Getting to university – interview and admissions advice

Securing your place at university is a challenge. Once you’ve got the grades, then there are application forms and even interviews to get through before you can celebrate. So here’s some advice to help guide you through this academic minefield.

Personal Statement

The personal statement is possibly one of the most important parts to your application – no pressure here then – so if you think it’s never read then think again. This is your chance to put into words why you ought to be at that university.

Tell the reader what drives you to study this subject. Perhaps there’s a specific field that interests you? And what skills or experience have you had that the course could build on? And for essay tips on structure, then check out tools and advice available online.


References are an important part of any application. For those going with your UCAS form, it’s important whoever is writing yours knows you. If it’s a teacher who has no idea who you are then be proactive and schedule in some time to talk about your university application. In particular, explain to them about why you want to study that subject.

Now, depending on your course, it could be that the application process includes that other stress-inducing obstacle: the interview. So if this is you, then here are some tips for this stage of the process.


Don’t just turn up and think that’s enough. If you’ve been asked along for an interview, it doesn’t mean your place at the university is secure. You’re going to have to impress the interviewer and stand out from all the other applicants they’re seeing that day. Part of this comes down to decent preparation.

UCAS and Prospectus

Go through your UCAS form and remind yourself of what you included, specifically what you noted in your personal statement. Reread the prospectus and familiarise yourself with the university as some take pride in a specific element or area of academic work.


Has the university been in the press recently? Check to see if there has been any research or even activities on campus that have been reported. This question could be thrown at you and if you know what the interview is talking about it shows that your interest is high.

And while you’re at it, read up what’s in the news. What’s topical? It doesn’t necessarily have to be student or university related but it will show that you’re an informed citizen.


Consider the questions that could come up, and write your answers. There’s no way to knowing exactly what you’ll be asked but you still prepare. It could be that you’ll be asked why you chose to study a certain subject.  And is there a specific point you want to make? Perhaps you have experience in the field you wish to highlight?

It’s About You

The interview is a chance to get a sense of you so there’s every chance that you will be asked beyond your academic achievements. This could be as seemingly conversational as talking about the last book that you read, or it could be much more intense like giving your opinion of the work the university does. Whatever is thrown at you, it’s important not to panic. Take a breath and consider the question before answering. Hold eye contact and remember to smile and be enthusiastic. Universities are looking for people who are interested in their chosen subject and aren’t just there because they feel they have to be.

Now, it could be that you don’t know the answer. Don’t panic. You’re not expected to know everything on a subject. Try asking the interviewer to explain what they mean might help. Or just be honest and say you don’t know.

And finally, it’s worth preparing a few questions to ask your interviewer. Asking questions shows that you’re keen and interested.

Sarah MacLennan freelances for a variety of different websites and frequently writes for Since it was set up in 2003, it has helped students from all over the globe with essay writing, offering expert guidance and useful tools.


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