University Tips Blog
An image to illustrate different university qualifications
A headshot image of the author, Erin Tungate

by Erin Tungate

Student Recruitment Officer - UK & Europe at King's College London

posted on 11 Dec '23

A guide to the qualifications universities accept for entry

When applying to university, each institution has specific entry requirements for their courses. Students will find these requirements vary depending on:
• The course or subject
• The type of degree
• The university.

The most well-known entry requirement is exam grades – universities list online the grades which students should achieve to be successful when applying to their courses. The most common qualifications universities list are A levels and BTECs, but universities also accept other qualifications like T levels and Access to HE courses. Most courses will also ask for certain GCSE grades in subjects like Maths and English.

For example, a Psychology (BSc) course might ask for one of the following:
• A level results of A*AA
• BTEC Extended Diploma results of DDM
• Access to HE Diploma with 36 credits at Distinction.

Some universities, instead of specific grades, ask for a certain amount of UCAS tariff points. Most academic qualifications have a numerical value depending on the qualification type and the grade achieved. Your students can use the UCAS online Tariff Points Calculator to check the number of points their qualifications represent.

Aside from grades, universities can ask for various other requirements for their courses:

Personal Statement

When applying through UCAS, students will submit a 4000-character personal statement – a piece of writing about them and why they would like to study their chosen course. Whilst there are no specific requirements for this, university course pages usually describe skills and experience they would like students to demonstrate in their applications, and students can use this as a guide.

Pre-application tests

Some universities ask students to take a test before applying to certain courses. This can include the LNAT for Law courses and the BMAT or UCAT for Medicine or Dentistry courses. Universities then take that score into account when considering students’ applications. Many universities differ in what tests, if any, they would like students to complete before applying - so make sure your students check course pages for this.


After applying for courses, universities might ask students to attend an interview before making them an offer. Some interviews will be panel interviews – a standard set-up with questions from a small number of admissions staff and academic staff from the department the student has applied to. Other interviews, particularly for subjects like Medicine and Dentistry, will be more structured; a common form of this is Multiple Mini Interviews (MMIs). Usually, universities will list the possibility and structure of an interview on their online course page which gives students lots of time to research how to prepare for this and what to expect.

Contextual offers

You may see universities offer alternative entry requirements on their course pages, often called contextual requirements. These are typically one or two grades lower than the standard entry requirements and is how universities acknowledge applications from students who have experienced barriers that may have affected their academic progress. Usually, a student’s UCAS application will indicate whether they are eligible for a contextual offer or not, but they can always contact a university before submitting their application if they are unsure.

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