Most students aspiring to become dentists will need to sit the University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT) when applying to UK dental schools. Some universities put a considerable emphasis on applicants’ UCAT scores when determining who they invite to interview. However, some universities consider other factors, like academic achievement, in addition to or more so than UCAT scores, while some courses have lower UCAT requirements regardless.

Factors to Consider When Applying with a Low UCAT Score for Dentistry

Although the UCAT can be a significant part of the application process for some universities, other factors can be equally as important. Applications can be strengthened through strong academic performance, such as good GCSE results and high predicted or achieved A-levels.

Additionally, strong personal statements can make a significant difference in the application to universities that consider them. Personal statements can highlight work experience you may have and other extra-curricular activities and achievements that can make you an attractive candidate.

It is important to research the schools you are interested in to find out what their selection criteria is and what aspects of the application they focus on so that you can apply strategically with your strengths in mind.

Dentistry Schools with Lower UCAT Score Requirements

Cardiff Dental School

  • The average minimum UCAT score required to receive an interview at Cardiff is ~2350.
  • Cardiff takes a holistic approach when considering which candidates to interview and look at GCSEs as well as the UCAT. It is important to note that Cardiff puts a higher emphasis on the SJT component compared to other universities and allocates almost as many points to it as candidates’ overall UCAT scores. 
  • Therefore, if you didn’t get a high overall UCAT score but did well in the SJT and your GCSE’s, Cardiff would be a good place to apply!

Dundee Dental School

  • The lowest UCAT score typically required to be invited to interview at Dundee is ~2300.
  • Dundee put a slightly greater emphasis on academic achievement, weighting it 60% compared to 40% for the UCAT. This means that candidates can make up their scores for a lower UCAT with their academics.
  • If you didn’t perform as well in the UCAT but have strong academic grades, Dundee should be considered for your application list.

Liverpool Dental School

  • The average minimum score needed for an interview at Liverpool is ~2100.
  • Liverpool looks at all aspects of candidates’ applications when deciding who to invite to interview including academics, personal statements as well as an academic questionnaire unique to Liverpool applicants. Please be aware that candidates who have an SJT score of 4 are automatically rejected for an interview. 
  • If you received a low score for the UCAT but have a strong personal statement and good academics, Liverpool would be a good option to consider as they look at all aspects and their minimum UCAT requirements are the lowest of all UK Dental schools.

Queens Belfast Dental School

  • The UCAT score typically required to receive an interview at Queens Belfast is from 2300 to 2650, however specific statistics have not been released.
  • Queens Belfast Dental School puts a much lower emphasis on candidates’ UCAT scores compared to other universities, weighing 12.5% of the candidate’s score whereas 87.5% is based upon students’ GCSE results.
  • Applying to Queens Belfast is a really good option if you have a lower UCAT score but have good GCSE grades as your overall score can be heavily compensated.

Strengthening your Application

If you did not receive the UCAT score you were hoping for and are looking to strengthen your application in other ways, there are a number of things you can consider.

Firstly, reflect on your work experience and other things you have done to explore the career of dentistry and use this in your personal statement to show your motivation.

Secondly, reflect on what skills or personal qualities you possess that would make you a good dentist, think about how you have shown these qualities in your current work or extra-curricular activities. Emphasise these in your personal statement in a reflective manner.

Obtaining a strong personal statement may also help with improving your application. Think about who you have spent time with, who knows of your motivation to study dentistry and other personal aspects which would make you a good candidate, such as resilience, hard work and empathy. 

Seeking Additional Support

It is important to seek support throughout the application process to help guide you into creating a strong application. These can include pre-dentistry advisors, mentors at school and support networks who can give you further advice on ways to strengthen your application and improve your chances of receiving an interview for dentistry. 

Finally, if you are not happy with your UCAT score, there is always the option to resit it the next year. In the meantime, you can engage with multiple ways of improving your score such as practising with question banks, attending UCAT courses or receiving one-to-one tuition. Such methods of support can be found on our website.


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