Top tips on completing your UCAS Conservatoires application

If you have ever worked on a school admissions application (or, really, anything with a deadline), you already know the golden rule of ‘Don’t wait until the last minute’. While this remains the most important piece of advice our Admissions & Recruitment Team has to offer new applicants, we have put together a few other tips that might help you with your UCAS Conservatoires application.

To attend a conservatoire, you must apply to a conservatoire!

This might seem obvious, but applications for RCS (and most other UK conservatoires) are held on UCAS Conservatoires – part of the overall UCAS system but separate to universities. You can apply to both universities and conservatoires if you wish.

In addition to hosting the online application for most UK conservatoires, the UCAS Conservatoires website has a number of informative articles – from a step-by-step how to apply guide to general information about studying at a conservatoire. (We’ve also written a short bit about studying at a conservatoire vs university!) Should you have any questions or difficulties throughout the application process, the UCAS Conservatoires team also provides great support.

Three simple steps to reduce the panic when deadlines loom:

  1. Verify your email address without delay. After creating your UCAS Conservatoires account and upon logging in, you’ll see a button to ‘Verify my email’. There’s no reason to wait on completing this email verification; it’s quick and easy, and it must be completed before you submit your application. We always see applicants wait to do this and then not understand why they cannot submit their application, only to find themselves panicked on the day of the application deadline and unable to get a hold of the busy offices at the conservatoire or UCAS Conservatoires.
  2. Communicate with your referees. We understand that getting your references submitted is not always a cut-and-dry task, and that it is somewhat out of your control. What is fully in your control, however, is to be in contact early with your referees so that they have ample time to provide a thoughtful reference. Be clear about the process for them, so there is no miscommunication. Continue staying in contact with them to ensure they have submitted on time. Lastly, make a note that we will never follow up with a referee directly for a missing reference… it is the applicant’s duty to ensure all materials are submitted.
  3. Pay your UCAS Conservatoires fees for all applicable schools. While this doesn’t have to do with a looming application deadline, this is critical when it comes to the UCAS Conservatoires ‘reply by’ deadlines. You cannot receive any admissions outcome from any UCAS Conservatoires school unless you have paid all outstanding fees. Even if your dream school is ‘Conservatoire A’, they will never tell you if you got in unless you pay your fees for your application and audition for ‘Conservatoire B’.

Know the lingo (or at least don’t get bogged down by it)

Inevitably, the language used within the UCAS Conservatoires application will be foreign to some – specifically, international students. Try to keep a level head while working through and take note of three quick areas that cause confusion every year for international applicants:

  1. Scottish Candidate Number and BTEC Number. Perhaps it is how these two fields are visually laid out on the screen… but many candidates seem to feel stuck, like they cannot progress in the application without filling these in. If you don’t have these numbers – i.e., if you’re not a Scottish student and/or have not studied a BTEC Diploma – then simply keep calm and carry on. Blank fields are not always your enemy.
  2. Adding qualifications. This one takes the cake for most the confusing section for international applicants. It asks for completed or upcoming exams, diplomas, degrees, and so on. Begin typing in the search tool to find your qualification(s). If you’re struggling, use the most important keyword in your qualification, such as ‘degree’ or ‘diploma’, to see if it can be found in a larger list displayed for you. If you can’t find your qualification listed and you have exhausted the various searches, don’t worry and add it as ‘other’. Also, remember as you progress through your qualifications that there may be more fields that can be left blank if they don’t apply (such as ‘centre number’).
  3. Point of Entry. Contrary to the last two points, you will find a field called ‘point of entry’ (when adding a ‘choice’) that is technically optional on UCAS Conservatoires, but we highly recommend you provide an answer here. The ‘point of entry’ corresponds to the year of entry for which you are applying. Most applicants will enter a ‘1’ here (for entering into the first year of a degree course), but if you are looking for direct entry beyond year one, then this is the place to state that. (Direct entry is rather uncommon and is considered on a case-by-case basis.)

Provide a nominated name (which can be updated)

Like all schools, we are very strict with whom we share applicant information. If someone calls or emails us on your behalf asking for any information regarding your application – whether materials have been received, fees have been paid, outcomes are available, anything – they will need to be the nominated name to get any such information.

To provide a name for us, look for the ‘nominated access’ fields within the Personal Details section of your UCAS Conservatoires application. Here, you can provide the name (and relationship) of someone you give permission to discuss your application if you are not available.

You’ll be able to update this information at any time if you need to amend your nominated name. Please don’t leave this field blank if anyone might be in touch with us (or UCAS Conservatoires) regarding your application.

It may sound cliché, but be yourself with your personal statement

Don’t get bogged down and overwhelmed by the personal statement! Write it yourself (don’t get your teacher or someone else to write this for you… and yes, this has happened) and take advantage of this chance to tell us more about you. Things you might want to include are why you are applying, what you want to get out of the course, your career aspirations, and anything you have been doing that you think is relevant and interesting. Feel free to also think ‘outside the box’ (forgive yet another cliché phrase), and don’t necessarily feel limited to talking only about your primary discipline.

*Top Tip* Draft your personal statement in a separate document and continue working with it until you are satisfied with a final version. Then copy and paste this into your UCAS Conservatoires application.

Familiarise yourself with UCAS Conservatoires reply by deadlines

By now, hopefully you have reviewed the RCS website to identify your application and audition recording due dates. (If not, do so now as most music applications are due 1 October 2020!)

You’ve likely not yet looked all the way ahead at replying to an offer, but it’s worthwhile to do so for two important reasons:

  1. Don’t miss your reply deadline. If you have an offer (whether guaranteed or reserve) and we don’t hear back from you by your reply deadline, then your offer is automatically ‘Declined by Default’.
  2. Don’t feel pressured to reply before you have to. If you hold an offer from any institution on UCAS Conservatoires, you must receive your outcomes from ALL other institutions to which you applied (on UCAS Conservatoires) before replying to any offer. Some schools have been known to pressure applicants into accepting an offer before they receive other outcomes from competitor schools, and applicants subsequently feel that pressure to withdraw from those other schools to accept the offer they know they have. Know your reply by deadlines to avoid this!

…Don’t wait until the last minute!

We had to say it again. There are so many reasons not to wait we could fill another full blog post… but we’ll spare you for now. If you have questions about your application, please stay in touch with us at, and good luck!

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