In this paper conditional offers made by universities to candidates resident in England and Wales and taking A levels are analysed. The analysis was conducted at Lancaster University as part of a larger research project funded by the Training Agency during 1988-89, whose main aims were to map the pattern of admissions policies and practices and to examine the rationales, constraints and incentives affecting them. Our aim was to discover for each subject whether or to what extent the level of conditional offers made was related to the gender, age, social class, or school/college of the applicant, to the choice position (1-5) in which the university was placed, or to differences between universities. Four subjects were examined (electrical engineering, English, mathematics and sociology), and substantial differences in conditions were found which could be associated with some or all of the above factors. For all four subjects, variations between universities in the magnitude and direction of these effects were also found. We discuss the possible reasons for these variations, and also the limitations of this study.