EXACT is a UCAS Media data service that can deliver datasets to a particular specification.

It allows the customer to request data around applicants and provision to the UCAS Undergraduate and UCAS Conservatoires schemes. With a growing roster of over 200 variables, the user can subset and cross-tabulate the data by attributes of the applicants and courses in any combination. Statistics including number of applicants, applications, offers, replies, and acceptances can be requested for the chosen specification.

EXACT data is aggregated and anonymised and can be supplied in three file formats: PDF, CSV, and SAS data set. This allows you to present the data directly or import into software for further analysis.

An example EXACT output is below. This covers English, Welsh, and Northern Irish domiciled 18 year old applicants applying to computer science courses, who are recorded as achieving the equivalent of ABB grades or above in their best three A levels, for the last five application cycles. The dimension variable which breaks down this data is achieved A level point score. The statistics are applications, offers, and acceptances.

Further EXACT examples

EXACT datasets

Specifying a new EXACT dataset has three components:

  1. Firstly, define the scope of your data – this may be in terms of the number of cycle years you want, or for particular subsets of the data. For example, you can filter the specification to applicants aged 18 with a particular set of grades, or applicants who have made at least one application to a particular subject.
  2. Then select the dimension variables of your data – here you can choose from a growing set of variables to define the rows of your dataset. For example, you might request name of provider, by age group, by sex, or by achieved A level points. It is important to get the right balance between the number and type of variables as well as the scope of the data to ensure that most data cells are well populated, since one of the ways that data is made anonymous is by rounding cells to the nearest five. In addition to this, any cells which have counts of 0, 1, or 2 are rounded to 0 and removed from the output. UCAS' data scientists can advise you on this.
  3. Finally, choose the statistics you want the data calculated for. Currently, you can choose between statistics such as applications, applicants, offers, replies, and acceptances, with new statistics being added all the time. In addition to statistics around counts, you can also request derived statistics (e.g. means) around numeric variables such as A level points. See below for more information. You can also choose if you want each year in the data reported separately, or if you want multiple cycles reported together. This can be helpful if you want a very detailed specification, where there may only be one or two applicants a year.

All the variables and statistics in EXACT are derived from data originating in our operational databases which have been processed and brought into our analytical datasets. These are the same variables and statistics, to the same definitions, that form the foundation of our published analysis reports, notes, scheduled statistics, and data resources.

You can download a full list of currently available variables and statistics below. These documents break down what years and cycle points they are available for, as well as whether they are available in live cycle as well as closed cycles:

If the variables in this document are not quite what you need, EXACT also has the functionality to map existing values to a new variable. These ‘user-defined variables’ allow the customer to effectively create new variables for their own use. For example, you can map provider name into groups according to their geographical location such as city. A list of the values available for each variable can be found in  EXACT variable reference tables (74.02 KB). By mapping these tables to your own value, you can define a new variable.

Included in the above list are two sets of variables — 25 variables relating to an achieved A level point score, and nine variables relating to the best achieved BTEC grade — which measure achievement in the relevant subject group for each variable. You can download a full breakdown of how individual subject titles are group in the links below:

As mentioned above, derived statistics (e.g. means) can be requested around numeric variables such as A level points, drive time (from applicant’s postcode to provider postcode for each choice), and age. These advanced statistics are calculated in relation to counts like the number of applications, offers, acceptances etc. For example, you can request the average achieved A level points score split by detailed subject group for the number of acceptances. See the statistics link above for more information around these statistics. 

New variables and new statistics are continuously added to the service. This is done in an agile manner, considering demand, feasibility, and time estimates when assigning new developments to sprints. If there are variables, statistics, or features which you would be particularly interested in that are not currently included, please email your ideas to exact@ucas.ac.uk for consideration in future development work.

The EXACT service is provided through UCAS Media. If you think the EXACT service could potentially meet your data needs, you can send your requirements to exact@ucas.ac.uk for a costing and delivery date.

For more information about the EXACT data service, including licensing and pricing, visit the UCAS Media website.

EXACT data packs

In addition to requesting individual EXACT outputs to your own specification, we also offer pre-packaged data outputs on popular areas of interest, such as offer-making and schools profiling.

The packs contain multiple EXACT outputs and can save on the cost of purchasing these separately.

Covering a broad spectrum of variables, the packs are ideal for customers who are unfamiliar with UCAS data and are not sure where to start, as they offer answers to specific questions customers have at the time regarding the sector, but still have a wide range of additional outputs to explore further.

For experienced EXACT customers, the data packs offer extra value – with large amounts of data from multiple outputs, customers are not forced to prioritise what data they purchase due to budgeting restrictions.

Below are the EXACT data packs which are currently available.

Offer-making data pack

This data pack contains raw, aggregated data from 68 EXACT outputs to help you make offers to the right students. These EXACT outputs focus on the number of applications, offers, and rejects made at a national level, provider Tariff band, provider region, and individual named provider.

Schools profiling data pack

This data pack contains raw, aggregated data from 52 EXACT outputs. These EXACT outputs focus on the number of applicants, applications, offers, and acceptances from each Apply centre.

International data pack

This data pack contains raw, aggregated data from 98 EXACT outputs at applicant domicile-level, broken down by several variables. The contents are designed to allow examination of non-UK domiciled applicants across the higher education sector, at various levels of granularity.