If there were a competition for where a UKCAT score is most important, Newcastle would likely take the gold. Newcastle’s application system is very simple, but by no means easy.
Applicants are first screened to ensure they meet the medical school’s academic requirements, and then are ranked on their overall UKCAT score. A set number of applicants from the top of this ranking are then invited to interview. The SJT is not used. The personal statement and reference are not scored – in fact, interviewers are not given access to them before your interview! This means an invite to interview is decided almost entirely by your UKCAT score.
The threshold score needed to secure an interview varies year on year, however in most years applicants have needed a UKCAT score in the top 15% of those sitting the test. For 2016 entry the threshold score was 683.Either way, you will need to be in the top 20% of applications at least to stand a realistic chance of securing an interview.
This year, that would be a score of 687.5 or higher. This would give you a chance, but not a guaranteed interview. If you are lucky enough to find yourself in the top 10% of scores, i.e. 715 or higher, then Newcastle would be a good option, with an interview almost guaranteed! Once you get to interview, offers are decided entirely by performance at interview.
The key thing to remember with Edinburgh’s application system is that they don’t interview. They are the only medical school that doesn’t. If you don’t like interviews then this might sound like good news, however because of this it means the other elements of your application must be really good.
In previous years each element has been allocated points, with applicants ranked on total points. It is likely Edinburgh will continue with this system.
Your personal statement (and reference) are then scored using detailed guidelines to contribute an additional 15%, or 6 points. The final 15% comes from the SJT, giving another 6 points. This is quite a heavy weighting for the SJT, more than most other medical schools. The SJT tests similar domains to interviews, and since Edinburgh doesn’t interview it uses SJT to try and substitute this. Once all points are allocated, applicants are ranked and offers made based on the rank order.
So what do you need to stand a good chance at Edinburgh? This is a very difficult question to answer. Because there are no interviews, we find that candidates who do very well on all components of the application still find it hard to gain an offer, it’s just that competitive! In terms of points, for 2016 entry the lowest score given an offer was 31 out of 40, and 30 for 2015 entry.
For the UKCAT, Edinburgh comments “no applicant is eliminated from selection on the basis of UKCAT score alone” this means there is not cut off, however Edinburgh go onto comment that 75% of offers made are to students into the top two octiles. If you look at the average score of those receiving an offer for 2016 entry, this was 705.5! This means that the majority of those receiving an offer will have a very high UKCAT score, in about the top 20% of applicants.
The lowest UKCAT score given an offer for 2016 entry was 582.5. But with roughly 13 applications per place, there is very little room for weakness with an application. To stand a good chance of receiving an offer one would need to do very well in nearly every part of the application process. In theory, amazing academics and personal statement could make up for a low UKCAT (this was likely the case with the student who scored 582.5), however since most applying will have a high UKCAT this would make a very risky choice even riskier.
In terms of academics, Edinburgh comments “The average A level applicant is offering 6A* at GCSE and the top one third (around 350) between 8 and 11 A*.” You can find out more here.
First applicants are assessed on their academics, personal statement and reference, and then are ranked on their UKCAT score. St Andrews comments “to be considered for interview applicants must have a strong academic record, a positive reference and relevant, medically related work experience. Applicants meeting these requirements will be ranked on the basis of their UKCAT global score. Those ranked in the top 400 or so will be given an interview.”
So what does this mean? St Andrews say they would expect a minimum of 8 A grades (or 6A*) at GCSE and minimum AAA predictions at A level. The personal statement and reference will also be scrutinised quite heavily. Even meeting these quite high requirements, the final hurdle before interview will be your UKCAT score.
The average overall UKCAT score for 2016 entry was 687.5, in the top 20% of those sitting the UKCAT. So if you have a score of 690 or above, and feel confident your academics and personal statement match up, St Andrews may be a good choice.
If you score below 690 then St Andrews is still an option (remember 687.5 was just an average). In fact, the lowest score for an applicant called to interview for 2016 entry was 600! They rank you based on your interview score (which incorporates the SJT). If there are many applicants towards the bottom of the ranking, with the same interview/SJT score, they then use the global UKCAT score to differentiate between them. You can find out more here and here.
King’s College London
Traditionally King’s has sought applicants with a high UKCAT score. UKCAT is used alongside GCSEs, predicted grades, personal statement and reference to select for interview. How much each contributes to the selection process is not known, however King’s does comment “examination results and the UKCAT score are perhaps the most important”.
There is no threshold score at King’s, instead they refer to what they call ‘guideline scores’. These are scores ‘indicative of what would have been seen as competitive in previous years.’ This means getting such a score would not guarantee interview, and in fact getting below the score would not guarantee rejection.
Guideline scores have varied between 630 and 735 over the last few years, so it is hard to predict what it will be this year. Nevertheless, in most years scores in the top 20% of candidates have been considered competitive. For 2015 entry the median UKCAT score of applicants was 715, and 695 for 2016 entry. If you are scoring below the top 20% of those in the UKCAT, 687.5 this year, then King’s is certainly still an option. However, you will need a good set of GCSEs and predicted grades to compensate for this.
Personal statements are not graded or scored. King’s comment they “are looking particularly for evidence of appropriate commitment to, and realistic appreciation of, the academic, physical and emotional demands of a medicine degree programme and career”.
As for the SJT, King’s comments “applicants in Bands 1 and 2 who are competitive in other areas will be interviewed, applicants in Band 3 are less likely to be interviewed and applicants in band 4 are very unlikely to be interviewed”. When determining offers, interview performance is the sole factor.