As a tutor at The Medic Portal, one of the most common questions I get is “where can I apply if I don’t do so well on my UKCAT?”, so this blog will give you some guidance on applying to medical school with a low UCAT score!
With the UKCAT playing such a large part in the medical school application system, many students believe a low UKCAT score means the end of the line, but this is by no means true!
There certainly are some medical schools where a high UKCAT is required, for example Newcastle or Edinburgh. Applying to these medical schools with a low score would be very unwise. However, there are many medical schools out there where the UKCAT isn’t particularly important.
So what are they? Well the short answer would be: it depends. Each medical school has its own unique application system, placing different weighting on elements like GCSEs, A level predictions, Personal Statements, Interviews and yes, unfortunately, UKCAT.
This means if you’re trying to make sense of your low UKCAT score and what it means for your application, you need to view your score in the context of all these other elements, and this is where things get confusing…
Luckily for you we’ve broken down your options depending on your UKCAT score, including the other elements you need to consider at the same time, aren’t we nice!
Overall there are 3 main options available to you if your UKCAT didn’t go so well:
Universities that generally don’t look at your score
Universities that put more weighting on academics or personal statement
So, without further ado, let’s take a look at what these are.
Options with a low UKCAT of 600 or under
Generally Cardiff does not look at your UKCAT score at all, when selecting students for interview Cardiff ranks based of GCSEs and/or A level grades (predictions are not used). Those at the top of the ranking are then assessed on their personal statement. Cardiff only uses the UKCAT in what the call a ‘borderline case’.
What this means is if they have 2 candidates who achieve the same ranking, and they can only invite one to interview or make one an offer then, they may look at the UKCAT as a final tool in making their selection. This all means if you’ve got academics and a strong personal statement, Cardiff is a good option!
Now Birmingham does look at UKCAT, but it only makes up 30% of their selection for interview. Therefore, whilst you may be thinking then that you’d need a high UKCAT, this often is not the case!
However, the other 70% is based on GCSEs. This means, this is a good option for you if you have a really good set, particularly in English Literature, English Language, Maths and 2 Sciences, plus 2 other subjects. If this fits your application profile, you’re practically guaranteed an interview.
Your UKCAT and GCSEs collectively give you a score out of 10. Last year the threshold for interview was 6.17. With GCSEs contributing 7 points, you can see how it is possible to get an interview based just off a good GCSE profile. Importantly, keep in mind that if you apply with a band 4 in the SJT, you would need to do especially well at interview. If you do have a band 4 in the SJT, this may be an unwise choice.
Once well known as one of those few universities not using the UKCAT or BMAT, this year Bristol became the final medical school to switch over to the UKCAT. Since this is the first year Bristol is using the UKCAT, it is hard to figure out exactly what kind of score is will be needed. What we do know is that the UKCAT is going to make up 10% of Bristol’s selection for interview with no cut off score.
The rest of selection comes from 20% academics and a huge 70% from Personal Statement! So if you’re grades/predictions are really good, and you’ve got an amazing personal statement, then theoretically this could make up for a low UKCAT score. However, since Bristol receives nearly 18 applications per place, competition is fierce!
Perhaps the main component used by Exeter when selecting for interview is A level predictions. Applicants are tiered depending on their A level predictions, those in the top tiers are invited to interview. It is only when there are too many candidates in a middle tier that a UKCAT threshold is set to select from that tier. This means if you’ve got really good A level predictions then Exeter is a good option.
There is a minimum cut off used at Keele, but compared to many universities it is quite low. Last year this cut off was only 582.5, but be warned it does vary slightly year on year. Nevertheless, the cut off is normally used to eliminate the bottom 20%, meaning if your score is over 590 you should be safe. Also be aware that you must score a band 3 or above in the SJT on top of this.
As you can see there are still a lot of options out there with a UKCAT under 600, and if you also consider 7 BMAT universities then you have even more to choose from!