What Happens After You Submit Your UCAS Application?

You’ve submitted your UCAS application – so what is next? In this article, we’ll go through the steps to be aware of once your application has been sent off.

Author: Zayra Morales

You are here:

Table of Contents

You’ve submitted your UCAS application, so what happens next?

You should be aware of what UCAS is and what you need to do to submit a UCAS application. But what happens afterwards? In this article, we will focus on the last 3 stages, which occur after you submit your UCAS application.

UCAS and it's steps

Hopefully, you are already aware of UCAS, but if not, UCAS (or Universities and College Admissions Service) is the official body and system through which applications to higher education are facilitated. It is a multi-stage process, which has been listed below:

1. Searching for courses and providersUsing UCAS Progress, you can look through the available courses and opportunities available. This should be alongside campus/university visits!
2. Saving courses to your favourites pageWith your favourite courses, it is possible to save them to make coming back to them an easy process in the future. There is no limit to the number of saved courses.
3. Completing your profileThis step can be completed at any time. This is very important and needs to be completed before any application. This will include personal info, qualifications, work history, the infamous Personal Statement as well as your contact details.
4. Submit UCAS applicationWhen you are ready to apply to your saved courses, head over to the applications tab on UCAS. This will place your application into the ‘Not sent’ category until you click ‘Submit application’.
5. Course preferencingThis must be completed before submitting your application. After clicking ‘Start a new application’ and having chosen your courses, you are now asked to change the order of the chosen courses and ‘Confirm course preference order’.
6. Application in progressApplication has been submitted!
7. Offer referencingThis allows you to order your applications in order of preference (1st to 5th choice).
8. Receiving offers & making choicesInstitutions will now confirm whether they will give you a conditional or unconditional offer. Alternatively, they may mark your application as unsuccessful, or ask you to submit changes to your application or specific course choices before extending an offer.

Application In Progress

After you’ve toiled away for an extended period of time going to university open days and perfecting your Personal Statement, you’ve filled in the forms and have finally done all you can do to submit the UCAS application.

After this, it is a bit of a waiting game. Some universities wait until after the application deadline to review candidates, but many others instead review on a rolling basis. This means that applications will be viewed as they come in with decisions concerning places being made throughout the year.

If you have applied early (as part of a Medicine and/or Oxbridge application) this means it is more likely that you’ll be hearing back from universities sooner rather than later. Some institutions even hand out offers as early as a month after!

Some will inevitably be tardier and may reply many months after this date. Many courses for Oxford and Cambridge will also require candidates to go to Interviews, and you’ll normally hear whether you have been invited in the first week of December.

Waiting for Offers

At this stage, it is important to keep an eye on your e-mails once you submit a UCAS application. UCAS will inform you if your application status has been updated at which point you must check the website to see for further details. Many universities also feature their own UCAS application portal, which you may need to register for. This will also send you updates on your application status.

Prior to giving offers out, many of the UK’s top courses and universities will require an interview or visit day. Depending on what the course is, this will vary in selectivity. Whilst Cambridge commits to interviewing 90% of all candidates, Oxford, instead interviews only three times as many candidates as they have places. This means that your chances if accepted to interview at Oxford, are probably higher than at Cambridge.

Offers can vary even within the same institution. Whilst Imperial College London typically extends offers to 90+% of candidates invited to interviews for Chemistry, the success rate after Interviews for ICL Chemical Engineering is significantly lower. As such it can be seen that Chemistry involves a greater deal of pre-screening than for ChemEng.

Offer Preferencing & Making Choices after you Submit your UCAS Application

Offer preferencing is a relatively unimportant part of the process; this is a non-binding pre-emptive stage to help you choose which are your preferred institutions. In comparison, Stage 8 is the vital and binding one. You can see all of the deadline dates for UCAS in this article, so you can see when you should hear back by.

This is the stage where you must pick your firm and insurance choice (if they are both conditional) or pick your firm choice if this is unconditional. Your universities may then send you a form to fill in which may concern matters such as accommodation.


There we have it – what happens to your university application once submitted to UCAS. We hope this post has given you some clarity on the next steps to take once your application is properly submitted. If you have an Admissions Test or are expected to attend an Interview for your course, then this is the time to make sure that you’re completely prepared!

Submitted your UCAS application? It’s time to focus on your Admissions Tests and Interviews to secure your dream university offer. 

The surefire way to receive your dream university offer is to score highly on the Admissions Test and perform well in the Interviews. We help you achieve a highly competitive Admissions Test score and teach you how to Interview effectively – covering all areas of your Oxford or Cambridge application, from History to Medicine.

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

Book An Expert Application Consultation