UCAS points are changing: so will it be harder to get into uni in 2017?

If you’re feeling a little bit confused about the UCAS points change happening this year, don’t worry, we’ve pulled together a super FAQ which covers all of your questions with some speedy, straightforward responses. 

When does the new UCAS points system come into effect?

May 2017, though some universities are already displaying both versions on their course pages. 

Will the UCAS points change in 2017 make it harder for me to get into university?

No, this will have no impact on the course or entry requirements. What has changed is the way the points have been allocated and the number of points per subject grade awarded. This has been done to improve consistency across a large number of UK-based and international qualifications which will help evolve a more straightforward university admissions process. 

What are UCAS points?

The current UCAS points system (sometimes referred to as the tariff) has been in play since 2001 and is used by some universities and higher education colleges to agree and confirm the entry requirements for a course across a broad range of qualifications like A-levels, the International Baccalaureate, BTEC and Scottish Advanced Highers.

UCAS points

Have any qualification been impacted?

Yes, the AS-level. The content studied in an AS-level has been positioned as less demanding than a full A-level the value of an AS is now 40% (formerly 50%) of an A-level. This decision was made in line with the qualification regulator’s opinion. Universities are aware of this change and will take it into account when students apply. 
You can find out more about the A-level reforms here. 

Who uses UCAS points?

Around 33% of uni courses currently use the points as way to display their entry requirements. A course requiring the grades of ABB (A-level) will show a points requirement of 320. Courses that don’t display the points ask for subject grades. 

Why has UCAS changed the points system?

UCAS reviewed the points system in 2012 and this highlighted a number of issues. An advisory group was appointed and UK secondary schools, colleges and universities were asked to provide feedback on the new structure of the points.

How are the points systems different?

In the new points system the numbers used are lower. An A grade A-level under the old system was 120 points, it is now 48. It is not worth any less, it is just a more manageable number.

Will universities change course entry requirements because of the new points system?

No, universities have full autonomy when deciding the grade requirements for every one of their courses. UCAS will only add the updated point information once the university has sent through the entry requirement information. 

Will I need to use the new points system?

If you applying for uni from September 2016 you will be using the new points system.

When will the new UCAS points information show on the UCAS search tool?

All courses that display the points will show them from May 2016. Some universities and courses don’t use the points. In this scenario only the grades required for entry will be shown in the entry requirements section. 

How will I know which courses I can apply for?

Your teachers won’t provide you with your own personal UCAS points score but they will provide you with predicted/expected grades for all your courses and you will use these to apply for uni. Researching courses is a lot easier once you have your grades. 

How can I work out how many points I will have under the new UCAS system?

UCAS have launched a points calculator that you can use. They also have a full points table and other resources. 

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