When looking at course entry requirements, you may read about ‘entry grades’, ‘predicted grades’, and ‘offer grades’.  What do these terms mean – And what’s the difference?  Find out in this post.

1.  Entry Grades

The first thing to say about the entry grades universities publish is that they are ‘minimum’ grades.

What this means is that you need to meet those grades to be considered for a place.  However, for many courses, there is no guarantee that you will get an offer just because your grades are the same as the published entry grades.

If a lot more applicants meet the minimum grades than there are places available, the university will pick the candidates with the best qualifications for the course.  This can happen with very popular courses, or courses that only have a small number of places.

However, the contrary may be true as well.  You may not exactly meet the published entry grades but still get an offer. This can especially happen if you have a strong application and can make the right impression on the university.

2.  Predicted Grades

Most undergraduate applicants are still in school when they send their UCAS application.  Because they wouldn’t have their final results yet, the university needs ‘predicted grades’ to make a decision.

Your predicted grades are given in your school reference.  They are your school’s calculation of what your final results will be when you have finished all your exams.  Your predicted grades are based on your past exam grades, how well you’re doing now and what other exams you still need to complete.

When considering your application, your predicted grades can make a real difference to the university’s final decision.

The university will want to see that your predicted grades are at least the same as the minimum entry grades.  If they are a lot lower, your chances of getting an offer won’t be great – Unless there is an explanation in your school reference for why that may be.

3.  Offer Grades

If you apply to a UK university with ‘predicted grades’ and the university makes you an offer, this offer will be ‘conditional’.  Your offer will list the final grades that you must get to confirm your place.

Your offer grades are usually the same as the minimum entry grades. However, sometimes it can be slightly higher or lower.

There are a number of reasons why a university might make you a higher or lower offer.

If the offer is higher, it can be because the admissions staff think you can achieve the higher grades and they want you to get the grades you’re capable of.  It’s usually also a way to encourage you to accept them as your firm choice.

Or the opposite could be true – perhaps there are some weaknesses in your application, and the university wants you to work harder before you can get in.

As for the lower offer, take it as a compliment:  The university really likes your application and is happy to take you even if you achieve the lower grades.

4.  Actual Grades

Your ‘actual grades’ are the final grades that you will achieve after taking all your exams and getting your official results.

If your actual grades are the same or higher than your offer grades, your offer will be confirmed.  Your place on the course is now guaranteed.

If your actual grades are only a few points lower than your offer grades, your application will be considered as being 'borderline' your results don't quite meet the requirements but they're not too low .   Once applicants who have met their offers have confirmed their places, the university may consider borderline cases if there are still places available on the course.  

If your actual grades are too low, you’re likely to lose your offer, even if there are still places available on the course.

If during your exams, you a had serious illness or something else serious happened in your life, check if the university would be willing to give you ‘special consideration’.

Usually, one of your teachers would have to write to the university to explain what happened.  If they strongly recommend you to the university, your application may be reconsidered.

There’s no guarantee the university will be able to make an exception, but if you do have a good explanation, it’s worth trying.

5. How Strict Are Entry Grades

How strict entry grades are can vary from course to course, even within the same university.

If a course receives a lot more applications than there are places available, the admissions staff may not be able to be flexible at all.  They have to give priority to applicants who have met their offer requirements.

If all places are full after other applicants are confirmed and you’ve missed your offer by just one point – Sadly, it could mean that you lose your place.  If, on the other hand, there are still places available and the university is happy to reconsider you, your conditional offer may be confirmed.

Sometimes it also depends on your luck. In some years, there can be less pressure on places and a university may be able to be more flexible. In other years, the same university may have to be very strict because there simply aren’t any more places left on your course.  Only students who meet the entry requirements can get in.

6.  How To Increase Your Chances of Getting An Offer

Your chance of getting an offer are much higher if your actual or predicted grades are the same or higher than the university’s published entry grades.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be ambitious and aim to get an offer for a course that has slightly higher requirements.   On the contrary, we always recommend that you apply to at least one course that has slightly higher requirements.

Your grades are only one part of your application.  If you only just miss the grades, but write a very strong personal statement and have a supportive reference, you still have a good chance to be considered.

However, when applying with predicted grades, it’s best to ensure that you meet the minimum requirements for most of your UCAS choices.   Then you can pick one course with higher requirements – and one course with slightly lower requirements as a backup, just in case.


Most of the time, if you meet the grades that the university publishes as its entry grades, you’re likely to get an offer.  Provided you meet all other requirements, too.

However, if the course that you’ve chosen receives a lot of applications, you could get a ‘no’ even if you meet the published entry grades.  You would have to work harder to convince the university to choose you over other candidates.

However, one of the great features of UK universities is that they consider each applicant on an individual basis.  Often, if they can be flexible, they will be.

So, if you miss the published entry requirements by a few points, don’t simply assume you have no chance to get an offer.  Contact the university and ask what your chances would be.  Of course, they would have to see your application before making a final decision, but it’s always worth giving it a go.

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