UCAS Tariffs – what’s the deal?

UCAS tariff

By theunipod,

So, thinking of applying to university but when you look at what you need to get in, all you can see is random numbers? We’re here to explain the myth behind the UCAS points tariff.

This UCAS tariff is a means of differentiating students based upon grades from a variety of post-GCSE qualifications. With so many available, from A Levels to BTECs to the International Baccalaureate, the UCAS system is a way of unifying all the grades into one easy to understand system… if you can get your head around it.

You can calculate UCAS tariff points by following this system:

Your UCAS tariff score is what universities will want and most likely display on their websites and in prospectuses when stating course requirements. They’re asking for 300 UCAS points? Well, that’s three Bs at A2. Or two As and a D.

A and AS Level

An A at AS Level is 60 points; a B is 50 and so on down to E. At A2 Level, the points double so an A is worth 120 points, a B is 100 and so on, down to 40 points for an E.

International Baccalaureate

With the International Baccalaureate, Higher Level subjects earn you UCAS points ranging from 20 (at level 3) to 130 (at level 7). A full diploma could get you points ranging from 230 (24 points) to 768 (45 points).

BTEC National Award

A BTEC National Award ranges from 40 (Pass) to 120 (Distinction). A National Certificate is 80 for a Double Pass, to 240 UCAS points for a Double Distinction and a National Diploma is from 120 for a Triple Pass to 360 for a Triple Distinction.

Other ways to get points

Extra-curricular activities can also earn you UCAS points. A level 6 or above music qualification is worth 20 points, as is any speech or drama qualification.

The UCAS points system is widely seen as a good way of making up a shortfall of points by using music and language qualifications as well as academic qualifications. If the university you’re applying to ask for 300 UCAS points and you have BBC, you’re 20 points short. Yet if you have a level 6 qualification in Spanish, then you’re there.

UCAS Tariff tables

For ease of reference, we’ve compiled this UCAS points for A Levels table for you to refer to:

A2 Levels

  • A - 120
  • B - 100
  • C - 80
  • D - 60
  • E - 40
  • U - 0

AS Levels


  • A - 60
  • B - 50
  • C - 40
  • D - 30
  • E - 20
  • U - 0

Not all institutions use UCAS tariffs. In 2010, only 4% of universities used UCAS Tariffs in their offers for all their courses, while 29% of universities didn't use UCAS Tariffs for any of their courses.

As A Levels are widely seen as the most common step before university, most universities now display their grade requirements in this form, or ask for three points specifically related to three A Levels.

There are also other factors that play a part in your application to a university. Your Personal Statement gives the university an insight into what you’re like beyond the grades. It also gives them a chance to assess how serious you are about the subject you’re applying for, as they can make a reasonable judgment on whether you’re likely to drop out or not.

Writing a personal statement is tricky, as you will need to apply to many universities with the one statement, all of which could be looking for different characteristics. Take a look at our handy guide on how to fill in your UCAS form for help on this topic. And good luck!