You’ve sat the UCAT and didn’t do as well as you had expected.
However, there are still ways to make the most out of a low UCAT score. Here’s how:
The UCAT score is comprised of two elements. The first is the combined score from abstract reasoning, verbal reasoning, decision making and quantitative reasoning. Each section is scored from 300 to 900 points, which means you can get a maximum total UCAT score of 3600 from these sections.
The second part of the UCAT score is the Situational Judgement Test (SJT) grade, which in the UK is scored across 4 bands, with Band 1 being the best score and Band 4 being the lowest score.
UCAT Deciles and Percentiles:
To determine how competitive a UCAT score is, the UCAT consortium and medical schools convert the score into deciles or percentiles. Each decile represents a group of 10% of students: For instance, the 9th decile represents a score that gets you into the top 10% of students in a given year.
Percentiles can give you more detailed information about your score: For instance, being in the 75th percentile means you have scored in the top 25%. Here’s a table from the official UCAT website to give you an overview of the UCAT score deciles in the past years:
2023 UCAT scores haven’t been released yet, but they are expected to be similar as in the previous years. The mean UCAT score averages around 2500 (or 625 per section) every year and is the equivalent of the 5th decile. The average UCAT scores for each of the sections are shown below (2022 entry data):
|UCAT Section:||Average Score:|
If you’d like to calculate what percentile your UCAT score falls into, you can use this official UCAT score calculator. This will be helpful to determine if your UCAT score is actually low or if it’s competitive, but just lower than you had expected ;).
There isn’t a set threshold, below which a UCAT score is always considered low. However, anything below the 4th decile rank would be considered a low UCAT score. In 2023, a low UCAT score is a score below 2450 or 615 per section.
Band 3 and Band 4 is usually considered low SJT score, but some universities don’t take the SJT score into account when shortlisting candidates for interviews.
🚀 TOP Tip: Some medical schools automatically reject candidates with SJT Band 4. If you scored Band 4 on the UCAT, make sure you double-check the SJT requirements with the medical schools you want to apply to, so that you don’t fall into the trap.
Applying to UK medical schools is significantly more competitive for overseas students, and so are the required UCAT scores. For international students, a low UCAT score in 2023 could be anything below 2700 or 675 per section.
Please note that this is only an approximation because the way UCAT scores are used by universities when shortlisting international students can vary significantly. The bottom line is that what could be considered a high UCAT score for most students, could actually be a low score for international students.
If you got a UCAT score below 2450, you can still get offers from medical schools, as long as you apply strategically. Luckily for you, several universities don’t give as much weight to UCAT scores, meaning you can have a high chance to get in, even with a low UCAT score:
|University:||How is the UCAT score used?||Lowest UCAT score to get an interview (historically):|
|Aston||UCAT score given 33.3% weight: Score from GCSEs and UCAT converted to 36, with 24 points for GCSEs and 12 for UCAT.||2140|
|Dundee||No cut off.||1980|
|East Anglia||UCAT scores are used alongside other academic requirements.||1980|
|Edge Hill||If minimum academic requirements are met, students ranked based on UCAT scores.||2450|
|Cardiff||UCAT score only used in borderline cases, otherwise not given much weight.||No cut off.|
|Keele|| Students with a UCAT score in the bottom 20% or Band 4 are automatically rejected. Otherwise, UCAT scores are used only in borderline cases.||2280|
|Liverpool||25% weight to UCAT and 75% to GCSE grades.||2400|
|Plymouth||UCAT cut-off is calculated each year. Everyone who meets minimum requirements and exceeds the threshold is invited to an interview. ||2400|
|St Andrews||After meeting minimum grade requirements, students are ranked based on their UCAT scores. ||2400|
|Sunderland||Not much weight is given to the UCAT. Students with the bottom 30% of scores or Band 4 are automatically rejected.||2370|
Universities that don’t require UCAT at all: Applying to medical schools that require a low UCAT score isn’t the only solution. You can also place a bet on universities that require the BMAT. This includes Brighton and Sussex, Imperial, Keele, Cambridge, Oxford, Lancaster, Leeds and UCL. Keep in mind that this will, however, change from 2024!
🗺️ Apply strategically:
To make the most out of a low UCAT score you should apply strategically. What do we mean by that? Medical School X may be your dream university, but if you don’t pass their UCAT cut off you won’t be even given a chance. Don’t waste UCAS choices by applying to medical schools requiring low UCAT scores or that don’t give as much weight to the UCAT.
📝 Consider taking the BMAT:
“You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow,” said once Eminem, but it’s not entirely true for medical school admissions. If you “missed your shot” on the UCAT, BMAT is your second chance. Consider leaving a few choices to BMAT universities (list above). BMAT takes place in November, so you still have plenty of time to prepare.
🚀 Give your best on a Medical School Interview:
Once you’ve been invited to an interview, try to make the most out of this opportunity. Don’t let it slip by neglecting your interview preparation. Start early and explore our innovative interview preparation resource used by hundreds of students every year.
⚖️ It isn’t the only deciding factor:
Scoring low on the UCAT (< 2450) doesn’t mean you won’t have a chance to get into an excellent medical school. As you can see from the table above, UCAT isn’t the only deciding factor when shortlisting candidates. As long as you apply strategically and have given your best in GCSEs and written a personal statement you stand a chance to become a medical student this year!