Cambridge International Academy provides, please get in touch today.


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