Between April and October each year, “What is a good UCAT score?”, is a question I get asked almost daily by our students. So, you’re not the only one wondering about it.
I have written separate posts on:
So, let’s delve straight into what makes a good UCAT (UKCAT) score so you know where to aim for when you sit the UCAT test. While you prepare for the exam, it is natural to need a score target. In order to help you do that, I have looked at the cut off medical schools have used over the last 5 years.
I will show you a sample of that work and inferences you can draw about what makes a good UCAT score to set yourself a realistic target for your medical school application.
You may have scoured the internet to look at how medical schools use the UCAT as part of deciding if you fit the entry requirements and short listing criteria. On their website, or on the student room, you may have found previous year’s cut off and averages. Did you spot these phrases in your research?
All of the above are “true” but we can still determine what a good UCAT score is. Although some medical schools refuse to give us their cut offs, many medical schools were in a more sharing mood when we contacted them. Some of the data used in the research can be found on their website and the rest was collected by giving them a call.
What really matters is not what you or I think is a good UCAT score, but what the medical schools who shortlist students think. By looking at a selection of universities and the UCAT cut off that they use, you can get a picture of what they consider a good score to offer medical interviews.
Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry uses the UCAT for 50% of the score that decides who gets an interview. It gives guidance on what is a good score and shares their UCAT cut off for various student groups - very helpful!
|Min.UCAT to get an interview 2019||2019 UCAT Percentile|
|5 year Medicine - UK/EU - undergraduates||2300 (575)||23rd|
|5 year Medicine - UK/EU - graduates||2580 (645)||66th|
|5 year Medicine - Singapore applicants||2410 (602.5)||38th|
|5 year Medicine - Malaysia applicants||2370 (592.5)||32nd|
|5 year Medicine - Honk Kong & elsewhere||2300 (575)||23rd|
|5 year Medicine - Graduates internationals applicants||2720 (680)||83rd|
|4 year Medicine - UK/EU applicants||2750 (687.5)||86th|
|4 year Medicine - Internationals||2840 (710)||92nd|
So what can we learn from this about what makes a good score?
To really make inferences that are helpful from a table like this, you would need to have the same table for 2018, 2017, 2016, etc. and see if you can see a pattern in the scores or the percentiles. I have been compiling such data for the last 5 years.
This data shows that except for a handful of Graduate Entry Programmes, a UCAT total score over 2800 (an average of 700 in each subtest) is a good UCAT score. The Situational Judgement Test (SJT) is not included in this number in the UK and instead given a banding (1-4). A score over 700 has worked out to be good enough to meet the cut offs of the vast majority of programmes, every year, regardless of the UCAT distribution curve or percentiles. This has been correct for undergraduate applicants, for graduate applicants to most programmes and for international applicants.
Looking at the table above, you may have noticed that the cut off for the 5 year medicine programme for undergraduates seems really low.
A UCAT score of 2300 is not typically seen as good enough but could it be good enough to get into Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry?
The short answer is most likely not, but the true answer is that it depends. In the shortlisting for the interview, I mentioned that Barts only looks at the UCAT for 50% of their score. The other 50% is made up of the UCAS tariff points. So the student who got an interview at Barts with a UCAT score of 2300 must have scored well above the average UCAS tariff point, unlikely for most applicants.
Here are examples of students who can get interviews at Barts with a large degree of varying UCAT scores:
So to continue our search for what is a good UCAT score, we may be best to look at cut offs from medical schools that shortlist for interviews only based on the UCAT score, rather than 50%.
The University of Newcastle medical school is a great example.
In the table below you will find the UCAT cut off from the University of Newcastle for their Medicine programme over a 4 year period. I have also added the equivalent approximate percentile the score relates to in that given year to help us in our comparison.
|5 year Medicine interview threshold score||2730 (682.5)||2666 (667)||2580 (645)||2720 (680)|
|5 year Medicine interview threshold percentile||Approx 78th||Approx 72nd||Approx 55th||Approx 83rd|
|4 year Medicine interview threshold score||2880 (720)||2720 (680)||2940 (735)||2920 (730)|
|4 year Medicine interview threshold percentile||Approx 94th||Approx 80th||Approx 95th||Approx 95th|
What can we learn by looking at the UCAT cut off over time at University of Newcastle medical school? Let’s ignore “2017” just for now (bearing in mind that it is a bit of an outlier, so I will come to that at the end).
If considering the 2015, 2016 and 2018 cut offs, we can see that:
I have done a similar analysis of UCAT cut offs over the last 5 year in all medical schools in the UK that I could obtain data from. I used the two examples above as they help illustrate the points well but the trends I observed have been similar across other medical schools in the UK.
In summary, after analysing UCAT cut off of medical schools in previous years, I came to the following conclusion about what is a good UCAT score:
I do not know for sure, but while looking at statistics for every medical school in the UK, I have noticed that the data of 2017 seems to be an outlier in most trends. I believe a couple of factors contributed to this:
In this blog, I used data that we have from previous year cut offs to help you establish what a good UCAT score target would be for your preparation. This is by no means saying that you need a 680 to get into medical school.
Actually, I can say the opposite: You do not need a UCAT score of 680 to get into medical school. Such a score, or one above 700 would be a good score and a good target score as you are preparing. However, the UCAT is not the only thing all medical schools look at when shortlisting students for an interview so if you have a low UCAT score, do not worry.
When you combine the UCAT score with other criteria such as GCSE grades, A-Level or IB grades or the personal statement, then the lowest UCAT score needed to get an interview drops significantly for many programmes. Even for programmes that only use the UCAT to shortlist candidates for interview, the number of applicants and competition ratio of that specific programme affects the UCAT threshold significantly.
At St George’s Medical School, the cut off for 2019 was 2490 (622.5) in 2019 and they shortlist for interviews for their 5 year programme solely based on the UCAT result. In the same year, the UCAT cut off for the university of Manchester Medical School was 2600 (650) and the cut off for Warwick Medical school was 2650 (662.5).
So do not conclude that 680 is what you need to get intomedical school. 680 is a good score and above 680 is my recommended target for most students. Over 700 is a very good score and with that, you will have many options available but there are plenty of options with a range ofUCAT scores.
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The University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT) is a widely recognised exam used by medical schools, as a tool to assess candidates applying to study medicine.
We at theMSAG recognise that the application process can be extremely stressful, so we have collected all the information you are going to need to complete your registration for the UCAT, should you be planning to sit the exam in time for the 2021/22 medicine application cycle.