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Will submitting an early Ucas application stand in your favour?

It might seem logical that applying early gives you a better chance of getting an offer. But things are a bit more complicated than that...

Once your Ucas application is in, you're then playing a waiting game on the offers you will (hopefully) receive. How quickly these offers arrive depends largely on the course and universities you're applying for. 

How universities make offers

1. Immediate offers

You can submit your Ucas application from early September, and some universities will start making offers as soon as they receive applications – meaning you could hear back very quickly.

2. Wait and see

Other universities, meanwhile, won’t start making offers until after all applications are in, so offers will be sent out after the main application deadline – which is 31 January 2024 for 2024 university entry. 

Should you submit your application sooner?

All applications that are received before January's main application deadline will be given 'equal consideration'. This means that it doesn't matter whether you applied at the start of September or right on the 31 January deadline day; your application will have an equal chance of success. 

It might help you to get your Ucas application submitted before January, since it gives you one less thing to think about while you're working through your course. But it won't have any impact on whether you get an offer (or not).

Before you send your application off, it's important to be sure that you've found the right course and have a strong personal statement.

Take a look at this video from our sister site The Student Room for expert tips on writing a personal statement that will make you stand out. 

Watch now: Expert advice on your personal statement


Reasons for getting your Ucas application in early

Submitting your application in October (around the Oxbridge applicant deadline) might not give you an advantage with the universities you've applied to, but it could free up more time for you to focus on your studies in order to get the grades you need to get in.

All students applying by 31 January will be given equal consideration. The advantage to the applicant in applying earlier is that it means they can stop working on their application and concentrate on their studies, which is the single most important factor in getting them to their first choice university. University Of Birmingham
Offers are made right up until the Ucas deadline and, even for highly competitive courses like physiotherapy or midwifery, every application received by 31 January is counted as an 'on time' application and will be considered equally. However, the biggest advantage to submitting the Ucas application earlier is that it gets it out of the way and allows you to focus upon achieving the best grades possible without needing to worry about completing your application. University Of Southampton
All applicants get equal consideration, so the only advantage of applying earlier is that you may hear a bit sooner due to fewer applicants earlier in the cycle. If the course interviews, you also get a better choice of interview dates and times. Bournemouth University


Reasons for applying close to the deadline

Getting your application in early can be helpful in terms of getting it out of the way, but applying later has its benefits too. You will have more time to decide and hopefully make the right decision about which universities and courses to apply for. It will also give you more time to visit university open days and brush up your personal statement.

Whatever you do, your school or college may still need a few weeks to process the application anyway, before it is sent off.

We assess applications against fixed criteria and there is therefore no advantage, in selection terms, to applying earlier in the cycle. Angela Milln | Director Of Student Recruitment - University Of Bristol
From the student's point of view it is an advantage to apply earlier than the deadline so that they can get it out the way and they may receive replies earlier, but they need to make sure the application isn’t rushed and that they’ve researched their choices first. Fran Bonner And Becci Hubbard | Community Outreach Team - Nottingham Trent University

If you know what and where you want to study, go ahead and get your application submitted. But if you’re unsure, give yourself more thinking space and aim for a later application.

Far better you make the right course choices than just an early one!

And if you do miss the 31 January Ucas application deadline, here are your options

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