How to Get Into St Andrews

“How do I get into The University of St Andrews” is a question I get asked very often! Luckily, I know exactly how to answer it. That’s why, here as The Profs, 95% of our students applying to their first and second choice universities get in. The University of St Andrews is a popular university in Scotland, and in this article, I’ll go through some tips and advice on how to stand out amongst all other applicants.

St Andrews University is a well-respected, research-intensive university that offers a unique experience to students thanks to its more rural location and long history of traditions. Though it is competitive, I assure you that with the right support, diligent effort, and thorough preparation, you can significantly enhance the likelihood of receiving an acceptance offer. To facilitate your journey, I present comprehensive statistics regarding the admissions process. I will provide invaluable insights gathered from the expertise of former admissions officers, all of which are encapsulated in the offerings of The Profs’ experts.

Our expert team have worked in admissions for top-tier universities. So, if anyone has the know-how to make your application as perfect as possible, it’s us. In our experience, we’ve seen that very few students know how to write an undergraduate university application that targets St Andrews unique admissions criteria. Thankfully, we offer the right support and preparation to aid you in submitting an application that stands out and maximises your chances of an offer.

Keep reading for expert information on how to get into The University of St Andrews

Contents 

Is St Andrews a Russell Group university?

The University of St Andrews is not one of the 24 Russell Group universities. However, like many other top non-Russell Group universities (including Bath, Loughborough, and Lancaster) it is still considered a leading, research-intensive university in the UK. In the 2021 assessment of research quality, 88% of St Andrews’ research was assessed as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. It is regularly ranked amongst the top universities in the UK, currently ranking as number one, ahead of Oxford and Cambridge, according to The Guardian University Guide, and fourth best according to the Complete University Guide. It was also awarded Scottish University of the Year in the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide, 2023

What is the St Andrews acceptance rate?

In 2021, the undergraduate St Andrews acceptance rate was 8.5% (based on data by UCAS). The university received 21,405 applications and granted places to 1,820 students. However, with the help of The Profs’ expert St Andrews consultants, more than 90% of students receive an offer from their first or second choice university, so get in touch with our team to maximise your chances of getting in. 

What subjects is St Andrews known for?

St Andrews is a great all-rounder university that specialises in a range of subjects and disciplines. It is ranked in the top 10 in the UK for 26 subject areas, including Physics and Astronomy, Biomedical Sciences, Philosophy, Computer Science, Mathematics, and Medicine. Most recently, St Andrews has been known for its world-leading research in the Schools of Biology and Psychology and Neuroscience, which was instrumental in creating Scotland’s first national brain health and dementia research strategy. Check out this comprehensive list of the subjects offered at St Andrews to gain better insight!

What are the entry requirements at St Andrews?

St Andrews’ entry requirements vary depending on the course you’re applying to study and the country you’re applying from. The table below shows the UK qualifications and some of the most common international qualifications accepted by St Andrews, and the entry requirements for each. 

QualificationEntry requirements
SQA HigherAAAAB to BBBB, depending on the course.
A LevelsA*A*A to ABB, depending on the course.
International Baccalaureate (IB)38 (6,6,6 at Higher Level, plus SL 6,6,6) to 36 (6,5,5 at Higher Level), depending on the course.
Baccalauréat Général (France)Minimum overall score of 16 with scores of 17 in required subjects.
Arbitur (Germany)1.5 overall, with 13 or above at Higher Level in required subjects.
Indian Standard XII (CBSE/ISC)Minimum average of 90% (with 90% or higher in any required subjects.
Other international qualificationsCheck the full list of international qualifications accepted by St Andrews.

St Andrews accepts a wide range of international qualifications. It displays international qualifications by country on its individual course pages, so always check there before applying. For more information on how to apply to St Andrews as an international student, check on the university’s own support page, read our guide for international applicants, or get in touch with The Profs for one-to-one support from one of our international admissions experts.

Does St Andrews give contextual offers?

The University of St Andrews does use contextual information when considering all applications and may make contextual offers to applicants who meet its eligibility criteria. You may be offered ‘Minimum’ requirements (typically 1-2 grade/s below the standard offer) or ‘Gateway’ requirements based on your specific circumstances. Many students won’t be eligible for St Andrews’ contextual offers, however, it is always worth checking using the university’s eligibility criteria.

5 tips for getting into St Andrews

The University of St Andrews takes a comprehensive approach to its decision-making process. However, they mainly consider the following factors:

  • Your current and expected grades (also the context in which you achieved/ will achieve them.)
  • Your personal statement. 

1. Is your academic record as polished as possible?

The entry requirements for St Andrews differ greatly between courses – not just in terms of grades but also in the specific subjects required. For example, for its Medicine course, you will need to achieve AAA at A level, and these grades must include Chemistry and at least one of Biology, Mathematics or Physics. You will also be required to take the UCAT (University Clinical Aptitude Test) and attend an interview in the MMI (Multiple Mini Interviews) format.

If you need support improving your grades to meet St Andrews’ competitive entry requirements or making your application stand out, then reach out to The Profs’ admissions test tutors today. We’ll offer a free discovery call to determine your likelihood of achieving a place at St Andrews and set up any additional support you may need. Also, check out “How to Prepare for a University Admissions Test” to find more tips on how to maximise your outcome in the tests.

Insider tip: Understanding the significance of your academic record is crucial, especially given that the University of St Andrews ranks as the UK’s 3rd most challenging university to gain admission to. Prioritise your grades strategically to enhance your chances in this competitive application process. Reach out to our tutors to receive one-to-one support with your GCSEs, A-levels, IBs, or resits sooner rather than later to maximise your potential.

2. You’ve mentioned a solid 5-year plan, right?

Getting into St Andrews is a great goal to have, but it’s also important to think about the long-term plan. Like Oxbridge, UCL, Edinburgh, and other top UK universities, St Andrews will not only want to see a genuine passion and commitment to studying your chosen course, but also a plan of how the skills and knowledge you will develop on the course will help you achieve longer-term goals. St Andrews also offers a full list of careers by the sectors that are most popular with their students and graduates, which can help you get started

Make sure that your goals are specific to the course you are applying for. For example, if you are applying to study Psychology, think about which area of Psychology interests you most, such as Cognitive Psychology, Social Psychology, Forensic Psychology, or another area. Then, look at what careers are available in that area and what you would need to do in order to get there (for example, complete a Psychology Doctorate).

Your long-term goals don’t have to be industry-specific; they may be academic (such as wanting to study a Master’s or PhD) and you may be at the very beginning of your exploration. St Andrews won’t expect you to be super detailed or stick to your plan at this stage, but it’s good to show that you are motivated. 96% of St Andrews graduates are in work or further study within 6 months of graduating, according to the Higher Education Statistics Agency, so the university will be keen to see your career drive.

For more support on coming up with a career plan or simply tailoring your personal statement to a university like St Andrews, get in touch with our expert admissions team.

Insider tip: Make sure you really focus on your passion and motivations for your chosen course. Do not make this part of your personal statement too generic, as you will not stand out amongst other personal statements. A good way to start this is by mind mapping some of your key interests, then branch out to bullet point your motivations. 

3. How to actually go beyond your school syllabus

When it comes to writing your personal statement, showing a genuinely passionate and in-depth understanding of your subject goes a long way. The University of St Andrews values academic, independent, and well-read students, so citing wider reading and other extracurricular activities you’ve done to specifically enhance your knowledge of your chosen subject area will help you stand out to them. Try to make sure that every book and article you’ve read, club you’ve taken part in, or organisation you’ve volunteered with is clearly relevant to your subject.

If you’re not sure what to include in your personal statement, reach out to our team of tutors today. We can help you to identify where your strengths are and advise you on how to develop your academic and extracurricular profile ready for submitting your application to St Andrews University.

Top tip: You cannot include details about the specific St Andrews course you’re applying for in your personal statement because this statement will be sent to all of the universities you apply for. However, you can (and should) still do your research into your chosen course at St Andrews and use this information to subtly tailor your statement. 

For example, you could look at notable tutors/lecturers working in the department and see what research they have done and what modules they teach. If you see something that aligns with your interests, consider citing a piece of research or book they have written, or talk in depth about a specific topic they cover in a module. This could give you a one-up over other applicants when the department comes to making final decisions about who to offer places to.

4. Lay the ‘groundwork’ for Acceptance

To help prove your commitment to your long-term goals outlined in your personal statement, you should look to gain relevant work experience in your field. Whether paid or unpaid, having experience working in your desired field will provide you with invaluable real-life knowledge about the industry.

For some St Andrews courses, such as Medicine, work experience is valued extremely highly, so it’s important that you get experience in relevant settings. For example, Medicine applicants should have work experience in at least one (but ideally more than one) medical setting, such as a hospital, GP surgery, hospice, or another medical environment. This experience not only helps you to understand what is involved in a career in Medicine but it also reassures St Andrews that you are committed to pursuing a career in the field. 

Read our guide to applying for Medicine for more information on this competitive degree programme.

Some courses are harder than others to find direct work experience for. If you can’t secure work experience relevant to your chosen subject, try to engage in as many extracurricular activities related to your chosen subject area as you can instead. For instance, if you’re applying for Economics and Finance, you could take part in competitions like the UK Maths Challenge, attend a Maths club, or volunteer with a local government or organisation. 

Insider tip: if you are struggling to find specific work experience, do not panic. You can always apply to volunteer at a local charity, school, or summer camp, which will demonstrate transferrable skills such as time management, organisation, and interpersonal skills, which can then be leveraged throughout your degree. Check out the Royal Volunteering Service where you can find volunteering opportunities.

5. Invest in your personal statement

It may seem obvious given the tips above, but making sure that you’re investing plenty of time into writing your personal statement is crucial to the success of your application. For many of St Andrews’ most competitive courses, lots of applicants will achieve the grades required for entry. St Andrews, like other top universities, will therefore be relying on applicants’ personal statements to decide who to offer places to, so it’s really important to submit the best personal statement possible. 

Use your personal statement as a chance to express what makes you more committed and more passionate than most. Keep a record of all of your academic achievements, career ambitions, skills, and experience, and use these to build a solid personal statement that explains exactly why you would be an excellent candidate for your chosen course. 

Crafting an excellent personal statement takes time and expertise. That’s where The Profs can help. Our experienced admissions tutors work with you throughout the university application process, providing guidance on how to enhance your academic profile and ultimately write a stand-out statement that is tailored to St Andrews and your specific course. Thanks to our support, more than 90% of students we work with receive an offer from their first or second choice university. For more information on how we can help, get in touch with our team today.

Check out our team of expert personal statement tutors to really make your personal statement stand out amongst the competition

Note that all students applying to university for 2023, 2024 or 2025 will still be required to submit a UCAS personal statement as normal. However, from January 2025 onwards (October 2024, for Oxbridge applicants), there will be changes to the UCAS application process and students will no longer be required to write a personal statement. Instead, all applicants will answer a series of shorter, more tailored questions provided by UCAS.

Get 1-1 expert guidance from an expert admissions tutor

 Admission to St. Andrews University signifies a meaningful step toward academic enrichment and personal development. At The Profs, we recognise the stress such steps can cause, and our skilled admissions consultants are prepared to offer support to help you maximise your potential whilst minimising the stress. Here at The Profs, we are committed to excellence, by maintaining a network of tutors with only a 3% acceptance rate, ensuring that our students receive an outstanding level of tuition. More than 95% of our applicants secure offers from their preferred universities at the undergraduate level. Join us on the journey to success, and contact our team for bespoke support.

 

FAQs

Where is St Andrews University?

The University of St Andrews is located in the town of St Andrews on the east coast of Scotland, north of the city of Edinburgh and south of the city of Dundee. The university’s faculty buildings and student accommodation are spread out across the town.

Is St Andrews a good university?

The University of St Andrews is regularly ranked among the top universities in the UK, currently ranking as the best university, ahead of Oxford and Cambridge, according to The Guardian University Guide, and fourth best according to the Complete University Guide.

The university was also awarded Scottish University of the Year in the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2023

How much is St Andrews University?

Degree courses at St Andrews vary in cost depending on where you are applying from. Scottish applicants pay £1,820 per year, while other UK applicants pay £9,250 per year. International fees vary from £28,190 (for Arts, Divinity and Science applicants) to £35,920 (for Medicine applicants). For more information on fees, see St Andrews’ tuition fees page.

When was St Andrews University founded?

The University of St Andrews was founded in 1413. This makes it the third oldest university in the English-speaking world, behind only Oxford and Cambridge, and the first university in Scotland.

Is St Andrews a campus university?

St Andrews is not a campus university. Its department buildings and student accommodation are instead spread out across the town of St Andrews.

What are the most competitive courses at St Andrews?

All courses at St Andrews are competitive, with the overall acceptance rate of the university being just 8.5%. Some courses are, however, more competitive than others. Some of the most competitive courses include Psychology, which has an acceptance rate of 5.6%, and Computer Science, with an acceptance rate of 6.2%. Its Social Studies subjects, as well as History and Philosophy, also have high rates of applications and tend to be among the most competitive courses.

Does St Andrews care about GCSEs?

St Andrews does not require a minimum number of GCSE A* grades to qualify for entry, however, it does look at the overall number of GCSEs, especially for particularly competitive subjects. For example, for Medicine, GCSE Biology is required and dual award Science or Combined Science at GCSE are not acceptable in lieu of it. GCSE programmes in Intensive English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) are also not accepted in lieu of GCSE English Language or Literature.

Will I be interviewed after my application?

Most students who apply to The University of St Andrews will not be required to attend an interview unless you are applying for the following courses, in which case you may be expected to attend an interview:

  • BA International Honours
  • Medicine
  • Supported pathway programmes
  • Part-time study