Getting into university can be a stressful time for students. While most students do 3 A-Levels, some students choose to do 4 A-Levels (Usually due to high prior attainment at GCSE). Other students decide to take BTECs or even take a combination of both A-Levels and a BTEC. But which qualifications are actually required for university? Can you get into university with only 2 A-Levels?
Ultimately, two A-Level qualifications by themselves will not be enough to get you into university. Many universities require you to have a minimum requirement of UCAS points (112), this criterion is often met with 3 qualifications. This means that you can have 2 A-Level qualifications and another qualification such as a BTEC; however, universities are unlikely to accept you if you are unable to meet this requirement.
This article seeks to demystify any confusion you may have regarding your sixth form qualifications and what you require to get into university.
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Is it possible to get into university with 2 A-Levels?
For the majority of students, it isn’t possible to get into university with only 2 A-Levels. The majority of universities require at least 3 qualifications or better explained as 112 UCAS tariff points. There are many ways these entry requirements can be obtained, for example 2 A-Levels and 1 BTEC, 2 BTECs and 1 A-Level would be accepted.
Many universities use UCAS tariff points as their minimum entry requirements. UCAS tariff points translate your qualification grade into a numerical value. This value is used by many universities as their entry requirements. Universities don’t only focus on your UCAS tariff points, they also look at your GCSE qualifications and any other qualification you may have picked up after your GCSEs.
How many UCAS points do you need to get into university?
The amount of UCAS tariff points required for university depends on the university and the course you are hoping to study. The general minimum entry requirement is 112 tariff points. To find out more about UCAS points I recommend you read this Think Student article.
The most common forms of higher education taken at sixth form college are A-Levels and BTECs. The tables below outline the UCAS tariff point conversion rates for a few of the most popular qualifications. Check out the UCAS website to see the conversion rates for many other courses.
A-Level UCAS points conversion table:
AS-Level UCAS conversion table:
BTEC Extended Diploma UCAS point conversion table:
BTEC Diploma (QCF) UCAS point conversion table:
Looking at the tables above you can work out the different ways you can achieve 112 UCAS tariff points to meet the university entry requirements, some examples of this are shown below:
- 3 A-Levels – Grades BBC, or A*CD
- 1 A-Level plus BTEC Diploma – Grades B+DM, or D+DD
- BTEC Extended Diploma – Grades DMM
- 2 A-Levels plus 2 AS – Grades BB+bb, or AB+cc
There are many other ways you can do to gain 112 UCAS tariff points so make sure you check on UCAS to see what your course converts to in UCAS tariff points. You can see that two A*s at A-Level would get you 112 UCAS points, so it is unlikely to get into university with only two A-Levels, however you can certainly get into university doing two A-Levels plus another qualification. You may find studying two A-Levels alongside another qualification or doing an Extended BTEC easier and better suited to your learning style, so make sure you do your research to work out your best path to university.
Is it possible to get into university with 2 A-Levels and an EPQ?
An EPQ stands for the extended project qualification and is highly valued among universities, especially elite universities, as it gives them an insight to your ability to work at a university level. An EPQ is a worthwhile qualification to gain as it is half an A-Level and provides UCAS tariff points which means you can get a reduced university offer. The UCAS tariff points are shown in the table below:
EPQ UCAS tariff point conversion table:
If you were to take 2 A-Levels alongside an EPQ you would need to achieve grades – AA+C, or AB+A along with a few other combinations of grades to get into university. An EPQ therefore is an effective way to get into university the only caveat being you will need to achieve relatively high grades in all your courses. If you want to find out more about EPQs then check out this Think Student article here.
Can you get into university with a BTEC qualification?
If you decide to take a BTEC Extended diploma or 3 BTEC diploma qualifications, you can achieve high enough UCAS tariff points to go to university. BTECs can be stigmatised for being less academic, therefore some people question whether they are substantial qualifications. However, BTEC qualifications are enough for students to go to university. If you want to find out more about BTECs check out this Think Student article.
Some students feel as though BTECs can prevent them from accessing elite universities. While both Oxford and Cambridge generally require 3 A-Level qualifications other elite universities such as the Russell group universities and many others do allow students to go to university with vocational qualifications such as BTECs. It is important to check the entry requirements on the universities website.
If you are interested in applying to an Oxbridge university, check out this Think Student article.
Can you get into university combining A-Levels and BTECs?
Generally, universities will accept you if you meet the required grades or equivalent UCAS tariff points. However, as previously stated Oxford and Cambridge generally don’t take on students who do BTEC qualifications.
If you want to do certain courses at university, they may require you to have 2 A-Levels in relevant subjects, so you would only be able to take 1 BTEC alongside these A-Levels at sixth form college in order to do your chosen course at university.
Different universities have different requirements and work with different frameworks – some universities are more or less flexible than others. For instance, for a dual degree in history and politics, some universities may require you to have studied both at A-Level, so it is important to check your university entry requirements in great detail.
Do universities prefer 3 or 4 A-Levels?
Generally, doing 3 A-Levels is advised as you don’t have the added stress and can focus on the qualifications that are required by universities. Many universities would rather you do very well in the 3 A-Levels, rather than doing okay in 4 A-Levels. You can see how this works out when you look at the UCAS tariff point conversion tables. We see that 3 A-Levels at grade A equals 144 points compared to 4 A-Levels at grade C which equals 128 points.
In particular, Oxbridge recommends students study 3 A-Levels, as it means they can focus on particular areas and have a specialist in which they can focus on at university. Adding a fourth A-Level can complicate things and make it harder to select a course and delve deeper in the field.
As a general note taking four A-Levels is incredibly challenging and should be thoroughly considered before you go through with it. Sixth form colleges tend to have trial periods, so you can begin with four A-levels and see whether you are able to balance your workload and work productively before dropping back to 3 if required.
If you want to learn more about how many A-Levels to take check out this Think Student article.