UCAS Points: How Do They Work?

Sit tight as we explore the mathematical phenomenon that is the UCAS points system and examine how it affects your university application...

The end of summer heralds the start of a new school year. Sun-kissed skin has faded and the fake-tan brigade is back out in force for the cold, dark winter ahead. For most of us it's back to the same old, monotonous routine, unless, of course, you're a final year student preparing to begin the last stage of the long, arduous road to university. For you, the year ahead is a hazardous one, strewn with obstacles, deadlines, parental nagging and nervous breakdowns at every turn. Sounds fun, eh? So, with this in mind, you'd think they'd try and make the whole process a little easier for you, right? Wrong. Indeed, the irony of it all is that you practically need a degree to understand the whole application process...

Don't worry, that's where this blog comes in! Sit tight as we explore the mathematical phenomenon that is the UCAS points system and examine how it affects your university application:

What are UCAS Points?

UCAS points can be found on the UCAS points table, or tariff. They're what universities refer to when considering whether or not an applicant has the necessary qualifications for entry onto their course. They're like university gold dust; the more of them you have, the more likely you are to get onto your chosen course. Points are assigned to each grade, A to E, and vary depending on the qualification (i.e. you get more points for A Levels than Scottish Highers). Each University course will have a required number of UCAS points for entry onto their course; therefore, you must amass that amount of points or more to be considered for a place.

What about my grades?

Your grades still matter! As well as required number of points, universities will also usually state grades you require for certain subjects for entry onto their courses. You need to make sure that you meet the point requirements which include the grades for the subjects they have stipulated. For example, if a uni asks for a minimum of 240 UCAS Tariff points "to include A Level Biology", you won't be considered if you don't have Biology, even if you have the 240 points required.

Where do I find out how many points my qualification is worth?

From A Levels, to AS Levels, to Scottish Highers, to BTECs and even British Horse Society qualifications; no matter what the qualification, as long as UCAS has awarded it points, you'll find them here, on the UCAS website.

What if I can't find my qualification on the points table?

There will be occasions where the qualification you are working towards doesn't appear on the UCAS Points Tariff. In this instance, don't panic; it doesn't necessarily mean that your qualification is worthless in the eyes of your desired university. Certain qualifications, by the very nature of them, don't lend themselves well to UCAS' points system. Alternatively, it may be that UCAS haven't yet got round to considering that particular qualification. Whatever the case, universities will always consider any qualification listed on an application regardless of points, provided that it's relevant to the course being applied to and of a high enough standard.

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