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UCAS points...I feel I am not quite understand it all...

(27 Posts)
zazas Thu 11-Jun-15 23:02:46

Maybe someone could clear things up for me as I understand that the grades you receive for A levels and AS levels add up to your UCAS points (although not AS levels if you take them to A level) and that music exams also count but what else does?

We have been encouraged to look at university league tables and often they have the average UCAS points that applicants had on entry and they seem so high. My DD has taken 4 AS levels and will take 3 A levels and another AS level but even if she received really good grades (A and A*), some of the tables show that her UCAS points would be be short of what is listed for the top universities for her course...

Is she meant to be taking more courses or extra things to gain UCAS points? We are both a bit confused!

titchy Fri 12-Jun-15 08:40:16

No don't worry she isn't supposed to take more courses! She will only ever get an offer in terms of A level grades, so AAB for instance. Any points offer she received will similarly be based on three A levels, so 340 points.

A lot of entrants however have done extras, even though they won't count towards their offer, and it is these that are in the league tables. So someone who has done an A level in General studies or critical thinking will also have those points counted, likewise their grade 7 piano and grade 6 drama exams they did a couple of years ago will also count.

There are loads of qualifications that carry tariff points by the way see here:

tariff points

senua Fri 12-Jun-15 11:23:13

Is she meant to be taking more courses or extra things to gain UCAS points?

Definitely not! Go for quality over quantity.
At A Level, three A Grades would get you 360 points. Four B Grades would get you 400 points. Despite the second student having higher UCAS points, as a rule of thumb Universities would prefer the first student..
Concentrate on what is asked for, not what the average acceptee has. It is all transparent and above board, no-one is trying to trip her up with hidden requirements.

UptheChimney Fri 12-Jun-15 11:46:29

It's more confusing than that, I'm afraid. I work in a 'good' university (research-led, Russell Group, blah blah blah) and we use predicted or achieved A2 grades. We don't count UCAS points, nor do we count General Studies, or music, speech, or ballet exam points.

Some 'Lower-ranking' whatever that is /easier to get into universities do use UCAS tariff points.

senua Fri 12-Jun-15 12:07:15

In my defence, I did say "concentrate on what is asked for". If they ask for grades, give them grades. If they ask for UCAS points, give them UCAS points.

smile <- that's a friendly smile, not a passive/aggressive.

Myricales Fri 12-Jun-15 15:28:54

Universities which do use ucas points for admission still limit the qualifications. So s university might ask for 240 points of a level (ccc, bcd, aau, say) or btec, but they still won't count your horse care certificate.

titchy Fri 12-Jun-15 16:14:21

Unless you're doing equestrian studies grin

Myricales Fri 12-Jun-15 16:47:38

At a first glance at the prospectus, titchy, not even if you are doing equine studies.

hadlow.ac.uk/courses/equestrian-studies/bsc-hons-equine-management

260 UCAS points made up from A’ Levels, preferably one in a science-based subject. These points should have been made up over two years of studying at Level 3, or A minimum of a Merit grade from a relevant vocational Level 3 Extended Diploma.

I don't think either of those routes includes the 35 points you would get for a British Horse Society Level 3 certificate:

Myricales Fri 12-Jun-15 16:49:52

Posted too soon.

www.ucas.com/ucas/undergraduate/getting-started/entry-requirements/tariff/tariff-tables/1141

There's an HNC in equine studies at the University of the Highlands and Islands you can get onto with a BHS Level 2 certificate or "Pony Club B Test", whatever that might be, but I think we're below the realm of UCAS by that point.

securitylecturer Fri 12-Jun-15 16:58:18

even if she received really good grades (A and A*), some of the tables show that her UCAS points would be be short of what is listed for the top universities for her course

Someone will probably be able to produce some really obscure edge case, probably involving medicine, but for practical purposes there are no arts/humanities degrees that offer more than A*AA, and no science degrees that offer more than A*A*A (it's slightly more complicated, because de facto some science degrees really want maths, further maths and two more sciences, but maths and further maths is not normally considered as two completely distinct A levels).

Offer and actually get are rather different things, and in most cases a university will end up taking people onto courses with a grade, or sometimes two grades, less than the published offer.

If you want to go to the most selective universities, the focus should be on getting top grades in four good ASes, followed by top grades in three good A Levels plus (see above) further maths if relevant. That's it. Avoid crap less well regarded subjects (see the Russell Group "Informed Choices" book for the broad advice, or the Trinity College Cambridge list for the most restrictive and snobbish list). Maths (possibly plus Further Maths), Physics, Chemistry with AS Biology or (if you know you don't want to do medicine) AS History would get you into pretty well any science or engineering degree. English, History, an MFL with AS maths (at least one selective university has semi-officially said its objective, not yet realised, is for everyone to have AS maths) would get you into pretty well any arts or humanities degree, with obvious tweaks for music or language degrees.

titchy Fri 12-Jun-15 17:49:04

Securitecturer the Trinity list is far broader than Informed Choices' facilitating list - not the other way round!

Basically OP offers are based on taking three A levels (as SL says occasionally four if the fourth is Further Maths), and sometimes a further test (LNAT for Law, BMAT for medics etc).

All the tariff point data tells you is that a lot of entrants have UCAS points from other things, not that they were the basis of the offer.

UptheChimney Fri 12-Jun-15 18:47:45

Oops, sorry senua I was actually answering the OP not responding directly to your post.

senua Fri 12-Jun-15 19:48:49

Ah, so you weren't picking fault with my post. You were totally ignoring it.
I feel so much better!
grin

senua Fri 12-Jun-15 19:53:43

look at university league tables and often they have the average UCAS points that applicants had on entry and they seem so high

Don't blame University league tables. Blame some creative exam-entries by headteachers trying to get themselves up the school league tables.

Quiero Fri 12-Jun-15 20:00:49

Russell Group Universities like grades rather than points. Recruiting universities a more likely to use points but in an inclusive way so you can include your horse care qual to make up points grin.

If you let us know the couse we might be able to reassure you further.

titchy Fri 12-Jun-15 20:04:10

Hmm not sure I entirely agree with that actually. Schools obviously use grades as an indicator of how good they are but I don't think they use their students' tariff scores. They do have a tendency to make sure kids put EVERY qualification on their forms though.

I do blame the league tables actually. No one admits gaming the system that is league tables, but everyone tries to maximise their position, and making sure that every single tariffable thing that an entrant has is accurately imported from UCAS or added to the students record is an easy win.

zazas Fri 12-Jun-15 20:35:35

Thank you so so much!!! We both feel so relieved for the clarity. This is a steep learning curve for us and it is amazing how you can misunderstand things at times even when there is so much information out there. We believe that DD has taken the 'right' subjects for her preferred degree (economics) - with Maths, Economics, History and Chemistry at AS and will pick up further AS Maths next year (she can't take both Further Maths and Economics at AS level at her school!), probably dropping Chemistry.

We understand grades smile will stop 'worrying' about UCAS points!

securitylecturer Fri 12-Jun-15 22:06:01

Maths...at AS and will pick up further AS Maths next year

What does this mean? That she'll end up with A2 Maths (C1, C2, C3, C4, two modules) and AS Further Maths (FP1 and two modules, but check with a regulations wizard)? Or what? A2 Maths and AS Further Maths is becoming a bit of a thing (for example, several computer science like this because there's some handy stuff in FP1) but for economics the key thing is going to be as good a grade as possible in A2 maths.

securitylecturer Fri 12-Jun-15 22:11:14

Blame some creative exam-entries by headteachers trying to get themselves up the school league tables.

My experience of interviewing students with dubious qualifications is that there are too many schools that direct people away from worthwhile A Levels to weaker qualifications, rather than doing more qualifications. For example, the utter nonsense I've heard from several applicants that "universities prefer BTEC IT over A Levels", which is just ludicrous; it is, however, a lot easier to get D*D*D than to get the equivalent UCAS points in facilitating A Levels, which is why colleges prefer it.

zazas Fri 12-Jun-15 23:26:59

securitylecturer - sorry that wasn't clear. She will do A2 maths as well as AS Further Maths plus Economics and History at A2.

Needmoresleep Fri 12-Jun-15 23:33:16

SL. My impression was that for Economics you are well advised to do as many stats modules as possible, whether in Maths or Further. DS' offer from Bristol had a specific UMS requirement from a stats paper. (Can't remember whether it was S1 or S2.) And we heard of a boy who lost his place because he did not make that part of the offer.

securitylecturer Sat 13-Jun-15 00:04:36

It's suspect that's going to vary from department to department. Statistical economics is a thing, but other varieties are available, and I doubt there's a part of the FM syllabus you couldn't make a case for being relevant in some part of economics. My guess is that strong calculus is going to be very important (particularly differential equations) for many departments, for example. Once you get to the stage of worrying about which modules you're taking you're going to want to have the admissions tutors on speed-dial.

Bonsoir Mon 15-Jun-15 11:24:59

Both my DSSs have applied for Economics degrees at RG universities. One is at the end of his second year and one should start in September 2015. They did not do A-levels but rather the French Bac S, with spécialité maths (further maths). I know lots of DC on RG Economics degrees in the UK with all sorts of qualifications and if there is one thing that they are unanimous about is that it is highly beneficial to do as much maths as possible (whatever your school system allows) before starting their university courses. Don't look at university minimum maths requirements and think that is all you need - you need to be really good at, and to enjoy maths, for an undergraduate Economics degree.

Lilymaid Mon 15-Jun-15 11:52:29

Re Maths for Economics courses.
If the course is a BSc you would normally be expected to have at least A2 Maths.
If the course is a BA (apart from Oxbridge), you might not have this as a requirement, but you will probably have to do a compulsory Maths course in Y1 at university to bring you up to the required standard.
If you do have Maths + Further Maths you are better equipped to tackle the Econometrics modules.
(Both my DSs have done MSc Economics at a RG university highly rated for Economics and they have survived despite leaving school only with A2 Maths)

securitylecturer Mon 15-Jun-15 12:02:50

If the course is a BA (apart from Oxbridge), you might not have this as a requirement, but you will probably have to do a compulsory Maths course in Y1 at universit

I know several degrees of the form "A2 maths, but if you haven't got it you can do a course once you arrive instead". The outcomes are bad enough that action is being taken to close the route.

(a) the usual reason people don't do A2 maths is they either don't enjoy it or aren't very good at it, which means the same problem happens with the first year module

(b) people that didn't do A2 maths haven't done any maths since certainly AS and more usually GCSE, so one, two or in some cases three years, and those who gave up after GCSE often don't have Astar so don't even have a full grasp of the whole GCSE syllabus; an A2-ish syllabus in two semesters with only 20 or at most 30 contact hours per semester is completely beyond them

(c) the rest of the course doesn't have a moratorium on maths, and therefore the students taking the extra maths module struggle in other modules that tacitly require maths that everyone else has

(d) as it's usually a compulsory module for progression, with poor overall outcomes, it's often the number one reason for failure to progress.

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