Please note that this blog is just a guideline and we recommend conducting your own research and contacting the universities themselves before making any significant application decisions.
Scored under 610 in your UCAT (UKCAT)? As a tutor at The Medic Portal, one of the most common questions I get is “where can I apply if I get a low UCAT score?”. Many students believe that a low UCAT score means the end of the line, but this is by no means true! Although a low UCAT score may limit your options, there are medical schools where the UCAT isn’t particularly important.
We’ve broken down your options depending on your UCAT score, including the other elements you need to consider at the same time.
Cardiff generally does not look at your UCAT score. When selecting for interview, Cardiff ranks based on GCSEs and/or A-Level grades (predictions are not used). Traditionally, if an applicant has not completed their A-Levels, Cardiff will rank based off the top nine GCSEs, with 3 points awarded for an A*, 2 for an A and 1 for a B.
The top nine GCSEs must include English Language, Maths and the Sciences. Those ranked highest are then assessed on their personal statement and reference. Cardiff will score these with a focus on:
insight into a career in Medicine
evidence of experience and reflection in a caring environment
evidence and reflection of personal responsibility
evidence of a balanced approach to life
evidence of self directed learning.
Students who then score highest for the academic and personal statement scoring will receive an interview.
Over the last 5 years, the cut off for GCSEs has ranged between 24 and 26 points. It now ranges between 22 and 26, but this is because they are now including those with contextual flags.
Cardiff only uses the UCAT in what we call a ‘borderline case’. What this means is: if they have two 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 UCAT as a final tool in making their selection. This all means if you’ve got good academics and a strong personal statement, Cardiff is a good option!
There is a minimum cut-off used at Keele but compared to many universities it is quite low. Any applicants scoring in the bottom 20% of the UCAT, or scoring Band 4 in the SJT, will not be considered. This cut-off was 582.5 for 2016 entry, 577 for 2017 entry, 585 for 2018 entry and 570 for 2019 entry. Be warned it does vary slightly year on year.
Scoring above the cut off does not guarantee and interview but ensures students will progress to the next stage of selection.
In addition to the UCAT and SJT threshold, you will be required to complete a ‘Roles and Responsibilities’ form during the last two weeks of October. This is like a personal statement, but more focused on volunteering and work. This will be assessed to determine who is invited to interview.
UCAT score can be used again in a borderline case when selecting for interview or allocating offers.
If you are applying as international, keep in mind Keele requires the BMAT for students outside the EU, and will use this to shortlist applicants instead of their Roles and Responsibilities form.
Queen’s University Belfast
Selection for interview is based on academics and overall UCAT score, with applicants being awarded points for each.
The best nine GCSEs are awarded points, with four points for an A* (8/9) and three for an A (7) grade, 2 points for a B (6) and 1 point for a C (5). The maximum academic score is therefore 36.
The UCAT is scored using the following banding:
1200 – 1899
1900 – 2099
2100 – 2299
2300 – 2499
2500 – 2699
2700 – 2899
2900 – 3600
With the six points available from the UCAT, that makes a total of 42. This means UCAT plays a relatively small part in the selection process.
Students who did not take GCSE or equivalent qualifications will have their academic score allocated using school reports.
Applicants are ranked on their combined GCSE and UCAT scores with those ranked highest invited to interview. The threshold score varies year on year. It was 32 points for 2019 entry, 30 for 2018 entry, 34 points for 2017 entry and 37 points for 2016 entry. This means if your GCSEs are strong, then you could secure an interview with a UCAT under 600!
Once invited to interview, it is purely the interview score that will determine who are given offers. The SJT is not normally used,‘except, if necessary, to inform decisions on borderline applicants who have achieved a similar score at interview’. Personal statements are not scored but will be screened as part of the process. You can find out more on QUB’s selection guide.
Plymouth University Peninsula School of Medicine
In previous years Plymouth has first screened candidates academically and then ranked them based on their UCAT score. This means Plymouth uses a UCAT cut-off – this was 582.5 for 2019 entry, 600 for 2018 entry, and 623 for 2017 entry. This is relatively low. However, the cut-off in earlier years has been higher. For 2016 entry this was 652.5, and 650 for 2015 entry.
The SJT is not currently used.
At the interview stage, students are scored and ranked on solely the interview score to determine who will be made an offer.
Previously international students have not required the UCAT. Whether this is the case this year is currently unclear.
Words: Daniel Huddart
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