ucas terminology explained

UCAS Application Terminology

Thinking of applying for college or university? Finding your way around UCAS? A little confused? Don’t know your Clearing from your Insurance Choice?

Don’t worry, we have made a list of the terminology, so you don’t have to.

Click on a term to take you to the explanation ⬇



ucas terminology explained

The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service is the central portal for information on all full-time undergraduate courses available throughout the UK. Their online service allows students to find courses, track progress and respond to offers.

UCAS Tariff Points.

UCAS has a tariff system or ‘UCAS points’ which converts qualification grades into points e.g., “BBC” is the equivalent to 112 UCAS points. Grades are added together to give a total which can be used as an entry requirement for a course. UCAS has a useful tariff calculator online.

Entry Requirements.

The criteria that students must meet to be offered a place on a course, such as achieving certain results at school or college. Different universities and courses will have different entry requirements which will be listed on UCAS, university websites and in university prospectuses.

Personal statement.

ucas terminology explained

A vital part of the university application to convey why a student wants to study the chosen course, to demonstrate to admissions tutors why they should be offered a place on their programme.


The summer period, including the time after A-Level results are released, where universities advertise remaining places on their courses.

Student loan (maintenance and tuition fee loans).

ucas terminology explained

Repayable money from the Students Loan Company (SLC) available to help students with living costs (maintenance) and tuition fees.

Means tested.

Assessment made on household income to determine how much financial support a student is entitled to.

Bursaries and scholarships.

Non-repayable funding to assist with the cost of studying at university. This sometimes comes in the form of credit to use on campus or with approved retailers.

Conditional offer.

A student is made a conditional offer by a university if they are predicted to meet the entry requirements of the course. The offer is dependent upon a student meeting the requirements, for example achieving certain results in their BTEC, A Levels or other Level 3 qualifications.

Unconditional offer.

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An offer of a place on a course with no conditions which can be accepted straight away.

UCAS Track.

Students can log into UCAS track to check the status of offers as well as amend any details.

UCAS Extra.

If students are without an offer, UCAS Extra offers an additional choice.

Firm choice.

The preferred or first choice university on a UCAS application.

Insurance choice.

The second choice university on a UCAS application to act as a reserve if a student doesn’t meet the entry requirements of their firm choice.

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