If you’ve thought about applying for university, you’ve probably heard quite a lot about UCAS points. However, what is often left unsaid is how you’re actually supposed to get them and what qualifications you can get them from. This article will provide you with 15 ways for you to obtain UCAS points. Lets jump into it!
A-Level qualifications are one of the most common forms of further education that you can study in the UK. They are academic courses that last 2 years and you can study them in specific subjects, from the likes of A-Level Chemistry to A-Level Sociology to even A-Level Music Technology and many more.
As mentioned above, the amount of UCAS points you can receive will depend on both the qualification and the grade you get in it. For a single A-Level qualification, the highest amount of UCAS points you can get is 56, this is if you get an A* grade.
To see how many UCAS points you can get for each A-Level grade, please refer to the following table.
|A-Level grade||UCAS points|
When studying A-Levels, you will typically do 3 or sometimes 4, unless you combine them with other level 3 qualifications. Due to this, the total number of UCAS points you will receive will depend on the grades that you get in total. For example, if you get the grades ABC, you will get 120 UCAS points, which is also the same number of UCAS points that you’d get for the grades BBB.
AS-Level qualifications are very similar to A-Levels. The acronym ‘AS’ stands for ‘Advanced Subsidiary’ compared to A-Levels, which stands for ‘Advanced Levels’. The primary difference between AS-Levels and A-Levels is that AS-Levels are only worth 40% of an A-Level.
They may be taken as standalone qualifications, however, in Wales and Northern Ireland, the AS-Level exams will still need to be taken as a part of the entire A-Level. To learn more about this, check out this guide Ofqual, Qualifications Wales and CCEA.
As AS-Level qualifications are worth 40% of an A-Level, the UCAS points you can get from AS-Levels are also affected. For an AS-Level exam, the highest grade you can get is an A, rather than an A*, which is 20 UCAS points.
To see how the other AS-Level grades translate into UCAS points, check out the table below.
|AS-Level grade||UCAS Points|
To learn more about AS-Levels, check out this Think Student article.
3. Scottish Highers
In Scotland, instead of taking A-Levels or AS-Levels, students will take Higher qualifications. Higher qualifications are academic courses that last 1 year, which students can take in S5 or S6. Similarly, to AS-Levels and A-Levels, they are available in a wide range of subjects from German to even photography.
Unlike A-Levels, the highest grade that you can get for a Higher is an A. This also means that the highest number of UCAS points that you can get for a single Higher qualification is 33 as this is what it translates into.
Please refer to the following table to see how the other Higher grades are transferred into UCAS points.
|Higher grade||UCAS points|
When studying Highers, students will typically study 4 or 5 of these, meaning that they will have the opportunity to gain quite a lot of UCAS points. To learn more about Scottish Highers, check out this Think Student article.
4. Advanced Highers
Another type of qualification that students in Scotland can take before going to university is Advanced Highers. Advanced Highers are quite similar to Highers, however, they are the level above and are designed to be taken after students have completed Highers. In this way, the relationship between Highers and Advanced Highers is quite similar to that of AS-Levels and A-Levels in Wales or Northern Ireland, where the AS-Level exams are still taken.
Similarly, to Highers, the highest grade that you can get for an Advanced Higher is an A. However, this is worth a lot more UCAS points as it translates to 56 points.
To see how the rest of the Advanced Higher grades translate into UCAS points.
|Advanced Higher grade||UCAS points|
To learn more about Advanced Highers, check out this article by The Complete University Guide.
5. BTEC National Extended Diploma
BTEC qualifications are a type of vocational qualification that students can take across the UK. At level 3, they are equivalent to A-Levels and other pre-university qualifications.
The most common type of BTEC qualification at level 3 are BTEC National qualifications. BTEC Nationals can come in various forms and may be equivalent to 1, 2 or 3 A-Levels.
The maximum mark that you can get from a BTEC National qualification is Distinction* Distinction* Distinction* or D*D*D*. This grade is available for BTEC qualifications that are worth 3 A-Levels, such as the BTEC National Extended Diploma. For level 3 BTEC qualifications, from getting the grade D*D*D*, students can get a maximum of 168 points.
To see how other grades in this type of BTEC are transferred into UCAS points, look at the table below. Please note that due to the wide variety of grades available, this doesn’t include all of them.
|BTEC National Extended Diploma grade||UCAS points|
To learn more about BTECs, check out this Think Student article.
6. BTEC National Extended Certificate
As mentioned above, the BTEC National qualification can also be equivalent to only one A-Level. This is the case for the BTEC National Extended Certificate, which allows you to take more than one or to mix them with other qualifications, such as A-Levels.
The maximum grade that you can get for this type of BTEC National is a Distinction*, which is worth 56 UCAS points. To see how the other grades are converted into UCAS points, look at the following table.
|BTEC National Extended Certificate grade||UCAS points|
To learn more about BTEC and these grades, check out this Think Student article.
7. Cambridge Technical Extended Diploma
Cambridge Technical qualifications are very similar to BTECs. In fact, the main difference between these types of qualifications is the exam board that offers them as Cambridge Technical qualifications or CTECs are offered by OCR and BTECs are offered by Pearson Edexcel.
As they are so similar, at level 3 Cambridge Technical qualifications also come in various forms and can be equivalent to 1, 2 or 3 A-Levels as well. This also affects the UCAS points allocated to them.
The maximum UCAS points that students can achieve from a level 3 Cambridge Technical is D*D*D*, which is worth 168 UCAS points just like with the BTEC National Extended Diploma. For Cambridge Technicals, the qualification for students to achieve this grade is also called the Extended Diploma.
To see how many UCAS points other Cambridge Technical Extended Diploma grades are worth, look at the table below.
|Cambridge Technical Extended Diploma grade||UCAS points|
8. Cambridge Technical Extended Certificate
Just like with BTEC National qualifications, there is also a level 3 Cambridge Technical qualification that is equivalent to 1 A-Level. This is also called the Extended Certificate.
The maximum grade for this qualification is also a D*, which is worth 56 UCAS points. To see how its grades match up to UCAS points, please refer to the table below.
|Cambridge Technical Extended Certificate grade||UCAS points|
To learn more about Cambridge Technical qualifications, check out this Think Student article.
T-Levels are another type of vocational qualification that you can take as part of further education. Only being introduced in 2020, T-Levels are a much newer form of vocational qualification that combines practical study with compulsory work placement.
With BTECs being gradually phased out, T-Levels are set to replace them. To learn more about this, check out this Think Student article.
T-Level qualifications are worth 3 A-Levels and the UCAS points attributed to each grade reflects this. However, unlike BTEC Nationals or Cambridge Technicals, students only receive a single grade for T-Levels. The maximum grade that can be achieved is a D*, this translates into 168 UCAS points, which is thus the maximum that you can get for T-Levels.
To see how the other T-Level grades match up to UCAS points, look at the following table.
|T-Level grade||UCAS points|
|P (A*- C)||96|
|P (D or E)||72|
If you would like to learn more about T-Level qualifications, check out this Think Student article.
10. Extended Project Qualification (EPQ)
An extended project qualification (EPQ) is a research project that’s worth half of an A-Level. It can be done in the form of an essay of about 5000 words or as an “artefact”, where students need to produce a physical project, such as an artwork or something similar, and then write about it.
Unlike an AS-Level qualification, an EPQ enables you to achieve an A* grade. Due to this the maximum number of UCAS points you can get for an EPQ is 28, which is half of the number of UCAS points an A* at A-Level.
|EPQ grade||UCAS points|
If you would like to learn more about EPQs, check out this Think Student article. If you think doing an EPQ is for you, check out this Think Student article for some ideas on what to do your project on.
11. International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme
The International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IB) is a level 3 qualification that students can take between the ages of 16 and 19. In this qualification, students can choose one subject from 5 different categories and then either pick another from one of these or pick from an optional 6th category.
The programme also focuses on 3 different elements. These are an extended essay, similar to that of the EPQ; theory of knowledge, through your chosen subjects and creation, action, service, where students complete additional activities outside of their studies.
Students get graded for each of these components and as a result will have UCAS points for each component. These components are the main certificate at either higher or standard level, the extended essay, the theory of knowledge element and the Reflective Project.
The maximum combined number of UCAS points a student could get if they did the higher level certificate is 92 UCAS points. If they did the standard level, the highest combined number of UCAS points is 64. To see what each grade is worth in UCAS points for each component, check out the following tables.
For the higher level, the maximum grade is H7, which is 56 UCAS points.
|IB Certificate at higher level grade||UCAS points|
For the standard level, the highest grade possible is S7, this translates into 28 UCAS points.
|IB Certificate at standard level grade||UCAS points|
The most UCAS points a student could receive for the Certificate in Theory of Knowledge component is 12.
|IB Certificate in Theory of Knowledge||UCAS points|
The maximum number of UCAS points for the Extended Essay and Reflective Project components are once again 12.
|IB Extended Essay/ Reflective Project grade||UCAS points|
To learn more about the international Baccalaureate, check out this guide by UCAS.
12. Welsh Baccalaureate
The Welsh Baccalaureate is a level 3 qualification that is available for students in Wales to take as further education. The qualification covers both other level 3 qualifications that students may want to take, such as A-Levels or vocational courses, as well as 4 challenges that are specific to the Welsh Baccalaureate. These 4 are the Enterprise and Employability Challenge, the Community Participation Challenge and the Global Citizenship Challenge as well as the Individual Project that students will need to undertake independently.
Not including any other qualification that they may take, the Welsh Baccalaureate Skills Challenge Certificate is worth a maximum of 56 UCAS points for students who achieve an A*. Look at the following table to see how the other Welsh Baccalaureate grades translate into UCAS points.
|Welsh baccalaureate grade||UCAS points|
To learn more about the Welsh Baccalaureate as a whole, check out this guide by UCAS. For a more detailed explanation of the challenges, check out this guide by St. David’s Catholic Sixth Form College.
13. Scottish Baccalaureate
The Scottish Baccalaureate is a SCQF level 7 qualification that students can take in Scotland. It encompasses 2 Advanced Higher qualifications, one Higher qualification and an Interdisciplinary Project. It can be taken in one of 4 areas: social sciences, sciences, expressive arts or languages.
While the qualification is taken together, students receive separate grades for each component, as well as a combined grade. In terms of UCAS points, they will receive this for the combined grade as well as the Interdisciplinary Project.
The maximum grade for the Scottish Baccalaureate is a Distinction, which can be received for achieving the grades AAB in the right qualifications. This means that the maximum it is worth is 120 UCAS points.
The only other grade that students can get is a Pass, to see how many UCAS points this is worth, look at the following table.
|Scottish baccalaureate grade||UCAS points|
The maximum grade that students can get for the Interdisciplinary Project is an A, this is worth 28 UCAS points. To see how the other grades for the Interdisciplinary Project are converted into UCAS points, please refer to the table below.
|Scottish Baccalaureate Interdisciplinary Project grade||UCAS points|
To learn more about the Scottish Baccalaureate, check out this guide by UCAS.
14. Access to HE Diploma
Access to HE Diploma is a level 3 qualification aimed at preparing adults, who don’t have many qualifications, for higher education study. It is available in a range of subjects and encompasses both vocational and academic courses, due to the variety of university courses.
It is graded using the Pass, Merit and Distinction system. However, unlike other courses, the overall grade is made up of credits, which will need to add up to a total of 45 credits. As each credit has a grade this will be what the number of UCAS points you get depends on.
The maximum number of UCAS points is for getting all 45 UCAS points at Distinction, this is worth 144 UCAS points. To see a selection of the other credits and their UCAS points, check out the following table.
Please note that these are not all the credits or combinations available and that the format below is the grade (D, M or P) with the number of credits next to it.
|Access to HE Diploma credits||UCAS points|
|D30 + M15||128|
|D15 + M30||112|
|M30 + P15||80|
|M15 + P30||64|
To learn more about the Access to HE Diploma qualification, check out this guide by UCAS.
15. Scottish Foundation Apprenticeship
In Scotland, students can take a Foundation Apprenticeship in S5 or S6 alongside other qualifications, such as Highers or Advanced Highers. While this is called an “apprenticeship”, the students won’t get paid as they’re not considered employees.
The only grade students can get for the Foundation Apprenticeship is a Pass. This means that the maximum and only UCAS points that this qualification is worth is 42, which you get for the Pass.
To learn more about Foundation Apprenticeships, check out this guide by UCAS.
Overview of UCAS points for popular qualifications
As you can see from the list above there are a wide range of qualifications that can get you UCAS points. The following table will give you an overview of the ones covered in this article and show you the maximum number of UCAS points you can get from them.
|Qualification||Maximum UCAS Points|
|BTEC National Extended Diploma||168|
|BTEC National Extended Certificate||56|
|Cambridge Technical Extended Diploma||168|
|Cambridge Technical Extended Certificate||56|
|Extended Project Qualification (EPQ)||28|
|International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IB)||92|
|Scottish Baccalaureate (combined)||148|
|Access to HE Diploma||144|
|Scottish Foundation Apprenticeship||42|
As you can see from the table UCAS points are not the same every qualification. Continue reading to learn more about UCAS points and why they are important.
What are UCAS points?
UCAS Tariff points or simply UCAS points are how the qualifications and grades, that you’re applying to university with, are translated into a numerical value. While there aren’t UCAS points for every qualification, there are for the vast majority. If the qualification(s) you take don’t have UCAS points, you may still be able to get accepted into university, depending on the university and the course.
The UCAS point values can be used by higher education providers, such as universities, to set their entry requirements or assess if you’ve fit with these. This allows them to compare between qualifications and between a mixture of grades without being more biased to one qualification.
To learn more about UCAS points, check out this guide by UCAS.
Why are UCAS Points important?
As mentioned above, UCAS points can be used by universities in order to set their entry requirements. Due to this, UCAS points are so important as they can entirely make or break your university application. This is because, while other parts of your application, such as your personal statement can add to and strengthen your application, the first thing that university’s will look at is if you meet their requirements.
While many universities put their entry requirements in more rigid terms of your grade (e.g., BBC), about 1/3 of all UK degree programmes use UCAS points in order to make their applications more flexible. If you’re applying to one of these universities, UCAS points are essential.
Plus, even if the universities you’re applying to don’t use UCAS points, using them for yourself can be a good indicator as it allows you to compare different qualifications together. This is especially true if you’re studying a mixture of different qualifications, for example a mixture of A-Levels and BTECs.
To learn more about the importance of UCAS points, check out this guide by University Compare.
How do you receive UCAS points?
As mentioned above, UCAS points are based on the qualifications and grades that you’re applying to university with. If you’re applying in your final year of sixth form or college, these grades will be predicted grades. Alternatively, you may have already completed your studies and have received these grades prior to applying.
Either way, these predicted grades or actual grades are what will be translated into UCAS points for your applications. This means that you receive UCAS points based on the grades you have been predicted or have already received. To learn more about predicted grades, check out this Think Student article.
Information included in this article has been taken from the UCAS Tariff points calculator. Click here to be taken to the UCAS website.