If you’re looking at your higher education options, you’ll have heard the term ‘UCAS points’ flying around. But do you really know what they are or what the point in them is?
Why do UCAS tariff points exist?
In 2001, the tariff points system was created to make UK qualifications easier to convert and compare – producing a more level field for university applicants. Only level 3 qualifications can be converted to UCAS points. This just mean Level 2 qualifications, such as GCSEs are not considered. Likewise, AS levels are only included in your UCAS score if you have not completed an A-Level in that subject.
The tariff point system has no influence over grades, exams or courses. It is simply used as a comparison tool.
While it’s estimated that only a third of universities actually use UCAS points in their offers, it can still be really useful for you to know exactly how many points you have, or are expecting.
Important things to note about the way institutes use tariff points.
- As already stated, not all universities and colleges use the tariff system. Many just employ qualifications and grades.
- Some institutes have certain limitations on the qualifications they accept. For example, many only accept tariff points from the highest scoring three A-Levels. This just means that you can’t have a really high value, despite performing poorly across many subjects.
- A new, or at least slightly amended, UCAS tariff system was implemented for students applying to university, starting in 2017. They are very similar, but just something to be aware of if you’re considering how the entry requirements and offers of courses may have changed recently. Owing to the increase in students taking vocational qualifications, the new system now includes BTECs.
How are the points calculated?
Each qualification is allocated a size band value, ranging from 1-4. This is based on the number of learning hours. Each qualification is also given a grade band point, from 3-14. These two factors, size band value and grade band point, are then multiplied together to result in your UCAS points score.
Don’t worry, there are plenty of online calculators to help out with this. Here at UK University Search we’ve got our very own.
Using the UK University Search UCAS Points Calculator.
It really is very simple to use, using the drop down menu, begin by selecting the type of qualifications you are completing. Then enter your grade, or predicted grade. Automatically the point value will appear, showing you the individual score of each qualification. You can find out your total number of UCAS points by pressing ‘calculate total’.
Now you know your UCAS score, you can make a more immediate and informed decision about whether you should do some more research into particular courses and institutes.