Read our guide to producing an effective and useful reference
- 4000 characters or 47 lines of text.
- It is an online application but you are encouraged to contact universities directly if you need advice. We can only discuss individual applications if you have the permission of the applicant.
- When you upload your reference to the UCAS website remember to save regularly as there is a 35 minute inactivity log out.
- If the student has completed qualifications other than A-levels it is useful to provide some course content information, especially for English and Maths.
- Liaise with the applicant so that the reference is bespoke to the individual and the courses they are applying for.
- Check entry requirements for the courses being applied for.
- Ask each subject tutor to contribute and have one person collate the reference.
- Support claims made in the personal statement by the applicant.
- Mention if the applicant has completed a WP scheme such as Realising Opportunities.
- Use generic stock phrases.
- Write it like a report (eg: ‘could do better’, ‘is often negatively influenced by friends’…).
- Mention specific universities.
- Be negative.
- Raise weaknesses or personal issues unless well documented and discussed with the applicant in advance.
1. Contextual information about the school
- How many students are in the sixth form or year level? What percentage go on to HE?
- Is there a high proportion of WP students?
- Has there been any disruption to provision?
2. Academic performance
- Comment on the subjects that have been studied and how the applicant performed in relation to others eg: ‘In the top 10% of the school’.
- Be realistic about predicted grades and put them into context eg: ‘should easily achieve’, ‘if they work hard…’
3. Special or Mitigating Circumstances
- If there has been anything which has impacted on achievement you can only disclose it if you have their permission.
- Ensure exam boards are also aware of any issues.
4. Extra-curricular activities
- What has the applicant done to further their understanding of the courses they have applied for?
- Has the applicant undertaken additional projects or placements to make them a better student or future professional?
5. Suitability for the course
- Clearly indicate if you DO recommend the applicant as any ambiguity may suggest that you do not.
- Include commentary about suitability for higher education, the subject area and/or future career
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