UCAS Tariff Points

By Uni Compare  · Feb 16th 2022

Are you here because you want to calculate your UCAS Points? If you are, you're at the right place!


Applying to uni is a hugely exciting time, but navigating the UCAS points system can feel like a bit of a headache. And frankly, who needs more things to get stressed about right now?

With that in mind, we’re here to break down the UCAS tariff points structure into bite-size pieces, so that you can feel confident and in control of your university application.

UCAS Tariff Points table

Below is a series of tables and a list of the UCAS Tariff points associated with the most common qualifications and grades.

What are UCAS Points?

UCAS tariff points are simply a way of scoring and ranking different qualifications. To do this, UCAS have attached a number to all eligible Further Education (FE) qualifications and attainment grades, so that the value of each qualification can be easily measured and compared.

There might be 100 students applying for 50 available places on French courses. If some of those students have a good grade in a BTEC, and some have a couple of low A Levels, while others have a mountain of results in Scottish Highers, how can the course administrator decide which students have done the best and deserve the places? It’s really hard to compare such different qualifications, so there needs to be a system to measure each result neatly against another.

With this, the UCAS tariff makes it possible to see that a C grade at A Level, for example, is worth the same as an H5 in an International Baccalaureate, as they both carry 32 points, just shy of 280 UCAS points. Make sure you look into the possibility of seeking Clearing advice as well.

A Level Grade UCAS Tariff Points
A* 56
A 48
B 40
C 32
D 24
E 16

AS Grade UCAS Tariff Points
A 20
B 16
C 12
D 10
E 6

Extended Project Grade UCAS Tariff Points
A* 28
A 24
B 20
C 16
D 12
E 8

BTEC Grade UCAS Tariff Points
D* 56
Distinction 48
Merit 32
Pass 16

Access to HE Diploma UCAS Tariff Points
45 Distinctions 144
45 Merits 96
45 Passess 48

Why are UCAS points important? Most university degrees state their entry requirements as a list of grades that you need to achieve at A Level or equivalent. So, offers to prospective students typically look like "ABB" or "BBC". But about a third of degree programmes make their offer based on total UCAS points instead of a set of fixed grades.

So, essentially, UCAS points are important because they can be the difference between you meeting or missing the entry requirements for your chosen course.

How do UCAS points work?

UCAS points can only be assigned to a level 3 qualification or above (in Scotland, SCQF Level 6 - you can find out more here on our what are SQAs? article). These are typically the Further Education courses you would study in post-16 education, at sixth form college. They include A Levels; some NVQs; BTEC Firsts, Nationals and Apprenticeships (you can also see more about apprenticeships abroad here too); Welsh Baccalaureate; Scottish Highers; and many more.

When browsing university entry standards, you might notice a particular number over and over again, as many degree programmes require prospective students to achieve 112 UCAS points. You can reach 112 points in a variety of ways through your A Levels (such as with A*A*, or BBC / ACC / ABD grades), Scottish Highers (AAAC, or Advanced Highers at BBD), or numerous combinations of other level 3 qualifications. Plus, we’ve got some tips for beefing up your points score further down the article.

What’s good about receiving a UCAS points offer?

A fixed grade offer from a uni needs a very rigid outcome. BBD is not BBC, after all. But if the offer is made as a UCAS points score, then there is more flexibility in how you achieve the results. It’s a bit like rolling a dice three times to add up to the number ten: there isn’t one set way to do it, but lots of different combinations of numbers that can add up to the necessary total. It gives you more wiggle room in your results, as you might struggle in one subject but excel in another, and overall still achieve the total points that you need. Another advantage to this kind of points-based offer is that it’s sometimes possible to create a safety net, boosting your UCAS points score further through more than just your A Level results (more on this later).

How many UCAS points do I have?

Just remember; UCAS points=grades x course size

Every grade is assigned a number between 3 and 14. The highest scores (such as A*) get the highest number, while lower grades get a lower number.

The length of the course is also factored into its points value, so the ‘course size’ is based on the hours of study needed to complete the programme. Each eligible FE qualification is given a number from 1 to 4 based on its size: longer courses have higher numbers, and shorter courses have lower numbers.

The size and grade scores are then multiplied together to produce the equivalent UCAS tariff points. So an A* at A Level, for example, is worth 56 points (56=grade 14 x size 4).

That’s how UCAS has ensured that the points are assigned fairly across all eligible courses, but you don’t need to sit there doing repeated multiplication yourself (unless you’re revising for a Maths exam, of course). If you are worried about how to calculate how many UCAS points you have, you can always use a Uni Grade Calculator to see how many points you have.

How can I get more UCAS Points?

If you’ve used our UCAS tariff calculator and discovered that your A level UCAS points aren’t quite enough for the course of your dreams, don’t fret just yet. There are various ways of boosting your UCAS tariff points outside of the normal ‘adding another subject’ route.

If you want to increase your UCAS points for eligible degree programmes, then how about a spot of volunteering? It can help you develop important skills for the future, and if you complete an ASDAN volunteer programme, you will earn either 8 points (for the award) or 16 UCAS points (for the certificate).

Alternatively, your application could be enhanced by earning EPQ UCAS points. This independent extended project, available to students outside of Scotland, will help you build a range of transferable study skills. Plus, it can carry anything between 8 and 28 UCAS points (28 if you achieve an A*). You can also see more here on our "What if I messed up my UCAS Application?" article.

You can even earn points for a hobby you’re already pursuing, as musical instrument and singing grades can help you earn more UCAS points. Grades 6 to 8 carry different points scores at different attainment levels (e.g. 6 points for a pass at grade 6; 14 points for a merit at grade 7; 30 points for a distinction at grade 8). So don’t give up on your piano lessons just because you’re busy with college work!

LAMDA drama qualifications and recognised dance school accredited examinations are also weighted with UCAS points, so if you’re a budding star, then schedule your assessments soon to collect some more credits in time for results day.

International students have much to benefit from gaining an ESOL qualification. Demonstrating proficiency in English for speakers of other languages can accrue anything between 12 and 42 UCAS points, depending on level of study.

Any combination of these UCAS points-boosting tips could be enough to supplement your college results, but do always check the specific degree admissions requirements carefully. Some programmes may cap the points they accept (e.g. only accepting UCAS points from A Levels or equivalent, or from named subjects, or from your best three A Level grades).

Do I get UCAS points for GCSEs?

No, sorry! Because they are a level 2 qualification, there are no GCSE UCAS points. Only level 3 qualifications carry UCAS points. Although, your GCSEs will still be useful during your university interview (you can see more about your university interview questions here).

UCAS points changes

The UCAS points system has been around since 2001, but in September 2017, they looked a little different. It wouldn’t have been unusual to see a university in 2016 asking for 300 UCAS points, whereas it’s now a much lower number - more like 120 UCAS points. It’s not that people were expected to have seven good A Levels or anything wild like that, just that the points system has recently been ‘tidied up’ and made smaller. The numerical scores have shrunk, but they still represent the same relative values.

As part of the changes to UCAS tariff points, 2017 also saw more new qualifications being converted into the system. Because the number and type of vocational study options had increased for students, the UCAS points system needed updating to include them.

The biggest shift within the UCAS points 2017 overhaul was the change in points score for AS Levels. That year, the UK qualifications body reduced the status of an AS Level to 40% of an A Level. The AS Level UCAS points score is now proportionately lower to signify this change in value.

2017 values are already in place, so you don’t need to worry about the old system or do any extra conversions. An old UCAS points calculator wouldn’t be much use for future applications!

Really, the only reason you need to know about the previous system is so that you don’t panic if you hear an older sibling grumbling, "In my day, I needed 310 points to get onto your course…" Simply nod sagely, hand them their reading glasses and slippers, and whizz away on your hover-board. So long, grandpa!

What if my qualification doesn’t attract UCAS Tariff points?

This means that UCAS hasn’t listed it on their conversion table. There is no need to panic as the UCAS system only converts 16 qualifications so there is a chance yours will not be on there.

If this is the case then you can contact the university, as they may accept your entry regardless of not having any UCAS tariff points.

If my subject is on the Tariff conversion table this means the university will accept it? Not all universities accept all qualifications as UCAS tariff points. For example, some universities do not accept General Studies A-Levels, and will not count them into your UCAS tariff points.

This is an individual basis and you can find out which qualifications aren’t accepted by contacting the university, such as seeing if SQAs are accepted or a BTEC or NVQs.

Are the entry requirements the same across all universities? No, each university and course have different entry requirements. For example, an English Language degree or an English Literature degree at the University of Oxford may require more UCAS tariff points than if you were to take a similar English degree at Royal Holloway in Surrey.

Other entry requirements

Some courses have admission tests, interviews or auditions as part of their entry requirements, check the course guide to see the entry requirements of your individual course.

Some courses only accept specific qualifications, subjects or specific grades. If you feel that you may not reach their requirement, contact the course provider or university to see if your application will be considered on a comparable level.

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