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6th October 2020
Did you score above an average of 670 (or 2,680 in total) on your UCAT? Congratulations – this is usually classed as a high UCAT score. Here’s an overview of where you might want to apply with your high UCAT score.

Check out our blogs on where to apply with lowaverage, and good UCAT scores, too.

University of Sheffield

During the first stage at Sheffield, you are screened to ensure you meet the medical school’s minimum academic requirements. You also need to achieve an overall UCAT score of 2420 or greater.

All applicants meeting these requirements will advance to the second stage where they are ranked on their UCAT score. Those with the highest UCAT will be invited to interview.

For 2020 entry the cut off score was 675. For 2019 entry the cut off score for interview was 657.5, for 2018 entry 672.5, and for 2017 entry 667. Sheffield commented that the cut off points “fell around the 70th-73rd centile”, although for 2020 entry this was more around the 75th to 80th percentile. So, to stand a good chance of an interview, a UCAT in the top 30% is likely needed, possibly higher.

Sheffield also comment that there is no ‘academic compensation’. This means exceeding their minimum academic requirements will not make up for a low UCAT score. At interview, there will be eight areas assessed with the SJT serving as a virtual ‘ninth’ area.

This means your UCAT score will not be used at the interview stage, but your SJT will. Your Personal Statement is not scored.

King’s College London University

Traditionally King’s has sought applicants with a high UCAT score. UCAT is used alongside GCSEs, predicted grades, Personal Statement and reference to select for interview. King’s does comment that “examination results and the UCAT score are perhaps the most important.”

You are ranked on your average UCAT score and SJT band. Following this, King’s then factors in number of A*’s at GCSEA level predictions and Widening participation. As for the weighting of these factors, “generally, UCAT score accounts for 50% of the ranking, GCSE and School performance 40% and other widening participation factors 10%.”

There is no threshold score at King’s, but in the past, they have given ‘guideline scores’. These are scores ‘indicative of what would have been seen as competitive in previous years.’ Getting such a score would not guarantee interview and 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 UCAT score of applicants was 715, and 695 for 2016 entry. If you are scoring below the top 20% of those in the UCAT, 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 comments that 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.”

For the SJT, King’s says they give “higher weighting to those with Band 1 and Band 2. The weighting of Band 1 is double the weighting of Band 2. We do not give higher weighting to those with Band 3 or 4.” This means it is preferable to apply with a Band 1 or 2.

Kings determine offers based on average UCAT score, SJT band and interview performance. For 2019 entry, the lowest UCAT score to gain an interview was 2450. However, the average UCAT score of all offer holders was 2802.

Bristol

Two years ago Bristol completely revamped how it selects students for interview. In the past, Bristol was known for being very focused on your Personal Statement.

For 2021 entry, Bristol will no longer be using your Personal Statement to select for interview and instead focus solely on your overall UCAT score.

Previously, Bristol attracted students with low UCAT scores because it only placed a small emphasis on the test. Now that Bristol is placing larger emphasis, applicants with higher scores may be more likely to apply. Bristol comment that Personal Statements may be used to differentiate between applicants with identical interview scores, but UCAT scores will still be the primary differentiator. The SJT is not used.

University of Newcastle

If there were a competition for where a UCAT score is most important, Newcastle would likely take the gold. Newcastle’s application system is very simple, but by no means easy.

You are first screened to ensure you meet the medical school’s academic requirements, and then ranked on your overall UCAT score. A set number of applicants from the top of this ranking are then invited to interview. 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 UCAT score. For the SJT, applicants with a band 4 will not be considered. The threshold score needed to secure an interview varies year on year, however in most years applicants have needed a UCAT score in the top 20% of those sitting the test.

For 2018 entry the threshold score was 645, and so just above average. However this is quite an exception. Most recently, for 2020 entry, the threshold score was 682.5. For 2019 entry this was 680, for 2017 entry 667 and for 2016  it was 683.

Where this year’s threshold will be is hard to say, but if you find yourself in the top 20% of scores, then Newcastle would be a good option, with an interview almost guaranteed! If you are not in the top 20%, Newcastle is certainly an option, as we can see from the last few years – but there is still some risk involved.

Once you get to interview, offers are decided entirely by your performance at interview.

University of Edinburgh

Until fairly recently, Edinburgh were the only medical school to not interview students. The 2020 entry year was therefore the first year where interviews were used at Edinburgh. On one hand this is good because more students are be given interviews than offers, meaning your application may not have to be as competitive as previously. However, as this was the first year Edinburgh have interviewed, it is more difficult to know what kind of UCAT score or academics are needed to gain an interview.

Selection for interview will be based off your UCAT score, academics and SJT band. Your interview score will then be used alongside these factors again to determine offers. Edinburgh adds that “each of these areas is weighted as follows: Academic score (achieved and predicted) 25%, UCAT score (by decile) 17.5%, Situational judgement test (SJT) banding 7.5%, Assessment day scores 50%. You will be ranked, and offers be made to the highest-ranking candidates, in each of the fee categories (Scottish/EU, Rest of UK, and international).”

The Personal Statement is no longer formally assessed but Edinburgh has commented that it will “play an important part in the assessment day.”

For the UCAT, students are ranked and divided into 10 groups, with each group allocated a score. The SJT band is also allocated a score. Applicants with a Band 4 in the SJT will not be considered for entry.

Traditionally, GCSE’s and predicated/achieved grades have been used to assess academics.

So what do you need to stand a good chance at Edinburgh? This is a very difficult question to answer. Data from previous years will help give an idea of the calibre and general profile of students gaining an interview. However, Edinburgh plans to invite 650 students to interview this year whereas they made around 540 offers last years. This means an applicant’s UCAT and academic scores may not need to be as high as previous years to gain an interview. Nevertheless, since 650 is not much higher than 540, this would suggest a similar profile to previous years will still be required.

Edinburgh said that in previous years, 75% of offers are made to students scoring in the top 25% for the UCAT out of the students applying. If you look at the average score of those receiving an offer for 2019 entry, this was 705! This means that historically the majority of those receiving an offer will have a very high UCAT score, in about the top 20% of applicants.

The lowest UCAT score given an offer for 2019 entry was 582.5. But with previously around 13 applications per place, there is very little room for weakness with an application. To stand a good chance of receiving an offer, you would need to do very well in nearly every part of the application process. In theory, amazing academics and SJT band could make up for a low UCAT (this was likely the case with the student who scored 582.5).

As for the SJT, over 60% of offers made for 2019 entry were to students with a Band 1 in the SJT, and over 30% to students with a Band 2.

In terms of academics, Edinburgh said that in the past “the average A level applicant is offering 6A* at GCSE and the top one third (around 350) between 8 and 11 A*.”

Barts (Queen Mary, University of London)

At Barts, UCAT makes up 50% of selection for interview. The UCAS tariff score makes up the other 50%. Your UCAS tariff can be calculated from your A-Level grades, either predicted or achieved. This can be calculated on the UCAS website here, but to give you an idea – an A* is awarded 56 points, an A 48 points etc. Barts also uses a cut-off for your tariff of 144.

A low UCAT score can be made up for by a high UCAS tariff score, and vice versa.

However, Barts does also use a UCAT cut-off score, but a relatively low one – anyone under the third decile (in the bottom 30%). In fact, the lowest score receiving an interview for 2029 entry was actually 575! To gain an interview with a low UCAT like this, you will need a high UCAS tariff, 355 in this case. Barts has released some useful statistics from previous years that give you a good idea of what UCAT scores and UCAS tariff were invited to interview last year.

The Personal Statement is only discussed at interview, where the SJT is also incorporated into your score.

Since Barts focuses heavily on A-Levels, the more subjects you are studying the better. If you have several A*’s predicted, are studying more subjects, or doing an EPQ, this improves your chances. To give you a rough idea of what would be considered a competitive UCAT score at Barts, the average UCAT score of students receiving an interview for 2019 entry was 675.

So, in short: Barts has a cut off that needs to be met, but this is just part of their criteria, so getting above this doesn’t equal an interview. If you meet this, then your UCAT is combined with your UCAS tariff and those ranked highest overall get interviews. So in theory you can get in with a low UCAT, but the vast majority getting an interview will have a score in the top 3rd of applicants (if not then your UCAS tariff should be incredibly high to compensate).

University of Nottingham

At Nottingham, you are allocated points using your UCAT and academics. Your GCSEs in Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Maths, English Language and best three other subjects will be scored. A*s/9/8 are awarded 2 points and As/7 1 point, to give up to 16 points.

You will also be allocated points based on your UCAT, scored for each cognitive section, so you will be given points for Verbal ReasoningQuantitative ReasoningAbstract Reasoning and Decision Making, not your overall total.

For each section you are scored as follows: 801-900 = 9 points, 701-800 = 8 points etc. This means someone scoring 601 in Verbal Reasoning will be given the same number of points (7 in this example) as someone scoring 700!

The SJT is also awarded points, using the following system: Band 1 = 4 points, Band 2 = 2 points, Band 3 = 1 point. Applicants who score a Band 4 will not be considered further. The four cognitive sections together with the SJT give a maximum of 40 points.

This is added to the 16 points from your academics, and those with the most points are invited to interview. This means the UCAT has more weighting than academics, and the SJT plays a large role. The Personal Statement is no longer formally scored.

Since there are many elements to Nottingham’s application system, there is no ‘cut-off’ UCAT score, so it is hard to advise what a suitable UCAT score would be.

But to give you a good idea of what region you need to be in, for 2020 entry successful applicants had an average UCAT score of 687 5! If your score is lower than this, Nottingham is still a possibility, it just means you will need some good GCSEs, and hopefully a Band 1 in the SJT. The lowest UCAT score to receive an offer for 2020 entry was 632.5.

For 2019 entry, the number of points required to gain an interview was 46 out of 56 points. The good thing about Nottingham is you can calculate how many points you will receive before you apply. If you are considerably above 46 points, then an interview is very likely. If you are around 46 points, then an interview is still possible but not guaranteed.

Words and research by Dr. Daniel Huddart.

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