A Level students often apply to universities before they have taken their final exams, with applications administered centrally through UCAS . British universities (including Scottish universities, which receive many applicants taking A Levels) consider GCSEs, AS-level results, predicted A Level results, and extracurricular accomplishments when deciding whether applicants should be made an offer through UCAS. These offers may be 'unconditional', guaranteeing a place regardless of performance in A2 examinations. Far more often, the offers are conditional on A level grades, and become void should the student fail to achieve the marks expected by the university (for example, conditional offer of three A Levels at grades B-B-C).  Universities may specify which subjects they wish these grades to be in (for example, conditional offer of grades A-A-B with a grade A in Mathematics).  The offer may include additional requirements, such as attaining a particular grade in the Sixth Term Examination Paper . The university is obliged to accept the candidate if the conditions are met, but is not obliged to reject a candidate who misses the requirements. Leniency may in particular be shown if the candidate narrowly misses grades.
Also level 4/5, HNCs and HNDs are roughly equivalent to one or two years of a degree. With a strong focus on practical skills and specialist knowledge related to the industry/sector of choice, HNCs and HNDs can be studied around the world and are among the most highly regarded vocational qualifications within and outside of the UK. However, they retain a more academic element in that they are delivered by universities and further education colleges, and have been developed to give students the opportunity to easily “top up” to an honours degree.
One of the important differences between previous educational qualifications (and the earlier grading of A-levels) and the later GCSE qualifications was supposed to be a move from norm-referenced marking to criterion-referenced marking.  On a norm-referenced grading system, fixed percentages of candidates achieve each grade. With criterion-referenced grades, in theory, all candidates who achieve the criteria can achieve the grade. A comparison of a clearly norm-referenced assessment, such as the NFER Cognitive Ability Test or CAT, with GCSE grading seems to show an unexpected correlation, which challenges the idea that the GCSE is a properly criterion-based assessment.