Ultimate "How many marks do I need to reach grade X" thread - UMS Explanation Watch

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This thread is aimed typically at students with AS results who wish to know how many UMS marks they require for a certain overall A-level grade at A2. I have seen many threads of people asking these questions - so I thought one place to answer and discuss these issues ought to be created.


"I received a C, 138/200 UMS, in a subject at AS. How many marks will I need to receive a B grade overall?"

The answer is in the spoiler below, but I understand this can be confusing, so feel free to ask questions below and I (or other members) will help you out. Let us do the working out for you.

You were very close to a B at AS level, so a bit of estimating tells us you need to get slightly higher than a B at A2 in order to balance a B grade overall.

Mathematically we can work out specific requirements. A grade B overall in a 400 unit subject is 280, since 70% (B) of 400 is 280. 280 - 138 (what has already been achieved) = 142.

Therefore, 142/200 marks are required at A2 in order to get a grade B overall.

Notice how you don't need to include the subject, exam board or even grade. As long as you post your UMS and the maximum UMS (the maximum above was 200 for AS) we can work it all out. Slightly different rules apply for those querying about A*, especially in mathematics. Tell us if it's mathematics since not all A2 units need to be 90%, which will save you some stress.

Other basic information:

  • AS level and A2 level carry exactly the same amount of marks. They each contribute 50% to the total A-level.
  • UMS will always correspond to grades as follows:
    90% = A* (A2 units only)
    80% = A
    70% = B
    60% = C
    50% = D
    40% = E (pass grade)
  • If 55/70 in a Chemistry exam is the boundary for an A grade, 55 raw marks will correspond to exactly 80% UMS (whether UMS is out of 100, 80, 120 or whatever)
  • AS level does not directly affect the overall A* grade. It contributes marks needed for an A grade overall, one of two requirements for A* (the other being 90% across all A2 units)
  • The reason why UMS exists is so that performance can be measured between candidates who sat exams at different times. If Student X gets 55/70 raw marks in a June 2010 exam, but Student Y gets 60/70 raw marks in a June 2013 exam, we musn't assume Student Y has performed better. If the June 2010 exam was extremely hard, and the June 2013 exam was relatively a lot easier, we may say Student X has performed better. We can compare these directly by the UMS score. Note that full raw marks will always equal full UMS. This is a minor flaw in UMS, since one student getting 100% in a much easier exam than another student getting 100% in a harder exam will look identical. Though generally this isn't an issue, ever.

Fun Fact: If you get a C grade at AS, you cannot get an A grade overall. But you can get an A*. There is a 1 UMS mark difference between a B and an A*. (This assumes no resits!)

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