UCAS Points: A Guide for UK School Leavers

If you’re a UK school leaver considering going to university, you may have heard of UCAS points. But what are they, and how do you get them?

Your UCAS application success depends on earning as many as you can so keep reading!

Our mini-guide covers the most common questions from UK students, and links to the official UCAS tariff tables and calculator.

What are UCAS Points?

UCAS points are a way of measuring the academic achievement of students applying to UK universities. They are used by universities to assess the suitability of applicants for their courses.

How Do You Get UCAS Points?

UCAS points are awarded for successfully completing certain qualifications. The number of UCAS points awarded varies depending on the qualification and the grade achieved.

Here are some examples of qualifications and the UCAS points they provide:

A Level: Grades A* – E are worth between 48 and 16 UCAS points each.
– BTEC Level 3 Diploma: Between 40 and 80 UCAS points, depending on grade achieved.
– International Baccalaureate: Between 24 and 45 UCAS points, depending on the grade achieved.
– Scottish Highers: Grades A – C are worth between 32 and 16 UCAS points each.
– Cambridge Pre-U: Grades D1 – M3 are worth between 28 and 16 UCAS points each.

There are many other qualifications that can provide UCAS points, and the UCAS website has a full list.

Tariff Points

The UCAS Tariff is a points-based system used to measure the achievement of students (post-16 years old) across a range of qualifications.

Not all qualifications are on the Tariff, but most of the common ones are. The Tariff points for a qualification are based on the size of the qualification and the grade achieved.

For example, a Level 3 qualification worth 60 credits with a distinction grade will have 112 Tariff points. The Tariff points for a Level 2 qualification worth 30 credits with a merit grade will be 24.

The Tariff points for a qualification can be used to meet the entry requirements of a course, just like UCAS points. Some universities may ask for a certain number of Tariff points rather than UCAS points.

You can check out the Tariff tables for September 2023 entry here.

Or if you prefer, use the official UCAS Tariff points calculator.

How Do You Use UCAS Points and Tariff Points?

When you apply to university through UCAS, you will need to list the qualifications you have achieved and the grades you received. UCAS will then calculate your total number of UCAS points and Tariff points based on this information.

Most universities will state the number of UCAS points or Tariff points required for entry to their courses. If you meet the required number of points, you are eligible to apply for the course.

Don’t worry too much, the official UCAS website says: Some employers use the Tariff to help with their selection process. This is not encouraged by UCAS.

Getting Ready for Uni

UCAS points and Tariff points are important parts of the university application process in the UK.

By understanding what they are and how they work, you can give yourself the best chance of being accepted onto the course of your choice.

Make sure you work your way backwards from what you need.

You should know now how many points your course requires so you can work your way towards that goal.

Don’t get stuck on results day a few points short of what you want!