How to get into Imperial 2024

With a strong track record of academic achievement, Imperial is one of the top research universities in the world, coming in at number eight in the Times Higher Education rating and fifth in the UK.

With a focus on science, engineering, medicine, and business, it provides a wide range of courses, including ones you may not be familiar with, from geophysics to aeronautical engineering. There is something for every aspiring scientific student to take! 

Imperial is situated in the heart of London, surrounded by some of the most popular attractions the city has to offer from the Royal Albert Hall to the Natural History Museum to the National Art gallery, making it one of the best placed University campuses across the UK. 

Notable alumni include Sir Alexander Fleming, the inventor of the first antibiotic, and graduates go on to work at some of the best firms in the world such as Boeing, Amazon, Google and JP Morgan. If this sounds like the university for you then keep reading to see how you can make your dreams of studying here become a reality!

Research most competitive courses 

So you’ve decided that Imperial is THE university for you, great! Now it’s time to figure out what you want to study. With an acceptance rate of around 1 in every 10 applicants, you want to make sure your application is tailored to your future course, in order to make it more compelling. 

With that in mind, it’s time to research the most competitive courses at the university, so you know just how competitive your application should be to stand out! The acceptance rate will vary course by course, but here are the top 10 most competitive courses to get into at Imperial:

CourseAcceptance rate
Medicine 13%
Computing 15.3%
Aeronautical engineering 19%
Mechanical engineering19.8%
Electrical and electronic engineering 23.3%
Mathematics24.2%
Design engineering27%
Biochemistry 28.8%
Medical biology 29.5%
Physics35.3%

Meet the entry requirements 

Imperial is an academically rigorous institution which expects the best of the best from all its students – and also applicants. This means the entry requirements are notoriously meticulous. A general offer from the University would require an A*AA to A*A*A, however different subjects have different entry requirements, with some courses even being specific about the grades they require for individual subjects, such as medicine which requires three A’s at A level, with two of these As being in biology and chemistry. 

The grade expectation is just as high for those students who are doing other qualifications as well. Here is a table with entry requirements across the most common international qualifications: 

Qualification Entry requirements
A levelsStandard offers between AAA and A*A*A: Please see individual programmes for specific requirements. For information regarding the upcoming changes to A-levels please read our Statement on A-level Reform‌.‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌ Please note A-level Use of Mathematics cannot take the place of A-level Mathematics, where Mathematics is specified as a required subject. 
European BaccalaureateScores of 80%-85% overall, with scores of 8.5-9 in relevant subjects
International BaccalaureateOverall scores of 38-42, with scores of 6-7 in relevant subjects at higher level. Please note Mathematical Studies cannot take the place of Mathematics, where Mathematics is specified as a required subject
Advanced PlacementMinimum of 3-4 AP tests with Grades of 5 (see course pages for required subjects). Expected to be taken alongside a relevant high school diploma.Where sat independently, departments will seek additional AP tests 4-6. Where taken in conjunction with other qualifications, departments will seek the required standards in all qualifications presented.

There is also an English language requirement that all home, EU and overseas students must meet in order for their applications to be considered. Currently Imperial has two English language attainment levels: standard and higher, with each subject requiring its own level of english language attainment. 

In order to demonstrate competency in English, all undergraduate applicants must either achieve the minimum score in one of the English tests the university accepts, or prove that they are exempt from the English language requirement.

For details on the full list of English qualifications accepted and the rules on English language exemption, please visit the university’s website.

Prepare documents 

Personal statement 

Moving onto arguably one of the most important steps of your Imperial application: the personal statement. Due to the high calibre of students that apply to Imperial each year, your personal statement may be the difference between an acceptance and getting rejected as you cannot rely on your grades alone. Therefore, it is really important that you give yourself enough time to try and perfect it. Your personal statement is your opportunity to show off your unique personality and interests, use it to convince the examiner that you deserve a place on your course because you will make the absolute most of it!

Top tips for the perfect personal statement.

Find your Why 

Many students might want to study a subject because they like how it sounds or they think they might make a lot of money doing it in future, but you can make money studying any degree, so why choose this one? In order for your personal statement to be successful, you have to get to the root of why you want to study your course at your chosen university. Is it because you want to make an impact on other people’s lives? Is it because you think you can be a source of innovation? Because you’re passionate about political movements or because you have always been the person your family called to fix broken remotes and laptops? Whatever reason you have for wanting to study your chosen degree, don’t be afraid of sharing the parts of your life that it comes from.

Don’t be stereotypical 

As much as it is important to share your reason for studying your chosen course, starting off your personal statement with “since I was 5 years old I’ve wanted to be a … ” might be the quickest way to bore the admissions officers. Instead of using well rehearsed lines about thoughts you definitely didn’t have at 5 years old, speak about the lessons you found interesting at school, the museum that you went to, the ted talk you watched or the business you shadowed. These are much more likely to keep the admissions officers attention, and show that you have made efforts outside of school to pursue and further your academic interests.

Keep it relevant

While the admissions officer wants to get to know more about you and your interests, they do not need to know that you have a purple belt in karate or that you’ve had a pet dog since you were 8. Make sure that everything you mention in your personal statement can be linked back to either 1) what makes you interested in the course and 2) what makes you suitable for the course (and karate lessons don’t really go hand in hand with your interest in biochemistry). 

Spelling, grammar and clarity of voice

My final tip is this – Please read over your work – out loud. In the excitement of getting all your thoughts down on paper you may have made a few (or a lot) of grammatical errors, which is why you have to read over your work. If you can’t read it out loud, then an admissions officer probably won’t be able to either, and then you’ve written a thousand words worth of brilliance that the world will never get to appreciate. So make sure that you watch out for things like run-on sentences, that your paragraphs have a clear flow and that your personal statement has a beginning, middle and end. 

Letter of recommendation/reference

What a lot of students don’t realise, is that your UCAS application will have to be sent with a letter of endorsement from a referee at your school. For those students who are able to choose who writes their letters, I would suggest setting up a meeting with them early on in the application cycle, so both you and your referee have more than enough time.

When choosing a referee it is important to consider the following factors: 

  • How long has this member of staff taught you
  • Do they teach a subject relevant to the course you are applying for at university 
  • Can they speak to your character

For those students who are not able to choose their referee, do not panic, there are still a couple things you can do to try and make sure you have the best recommendation possible.

Increase your class participation:

If you’re not someone who usually answers questions in class, well you are now! If a teacher notices you are engaging with the subject then they are more likely to write about it in your reference

Ask them questions:

Asking questions shows you have a genuine interest in the subject and want to deepen your understanding. The questions don’t have to be based solely on the work you do in class, you can ask them about the application of the topic you are covering, or about relevant things you may have heard on the news. 

Offer to help out:

Everybody appreciates being helped out now and again, and so do teachers. Ask them if they need help with anything – the more likely you are to leave a good impression, the better they will reflect about you and the more positive your letter of recommendation will be.

Sit the entrance exams 

The entrance exam is often one of the most dreaded parts of the application (sometimes even more than the interview!) but unlike interviews where you are thrown on the spot, you can always prepare yourself for what’s to come with an exam!

Entrance exams are a super important part of the application process, as they can be used to determine who will even make it to the interview stage. Entrance exams will differ per subject, with some subjects not even conducting them, here is my best advice for entrance exams as someone who was terrified of mine:

Practise – Practise, practise, practise! 

The best thing you can do is try and find online practice papers that you can use as a test. Do them in exam conditions to try and best prepare yourself for the real thing. And be really honest with yourself when marking as it will help you really focus on what you need to improve for the real exam 

Time management is your best friend!

For many people, it is not the content of the entrance exam that is the most difficult part, it is finishing the entrance exam within the time given. Keep a note of how long the exam is and calculate roughly how long you have to answer each question. Try and stick to this time when going through your practice paper, as this will help you get used to the timings in the real thing. Rember, not too fast but not too slow. 

Keep calm 

The last and arguably most important piece of advice is to stay calm while going through the exam. Being nervous is normal, but being overly nervous can negatively impact your performance. Try to take deep breaths and reframe your thinking. Remember it is just one out of many opportunities to show the university that you have what it takes, it is not the be all and end all. Reward yourself after the exam is finished regardless of how well you think you may have performed.

Attend your interviews 

You’ve made it! You’ve bagged yourself an interview, congratulations! Now is your final shot to make an impression and really show yourself to be the best candidate for a place on your desired course. Just like with the entrance exam it’s important not to stress yourself out before the interview. Remember, they are just trying to find out more about you and see if you are a good fit for the course, they are not trying to trick you!

My top tips for interviews are:

Read your personal statement – Many students forget about their personal statement by the time the interview rolls around which is a massive mistake! Your personal statement is a big part of the information your interviewer has about you. Expect some of their questions to be based on your personal statement and take some time to expand on anything you wrote that could be picked up on. If you talked about a theory or a theorist, it’s time to research them in depth so you can speak about it confidently in your interview 

Mock interviews – Practice makes perfect so the best thing you can do is try and do some practise interviews. Depending on your school you may be able to practise with someone who has successfully applied for the course you want to study, a teacher who teaches a similar subject, or an older student. Whoever your interviewer may be, the most important thing is that you get a taste of what it’s like to think on your feet and to articulate your knowledge to someone else. 

Know your subject – This one may be obvious but it is still super important!  Doing the relevant reading around your subject can make all the difference as it shows that you are passionate about your future course and can lead to you having more interesting discussions at your interviews, but don’t forget to revise over the content from your lessons, as this will form the background of your understanding.

Research the University – You could study your chosen course at a lot of universities around the world, so why this one? Research your chosen course at Imperial and compare it to other Russel group universities, are the modules different, is it structured differently? Is it taught differently? Your interviewers will want to know that you have thought deeply about your choices.

Come up with Questions for your interviewer – The interview is a great opportunity to ask any questions you have about the university or the course. Remember you have to like the university as well!

Get comfortable – if your interview is online, use that opportunity to create a space in which you feel comfortable and calm. This will help you feel more at ease when the time comes.

Apply for scholarships and financial aid

Lastly you should know how you are going to be funding your studies. There are many different funding opportunities, with most universities offering scholarships, bursaries or grants! Read the website to find out what’s on offer for your circumstances, as the scholarships may vary based on whether you are a home or overseas student, your subject and your socioeconomic circumstances, so make sure to filter through the results to find one that’s best for you!

Also be sure to make a note of deadlines, it’s best to start looking at the scholarship offers after you have finished your application to give yourself the best shot at being chosen. 

Top tips for getting into Imperial 

1. Research, Research, Research. The more you know about your chosen subject, the more dedicated and passionate you come across in your application.

2. Super Curriculars over extracurriculars. The admissions officers want to know that you’ve made an effort outside of your school curriculum to learn more about your future course. So tell them all the lectures you’ve attended, programmes you helped run and mentoring that you’ve done with younger students that’s relevant to your course. Do not tell them about how you like to play guitar or your favourite meet up spots, as interesting as it may be, they do not need to know.  

3. Stay Organised! Keep track of upcoming deadlines and make sure you have scheduled in time for preparation in between your revision schedule.

4. Attend Open days. Open days are a great way to see what life at Imperial would be like! As well as talk to current students and staff and get a feel for your future course. Why not ask them what they like best about the University/course and use that in your interview.

5. Be yourself. The most important piece of advice I can share is to be yourself! Be genuine about your interests and passions, and really show the University how much they can gain by having you as a student there!

6. Stay off of chat rooms/student groups/social media threads, anything that will make you think more negatively or question your worth and ability! The fact that you are aiming for a world class education already speaks volumes about yourself, you do not need to be a Nobel laureate or a CEO to be able to get into the university you want to go to, and having those things won’t guarantee you a place either! 

ICL Application FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

The Imperial acceptance rate is around 11-14%, with 7 candidates applying for every 1 space on the undergraduate cohort. The acceptance rate also varies by subject, with some subjects, notoriously engineering and computing, being harder to get into than others.

Imperial is a world class university, ranking 3rd in Europe, 5th in the UK and 8th globally.

Imperial College London is a member of the Russell Group, which is a network of 24 leading research-intensive universities in the United Kingdom. The Russell Group is often compared to the Ivy League in the United States in terms of its reputation for high academic standards and research achievements. However, it’s important to note that the Russell Group is not a formal league with sports competitions, as the Ivy League is, but rather an association that aims to represent, promote, and safeguard the interests of its member institutions.

Imperial College London is not a member of the Ivy League, as the Ivy League specifically refers to a group of eight private institutions of higher education in the Northeastern United States. These institutions are known for their highly selective admissions process, academic excellence, and social prestige.

Gaining admission to Imperial College London (ICL) is considered quite competitive due to its high academic standards and reputation as one of the leading universities in the world, particularly in the fields of science, engineering, and medicine.

The exact difficulty can vary depending on your chosen course, your academic and extracurricular profile, and how well you manage to present yourself in your application. Preparing well in advance and understanding the specific requirements of your desired program at Imperial College London are crucial steps to increase your chances of admission.

Yes, Imperial College London does provide contextual offers to help support students from disadvantaged backgrounds and underrepresented groups. These contextual offers are part of the college’s commitment to widening participation and ensuring that talented students from all backgrounds have the opportunity to study at Imperial.

Getting Into Imperial: The Verdict

Imperial is an amazing University with a lot to offer its students! But like other Ivy League Universities and Oxbridge, the competition will be tough with the brightest students applying from all over the world. If you have the grades and the drive, then you should definitely consider applying, and if you follow all the advice from this article, your chances of getting in will definitely increase!