Journey to Higher Education

Year 11

Year 11 is a busy year, so it is important to plan ahead and make the most of your time. Here are some points to consider: 

Post GCSE Options

Early in year 11 you will begin to consider what you would like to do once you have finished your GCSEs/equivalent courses. 

What to Study? 

Consider what you would like to study once you have finished your GCSEs and what kind of courses you might like to study, i.e. A-levels, BTECs or an apprenticeship. Some questions to ask yourself are:

  • What do you enjoy studying currently?
  • What are you good at? 
  • Do you have a particular career in mind? Does it require any specific qualifications? 
  • How do you learn best? How do you like your work to be assessed? 

Sixth Form/College Open Events

Further education providers tend to hold their open events during the Autumn Term (usually between October and November). These events give you a chance to look around the facilities each institution has on offer and to speak to current students and staff. It can help to write down any questions you may have beforehand, to ensure you donít forget anything you want to ask.


Check the entry requirements for the course(s) you would like to study and consider whether you are likely to meet these with your current predicted grades. Each institution may have a different application process i.e. some may expect an application through UCAS progress or an online application through their own website, or a paper application form.

You may be required to attend an interview. Check back soon to see our interview advice page.

Exam Time

Throughout year 11 you will be working towards your final GCSE (or equivalent) examinations so here are some things to consider.

Revision Plan - You will need to organise your revision to ensure you are able to cover each topic in enough detail. Consider which subjects you feel need the most work, prioritise these to begin with but ensure you donít miss out your other subjects. 

Wellbeing - Exams can be stressful, however it is important to look after yourself during this time to ensure that you are able to perform to the best of your ability. Ensure you are eating well, getting regular exercise and enough sleep. Remember that if you need someone to talk to there is always ample support available so try talking to friends, family and subject teachers. 

Results -Make sure you know when your school is open to collect your exam results before you leave school for the summer, and if you canít collect your results in person, be sure to make arrangements to have these sent to you. Once you have collected your results you will need to enrol with your chosen sixth form or college, who will send you details of how to do this.

If your results havenít gone the way you expected them to your school staff will be on hand to assist you. Itís a good idea to have a back-up plan of what you want to do if you donít get the results to be accepted onto your first option. This will make results day less stressful and ensure that you still progress to something useful and relevant to you.

Year 12

Settling In

During your first few weeks of your A Level or level 3 studies you may find it takes time to adjust to the new subject content, style of working, and if you have moved to a new place of study making friends and getting used to college or sixth form life. Your education provider will provide a whole host of support to help you settle in, and please remember that everyone is in the same boat so talking to others can really help! 

Extra-Curricular Activities

When applying to higher education it is important to have a well-rounded application, with a balance between your academic studies and outside interests. This is also an ideal time to get involved in some volunteering- as well as helping others you will gain skills that can be transferred to higher education or the workplace.

Year 13

Applying for the Early UCAS Deadline? 

If you're applying for medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine or to an Oxbridge university then your UCAS deadline is 15th October. This means you will need to have your personal statement finalised over the first few weeks of the autumn term to ensure you meet the deadline. Remember that your sixth form or college will likely have an earlier internal deadline to check over applications before submitting them to UCAS. Make the most of any support offered by your sixth form or college!

Autumn Open Days

Higher education providers often hold Open Days in September and October, so be sure to keep updated on when these are, and register to attend with the university to ensure you receive all of the correct pre-event information.

UCAS Deadline

The standard UCAS deadline for all courses (other than the ones mentioned above) is 15th January. This means it is important that your personal statement is in the final stages of its draft before you finish for the Christmas holidays to give you enough time to tweak it ahead of the deadline. Also ensure other elements of your UCAS form are completed in full, and accurately. 




If a university makes you an offer, they will contact you regarding their accommodation application process. If your university is within a commutable distance or you are studying at a college in your area then you may choose not to live at home while you study. If you are planning to move into university accommodation then you may have seen some of the accommodation if you were able to attend open days. If not, check the university websites to see information on their accommodation options. Most universities now have virtual tours on their websites so you can see the accommodation they offer. There are a number of factors you may wish to consider when choosing your preferred accommodation.

Student Finance

Remember to apply for student finance before the deadline, to ensure your payments are made in enough time. Once you have filled out the online form, and your parent(s)/carer(s) have submitted any required information, you will be sent a declaration form in the post. It is important you remember to sign this document and return it to Student Finance England. For more information, see our student finance page. 

Exams and Assessment

Be sure to prepare for your exams in enough time, rather than cramming at the last minute. Weíve all been there, but it really does cause more stress than is necessary! 

Results Day

If you have applied for courses through UCAS, then you can log in to UCAS track from 8am on results day to see an update on your application status. Check in advance what time your sixth form or college will open for you to collect your results. It is useful to carry a pen and paper, your UCAS ID, important numbers and your mobile phone with plenty of charge left so that you can call universities or colleges to discuss your application if necessary. 


If you havenít achieved the results you need for your preferred course, you will have the opportunity to apply for a place through clearing. Not all courses are available through clearing, only those with spaces, so you will need to call the institutions you are interested in to check what they have available. Once you are on the phone to an institution, you will speak to a member of academic staff who will discuss your results and the course requirements with you. 


If you achieve better results than you were expecting and would like to change the provider or course you will study, you may be able to do this through Adjustment. Adjustment lets you secure another place, whilst retaining the offer of a place you already hold. Like clearing, you will need to ring the institution you would like to attend to check if they have places available.