It's important to be aware that not all qualifications attract a Ucas point score and, in the majority of cases, only the top level of achievement is counted.
It’s worth checking all qualifications you are completing on the new Ucas tariff calculator. Only level 3 qualifications are on the tariff, but this does include qualifications such as graded music qualifications from grades 6-8, as some will gain you extra tariff points.
Since the scope of qualifications that attract Ucas points is vast - think horse care, functional skills and hairdressing - it is worth cross checking with Ucas' comprehensive list to make sure you know exactly what your score is and if you could qualify for any additional points.
So what's new?
According to Margaret Farragher, Ucas’ head of policy and qualifications, for most people, the new points shouldn’t make any difference to their university applications:
- We changed the tariff to make it fairer and to include a wider range of qualifications taken by students applying to higher education. The new tariff comes into effect for higher education courses starting in September 2017
- The main thing about the new tariff is that all the numbers are much lower than the old tariff as a completely different scale has been used. For example, an A-level grade A* gets 56 points in comparison with 140 previously. But the ‘value’ of the most popular qualifications - including academic and vocational - is exactly the same.
- One key change is that the AS qualification has been repositioned to 40 per cent of an A Level, rather than 50 per cent. This is in line with statements made by the UK qualification regulators. While the decoupled AS no longer counts as a ‘stepping stone’ to a full A-level in England, it continues to be the first stage of an A level in Wales and Northern Ireland, contributing 40 per cent of the overall marks.
- Only level 3 regulated qualifications can come onto the new tariff as these are designed to ensure they support progression to higher education. However, not all universities accept all qualifications - it depends on whether a qualification is right for their course
- Just because a qualification is on the tariff, it doesn't mean a university or college will accept it for entry to their courses. Equally, if a qualification is not on the tariff, it may still be accepted by a university if it’s relevant. It's essential to check the course entry requirements and speak to university admissions staff, if necessary.
To quickly review your A-level point score online, check out the Ucas tariff calculator. Below is a basic outline for A-levels and the International Baccalaureate.
A-level and A/S exams
A* = 56
A = 48
B = 40
C = 32
D = 24
E = 16
A = 20
B = 16
C = 12
D = 10
E = 6
International Baccalaureate Diploma (IB)
Tariff points for the IB are calculated by adding together the points for each of its separate parts.
Certificate in Higher Level
H7 = 56
H6 = 48
H5 = 32
H4 = 24
H3 = 12
H2 = 0
H1 = 0
Certificate in Standard Level
S7 = 28
S6 = 24
S5 = 16
S4 = 12
S3 = 6
S2 = 0
S1 = 0
A = 12
B = 10
C = 8
D = 6
E = 4
Theory of knowledge
A = 12
B = 10
C = 8
D = 6
E = 4
The UCAS personal statement strikes fear into most sixth formers. Sculpting the perfect personal statement is an arduous an unavoidable process. With approximately 600,000 people applying to university each year, admissions officers need a way to filter stronger candidates from the rest of the pool.
As daunting as this task may seem, it’s also your only real opportunity to share your personality and suitability for your chosen degree program. Follow our top tips, and you can make a success of your personal statement.
Understand the UCAS personal statement guidelines
There are specific requirements for your personal statement which you absolutely cannot ignore. You cannot exceed 4,000 characters, or 47 lines of text (including blank lines) – whichever is reached first. If you do, universities won’t receive your entire statement.
Because of this, make sure your personal statement has a strong, definitive conclusion. It will look poor if you’ve obviously cut it off mid-sentence after realizing you’d surpassed the text limit. Instead, plan your piece thoroughly and give each section adequate attention, time and characters.
Plan your time and write it well in advance
Given how important it is, the UCAS personal statement can take a while to perfect, so give yourself time to work on it. Most schools probably won’t let you leave it until the night before – but try to even be slightly ahead of your internal deadline. The more time you allow yourself, the longer you can take to edit your ideas and strengthen your application.
Choose which universities you’re applying to before you start
The academic level of the university and course you’re applying to will have an impact on the tone and content of your personal statement. If you’re not sure of the kind of universities you should be aspiring to, you can use the UK University Search Tool, which will generate a list of universities based on your UCAS Tariff points. If you are unsure what your qualifications equate to, you can just pop them into our UCAS Tariff Points Generator.
Once you have made an informed decision about where to apply to, you’ll be able to cater your statement appropriately. As a general rule, the more traditional and academically acclaimed the university, the less time you should spend in your statement talking about non-academic activities.
Find out what admissions tutors are looking for
Speaking to university representatives can be a really great way to discern what faculties may want to see from applicants. Remember, universities are looking for the right students just like you’re looking for the right university. This information won’t be written in their prospectuses, but if you attend higher education events, like the upcoming UK University Fairs in Autumn 2017, you’ll find that representatives love engaging with students and speaking to them frankly about the application process. Click here for more information about the Autumn fairs hosted by UK University Search.
Draw on your enthusiasm
You need to saturate your UCAS personal statement with your desire to embark upon this course. Obviously, don’t allow your interest to descend into a cheesy mockery – you need to convey sincerity. Three years (minimum) is a long time, and the independence of university means that those who aren’t really invested in their course may struggle. Admissions tutors are searching for students who have a genuine interest and who will relish three years of education. Show that you’re one of these people.
Carefully select your extra- curricular activities
Knowing how much of your well-rounded self to present can be mystifying, especially if you’re worried that everyone will have the same things to say. If you’re not sure what to mention, a good idea is to focus on extra-curricular activities that tie into the course you’re applying to. So, if you’re interested in studying hospitality, mention any events you’ve worked or volunteered at. This might seem trickier for more traditional subjects, but you should be able to think of something. A math student could share their enthusiasm for chess, a budding geographer might describe physical landmarks and features they’ve seen when travelling, and a humanities student may be able to give examples of writing they’ve had published.
Avoid rambling and vacuous statements
You only have 4,000 characters to persuade admissions tutors why you are the perfect candidate for their course. Don’t waste any of them. Leave out any rambling stories about why you’re interested in a particular course. If something is particularly interesting, a brief overview may be relevant. Avoid clichés too. Saying you’re a “committed and hard-working individual” has no weight and detracts from any personality you’re trying to express.
This might seem obvious, but don’t lie
There is a very fine line between presenting yourself in a better light and simply lying. You should never lie – not only is it immoral, but, if caught, your application could be reconsidered and come back to bite you. This is particularly true if you are called to interview. There are many horror stories of applicants being interrogated about their favorite book, only for it to become apparent they never read it.
Finally, don’t copy
Reading personal statements used by older siblings or friends can be a really useful exercise, but don’t be tempted to re-use somebody else’s words. Aside from the fact it doesn’t demonstrate your uniqueness and personal drive, there are also programs used by UCAS to prevent plagiarism. Copycatch reports suspicious activity to universities, so don’t risk your application being rejected. Your personal statement needs to be your own.
Lead image: Jisc.ac.uk