Earning UCAS points is the traditional way to get into UK universities. It is fairly straightforward to work out your overall points total using the UCAS calculator. Students will typically earn their points at sixth form age, between 16-18 years old. Performance in exams dictates how many UCAS points each student achieves and which universities they could attend.

The most common way to earn UCAS points is by studying for A-levels. But there is a host of equivalent qualifications you can explore. Another is the International Baccalaureate (IB) programme, a scheme that offers a well-rounded education – and, crucially, can be converted into the UCAS points system.

In this blog, we’ll explore what the IB is and how to convert IB points to UCAS points.

What is the International Baccalaureate?

The IB is an academic certification that prepares students to study at university. IB is taught in more than 150 countries worldwide, including English schools. It could be viewed as an alternative to A-levels, although their study and examination methods are very different.

Where they are similar is in their outcomes – both give students the chance to earn UCAS tariff points. Many different exam programmes can be converted into UCAS points that show universities the value of your grades.

How Does the International Baccalaureate Work?

There are two IB programmes available. The most popular is the IB Diploma, a programme covering many different subjects in preparation for university. The other is the IB Career-related programme, which prepares students for specific careers or vocations.

The IB Diploma is the more typical way to earn enough UCAS points for university. It’s very different from A-level courses, where students usually learn three or four individual subjects in-depth, earning UCAS points for each.

The IB Diploma works very differently. It teaches the DP Core programme, which consists of:

  • Theory of knowledge
  • Creativity, activity, service
  • An extended essay (4,000 words)

Then, over the two years of study, students will also explore six subject groups:

  • Languages and literature
  • Language acquisition
  • Individuals and societies
  • Science
  • Maths
  • The arts

Typically, students study three of these groups at higher level and three at standard level. The IB Diploma is designed to give students a broad education covering many subjects. It also teaches skills that students need later in life, such as critical thinking, analysis and ethics.

How Are IB Points Calculated?

So, how do these subjects turn into IB points? IB Diploma study ends with coursework and written exams. Each is graded between 1 and 7, with 7 being the highest score possible. Each course within the diploma is graded, with IB points awarded accordingly.

The overall score, or grade, is made by adding up points from each subject. To gain the IB Diploma, students must pass each component with a total score of 24 or higher. The best scores possible in each component are:

  1. Higher level 21 IB points
  2. Standard level 21 IB points
  3. IB Core 3 IB points.

A perfect points score would total 45. This may seem more complicated than the A-level grades system, but each can be easily converted into UCAS points.

Converting IB Points to UCAS Points

To work out your IB to A-level conversion, you’ll need each components’ score and your total points. Higher level points are often viewed by both UCAS and universities as the most important score, so earn the most UCAS tariff points.

Higher Level

Higher level grades to UCAS points:

  • Grade 7 = 56 UCAS points
  • Grade 6 = 48 UCAS points
  • Grade 5 = 32 UCAS points
  • Grade 4 = 24 UCAS points
  • Grade 3 = 12 UCAS points
  • Grades 2 and 1 = 0 UCAS points.

To get your higher level UCAS points, take your three subject grades and add up the corresponding UCAS points. For example, a student with grades 7, 6, 5 would earn 136 UCAS points.

Standard Level

Standard level grades are worth exactly half the UCAS points as higher level grades:

  • Grade 7 = 28 UCAS points
  • Grade 6 = 24 UCAS points
  • Grade 5 = 16 UCAS points
  • Grade 4 = 12 UCAS points
  • Grade 3 = 6 UCAS points
  • Grades 2 and 1 = 0 UCAS points.

Once again, students should take their three standard subject grades and convert them to UCAS points. For example, a student scoring grades 6, 6, 4 at standard level would earn a further 60 UCAS points.

IB Core

IB Core scores the extended essay and theory of knowledge components from grades A to E:

  • Grade A = 12 UCAS points
  • Grade B = 10 UCAS points
  • Grade C = 8 UCAS points
  • Grade D = 6 UCAS points
  • Grade E = 4 UCAS points.

Students should take their two grades and convert them to UCAS points. For example, a student scoring A in the essay and B in theory of knowledge would gain 22 UCAS points.

Check Your University Entry Requirements

After converting IB grades, students should add each score to learn their UCAS total. Our example student gained 136 points from higher level, 60 from standard level, and 22 from Core. In total, they gained 218 UCAS points. With this information, they’ll know if they’ve met their university entry requirements. For more grade combinations or different qualifications, try the UCAS tariff calculator.

Earn UCAS Points Online

Students from all over the world enrol in UK university courses. That’s why UCAS must convert to various points systems – from both UK qualifications and international qualifications. The most common in the UK being A-levels, along with IB and BTEC also counting towards university entry requirements.

You can gain crucial UCAS points with online courses. At Oxbridge, we offer widely recognised qualifications that will help you start your journey to higher education. Browse our courses or get in touch today.