- What are UCAS points?
- What qualifications can be converted to tariff points?
- How do the UCAS points work?
- Things to know about UCAS points
- How to increase UCAS points
When you send your applications to universities, they are required to collect and calculate UCAS points. Calculating UCAS points can be difficult, particularly due to the fact that different qualifications are worth different amounts of points, such as the International Baccalaureate(IB) or BTEC.
Calculating UCAS points and how to work out UCAS points can seem daunting at first. 🤔 To help make things clearer, we’ve got the answers to your questions right here.
What are UCAS points?
There are different scoring standards and values when it comes to different qualifications, such as A-Levels, IB, and BTEC. This makes it difficult for the admission officers to compare grades for enrollment. Therefore, many universities convert marks into standardised numerical points known as UCAS tariff points.
Most universities use a UCAS tariff points calculator, but you can also work out UCAS points yourself. Universities calculate UCAS points to compare students from different backgrounds on a more equal playing field.
What qualifications can be converted to tariff points?
UCAS allows a variety of different qualifications to be converted into tariff points. These are arranged in three sections:
- UK benchmark qualifications such as A and AS Levels, AS and AS VCE, International Baccalaureate(IB), BTECs, QCF, Cambridge International Pre-U Diploma, etc.
- Other UK qualifications such as AAT Accounting Qualifications, ABC Diploma, Advanced Extension Award, etc.
- International qualifications such as Advanced Placement Exams (US and International), Global Assessment Certificate (Australia), Irish Leaving Certificate (Ireland), etc.
It should be noted that the UCAS constantly updates these qualifications to reflect diversity and inclusion.
How do UCAS points work?
Different qualifications awarded in the UK are assigned a size band value, ranging from 1-4, based on the learning hours. With it, a grade band point from 3-14 is also assigned.
Calculating UCAS points simply requires you to multiply your course size band value with your grade band point.
Similarly, a specific UCAS tariff value is assigned to a particular grade for a specific qualification. For example, the tariff point equivalent to a grade A in A-Levels or an H6 in IB is 48. To check your tariff points according to your current qualifications, you can use this table from UCAS.
These tariff points are added as per the university’s requirements. For example, if the entry requirement was previously a grade combination of AAB, the UCAS grade calculator would convert it to 112, which is the total sum of the converted grades.
This way, if you have different qualifications, you can use the UCAS points calculator to convert them to UCAS points and add your grades to check if they meet the required thresholds.
We recommend using the handy UCAS calculator to directly calculate your tariff points!
Things to know about UCAS points
Calculating UCAS points can be tricky at times. However, not all universities need the tariff conversion, and those that do might have different rules and criteria. Here are a few rules that you should know before calculating UCAS points using the UCAS score calculator.
- Only ⅓ of the universities listed on UCAS use tariff points. This means you might not have any tariff point requirements for most universities. The universities will end up calculating the tariff points anyway, but in this case, they are only submitting them to the government for data and league table entries. You don’t have to do anything in this case.
- UCAS does not have tariff point conversions for all qualifications. However, this doesn’t mean that you cannot apply if you didn’t take conventional subjects. In such cases, universities will coordinate directly with you.
- If you have completed an A level in a subject, some universities and colleges might not count the tariff points for an AS level qualification that was not completed at A level. It’s therefore important to be careful about the subjects you include in your application.
- The UCAS tariff is only convertible for Level 3/SCQF Level 6 qualifications. Therefore, Level 2 qualifications like the GCSE are not applicable here.
How to increase UCAS tariff points
You might be aiming for a university that requires high tariff points. Failing to achieve those points might prevent you from getting into your chosen university and you may have to go through clearing or take a gap year. However, you can do the following things to increase your tariff points.
- Additional A-levels and AS levels can help you increase your UCAS tariff points. For example, an extra A level can add up to 56 points if you score an A*.
- Earning a Level 3 diploma, certificate, or award can give you a 24 point increase.
- Earning a free-standing mathematics qualification can get you 20 points if you score an A.
- Working on a Cambridge Pre-U Qualification can earn you up to 56 points for an entire course and 22 points for a short course.
- Taking the Cambridge ESOL examination can get you 42 points.
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