How Many Sixth Forms Can You Apply To UCAS Applications?

How Many Sixth Forms Can You Apply

In the UK, through the UCAS system, you can apply to up to five courses or institutions at once.

The number of sixth forms (or colleges) you can apply to may vary depending on the specific application process and policies of the institutions you are interested in. 

In the UK, students usually use the UCAS system to apply for A-levels or other post-16 qualifications. UCAS lets you apply to five courses or schools at the same time.

If you are considering applying to more than five sixth forms or colleges, you may need to prioritize your choices or consider additional options for your education. 

It’s essential to check the specific application guidelines and requirements of the institutions you are interested in, as the number of applications allowed may differ from country to country and institution to institution.

Application Limits 

Application Limits

In the United Kingdom, UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service) sets a limit on how many choices a student can make when applying for college courses.

This limitation is commonly referred to as the “up to five choices” rule, and it applies to both the courses and institutions that a student can select when applying for higher education.

Here are the key details regarding this limitation:

Up to Five Choices: When applying through UCAS, prospective undergraduate students can select up to five choices for the courses and institutions they want to apply to. 

This means that a student can choose a maximum of five different course and institution combinations in a single UCAS application.

Flexibility in Choices: Students can choose a combination of universities and courses that align with their interests, qualifications, and career goals. 

They can opt for five different courses at five different institutions or select multiple courses at the same institution. The choices can be a mix of universities and colleges.

Careful Consideration: Due to the limitation of five choices, applicants need to consider their selections carefully. It’s crucial to research the courses, institutions, and entry requirements thoroughly to make the most informed decisions.

Importance of Order: The order in which choices are listed is significant. Students should list their choices in order of preference because UCAS will process applications sequentially, and the universities or colleges will receive them in the order they are listed. 

The first choice is considered the most preferred, and subsequent choices are fallback options.

Additional Choices: In some cases, students may have used all five choices but wish to make further applications. 

UCAS provides an Extra service where students can apply for additional courses one at a time, primarily after receiving responses to their initial five choices.

Exceptions and Special Cases: There are exceptions to the “up to five choices” rule for specific courses and institutions. 

For example, students applying for certain courses like medicine, dentistry, and veterinary science may have separate restrictions and may be limited to four choices, including one option for an alternate course. 

Moreover, there are special arrangements for international students and mature applicants.

In summary, UCAS limits up to five choices for both courses and institutions when applying for undergraduate programs in the UK. 

This limitation is intended to encourage students to make thoughtful and informed decisions about their higher education options while allowing flexibility in their choices. 

Applicants must research their options and order their choices carefully to maximize their chances of securing a place in their preferred course and institution.

Prioritizing your choices

Choosing your education after high school is essential because it can make a big difference in how you grow academically and personally.

Making informed choices can lead to a more fulfilling educational experience and set you on the right path for your future. Here are some key reasons why informed choices matter:

Academic Success: Picking a sixth-form or post-16 program that matches what you’re good at and what you like can help you do well in school.

When you are engaged and motivated by the subjects or courses you are studying, you are more likely to perform well and achieve your desired grades.

Career Goals: Informed choices help you work toward your career goals. Consider the subjects and qualifications that are relevant to your desired career path. 

Choosing courses that provide the necessary knowledge and skills can be a crucial step toward achieving your long-term objectives.

Personal Growth: Your educational choices can also impact your personal growth and development. 

Courses and institutions that foster personal growth, independence, and critical thinking can help you become a well-rounded individual and prepare you for the challenges of adult life.

Well-Being and Motivation: When you select what you enjoy and aim for, you’ll probably stay interested and committed to your studies.

This can lead to a positive and fulfilling educational experience and reduce the risk of academic burnout.

College and University Opportunities: The decisions you make in sixth form or post-16 can greatly affect your future possibilities.

Certain universities or colleges may have specific entry requirements or preferences for certain qualifications or subjects. Informed choices can open doors to higher education options.

Factors to consider when selecting the sixth forms or post-16 institutions to apply to:

Subjects and Courses: Research the available subjects and courses at different institutions. Choose ones that match your interests and align with your long-term goals. 

Ensure that the institution offers the specific courses you need for your career aspirations.

Academic Reputation: Investigate the academic reputation of the institution. Look at past performance in terms of exam results and university placements. A reputable institution can enhance your educational experience and future prospects.

Location and Commute: Consider the location of the institution and the convenience of commuting. Think about whether you want to study locally or are open to relocating. The location can impact your daily routine and lifestyle.

Facilities and Resources: Assess the facilities, resources, and support services available at the institution. 

This includes libraries, laboratories, extracurricular activities, and student support services. Access to these resources can enrich your learning experience.

Entry Requirements: Review the entry requirements for the institution and ensure you meet them. Some institutions may have specific academic requirements for certain courses, and it’s important to be eligible for the program you wish to pursue.

Extracurricular Opportunities: Look into the extracurricular activities and opportunities the institution offers. These can be crucial for personal development and can enhance your college experience.

Feedback and Reviews: Seek feedback from current or former students and read reviews about the institution to gain insights into the quality of education and student experiences.

Open Days and Visits: Whenever possible, attend open days or visit the institutions you are considering. This can provide a firsthand experience and help you get a feel for the environment and the people.

In conclusion, making informed choices when selecting sixth forms or post-16 education options is crucial for your academic success, career aspirations, personal growth, and overall well-being. 

Special Considerations 

Special considerations and variations in application limits exist within the context of sixth form, post-16 education, and university admissions. 

These variations can depend on the country’s education system, specific courses, and the status of international students. Here are some exceptions and potential differences to be aware of:

Course-Specific Exceptions: Some courses have different application limits compared to the standard choices allowed. 

For instance, in the UK, certain competitive courses like medicine, dentistry, and veterinary science often have a lower application limit, typically four choices, and may include one alternative course choice. 

This is to account for the highly specialized nature of these programs and the rigorous selection processes involved.

Special Arrangements for International Students: International students may encounter variations in application limits, requirements, and procedures when applying to institutions in a foreign country.

These differences may include language proficiency requirements, additional documentation, and different deadlines. 

It’s essential for international students to thoroughly research and understand the specific application guidelines of the host country and institutions they are applying to.

Varying Entry Requirements: International students may face varying entry requirements, such as academic qualifications and language proficiency exams like IELTS or TOEFL. 

These requirements can differ from those for domestic students, and meeting them is crucial for admission.

Cultural and Visa Considerations: International students may need to consider visa requirements and cultural adjustments when applying for education abroad. 

Visa processes take time, and it’s crucial to grasp the cultural and legal aspects of the host country for a smooth transition.

English Language Proficiency: International students applying to English-speaking countries often need to prove their English skills through tests like IELTS or TOEFL.

The required score can vary between institutions and courses.

Credit Transfer: If international students plan to transfer credits from previous education, they should understand the credit transfer policies of the institutions they are applying to. Not all institutions may accept transfer credits, and this can affect the choice of courses and programs.

International Qualifications: International students may hold qualifications that are not directly equivalent to the qualifications of the host country. 

It’s important to verify the recognition and equivalence of your qualifications and whether additional exams or coursework are required to meet entry requirements.

Application Deadlines: Application deadlines for international students may differ from those for domestic students, particularly if visa processes are involved. 

International students should be aware of the specific application deadlines and ensure they have sufficient time to complete all the necessary steps.

Alternatives to Consider 

Alternatives to Consider

For students who wish to apply to more than five institutions or have specific circumstances that require alternative approaches, there are several options and strategies to consider:

UCAS Extra (UK Applicants): In the UK, UCAS offers an Extra service that allows students to apply for additional courses one at a time after receiving responses to their initial five choices. 

If you find yourself in a situation where you want to explore more options, UCAS Extra can be a valuable resource.

Gap Year: Taking a gap year can provide you with an opportunity to reconsider your choices and reapply in the following application cycle. 

During this time, you can gain experience, improve your qualifications, and further research your options. This can be especially useful if you’ve already applied to five institutions but are not satisfied with the outcomes.

Clearing (UK Applicants): If you don’t secure a place through your initial application, you can explore Clearing, which is a process in the UK that matches students with available course vacancies after A-level results are released. 

It allows you to consider alternative options at universities or colleges that have available spaces.

International Application Systems: For international students, the application process can vary by country. Some countries may not have the same five-choice limitation. 

So, research the application systems of your targeted countries on the specific institutions.

Consider Different Qualifications: If you’ve reached your application limit and want to apply to more institutions, you could consider different qualifications. 

For example, you might explore foundation courses, access courses, or alternative qualifications that can serve as pathways to your desired undergraduate program. 

Some institutions may have lower entry requirements for these alternative routes.

Deferring Entry: If you’ve applied to your chosen institutions but still want to consider additional options, you can defer your entry for a year if the institutions allow it. 

During this time, you can further research and apply to other institutions or reevaluate your choices.

Seek Guidance: Consult with career counselors, academic advisors, and teachers to get insights and guidance on alternative options. They can help you explore different pathways, identify suitable institutions, and make informed choices.

Apply for Transfer: If you’ve already started your higher education journey but are looking to switch institutions or programs, you can consider applying for a transfer. 

Each institution may have its own transfer policies and requirements, so research them thoroughly.

Online Learning: With the growth of online education, you can consider enrolling in online courses, which can provide you with additional qualifications or skills.

In conclusion, there are various alternatives and strategies available for students who wish to apply to more than five institutions or reconsider their options. 

It’s essential to weigh your choices carefully, do thorough research, and seek guidance to make informed decisions that align with your academic and career goals. 

Keep in mind that each country and education system may have unique rules and options, so be sure to understand the specific regulations and processes that apply to your situation.


How many sixth forms can I apply to through UCAS?

You can apply to up to five courses or institutions through UCAS.

Is the application limit different for international students applying to sixth forms in the UK?

No, the application limit is the same for both UK and international students – up to five choices.

Can I apply to more than five sixth forms if I exceed the limit on UCAS?

UCAS allows a maximum of five choices. If you wish to apply to more, you may need to consider alternative qualifications or reapply in subsequent years.

Do the five choices include both courses and institutions?

Yes, the limit of five choices applies to both courses and institutions, so you must prioritize carefully.

Can I apply to the same course at multiple institutions within the five choices?

Yes, you can choose the same course at different institutions within your five choices.

What if I change my mind about my chosen courses or institutions after submitting my UCAS application?

UCAS offers an “extra” service for applicants who wish to make additional choices after receiving decisions from their initial five choices.

Is there an application fee for each choice I make through UCAS?

There is a standard application fee for your UCAS application, regardless of the number of choices you make.

Can I apply to sixth forms outside of UCAS in addition to my UCAS choices?

Yes, you can apply directly to sixth forms or colleges outside of UCAS in addition to your UCAS choices

Can I apply to more than five courses if I apply for different qualifications (e.g., BTECs and A-levels)?

You can apply for different qualifications, but the limit of five choices still applies. You may need to consider which courses are most important to you.

What if I have extenuating circumstances that require me to apply to more than five sixth forms?

In exceptional cases, you can contact UCAS to discuss your situation and request special consideration, but this is not guaranteed and should be reserved for genuine extenuating circumstances.


In conclusion, the application process for sixth forms, post-16 education, and higher education institutions can be a critical juncture in an individual’s academic and career journey. 

Making informed choices is essential to ensure a successful and fulfilling educational experience. 

Understanding the limitations and variations in application rules, such as the “up to five choices” rule in the UCAS system, is crucial for applicants.

For those seeking to apply to more than five institutions, exploring alternatives like UCAS Extra, gap years, Clearing, or considering different qualifications can provide opportunities to broaden their options. 

International students should pay attention to country-specific application systems, entry requirements, and visa regulations.