By Alison Home, on 21 August 2012
Sometimes when I’m advising Year 12 students about their UCAS choices I get the response “but I heard that predicted grades don’t really matter.”
This is absolutely not true: predicted grades do matter. They are a key factor in the university selection process. You need to make your UCAS choices based on the predicted grades that your teacher will give you. You need to match or exceed the minimum entry requirements for every course that you apply for. If you apply for a course but you aren’t predicted the necessary entry grades, it is very likely you will be declined. This is especially true at competitive universities.
Let’s look at the UCL Medicine undergraduate course (the MBBS) as an example. The MBBS minimum entry requirement for UK A level students is AAA. Biology and Chemistry must be included in the three subjects. Applicants must also have one additional pass at AS level in any fourth subject (it can be taken in Year 12 or Year 13), and a minimum of Grade B in GCSE Maths and GCSE English Language. That means that if you are predicted less than AAA (even AAB), or if you only have three full A levels and don’t have an additional AS pass, then you should not apply for the MBBS as you will not be shortlisted.
Even an outstanding personal statement with masses of impressive work experience will not compensate for predicted grades that are below the entry requirements.
However, there is a difference between achieved and predicted grades. Your achieved AS grades at the end of Year 12 might not be exactly the same as the predicted grades your teacher expects you to achieve in Year 13. For example, you might get ABB in Year 12, but your teacher could still predict you AAA because they know you well and believe that you will improve over the next year. But most of the time there will not be a huge difference between achieved AS grades and the predicted grades. For example it would be unrealistic to expect a student to make a big jump from BBC up to A*AA. Speak to your teacher about your predicted grades before finalising your UCAS choices.
If you aren’t sure if you can meet the entry requirements for a course, you can call or email the contact listed in the prospectus to ask for advice. Don’t feel shy about doing this: it is the job of course tutors and administrators to answer questions from prospective students, and they will be the best person to give you answers about their specific course.
This website has a useful search tool: you put in your qualifications, your preferred subject and location and it will give you a list of universities that fit your requirements. www.push.co.uk However, remember to double check that information given on Push is the same on the website of the actual university!
So, before you finalise your five choices, think about your achieved and predicted grades and discuss it with your teachers. Read the course requirements carefully at all five universities you want to apply to. You should feel confident that you have made an informed and realistic decision by the time you hit ‘send’ on your UCAS application.