by Shivani Sharma September 12, 2019 5 min read

All medical schools are looking for applicants, who will make good doctors in the future, however each university has their own minimum requirements and their own selection process. Considering how well any given school’s selection process matches your own strengths and weaknesses is key to making sure you have the greatest chance of a successful application. 

An important aspect of a medical application is your UCAT score. The University’s Clinical Aptitude Test or UCAT is the admissions test most commonly used by UK medical schools. The way in which the medical school uses the UCAT score is variable, and cut-offs (if they are used) vary each year depending on cohort performance.

unis-to-apply-with-low-ucat-score

What is a low UCAT score?

The average UCAT score changes each year but it is typically between 620 and 640. The average UCAT score for the 2018 cohort was 621. The boundaries which define a ‘low’ or ‘high’ score are not well defined and are often based on the cohort average. Broadly speaking, a ‘low’ score is attaining 600 average in the 4 subtests or lower.

Is a low UCAT score the end of your medical dreams? No!

There are many other important parameters in a medical application, including your GCSE grades, A-levels and personal statement; and applying to Universities which focus more on these criteria will help your application. Therefore, although a low UCAT score might limit the medical schools which you can apply to,  it is does not put you out of the running!

Note: this blog is for applicants applying to undergraduate medicine, i.e. A100 courses

low-ucat-score-cardiff-uni

Universities which are more likely to consider a low UCAT score

Disclaimer: All the information below was verified in the last week of August, however it is subject to change. You are advised to confirm with the university of your choice before applying.

Cardiff University

The selection process for Cardiff is mainly based on the applicant’s academic criteria; they rank candidates according to their GCSE and A Levels grades and determine a cut-off accordingly. Cardiff only uses the UCAT score in ‘borderline case’ i.e. to distinguish between two candidates with the same rank.

Keele University (UK and EU students)

Keele firstly shortlists candidates according to their minimum academic requirements (including UCAT score). Although Keele has a UCAT cut-off score, their score is comparatively lower than other universities. For 2019 entry this threshold was 2280. Applicants with a total UCAT score in the bottom 20% or with an SJT score in Band 4 will not be considered. Keele then shortlists candidates through an additional ‘Roles and Responsibility’ form; this form is a writing piece which focuses on the candidates volunteering opportunities and work experiences.

Queen's University Belfast

Queen's University Belfast rank applicants according to their GCSE grades and UCAT score. Points are awarded for each, with the maximum available being 42; of these 42 points, 36 are awarded to GCSEs and only 6 are awarded to the UCAT.

Banding of UKCAT                           Scores Points Awarded

  •    1200 – 1899                       0
  •    1900 – 2099                       1
  •    2100 – 2299                       2
  •    2300 – 2499                       3
  •    2500 – 2699                       4
  •    2700 – 2899                       5
  •    2900 – 3600                       6

Applicants with a highest ranking are invited to interview. The threshold score varies year on year. For the 2018 entry it was 30. Therefore, applicants with a strong GCSE score have a greater chance at attaining an interview.

University of Sunderland

Shortlisting for interviews is based on a candidate’s Roles and Responsibilities form, academic achievement, and UCAT score. It is a holistic process, and therefore weaknesses in one domain may be made up for through the others. Although Sunderland has a minimum UCAT score, their score is comparatively lower than other universities. Your UCAT score must be within top 8 deciles of the cohort and the SJT must be within bands 1-3.

University of Plymouth

The UCAT score will be used, alongside the academic information, to select candidates for interviews. Students will be required to meet a minimum overall target score which is set and reviewed annually. The threshold score can alter each year and is influenced by overall candidate performance in the UCAT and the number and quality of applications received. The minimum UCAT requirement for 2020 entry is 2390 and they do not consider the SJT banding.

where-to-apply-with-low-ucat-score

Universities which do not consider the UCAT

Alternatively, you can apply to universities which do not use the UCAT at all. Of the 39 undergraduate medical schools in the UK, 29 universities use the UCAT within their selection process, 8 universities use the BMAT to shortlist candidates, and 2 universities do not use any external admissions test.

If you do not have a strong UCAT score, aiming for a higher grade in the BMAT can be extremely beneficial. This will put you in a good position for the following universities:

  •    Brighton & Sussex Medical School
  •    University of Cambridge
  •    Imperial College London
  •    Keele University (BMAT for international students)
  •    Lancaster University
  •    Leeds' School of Medicine
  •    University of Oxford Medical School
  •    University College London

You could also apply to the 2 medical schools, which do not require the UCAT or BMAT. These universities are:

University of Buckingham

Buckingham assesses candidates’ “intellectual suitability”. This is based upon the written application and qualifications. Those candidates who already meet the entry requirements, for whom the selectors judge as having a better than 75% chance of meeting the requirements based on their predicted grades and previous academic performance, will be invited for an interview. There is a strong emphasis on GCSE grades and have stated in their Code of Practice Selection document: “it is unlikely that an applicant who does not have a very large majority of A grades or A* grades at GCSE will be considered likely to meet the A- level grade threshold.”

University of Central Lancashire

Candidates are assessed on their academic achievement, personal statement, references, and transferable skills statement in order to determine who will be invited for an interview. There is a strong emphasis on the personal statement, therefore applicants are encouraged to produce a personal statement written at a high standard.

University

Source of Information

Date Gathered

Cardiff University

University Website

31/08/19

Keele University

University Website

31/08/19

Queen's University Belfast

University Website

31/08/19

University of Sunderland

University Website

31/08/19

University of Plymouth

University Website

31/08/19

University of Buckingham

University Website

31/08/19

University of Central Lancashire

University Website

31/08/19

 

We hope that this blog post has been helpful. For more advice on how to improve your UCAT score check out our other blog posts here and if you have any further questions then don't hesitate to get in touch via hello@themsag.com.

Shivani Sharma
Shivani Sharma

Shivani is a Medical Student at Imperial College London where she has been on the interview panel and is involved in many outreach programmes. She won the Peter Medawar Prize awarded by Imperial NHS Trust. She is a Content Writer and Script Reviewer for theMSAG.


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