UK universities publish minimum entry requirements for their courses – a lovely degree of transparency especially when compared to US colleges and universities that carefully avoid defining minimums. The entry requirements listed for each course in UCAS scratch the surface so be sure to check for more details in at least these places on every university website:
- Start by reading everything for the university’s general entry requirements listed for your secondary school qualification on the undergraduate admissions web pages.
- Then go to the prospectus for your course on the university’s website and read what it says in detail.
But if your predicted marks meet the minimum requirements, does that mean you can expect an offer? If only it were so simple! Here are six things you should understand about entry requirements:
- Universities value final results over predictions because teachers tend to over-predict. Some will ask for IGCSE results in addition to predicted marks in your current classes.
- Many courses require that you study specific subjects in your IB diploma or A-levels. For example, an Economics course might require Mathematics HL and a Physics course might require both Maths and Physics at HL. If you have not studied those subjects at the required level, keep looking because the university assumes you do not have the academic preparation necessary to succeed in their course. Preferred subjects are those that strengthen your application but do not exclude you from consideration.
- The more competitive a course, the less likely it is for you to receive an offer when you just meet the minimums. Competitive courses receive many more applications that meet or exceed their minimum requirements than they can enroll. For example, the stated IB minimum for the Law (M100) course at King’s College London (KCL) was 35 points in the 2012/2013 admissions cycle, but the 34 IB candidates who received offers had an average IB score of 40.
- Sometimes the course prospectus describes the types of students the course is looking for, so take notes and reflect your relevant experience in your personal statement. The entry requirements page of the Law course at KCL lists an extensive description of non-academic requirements, ranging from enthusiasm for debate to involvement in the community. There is also a strong hint that “Applicants outside of the UK should indicate why they particularly wish to study English law.”
- Look for testing requirements for your course or for demonstrating English language proficiency. Register early for any extra exams you’ll be required to sit because test centers might fill up rapidly.
For more information on this subject, check out the real story behind entry requirements.
Finally, if you or your child are not applying to university this fall, reading entry requirements is a good starting point for deciding which subjects to study in high school, what marks to target in required subjects, and what supercurricular activities specific courses value. If the subjects and activities do not appeal to the student, that says you are too early in the exploration and research process to settle on a specific subject to study in university.