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UCAS points explained

Perhaps you’ve heard people talking about UCAS tariff points, but do you actually know what they mean?

UCAS points explained

UCAS, or the University and College Admissions Service, handles applications from students in Year 12 or older who want to go to university.

Why have UCAS points?
Universities want to attract the best calibre candidates they can get.

UCAS points are a way for universities to find out what students are capable of academically.

By setting a minimum number of UCAS points for each course offered, universities ensure that the students who study there have the abilities to do well in the course and complete it.

How does it work?

Each qualification and grade is equal to a certain number of UCAS points.

When you get your predicted grades in Year 12, you can work out how many UCAS points you have and which universities are likely to accept you.


UCAS points explainedIt helps to think about choosing the right university as like a visit to the supermarket where UCAS points are the currency.

As you walk down the aisles, you are tempted by all these different products or universities, each commanding different prices.

Which university you put in your trolley however, depends on how many UCAS points you’ve got in your wallet.

By Year 12 you should have a rough idea of the number of UCAS points you will get, based on your predicted grades. Therefore, the university course you choose to study in will be the one you like most and have the right UCAS points for.

By the time you’ve reached the supermarket check-out, you will have done all the revision, coursework and exams.

Hopefully, you will have worked hard enough to earn the number of UCAS points you were predicted. If so, you can bag up your uni place. If not, you may need to go back to the aisles and pick a different uni.

Are UCAS points the only thing that universities look at


No. You could have 1000 points but a university will expect you to have studied subjects relevant to the course you apply for.

They may also ask for a certain number of UCAS points but expect you to get an A in a specific subject.

Universities offering very competitive courses may also ask for things like entry examinations like the BMAT, work experience or a written essay.

  • Date published: 16th April 2013
  • Written by: Ian Thomas

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