Developing The UniAdmissions Portal

For over a decade, UniAdmissions has worked to innovate preparation support for Oxbridge admissions support. Starting from preparation materials for admissions tests, we evolved into the world's first Oxbridge Preparatory School, offering structured programmes that feature a wide variety of components to get students into Oxbridge. Now, we have launched the newest innovation in Oxbridge admissions preparation; the UniAdmissions Portal.

Author: Matthew Amalfitano-Stroud

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For over a decade, UniAdmissions has offered industry-leading support for Oxbridge, Medicine and Law applicants, achieving a 60% success rate amongst our students. In 2024, we created the next milestone in application support; the UniAdmissions Portal.

The UniAdmissions Portal is the heart of any UniAdmissions Programme, housing each core element of your support. First launched in January 2024, the Portal went through an intensive development process (something you can learn more about in the UniAdmissions Portal Story) but was very quickly adopted by our students. 

The 10+ year journey to reach the launch of the UniAdmissions Portal was filled with experimentation and many lessons learnt; it’s a journey that we want to share with you before you try the Portal out for yourself. 

The Early Days of UniAdmissions

When UniAdmissions was first founded in 2013 by Cambridge Medicine graduates Dr Rohan Agarwal and Dr David Salt, our preparation was not delivered through a dedicated platform or even a planned curriculum. Both doctors found they had a penchant for delivering tuition and creating practice resources for the University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT), so this formed the foundation of the newly created UniAdmissions.

The following year, as word began to spread of their effective tutoring techniques, demand would begin to skyrocket. This led to the first of many innovations within their support; live courses for admissions tests and interview preparation. Having drawn in over 100 students, it was clear that the scale of delivery needed to increase in order to support as many applicants as possible. 

Several years, 100+ published books and over 300 additional tutors later, UniAdmissions was now able to support applicants for over 30 subjects using a wide variety of methods and materials. 

However, despite having all of these support options available, delivering this support still wasn’t very efficient, with a variety of programmes and physical materials being required by students. What we needed next was a singular hub to deliver everything we were offering…

The Old UniAdmissions Portal

In 2021, UniAdmissions launched its first online preparation platform, the original Portal (originally dubbed Cordis). Due to multiple factors, the UniAdmissions team made the decision to deliver support exclusively through remote means. This decision immediately opened up our newly established UniAdmissions Programmes to far more applicants, both in the UK and across the world! 

However, it also meant that we would need to get organised and offer our students an all-in-one platform to access their programme’s components. After a long planning and development process, the first UniAdmissions Portal was launched. 

"We developed our portal as it was critical that everything to do with the Oxbridge admissions process was located in a central hub instead of many Dropbox folders or lots of websites like other providers. It took many years to develop and test but this gave our students a huge competitive edge."
Dr Rohan Agarwal
Dr. Rohan Agarwal
Headmaster - UniAdmissions
"We had developed the existing Portal, which allowed us to amalgamate all the resources we had developed for Oxbridge application support and self-study, into one digital platform that could be tailored to each student. In conjunction, we also started to develop our Programmes, which focussed on blended learning (self-led, tutor and group-led) and a curriculum was created that combined all these together, to help enhance a student's preparation depending across the year and make it more manageable."
Barbara
Barbara Lestak
Director of Studies - UniAdmissions

The platform allowed users to access their UniAdmissions materials in one place, including admissions test question banks, a library of UniAdmissions published books, the UniAdmissions Academy courses and more.

They were also able to watch a selection of recordings from previous intensive courses and enrichment seminars, including recent ones that they were unable to attend live. Plus, they could submit essays and Personal Statements to be reviewed and redrafted by expert tutors.

While this Portal offered many useful materials and features, there were a few clear mistakes we made during our first attempt at an “all-in-one” preparation platform: 

We were missing some key features, including the integration of our tutoring and course delivery.

Monitoring and tracking weren’t built to a high standard and didn’t give students and parents full visibility of their progress.
The visual design of the platform didn’t reflect the quality and innovation that UniAdmissions has spent a decade maintaining.

While most of our students still got plenty of value from the Portal throughout their programmes, we also received a lot of helpful feedback for areas of improvement. It was clear that the Portal was limited in terms of features and outdated in its appearance; it didn’t properly demonstrate the sheer quality of the support we provide. 

"As competition stiffened, students had to do more and more in order to stand out. For years, we've had a rigorous, tried and tested curriculum that delivers results. However, we wanted something that would make it easier for students to follow across all subjects. Hence, we've now launched our new portal which is powered by our world-class curriculum."
Dr Rohan Agarwal
Dr. Rohan Agarwal
Headmaster - UniAdmissions
"We wanted to take the Portal to the next level, and combine the Curriculum into the platform. It was important that the blended learning continued, with an emphasis on the importance of utilising all the resources at hand. In addition, we wanted to add new features to the admissions test elements and make it easier to join live sessions."
Barbara
Barbara Lestak
Director of Studies - UniAdmissions

So, we got back to work to make a new Portal that addressed everything that didn’t work and gave our students the preparation experience they deserved – the world’s first dedicated, truly all-in-one platform for Oxbridge preparation…

Secure your place at Oxbridge with support from UniAdmissions

At UniAdmissions, we are specialists in supporting Oxbridge applicants for all subjects. Our expertly crafted curriculum and innovative Portal have been developed to cater to each of our student’s needs individually, meaning you will always receive the best support for your application. 

Discover our Oxbridge Programme by clicking the button below to enrol and triple your chances of success.

Building the New UniAdmissions Portal

The process for developing the “new and improved” UniAdmissions Portal was split into 4 major parts, taking us from the earliest stages of the project all the way through to the launch. This is a look at the journey we took to get to where we are today:

Meet the Portal Team

The development of the UniAdmissions Portal was spearheaded by our expert team of creators:

tyler2

Tyler Walter

Development Manager

Adi Sen

Head of Outreach

Adi

Adi Sen

Head of Outreach

Enrique

Enrique Ocampo

Head of Technology

Stage 1: Planning

Planning for the new UniAdmissions Portal began in early 2023 with the goal of achieving our initial ambition; to create a single platform that would house every component of our Oxbridge Programmes.

The main priority was to find intuitive ways to integrate intensive courses, enrichment seminars and, of course, one-to-one tuition. These components are integral to success in any UniAdmissions programme, so having them as easy to access as possible was essential. 

"When planning the integration of all aspects of the UniAdmissions programme into the Portal, our approach was rooted in the core values of structured and tailored support. Recognising the uniqueness of each of our support pillars, we understood that integration required a thoughtful and distinct process for each. The challenge extended beyond giving each pillar a new interface; we aimed to introduce brand-new functionality that would redefine the educational platform landscape."
tyler2
Tyler Walter
Development Manager

However, this wasn’t the only major change we were looking to implement. As UniAdmissions continued to expand and support more students with their applications, the team came to another realisation. 

Effective Oxbridge application preparation wasn’t just about having the best tutors, the most comprehensive materials or the best-designed courses; it was about offering a structured curriculum that taught students through a step-by-step process.

Inspired by teaching methods in traditional schools, our aim for the Portal was to not only provide the components to our students but also teach them how they can use them to their highest potential throughout the entire length of their application. Thus, the idea for the UniAdmissions Curriculum was born. 

"Planning the Curriculum feature in the Portal was a meticulous process, but it was important to get it right as the curriculum is the centre of every student's programme. Given the importance of this feature, we knew there were no shortcuts to developing and integrating it into the new platform. My approach involved a detailed trial-and-error method. I painstakingly mapped out subject-by-subject items, leveraging the power of Excel to consolidate various variations into a working prototype."
tyler2
Tyler Walter
Development Manager

Beyond these major innovations, we looked into every facet of the old Portal to determine how each component could be elevated in the brand-new Portal. The Portal needed to be attractive, user-friendly and ready to address any problem a student may face during their application. As more and more features were added and issues resolved, we were getting closer and closer to the ideal UniAdmissions Portal.

Stage 2: Wireframing

With all of the required features decided, it was time to bring the Portal to life. As mentioned, the visual design was going to play a key part in the creation of this new platform. As with most things in life, first impressions are key so we needed to design a Portal that reflected the quality of the support we offer. 

"The old Portal did the job, but we always envisioned the Portal as an industry-defining platform - which it didn't look like right now. The existing design didn't have the wow factor and didn't accurately reflect the quality of the Programmes we offered, so we began a major redesign."
Adi
Adi Sen
Head of Outreach

The wireframing stage of development took multiple steps, starting with very rough hand drawings and abstract layout designs. These basic designs ensured that each page of the Portal was practical and easy to use, so Adi worked through many variations until the layout was just right. 

"We wanted to build in tons of new functionality, but we needed to do this in a way that would still be easily understood by our students. This meant a lot of trial and error, and getting feedback from the team on what they thought about the new designs."
Adi
Adi Sen
Head of Outreach

Once the basic layout was confirmed, it was time to envision how the Portal would look in its final form. After many hours spent reviewing high-quality digital platforms and considering UniAdmission’s own image, the UniAdmissions technical team spent several weeks working from the various concepts and designs created to create the most in-depth, realistic wireframe yet.

"A designer from the technical team took it upon themselves to design a page themselves - using the core elements we had painstakingly settled on. It was an instant hit with the entire team, and we shifted towards using that as our final design layout."
Adi
Adi Sen
Head of Outreach

While a few alterations were made during the rest of the development process, this final wireframe served as an essential foundation for the next phase of the project…

Stage 3: Development

With the visuals and layout confirmed, the time came to implement all of the work done into a fully functional digital platform. Working with a specialised development team and being led by Enrique, the process of building each page of the Portal was underway.

""
Enrique
Enrique Ocampo
Head of Technology

The team were able to use multiple elements of the original Portal as a foundation during the development process. Features such as the Academy, Question Banks and Submissions were functionally similar to their previous iterations, although with additional features and quality improvements implemented throughout. 

The real challenge came from implementing the vast array of brand-new features that had been planned. Everything from the Live Course connectivity to the Library reading features needed to be developed from scratch as these actions were not possible in the original Portal. 

The most complicated of these new features was the implementation of the curriculum and associated tracking displays. The ability to automatically monitor a student’s progress through every component of their programme in real-time, combined with the milestone checklist functionality included within the Curriculum page, was something that our team had never attempted previously, so the learning curve was very steep. 

""
Enrique
Enrique Ocampo
Head of Technology

However, over the span of five months, they were able to implement all of the major features outlined within the initial plan. With all of this required functionality built, the time came to test everything that had been made.

Stage 4: Testing

With any technical project, the testing phase is typically the most long-winded and least glamorous part. However, it’s crucial to ensure that every feature of the Portal works as intended so that no students hit a roadblock during their preparation with us. 

""
Enrique
Enrique Ocampo
Head of Technology

Beyond just testing the basic functionality of the Portal, the process also involved attempting a wide variety of unusual actions within the platform that could potentially cause major problems. Though these strange behaviours would be uncommon to encounter, there is always a risk that an accidental click could negatively impact a user’s experience. 

""
Enrique
Enrique Ocampo
Head of Technology

After many hours of testing and over 50 bug fixes, the Portal was fully tested, fully functional and ready to launch…

Launching The UniAdmissions Portal

In January 2024, the brand new UniAdmissions Portal was revealed and made available to all of our students. Soon after, our cohort began utilising every aspect of their Portals, making the most of every feature that we have developed. There are so many different features to discuss, so you can learn more about how the platform works in our UniAdmissions Portal Deep-Dive.

While we were certain that everything was running smoothly and all the new features were intuitive to use, we had to wait until the word came back from the students themselves. Thankfully, the response was overwhelmingly positive!

As well as the students, our team were also keen to get their hands on the finished product. We were equally as enthusiastic about all of the improvements made:

"Being involved in the entire journey of conceptualising, creating, and now spearheading the launch of the Portal, I am filled with a strong sense of pride and accomplishment. The Portal stands as a groundbreaking piece of software, marking a significant milestone in the industry. It is the first of its kind, setting new standards and paving the way for innovative advancements."
tyler2
Tyler Walter
Development Manager
"I’m incredibly excited about the significant impact our brand-new Portal is going to have for each of our students, parents and schools in the future. It's a huge leap forward for us, and has taken a massive effort to get here. I'm completely confident that it's going to be a game-changer."
Adi
Adi Sen
Head of Outreach
""
Enrique
Enrique Ocampo
Head of Technology
"The Portal gives students the opportunity to follow the Curriculum month by month and plan their studies comprehensively. This, along with all the other innovations that the Portal, allows us to deliver the best possible support for each of our students."
Barbara
Barbara Lestak
Director of Studies
"We’re looking forward to continuing to improve our Oxbridge admissions rates with the launch of the new portal, which will give more ownership to students and better visibility for tutors, school teachers and parents alike."
Dr Rohan Agarwal
Dr. Rohan Agarwal
Headmaster - UniAdmissions

The UniAdmissions Portal is now a core element of any UniAdmissions Programme, a tool that’s used by every single one of our students. While our team is extremely proud of the work we put in, we also recognise that there’s a even more that can be done to make the Portal even more effective: 

"We still want to do a lot more with the Portal, so we’re still discovering options for implementing even more innovative features!"
Barbara
Barbara Lestak
Director of Studies
"The continuous evolution of the Portal is a testament to our commitment to staying at the forefront of technological and educational advancements. Watch this space for the next chapter in our journey of redefining the educational journey."
tyler2
Tyler Walter
Development Manager

So while our Portal’s journey is far from finished, we are still excited for even more students to begin discovering their potential and building their applications with the power of the UniAdmissions Portal. To learn more about how you can enrol on a UniAdmissions Programme and begin using the Portal for yourself, all you need to do is book a free consultation with one of our friendly admissions consultants. We hope to speak with you soon and see you on the Portal!

Work with the worlds first dedicated Oxbridge Admissions Preparation Platform, exclusively at UniAdmissions

Our world-class UniAdmissions Portal is only available to students who enrol on our Programmes. Through the Portal, you will have access to everything you need to achieve Oxbridge success in an inspiring and easy-to–use environment. easy-to-use

Discover our Oxbridge Programme by clicking the button below to enrol and triple your chances of success.

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UniAdmissions students placed at Oxford And Cambridge

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UniAdmissions students placed
at Oxford And Cambridge
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