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101s to UCAS and the Common App for Future University Applicants

3 Min Read
November 03, 2022

We always encourage students to take early steps to prepare for their university. It may start with a uni major research in junior high school, or a profile-building since the start of high school. 

For those of you who target universities abroad, especially in the UK and US, you might have bumped into UCAS and Common App. 

Here we are going to highlight some of the fundamental information that makes them different.

What is the Common App? What is UCAS?

UCAS is a UK-based organization whose main role is to operate the university application process for British universities. The Common App is an undergraduate college admission application that applicants may use to apply to universities in the US.

Both of them are organizations that allow students to apply to more than one university in one go. 

Here are some of the things you want to know about UCAS and the Common App.

Where can I use UCAS and the Common App?

UCAS only applies in the UK. Whereas the Common App applies not only in the US, but in selected universities in China, Europe, Canada, Australia, Ireland, Switzerland, and more. 

What are the distinct differences?

Both UCAS and the Common App use an online system for the application, which means it needs you to set up an online profile where you put your personal details and other requirements to complete your application.

Though the drill is practically similar, we highlighted 3 things you should note.

Selecting Courses

For UCAS, you can select five courses at maximum in one application. This can be either choosing five different courses under the same college or university, or choosing five different courses at five different colleges or universities. 

Meanwhile, the Common App provides a Dashboard where you can add colleges to your list up to 20 colleges. This list is adjustable at any time before you submit the application. 

Admission Essay and Personal Statement

UCAS application needs you to articulate your interest to study a particular course at a university and show the experiences you possess in a personal statement. Thus, you only need one personal statement in your UCAS application.

In The Common App, you have to write an essay based on a prompt provided by the Common App besides a college-specific essay, if the school requires one. So, if you apply to more than one university, you may have to prepare a few college-specific essays for your application. 


The key dates you should mark for the UCAS application would be October 15th and January 15th. October 15th is for all applications to the University of Oxford, University of Cambridge, most courses in medicine, dentistry, and veterinary medicine/science. And January 15th is for all applications to the majority of undergraduate courses. 

Meanwhile, for the Common App, it depends on whether you apply for Early Decision or Regular Decision. The Early Decision deadline is typically on November 1st, while the Regular Decision is typically on January 1st.

Deadlines for the application in the US also vary by schools, so make sure to always stay up to date. 


Are you interested in knowing more about UCAS and the Common App? Or maybe about the personal statement and college essay?

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