Whether you know you’ll need to take another cycle to apply with four rejections, feel it’s likely because your UCAT score wasn’t what you hoped, or just want to make sure you have all the information ahead of time, we’ll tell you all you need to know about retaking the UCAT.

Can You Resit The UCAT?

The University Clinical Admissions Test (UCAT) is a daunting exam which acts as one of many hurdles for getting into medical school in the UK (as well as in Australia, New Zealand, and some other countries).

As medical school admissions become more competitive, the number of students deciding to reapply to medicine – and therefore retake the UCAT – is growing.

First off, you can retake the UCAT – but not in the same cycle. What that means is that once you’ve sat the UCAT for the year, that’s your score. You can’t just take the test again the next day to try and do better.

If you’re reapplying for medicine in the next cycle, though, you need to sit the UCAT again and get a new score for that cycle. This means you can’t carry over a good score from the previous year.

What Does That Mean In Practice?

Well, let’s say you’re applying for medicine in the 2023-24 admissions cycle, to start medical school in September 2024. You take the UCAT in August 2023 and get a score of 2800 B2.

That’s the only score you can use this cycle, including if you apply via Clearing later in the year. If you don’t get a place and reapply in the 2024-25 admissions cycle, to start in September 2025, you’ll need to sit the UCAT again – you can’t keep the 2800 B2 score (but most people do score better the second time around!)

Eligibility For Retaking The UCAT

Everyone is eligible to sit the UCAT exam again, except in really unusual circumstances like being caught cheating on the exam before.

The more important question is whether medical schools will accept your application the second time around. That will vary depending on why you’re retaking and whether you’ve applied to that medical school before.

In general, if you’ve achieved the required grades for entry, most medical schools are happy to consider people applying for the second time. Some medical schools won’t accept your application if you previously applied to them and were rejected at interview, so it’s worth checking each medical school’s policy on their website.

If you’re also retaking A levels, it gets more complicated very quickly. Check out our guide here


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How To Retake The UCAT?

Retaking the UCAT is exactly the same as taking the UCAT before, except you don’t need to make an account. You should use the same account as the year before. Our UCAT guide has tips on how to register online and the UCAT consortium has specific advice for reapplicants.

How To Improve Your UCAT Score

The big question on your mind when resitting the UCAT is, of course: how do I do better this time around? This is a big question and it’s worth taking some time thinking about how you’ll approach the test the second time around.

We have five broad tips to help you think about how you’re going to improve your score:

  • Take time to reflect on your first sit

Often where students can go wrong is that they jump straight back into UCAT prep, without thinking about what they’re going to do differently or what actually went wrong.

There will be reasons you didn’t do as well as you could, beyond bad luck: maybe you didn’t prepare effectively, you were too busy with A levels and summer activities, or you neglected the sections you found difficult.

Or maybe your UCAT prep and score were great, it was another aspect of your application that let you down – so you need to focus on that! Working smart, not hard, make sure you spend your precious time focusing on the areas where you can improve.

  • Give yourself enough time

The perk of resitting the UCAT is that you’ve taken your exams already, but the downside is that you’ve probably planned a post-exam holiday. Be realistic about how much time you have and what you’re doing over the summer – and where UCAT will fit in.

Making a timetable can be really useful for this kind of planning. Equally, you don’t have to worry about taking the test before you go back to school, so you can take it later in the summer.

  • Build a support network

Retaking any exam is stressful and reapplying to medical school can be challenging. You want to make sure you have good people around you who can support you and encourage you to do your best. Connecting to other people who are also retaking the UCAT, like via student forums online, can help you see you’re not alone.

  • Be strategic

Remember, the goal of sitting the UCAT is just to get the best score possible. Sometimes students don’t want to guess answers because they feel that they should know it – that’s not a useful line of thinking.

Approach the exam strategically, asking what you can do to get the highest mark possible. Often, that means guessing harder questions and making sure you do every easy question – your score can shoot up.

  • Have a plan B

Deciding to take another year to apply to medicine is a big decision. This should also be a point to reflect on how you’re feeling, and what you might do if retaking the UCAT doesn’t work out. 

You might consider going to universities that don’t place as much emphasis on the UCAT or look at studying Medicine abroad. 

You can use our comparison tool to see how your UCAT score will be used.

There are several other options you could consider, so remember – it’s not the end of the world!

Knowing that you’re secure in a plan B can take some of the stress off of the UCAT retake process, freeing you to just do your best. Retaking the UCAT isn’t do or die. 


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