UCAS Points – How are they assigned? What do you need them for? When do you need them? These are all common questions that students have when it comes to getting qualifications with the aim of applying to University. The system for UCAS Points can be confusing, but you don’t want to have to spend hours trying to understand it, especially at crucial times, such as during your GCSEs.
In this article, some of your questions about the UCAS Point system and how it relates (or doesn’t!) to GCSE Qualifications will be explained in as simple a way as possible, so that you don’t have to spend your valuable revision time worrying about it!
The short answer here is: No. GCSEs will not earn you any UCAS Points. This is essentially because UCAS Points are only used for University applications and GCSEs are a lower level of qualification than those you will get from Sixth Form, and therefore are not as relevant as your most recent qualification when you are applying to courses at your chosen Universities.
If you would like to know when you need UCAS Points, why you don’t get them for your GCSEs, and what you can do gain more UCAS Points to improve your application, keep reading.
Do You Get UCAS Points For Your GCSE Qualifications?
So, as I said above, you won’t gain any UCAS Points for your GCSEs. Despite this, GCSEs are incredibly important, not only in getting you to college, but also in terms of your University application. They contribute to University applications in a different kind of way and are not to be dismissed just because they don’t carry any UCAS Points.
The majority of Universities have entry requirements based on GCSEs. Commonly, they require a minimum grade in English or Maths, but it is not limited to these two subjects.
For example, if you wanted to study Psychology at Newcastle University, a minimum GCSE grade of a 6 is required in both Maths and a Science. This is because these are the baseline skills needed for parts of this course, though it is not necessary (even though it is preferred) to have these subjects at an A-Level standard.
So, as you can see, some courses will require you to have specific GCSEs. These are likely to include only compulsory subjects (like English, Maths and Science), and the specific course requirements can all be found on individual University websites. Remember, being aware of the required minimum GCSE grades of your dream University could be useful.
Universities also often have an expected number of GCSEs that you should have passes and above in. To reiterate, just because your GCSEs won’t get you UCAS Points, it doesn’t mean they aren’t to be taken incredibly seriously!
Why Don’t You Get UCAS Points For Your GCSEs?
UCAS Points are assigned to pre-university courses, which will be available for you to take at Sixth Form. These are considered to be Level 3 Qualifications, and are the main way to earn UCAS Points. Unfortunately, GCSEs are labelled as Level 2 Qualifications, and therefore will not get you any extra UCAS Points.
Which Qualifications Do Give You UCAS Points?
UCAS Points are assigned to a number of different types of courses, which will be possible options for you to take at Sixth Form. It is important to keep in mind that not every type of course is likely to be available to you at your most local Sixth Form, but it is worth researching where you may be able to gain the type of qualification that interests you most (even if you do have to travel a bit further!).
Although GCSEs will not give you any UCAS points, A-Level qualifications will. For example, an A* at A-Level will give you 56 UCAS points, while a B would give you 40 UCAS points. So, good grades at A-Level, can often be the only type of qualification that is necessary for you to gain enough points to meet your University’s requirements (though if you have the chance to gain some additional points from other activities or qualifications, it can be comforting to have a safety net to fall back on).
A-Levels are not the only way that you can get UCAS Points. Another example of a qualification which can earn you UCAS Points is AS-Levels. An A at AS-Level would give you 20 UCAS Points, and a C would give you 12 UCAS Points. However, it is important to remember that AS-Levels can only be included in you UCAS Point total if you have not completed the full A-Level in that subject.
It is, however, important to remember that just because some types of courses are not assigned UCAS Points, it does not mean that they won’t be accepted by some Universities. If you would like to find out if the qualification that you are taking will earn you any UCAS Points, have a read of this useful article which lists ways that you can earn UCAS Points.
Do You Actually Need UCAS Points After You Complete Your GCSEs?
Immediately after your GCSEs, you will have no need for UCAS Points, and it is likely that you won’t have earned very many (if any at all) by this point in your academic career, as your Sixth Form courses are your main opportunity to earn the majority of your UCAS Points.
Although it may therefore seem that GCSEs aren’t that relevant to your University Application, they are still incredibly important. You will be asked to state your GCSEs on your application, and they may be useful to show off in any possible University Interviews.
So, perhaps UCAS Points should be something that you keep in the back of your mind as you near the end of Secondary School. However, it is important to remember that there is no real need to especially worry about them before the start of your Sixth Form courses – as this is when you can start working towards earning as many as you can.
What Else Can You Do To Get UCAS Points?
If, after learning that GCSEs make no contribution to UCAS Points, you are concerned about how you are going to earn enough UCAS Points to get to University, don’t worry! There are a variety of ways that you can earn extra UCAS Points to secure your place at University.
Some examples are:
- Formal Music Grade Exams
- Take an extra A-Level or AS-Level
If you would like more information on great ways to earn some extra UCAS Points, take a look at this useful article which lists the ways that you can earn UCAS Points to help you with your application.
At What Point Do You Need UCAS Points?
The only use for UCAS Points is when you are applying for University. At this point in your academic career, GCSEs will not be the most recent qualification you have earned, and therefore, they do not get you any extra UCAS Points.
In most cases, Universities will offer you a place on your chosen course with the condition that you meet their specific grade requirements in your exams (for example: AAB or BCC). In these cases, although the additional things that you have done in order to gain extra UCAS Points may give you the edge with your application, they are not considered to be the most important thing when you get your results.
However, around a third of Universities make their conditional offers based on the number of UCAS Points that you have earned from your exam results and the additional activities that you have completed. In these cases, having UCAS Points from additional activities may give you some piece of mind, as you already have a contribution to your offer before exam results come out!
If you want to see whether UCAS Points will be considered by your chosen University, take a look at their summary page for your chosen area of study, where you will find the entry requirements for the course.