We will break down the key points that will help you to crack into such top UK universities as London Business School, Imperial College London, University College London & London School of Economics in 2024.
First let’s have a closer look to the statistics regarding the chances of entering these ‘Fantastic Four’ units.
The most challenging universities for undergraduates seem to be the Imperial College and London School of Economics. Only 1 in 9 applicants got accepted to Imperial College in the last two years, while only 1 in 8 students made it to the LSE offer letter. Postgraduate acceptance rates in these two institutions are more promising, with every 4th applicant passing the selection.
University College London is the one with the biggest overall number of applications, although it doesn’t seem to narrow down the selection. UCL’s acceptance rates are also the highest reaching 30% for both undergraduate and postgraduate students and as most courses as compared to other 3 universities.
London Business School lands somewhere in the middle with its overall 25% acceptance rate for international students in general.
As you can see, the competitiveness levels are not at their extreme right now, more likely as a long-lasting effect of COVID-19 and rising inflation rates. So having weighed the chances, it is time to check on the calendar. General application for the next autumn intake of London Business School (LBS), Imperial College London, University College London (UCL) & London School of Economics (LSE) starts in early September for all these universities and usually ends at January of February, with the last round for postgraduate students closing in April. LBS and Imperial College also offer additional winter or spring intakes for specific master’s degrees with the application opening in summer and closing closer to winter.
If you are applying for an undergraduate programme, you must do it through a joint web portal of the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). For postgraduate degrees you’ll need to apply through the online system of the university of your choice.
Grading system (Indian grades to the UK grades conversion)
As a part of your application pack, you’ll need to submit your prior education certificate and an academic transcript. UK schools have a peculiar grading system to evaluate students’ performance. The best academic achievement is First-Class Honours (First or 1st), which corresponds to grade A and represents an advantage when applying for a master’s degree or a job. Upper Second-Class Honours (2:1) being an equivalent to grade B is the most common required grade level for the majority of academic programmes. To meet this requirement your overall grade should be of 60-69%. If your grade is lower and corresponds to Lower Second-Class Honours (2:2) or grade C you still have a chance to be accepted by certain Bachelor’s and Master’s programmes, with high competition at our selected universities, this grade is not a solid advantage.
If your original transcript and certificate are issued in English, you may just leave them as they are. Though if they are in a different language, you will need their notarised translation in addition. In that case it is also advisable to convert your overall grade to the Grade Point Average (GPA) format, which is originally American but also globally recognised as a standardised measurement for academic achievement. GPA will also add certain value to the education section in your resume and make it look more convincing.
Some degrees, especially those related to business and economics, will ask you to do additional tests to prove your knowledge and abilities. GRE and GMAT are the most common and are usually held for prospective MS and MBA students. These exams can be not mandatory, but it still varies from a university to a university and from case to case.
If you are not a national of an English-speaking country, to enter a UK university you’ll need to prove your English language proficiency. Unless you have a prior degree instructed in English, you will need to provide the results of your language test.
IELTS is undoubtedly the most popular high stakes English test in the United Kingdom. It’s designed by Cambridge English and accepted by any British university, so to be on a safe side, just do IELTS without getting too scattered on any existing alternatives. Keep in mind that to apply for education, you will need IELTS Academic, not General.
IELTS score is usually valid for 2 years, so make sure your certificate is up-to-date not only at the time you apply, but also by the estimated start date of your prospective studies.
Minimum overall score required doesn’t usually exceed the lower threshold of 6.5, with the minimum score for each test element varying from 5.5 to 6.5. However, considering the competition rate among applicants, our recommendation is to focus on the best performance you can demonstrate, similar to your grade average score.
Once you’re set with the basic academic documents, it is time to complement your pack with other key papers.
A resume or a CV is a must-have, especially for postgraduate programmes and prestigious universities like London Business School, Imperial College, LSE or UCL.
Remember to include these key points:
By this I don’t mean writing an essay on your favourite music band or your romantic status “it’s complicated”. Just be brief, include your full name, your contact phone number and email, and current address you are based at.
Education & academic achievement
While providing information on the educational institutions you used to study at, include all your academic achievements and awards, like scholarships, grants, intellectual competitions, excellent overall grade, etc.
Don’t forget to mention any publications or public project presentations you had, if that is relevant.
While stating your work experience, try to focus more on what results you contributed to rather than just your day-to-day responsibilities. However, featuring your duties will also give insight into what skills you developed and enhanced. Keep a healthy balance between complimenting yourself and remaining realistic. If you have not had any prior working experience, think of all of the voluntary work you’ve ever done for state and non-profit organisation and include it in a separate block of extracurricular activities. Thus you will demonstrate your eagerness and your active position in life, that might help to create a right impression.
Skills & Languages
At the end of the resume you can mention your skillsets with the emphasis on your hard technical skills relevant for the career you are building like computer skills, software management, design, analytics, etc. At the language section add all the languages you speak with the level of proficiency for each one.
Your personal statement is your chance to show who you are apart from your academic achievements and comment on your aspiration and motivation. It should explain your course choice, give an overview of your school and college life, work experience, if you had any, and tell about your future plans. Ideally, it has to be a one-page cohesive story, not fiction-like but more specific to the degree you’ve chosen. The statement needs to demonstrate how your prior experience and life insights have led you to pursue this particular career type and what skills you possess that would help you achieve desired success in this area.
Avoid excessive descriptiveness and try to make it more focused and ‘digestible’ for the reader. Your statement needs to convince that you are designed for this degree, which is a natural stage in your professional development.
Letter of recommendation
The last but not least must-have in your application pack is a letter of recommendation – a document written by someone who knows you well academically, professionally, or personally, and can provide an evaluation of your abilities, achievements, and character traits. These letters are typically required as part of the application process for admission to highly competitive universities like UCL, LSE, London Business School and Imperial College. A strong letter of recommendation can provide valuable insights to the admissions committee about your potential as a student. So it’s crucial to select someone who knows you well enough to provide a comprehensive and positive assessment of your abilities.
Who can you ask to help with a letter?
A teacher, a professor, a mentor, or an employer who can speak of your academic strengths like grades, research projects, active participation, intellectual abilities, work ethic, leadership skills, and personal qualities like integrity, creativity, teamwork, and dedication.
Give your recommender relevant information about the universities you are applying to, including the programs or majors you are interested in. This will allow them to tailor the letter to each institution and highlight the specific qualities that would make you a good fit.
Yes, indeed, the preparation for the application process can be quite challenging, no doubt, especially if you’re facing a new country’s requirements for the first time in your life. That’s why we – Inforens – are here – to smooth your way with our advice and save you days and months of individual research. Soon we will come up with our next blog on how to write a proper CV and a Personal statement in more detail. You can also check our web platform for personalised consulting and student networking to keep abreast of the application pitfalls and get insider info about the university life.