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Gaining Entrance to a UK University

posted on Monday 21st October

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Entering a UK university

Before entering a UK university, students whose native language is not English may be required to prove their proficiency in the language – the most common way to do this is with an internationally-recognised exam such as IELTS.

Proving Proficiency 

The IELTS test is split into four sections: reading, writing, speaking and listening, and is scored on a scale of 1-9. There is no pass/fail mark – each institution sets its own required score for entry.

These requirements vary by course, course level and institution, but usually an overall score of 5.5 is required to enter a higher education foundation year, at least 6.0 to enter an undergraduate programme, and at least 6.5 for postgraduate study. Some prestigious universities however, such as the University of Oxford, have more stringent requirements and will require a 7.0 in all areas of the test for undergraduate study, and courses such as medicine can require a score as high as 7.5.

The Application Process

Undergraduate programmes in the UK can be applied for through UCAS, which is an online, centralised admissions body for all universities. After researching course and university choices, ensuring that academic and language requirements are met, applicants must upload their qualifications and a personal statement to UCAS. The application can then be sent to up to five universities. The application deadline for most courses is January 15th of the year the course begins.

Postgraduate admissions are more flexible, and whilst students can still apply through the UCAS process, it is also possible to apply directly to universities. Postgraduate courses also consider things such as work experience when it comes to selecting students, in addition to academic qualifications. The deadline is later, with applications being required by June/July before the course begins, although it is recommended that students apply by March, to give enough time to organise any necessary visas, accommodation and paperwork. 

Candidates should consider the timing of their application carefully, and set realistic goals about the length of time that they will need to achieve their required score. On a full-time, intensive IELTS preparation programme students could expect to increase by a band score of 1 per month, however this depends on a myriad of factors, and students who can only study on a part-time basis should allow for significantly more time to increase their band score. Students should also keep in mind that IELTS scores are valid for two years, so even if they have a pre-existing IELTS score they may need to take the test again to be accepted.

IELTS at Eckersley School of English

Eckersley School of English offers a full-time, intensive IELTS Exam Preparation course, which alongside work on the core skills of reading, writing, listening and speaking, ensures that students are familiarised with the exam format and are equipped with the techniques to answer each style of question. The small class sizes ensure that each student receives individual attention, and tutors set goals and provide constant feedback for students, allowing them to achieve to the maximum of their potential.