You may feel that predicted grades are pointless. As your predicted grades aren’t your real grades and don’t define the grades you get after your exams at all, this can make sense. However, predicted grades are used due to being necessary for particular scenarios, which will be explored later on in this article. Due to this, judging how important predicted grades are can’t properly be done until you’ve properly understood what predicted grades are used for and why this can be important.
In short, predicted grades are important. This is particularly because they are used for applications. Predicted grades are essential when applying to both college and university. They are one of the factors used to determine whether or not you are able to get in. This is because colleges and universities set entry requirements that your predicted grades will generally need to meet for your to be accepted onto the course.
Important: While predicted grades are a factor in colleges and universities granting you a place, there are also other factors to consider. If your predicted grades are lower than your entry requirements this doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t be accepted onto your chosen course.
Continue reading to learn more about how predicted grades are used and how they can be important. This article will help you better understand the importance of predicted grades for college and university applications and what you can do to ensure these are as high as possible.
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Do your predicted grades matter?
Simply put, predicted grades do matter. This is because they are used for applications and also act as performance indicators throughout your secondary school and sixth form/ college education.
Their significance in applications is particularly apparent for college and university applications. This will be explored in greater detail in the following sections of this article.
As performance indicators, predicted grades can show you and your teachers how well you’re doing with your studies. This is because they are an overview of how you are performing in both your classwork and any practice exams that you do.
Due to this, they can also be used to show which subjects you are weaker in and should focus more on as they give the overall grade of your performance for each subject. To learn more about if and how predicted grades can be improved, check out the respective section below.
How do your predicted grades affect your university application?
In the UK, to apply to university, you will generally apply through UCAS. UCAS, which stands for the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, is the main (or only) way to apply for over 380 colleges and universities in the UK. To learn more about it, check out this page by UCAS.
A UCAS application will come in several steps, including your personal details, your education history, your employment history and your personal statement, all of which will be up to you to submit. However, you won’t personally have to do the entirety of your application as a part of your UCAS application will be done by your sixth form or college as they have to submit your predicted grades and reference onto UCAS.
This predicted grade is normally one that is generated at the end of Year 12, often after you have taken mock exams, although it may be slightly altered by the time your application is sent off either by October for early applications or January.
Universities set entry requirements either by saying the minimum grades you need or with the minimum amount of UCAS points, which are calculated from your grades. As your application is sent off in either the October or January before starting, students will typically not have received their actual A-Level or equivalent grades yet.
Due to this, the predicted grades that you’ve got are what will be measured against the entry requirements. This means that predicted grades can influence whether or not you can get into the courses you have chosen.
What if your predicted grades are lower than your entry requirements for university?
As mentioned above, your predicted grades can determine which university courses you can get onto. This can mean that if your predicted grades are lower than what the university is asking for, your application may get rejected.
However, there is still an opportunity for you to get onto the course you want or something similar. To begin with, while universities do care about your predicted grades, for some degree programmes, they may favour other aspects of your application and still give you an offer.
Also, universities often have contextual offers. Contextual offers are where universities may have lower entry requirements for students based on their personal circumstances.
Students who are eligible will need to meet certain criteria, such as being the first in their family to go to university, a care leaver or a young carer. To learn more about contextual offers, check out this article by University Compare.
Another opportunity to get onto the course or a similar one even with low predicted grades is to apply again later on. Applying through clearing, which is between July and October for 2023, potentially gives you the chance to still get a place on the course you’re after.
As clearing is where universities are trying to fill up their spaces and is designed for students who didn’t get offers or didn’t accept the offers that they were given, the entry requirements are often slightly lower than the initial ones. Also, if you’re applying after getting your results, these may be better than your predicted grades, allowing you to access more courses to your liking.
However, as clearing is for universities to fill up their spare places, there may not always be the courses you’re looking for in clearing. For example, degrees, such as Medicine and Dentistry, are very unlikely to appear in clearing due to being so competitive.
How do your predicted grades affect your college application?
Like universities, colleges and sixth forms will have entry requirements. These entry requirements will also vary depending on the course and the college or sixth form itself.
While the exact deadline for a college or sixth form isn’t standardised, the application deadlines will typically be before August, which would be when you get your results. This means that you will have to apply before knowing what your actual GCSE grades are.
Due to this, students will have to apply to college or sixth form using their predicted grades for GCSEs or National qualifications rather than the actual grades that they’ve already got.
What if your predicted grades are lower than your entry requirements for college?
If your predicted grades are lower than the entry requirements for any colleges or sixth forms that you’ve applied to then your application may be rejected. However, this won’t always be the case.
If you are rejected, you should try contacting other colleges or sixth forms as they may have spare places and be able to accept you, even with lower predicted grades. To be accepted into this college, you may need to change what you study. For example, they may not offer the subjects you were originally interested in or may not have places on these courses, or you may switch from doing a level 3 course to doing a level 2 course to better fit the entry requirements.
Otherwise, it may be a good idea to pursue another form of further education. Alternative qualifications to studying at college or sixth form can include apprenticeships and traineeships as you will spend the majority of your time in a workplace environment. Apprenticeships are available at different levels and employers may set their entry requirements lower than for college or sixth form, particularly as they’re non-academic.
To learn more about your options for not getting into college or sixth form, check out this Think Student article.
Can you improve your predicted grades?
Having established just how important predicted grades can be, it makes sense to want to improve them. The simple answer is yes, students are able to improve their predicted grades.
However, this can’t just be done by asking and you will have to work hard to improve your predicted grades. To better understand how you can do this, it’s essential to understand how predicted grades are calculated.
How are predicted grades calculated?
For secondary school, sixth form or college, predicted grades are generally calculated based on a range of evidence that you’ve built up throughout your course. This “evidence” can be several different things, but the most important of these are the mock exams and end of unit tests that you’ve completed.
Other pieces of work, such as essays, projects or other assignments may also be used. However, there is no standardised way to calculate a predicted grade and so the exact method may vary between different schools. To learn more about how your predicted grades are calculated, check out this Think Student article.
Change your mindset to improve your predicted grades
As your predicted grade is calculated through the work you do in your course, particularly mock exams and other assessments, the best way to improve your predicted grade is to improve how you perform on these exams. This can be done in a few different ways.
First of all, you need to make sure that you’re taking end of unit tests and mock exams more seriously. As there’s often not as much pressure for these exams, it can be easy to think of them as pointless. This could lead you to not try as hard in them as you would for the real exams or to not revise as much if at all.
Thinking of these exams as real exams, can help you to be better prepared for them, as hopefully, you will give yourself enough time to revise for them properly and try your hardest on them. If you’re revising in the right way, this should enable you to do better in your mock exams, leading to a better predicted grade. To learn more about how to properly revise, check out this Think Student article.
Talk to your teachers to improve your predicted grades
Another thing you should do to try and improve your predicted grade is talk to your teachers. While they won’t push up your predicted grade for the sake of it, they may give you specific advice on how to improve and explain why your current predicted grade is what it is. This can help you to guide your revision and also work on the specific areas that you are struggling with.