As well as improving personal statements, OSCAR provides a tool for making reference writing easier and more effective.

Common Reference Writing Problems

Research shows that there are two main problems with references. Firstly, key messages required by universities are often missed. For example, if a student is predicted a grade which is significantly above their attainment at AS level, it is crucial to say why the prediction has been made. Secondly, references are often not targeted at specific courses. For instance, more than one subject report in the same reference may refer to a students' ability to participate in group discussions but not emphasize how a student has demonstrated the skills required for a specific subject.

The OSCAR solution

OSCAR supports both teachers writing references as form tutors and teachers completing short subject reports. OSCAR puts all the main messages needed in a single place ensuring that references are improved and the writing process made quicker and easier. A set of subject-specific skills are provided for all major UCAS subjects. The tool can be used to train NQTs or update practice for experienced teachers, ensuring that practice is harmonised across a school or college. 

Subject reports

1. The buttons on the left give the main categories of messages required by university admissions tutors. 

2. Upon selecting a category, a range of examples and detailed guidance is given.

3. The reference can then be written and saved in the box below.

4. The tool can be used to complement and feed into any existing system for collecting references currently in use at your school or college.

Form tutor reference

1. On the left hand side, the form tutor can see a reminder of the main message categories required and, which evidence suggests, are often left out.

2. By selecting a category, the form tutor can see a range of examples and advice to ensure that the reference can be personalised for students with a variety of needs.

3. All references can be written saved and updated as needed.

Frequently asked questions

2. Are subject-specific skills available for all courses?

Yes. All major UCAS groups are represented. Where students are applying for a niche course, teachers can find a closely related subject and access a relevant skill-set.




1. Will using the tool produce identical references?

Quite the opposite. The reference tool provides a foundation for ensuring that key messages are registered but analysis of usage shows that different teachers produce very different references. Without the tool, many references can exhibit high degrees of repetition with subject reports repeatedly emphasizing qualities such as a student's ability to work in groups. The tool can make reference writing more diverse by providing teachers with a wider range of possibilities.

Contact us

If you are interested in using the reference tool, fill out the form below and one of our staff members will get back to you.

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