bridge of sighs

Choosing your UCAS university

Choosing your university

For those of you applying to the UK for university, you will have to choose 5 universities for your UCAS application. Here’s how you do this.

  1. Find rankings.

Here are a few university ranking guides that you can use to decide on which university you want to apply to. This should be your first step. Decide roughly what type of university you want to apply to: top 10? top 20? top 50? You can decide where you want to aim by looking at your current grades. The grade requirement typically becomes higher as you go higher up the rankings.

Bear in that mind that the first two links below are the more popular UK rankings.

  1. The Guardian: 
  2. The Times:
  3. QS:
  4. The Complete University Guide:

Take the guides with a pinch of salt! All the guides base their rankings on slightly differing criteria, such as research quality, student satisfaction, entry standard, completion rate. So I suggest reading up on what criteria each guide uses. But if you’re too lazy to do this, a safe way would probably be to cross-check the rankings across the guides, e.g. top 10 universities across all rankings.

One more tip is that it is normal for people to have a ‘back-up’ choice or a ‘safety-net’. This is really important. You don’t want to have all 5 universities requiring 3A*. So for example, if your first 4 universities require 3As, you would want your 5th choice to require 2As 1B in case you don’t meet your 3A offer.


  1. Research differences in the course in different universities.

I failed to do this for my own UCAS application. Can you believe it? This is very, very important and you mustn’t skip this step. Courses differ hugely across universities and this will literally make or break your academic experience in university. There are several ways that they can differ: the lecturers, the amount of options you get, the exam structure, the day-to-day lecture-tutorial ratio.

For example, I did not know when I applied that Cambridge’s Law course offers more choice of modules than Oxford, and has exams at the end of every year, instead of 100% of your final grade being based on your final year exams.


  1. Is it right for you?
  • Do you want to go to a university that has a campus lifestyle or is in a city?

The universities in London don’t have a campus lifestyle, e.g. UCL, LSE, KCL, Queen Mary, due to the space constraints. That was one of the reasons I chose to apply to Warwick, Durham and Oxford (in addition to LSE and UCL). The university buildings in London are dotted around the city so it feels like you’re not in university, whereas in Oxford you’re in a university town so it feels really cozy and homey. Bear in mind that cost of living in London will also be much higher than outside of it, e.g. accommodation, cost of food, transport.

  • Does the university have all the facilities you require?

This question would most likely apply to science students. You would want really great lab facilities. However, for humanities students this doesn’t hugely apply.

  • Still unsure?

Order a prospectus from the universities!

Go to an Open Day to visit the university and see if it’s right for you! This is probably the best way to see if you’ll enjoy being there. After all, this is 3 or 4 years of your life. I would say visiting it for a day and having a tour is more than worthwhile. Check out the dates for open days on the official university website, or at a combined calendar on

Contact us and we will be most happy to give you advice on what to do and how to choose your university.








Medicine in UK – UKCAT


Our friendly medicine tutors would like to share more about the UKCAT. So where are the resources? Apart from individualized lessons,  you need to know about all the available resources for UKCAT


  • Test period: 1st July to 6 Oct, test dates are weekly, result released on the spot
  • Verbal Reasoning (-Assesses ability to critically evaluate information that is presented in a written form (44MCQ-22m)
  • Quantitative Reasoning (Assesses ability to critically evaluate information presented in a numerical form 36MCQ, 25m)
  • Abstract Reasoning (Assesses the use of convergent and divergent thinking to infer relationships from information, 55MCQ, 14m)
  • Decision Analysis (Assesses the ability to make sound decisions and judgements using complex information, 28mcq, 32m)
  • Situational Judgement (Measures capacity to understand real world situations and to identify critical factors and appropriate behaviour in dealing with them, 68MCQ, 27min)


Study from:


This will cost 60 pounds


This will cost 155 pounds.

3)UKCAT Iphone practice app

4) UKCAT Practices

Main tips:

  1. is to understand the concepts, if you get something wrong, make sure you correct the concept, not just knowing the answer for the sake of memorizing as questions may not be repeated.
  2. Practice practice practice

If you’re still not confident, further practices:

Must know from official UKCAT website: 

1)UKCAT official guide

2)UKCAT video guide

3)Computer interface familiarization with UKCAT


Good student website forums:

Glasgow Medicine

Medicine – Part 1 (Glasgow Medicine)

Glasgow Medicine FAQs

University: University of Glasgow

Course: 5-year medical degree (MBChB)

What subjects did you do at IB/A levels and what were your CCAs?

I did Triple Science in Hwa Chong Junior College – Physics, Biology, Chemistry and Advanced Mathematics; and my CCAs included Basketball, the Health and Fitness Club, as well being a CIP ambassador helping underprivileged children.

How does the workload of universitiy compare with IB/A levels?

You have much more control of your time in University compared to A levels. My course was a problem-based-learning (PBL) one, meaning that you have to be in charge of your own learning as classes were on average 3-5 hours per day, as compared to 8-10 hours that you usually spend in Junior College. This ensures that you develop independence and critical thinking during the course of study.

How did you decided on this final university?

Glasgow is internationally renowned for medicine, with many of the notable physicians coming from this school. This includes Joseph Lister, Pioneer of antiseptics and antibiotics; Ian Macdonald, obstetrician, and inventor of medical ultrasound); and Professor Harry Burns, to name a few.

What are the cost of living and cost of school fees for the entire duration of the degree?

During my year, the fees were set at 19,600 pounds per year (not subject to inflation).

The cost of living, including accommodation entertainment and travel is estimated to be 6,500 pounds in my year in 2011

How do teaching and learning work in your school? Are the faculty accessible?

As mentioned, mine was a PBL course. This allows students to brainstorm over particular topics in anatomy/physiology/pathology/biochemistry which have clinical relevance over the first three years, being facilitated by faculty. Over the last two years, the time is spend in a clinical setting within the Glasgow Hospitals. Yes the faculty are very approachable and you have various advisors in the school.

How large are your courses?

250 students, roughly 50 are international.

Are people very competitive academically? How many exams are there in a year? What happens if one fails the year?

Yes, all medical students are very competitive. This is the same in Scotland. There is usually only one final examination at the end of the academic year. However, elective and special study modules have their own separate tests.
You have a chance to retake the exam (supplementary exam). If you fail that, you get retained.

How would you describe the school culture?

Friendly, research oriented, and enriching.

Is there an established Singaporean presence at your university? How many Singaporeans are there per batch?

There is a modest presence. 8 students in my batch. Varies from 6-10.

How are freshmen/freshers welcomed to your university?

More than 7,000 across the various faculties

How are international freshmen/freshers welcomed to your university?

You are free to join freshers’ week which is a week long orientation program. There are various other clubs/societies which will make you feel welcome

Is your school “cliquey”?

Not really. Having said that, some Asians do like to mix only with Asians.

Do people tend to hang among people of their own major/course/social class/race/nationality only, or is there a high degree of integration?

I integrated particularly well with Scottish, Polish, Malaysian and English students. I can’t say the same for every other International student.

What do students normally do in their spare time? Have you joined any extracurriculars? How do you find them?

Scottish people love hanging out in the pubs drinking and watching football. I partook in this activity occasionally. Yes, I joined the Medics Basketball club. You can find more details on the University webpage.

How would you rate the following “scenes” in your college and its surroundings: shopping, drinking, clubbing, fine arts, and sports?

Shopping: 8/10 Drinking 9/10 Clubbing 6/10 Fine arts 9/10 Sports 9/10

How’s the accommodation? Do most people stay in college dorms/halls, or independently? How should one look for accommodation?

You have a wide range of choices from University based accommodation (I stayed at Cairncross House and Kelvinhaugh Gate); private accommodation (flats or houses) or hospital accommodation. The University webpage would be the best first place to look for. A simple google search would suffice.


How is the transport like? Does one need a car? If so, how should one go about getting a car?

Subway is the main way people get around. You can get a cheap car for less than 5000 dollars (second hand). Check on Glasgow gumtree, there are good prices on second hand cars there.

Is Asian food readily available? If one is to cook, where can we get the Asian food from?

Yes. A particularly good restaurant is Asia Style. If you want to cook, buy groceries from Morrisons. They have a good supply there

Do most people cook, eat at a catered facility or cafeteria, or eat out? How’s the catered food?

They usually eat out. I was not at a catered hall so I cannot comment. From what my friends have mentioned, Wolfson Hall (the only catered hall) serves pretty decent food.

What are the laundry arrangements like?

50 cents per wash in the Uni halls. You have to check the private ones yourself as I did not use them.

Is it easy to find places of worship?

Yes, Turnbull Catholic Hall was where I worshipped. There are various other organizations throughout the University which you can find places of worship including Buddhist, Taoist, Christian, Anglican etc.

Do you think Singaporeans will experience a major culture shock?

Nope. Its very easy to integrate in Scotland.

Do you ever feel peer pressure to do something you’re uncomfortable with?

Nope. I’m in control of my own life.

Do you think that there might be any groups which might feel uncomfortable or marginalized at your school?

Unless you are antisocial and unpleasant, No.

What’s the best experience you’ve had so far in college?

As the Glasgow Medic Basketball team, we travelled to Dundee and won the basketball competition there!

Is there anything that you wish you knew before leaving?

Perhaps to meet up more with seniors from the school to get a better idea about life, and make friends prior to starting school

Any final things you’d like to tell Singaporeans about your school?

Glasgow is an amazing city, and very good medical school. I would strongly advise you to apply for this school as it is internationally renowned, relatively cheap(er) compared to London, and has various things to do in the night/daytime. Cheers!



Editing Essays – Part 3 (PPE)

Said to be the university subject of future prime ministers, PPE (Politics, Philosophy, Economics) personal statements can be very daunting and demanding.



Take a look at this great essay. Say things with conviction and elegantly illustrate your points to its core.

#ppeessays #editingppeessays #quintessentialedu #educationconsulants #ppeeducation #futureprimeminister



Editing Essays – Part 2 (Law)


Often Law essays can be daunting. How do you show depth and breadth without sounding contrived and boring?



Note the comments about substantiating your understanding and evolution of thoughts.


Note the importance of an active voice and the importance of stating solutions and not just platitude statements.


Note the importance of being specific about what you want to do and sharing deeper reflections on what your trips taught you.

#lawessays #editinglawessays #quintessentialedu #educationconsulants #laweducation