Published on 5th October 2017 by lauram

Low UKCAT Score

This blog was written for 2018 entry. You can find 2019 entry information here: Where to Apply with a Low UKCAT Score for 2019 Entry.

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.

As a tutor at The Medic Portal, one of the most common questions I get is “where can I apply if I get a UCAT score under 600?”, so this blog will give you some guidance on applying to medical school with this UKCAT score for 2018 entry!

Many students believe that a UKCAT score under 600 means the end of the line but this is by no means true! Of course, there are some medical schools where a high UKCAT is required. However, there are many medical schools where the UKCAT isn’t particularly important – and medical schools will rank candidates depending on interview performance, A-Level predictions and GCSEs.

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?

So, if you got a low UKCAT score, there are three main options available to you:

  1. Universities that generally don’t look at your score
  2. Universities that put more weighting on academics or personal statement
  3. BMAT universities

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Where could I apply with a low UKCAT score for 2018 entry?


Generally Cardiff does not look at your UKCAT score at all. When selecting students for interview Cardiff ranks based on GCSEs and/or A-Level grades (predictions are not used). If an applicant has not completed their A-Levels, Cardiff will rank based off the top 9 GCSEs, with 3 points awarded for an A*, 2 for an A and 1 for a B. Those at the top of the ranking are then assessed on their personal statement. Over the last 5 years, the cut off for GCSEs has ranged between 24 and 26 points.

Cardiff only uses the UKCAT in what we 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!


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!

The other 70% is based on GCSEs. This means this is a good option for you if you have a really good GCSE profile, particularly in English Literature, English Language, Maths, Biology and Chemistry, 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. For 2016 entry, 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 on a good GCSE profile. Birmingham had advised that applicants scoring above 7.0 will be considered for interview, but do remember this is no guarantee.

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. The Personal Statement is not scored but Birmingham will look for sufficient evidence of motivation and commitment, plus relevant personal qualities.


Once well known as one of those few universities not using the UKCAT or BMAT, Bristol became the final medical school to switch over to the UKCAT in 2016. Since this is fairly recently, it is hard to figure out exactly what kind of score is will be needed. UKCAT makes up 20% of Bristol’s selection for interview, increased from 10% last year. The good thing is there is no cut off score.

The rest of selection comes from 15% GCSEs, 15% A-Levels, and a huge 50% from personal statement! Bristol places more weight on the personal statement than any other university. So if your grades/predictions are really good, and you’ve got an amazing personal statement, then this potentially could make up for a low UKCAT score. However, since Bristol receives nearly 14 applications per place, competition is fierce!

If you are applying to Oxbridge, keep in mind it may be unwise to apply to Bristol also. Since most students applying to Oxbridge will have a more ‘sciencey’ personal statement, it is difficult to tailor their personal statement to Bristol. This is not because Bristol dislikes this style of personal statement, but because focusing on science will leave you with less space to discuss the skills and attributes Bristol are looking for.


There is a minimum cut-off used at Keele, but compared to many universities it is quite low. For 2016 entry, this cut-off was only 582.5 and for 2017 entry was 578, but be warned it does vary slightly year on year. Nevertheless, the cut-off is normally used to eliminate the bottom 20%, so if you are above this, you are fine on a UKCAT basis. Also, be aware that you must score a Band 3 or above in the SJT.

In addition to the UKCAT and SJT threshold, you will be required to complete a ‘Roles and Responsibilities’ form. This is like a personal statement, but focused on volunteering and work. This will then be assessed, alongside the personal statement, to determine who is invited to interview. UKCAT can be used again in a borderline case.

If you are applying as international, keep in mind Keele requires the BMAT for students outside the EU, and will instead use this to shortlist applicants.

Words: Daniel Huddart

Read the rest of the series here:


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