How To Get UCAS Points: The Definitive Guide

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Written By Dr Shane McKeown

Are you struggling to get the UCAS points that you need? You’re not alone! Every year, thousands of students find themselves in a similar situation.

But don’t worry – I’m here to help you make sense of it all and show you how to gain those valuable points.

It’s no secret that gaining UCAS points can open up new opportunities for your future. With the right guidance, advice and know-how, you’ll be able to take advantage of these options, giving yourself an edge when applying for college or university courses.

So let me guide you through the process – by following my tips, you’ll soon have everything it takes to become a UCAS point success story!

Understanding The UCAS Points System

As the old saying goes, knowledge is power. When it comes to understanding UCAS points and eligibility requirements, that adage could not be more true.

To maximise your chances of earning a place in university, you need to understand how this system works—what criteria are used to award points and who is eligible for them.

Earning UCAS points begins with having the right qualifications. Depending on where you live or study, there may be different awards available, so make sure you research what’s applicable for your area.

You must meet specific entry criteria for each qualification before being awarded any UCAS points; these can include grade thresholds set by universities or exam boards as well as course-specific requirements like work placements and supervised learning sessions.

Knowing all the finer details about your chosen courses will help ensure that you get all of the points possible from whatever qualifications you take.

How to Get UCAS Points: The List

To get UCAS points, you can:

  1. Complete A-Level or AS-Level exams, which are the most traditional way to gain UCAS points.
  2. Pursue an International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma.
  3. Study for a Level 3 Diploma, Certificate, or Award in your spare time.
  4. Take accredited courses such as the NCFE CACHE Level 3 Diploma for the Early Years Workforce or vocational courses like BTECs.
  5. Participate in extracurricular activities such as grading in music, dance, and horse riding, which can also contribute to your UCAS points.

To calculate your UCAS points, you can use the UCAS Tariff Calculator. 

Keep in mind that not all qualifications are included in the Tariff, so check the entry requirements for the courses you’re interested in.

Vocational courses that carry UCAS points

Some vocational courses that carry UCAS points include:

  1. NCFE CACHE Level 3 Diploma for the Early Years Workforce, which focuses on early childhood education and care.
  2. BTECs, which are vocational qualifications that cover a wide range of subjects, such as business, engineering, health and social care, and more.
  3. Foundation Degrees in various fields, such as Physical Education, Physical Activity, and Sport.

These courses are designed to provide practical skills and knowledge relevant to specific industries and can help you gain UCAS points for university applications.

UCAS Points for Vocational Courses Versus A-levels

Vocational courses can also earn UCAS points, similar to A-levels.

The number of points depends on the qualification size and the grade achieved. For example, a Level 3 Diploma, Certificate, or Award can earn UCAS points. 

BTECs, another type of vocational qualification, also carry UCAS points.

A-level courses can earn up to 56 points each, depending on the achieved grade. 

Vocational qualifications at Level 3 also earn UCAS points and are accepted by universities, but some higher education courses may only accept A-levels.

When comparing vocational courses to A-levels in terms of UCAS points, it’s essential to consider the specific course, qualification level, and grade achieved.

Both A-levels and vocational courses can contribute to your UCAS points, but the exact number of points may vary depending on the qualification and your performance.

How can I get UCAS points fast?

Gaining UCAS points quickly can be challenging, as most qualifications require a significant amount of time and effort. However, some options to consider include:

  1. Taking an extra AS-level or A-level exam, if you have a strong foundation in a subject and can prepare for the exam in a short period.
  2. Participating in extracurricular activities that offer UCAS points, such as grading in music, dance, or horse riding.
  3. Studying for a Level 3 Diploma, Certificate, or Award in your spare time, if you can find a course that allows for accelerated learning.

Keep in mind that universities may have specific requirements for the qualifications they accept, so it’s essential to check the entry requirements for your desired course before pursuing additional UCAS points.

Gaining UCAS points in a short period may not be feasible for everyone, and it’s crucial to consider the time and effort required for each option.

Achieving UCAS Points Through Exams

In order to achieve UCAS points, it is important for students to understand the exam preparation process and grading criteria.

Exam preparation involves setting aside time each day to study the material from classes and practice test taking strategies. It also includes understanding what topics are likely to be tested based on past exams, remaining organised with notes, outlines, and flash cards, as well as creating a plan of action that allows one to manage their workload effectively.

Grading criteria is used by universities when determining how many UCAS points a student will receive for an exam. Generally speaking, there are four common factors: accuracy of answers (including details), clarity of responses (written or verbal), ability to apply knowledge or skills in different contexts, and demonstration of critical thinking skills.

By becoming familiar with these criteria ahead of time, students can tailor their studying methods accordingly so they have higher chances at getting good grades and ultimately more UCAS points.

By following these steps – devoting adequate time towards studying; being familiar with potential questions and topics; staying organized throughout the learning process; and understanding grading criteria – students will be better prepared for their exams which in turn should lead them closer towards achieving their desired number of UCAS points.

Gaining UCAS Points Through Work Experience

Gaining UCAS Points Through Work Experience is like a jigsaw puzzle. You have to fit all the pieces together in order to create a bigger picture and find success. With that being said, if you want to get ahead of the competition, work experience can give you an edge when it comes to your UCAS points score.

The first step towards gaining valuable work experience is career planning. A great way to do this is by researching different industries and job roles online or attending events organized by employers so that you can make informed decisions about which areas are right for you. Additionally, staying up-to-date with current trends and learning how technology can help enhance your experiences will be advantageous when applying for jobs.

Once you have identified potential roles, start submitting applications as early as possible; use cover letters and CVs tailored to each position specifically, plus any other documents requested from the employer such as writing samples or portfolio items.

When preparing for interviews always remember to:

  1. practice beforehand –
  2. research the company thoroughly and prepare some questions that demonstrate your interest in their business model;
  3. think of ways that show off your problem solving skills;
  4. dress appropriately according to the dress code mentioned on the website;
  5. be punctual – arrive at least 10 minutes before the interview time;
  6. bring extra copies of your CV just in case they don’t already have one;
  7. and finally send a thank you note afterwards expressing your appreciation for being given an opportunity to come into their office.

Doing these things could increase your chances of getting hired!

Working hard during internships or part-time positions also demonstrates commitment and enthusiasm which may eventually lead to full-time employment opportunities down the line – another way of increasing those UCAS points!

Understanding Additional UCAS Points

Now that you know how to get UCAS points through work experience, it’s important to understand what other types of activities could earn you additional points.

Many universities have awarding criteria for extra-curricular activities, such as community service, voluntary work or leading a team at your local youth club. These extracurricular activities can help demonstrate character traits and aptitudes which may not be evident in academic qualifications alone.

In addition to this, some universities will also consider awards given by external bodies like the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme or Youth Achievement Awards – these are generally recognised nationally and can add significant value when applying to university.

Some institutions may even recognise achievements from within sport or music if they meet certain standards – so always look out for any opportunities that may present themselves during your studies!


Gaining UCAS points can seem overwhelming and confusing, but with a few simple steps you can maximize your chances of success.

With hard work and dedication, any student can achieve the necessary points to get into the university or college of their choice.

It begins by understanding how the system works and then setting goals that are achievable through exams, work experience and other activities.

Imagining yourself standing in front of your dream school on graduation day will help keep you motivated during this process.

Ultimately, it’s important to remember that all the effort is worth it – when you finally receive those coveted UCAS points, you’ll be one step closer to achieving your educational goals!

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