The University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT) is a critical element in the application process for UK dental schools, serving as a measure of aptitude and critical thinking. While different universities assign varying degrees of importance to the UCAT score, excelling in this test can substantially bolster your application, especially if other aspects, such as academic records, are not as strong.

Understanding the Importance of a High UCAT Score

Dental schools value the UCAT because it allows them to assess candidates’ aptitude in qualities such as critical thinking, problem-solving and decision making as well as their numerical and verbal literacy. These qualities are highly applicable to being successful in the study and career of dentistry. The advantage of the UCAT is that performance depends less on applicants’ educational backgrounds and therefore can be considered fairer than looking at academic achievement.

Additionally, in highly competitive courses such as dentistry, it is not uncommon for most of the applicants to have strong academic grades and therefore using the UCAT can help differentiate between candidates.


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Universities with a High UCAT Score for Dentistry

Barts (Queen Mary University London) Dental School

  • The minimum score usually needed to receive an interview at Barts is ~2700.
  • Applicants for Barts are ranked according to a weighted score comprising UCAT score and UCAS tariff which includes predicted/achieved A-level grades but not GCSEs. Barts do not accept applicants with an SJT score of 4.
  • Receiving a high UCAT score can dramatically increase your ranking especially when many candidates have good predicted grades, so consider Bart’s if this is the case for you.

Birmingham Dental School

  • The lowest UCAT scores that tend to be offered an interview at Birmingham is ~2700.
  • When selecting candidates for an interview at Birmingham, academics receive a low emphasis, students only need to meet the minimum requirements. Most selection is based on UCAT scores and the SJT is not looked at.
  • If you have a strong overall UCAT score but perhaps have a slightly weaker academic profile or did not do well in the SJT, Birmingham would be a good university to consider.

Bristol Dental School

  • Applicants for Bristol usually need a minimum score of ~2800 to receive an interview.
  • Bristol selects their candidates for interview solely based on their UCAT score. This gives applicants with a high score a big advantage and increases the chances of being offered an interview.
  • If you have a very high UCAT score, consider Bristol for an almost guaranteed interview!

Manchester Dental School

  • To receive an interview at Manchester, candidates typically need a score of at least ~2800.
  • Manchester put a high emphasis on applicants’ UCAT scores when selecting for interview using a ranking system. They also prioritise candidates with SJT scores of 1 or 2.
  • If you did well on the UCAT and particularly if you scored well on the SJT, Manchester would be a good option to apply.

Newcastle Dental School

  • The minimum score usually needed to receive an interview at Newcastle is ~2750.
  • Newcastle put a high emphasis on UCAT scores when choosing which candidates receive an interview. This means that higher UCAT scores can compensate for academics that are not as high. Additionally, Newcastle do not consider the SJT component.
  • If you performed well overall in the UCAT but lack strong academics or did not do as well in the SJT, consider Newcastle for your application.

Factors to Consider when Applying with a High UCAT Score for Dentistry

When applying to schools that value high UCAT scores, it is important not to neglect other aspects of the admissions process. If you have a high score, this will not be enough to obtain you a place at dental school, it likely only means that you will receive an interview.

Additionally, a lot of courses do not relook at UCAT scores after this stage, instead giving out offers based solely on interview performance. 

Therefore, make sure you spend a sufficient amount of time preparing for the interview stage. Qualities assessed in interviews are different to the ones assessed in the UCAT. As opposed to aptitude, interviews look at skills such as teamwork, empathy, communication skills and motivation for dentistry.

You can prepare for this stage by reflecting on these skills, what you have done to demonstrate them or improve them and what experiences you have gained in order to explore dentistry as a career. You can find out more about dentistry interviews in our guide.


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