Where to apply with a low UCAT score

Advice & Insight From UCAT Specialists

​A low UCAT score is considered that of 620 or less and may limit the candidate’s options somewhat. Fortunately, the cut-offs for the UCAT varies from year to year and are largely dependent on the performance of the incoming cohort worldwide. Further to this, some medical schools either do not require the UCAT for entry (using BMAT instead) or place less emphasis on it compared to the candidate’s academics and/or personal statement

Universities which place less emphasis on the UCAT:

University of Aberdeen:

Aberdeen uses the UCAT score alongside other academic and non-academic predictors for selection to interview, stating that they have no minimum cut-off score. Historically there have been candidates who have received offers with scores around 550.

University of Bristol:

Bristol places a lower emphasis on a candidates UCAT score as well as having no specific cut-off. They have traditionally used the following weightings for selection:

  • GCSE 15%
  • A-level 15%
  • Personal statement 50%
  • UKCAT 20%
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Cardiff University:

Cardiff University does not have a minimum cut-off score for the UCAT, stating that they may use this when assessing applicants.

Keele University:

Compared to many other universities, Keele has (historically had) a considerably lower cut-off of around 570, which excludes the bottom 20% of its applicants as well as anyone with a UKCAT situational judgement test (SJT) score in Band 4.

Plymouth University:

Plymouth uses the UCAT alongside other parameters to make selections for an interview. The cut-off score varies markedly year to year and is dependent on the performance of the incoming candidates as a cohort. Historical cut-off data for each section of the UCAT as well as overall scores are shown in the table below:

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Queen’s University Belfast
Queens University Belfast uses a points-based system to rank its applicants for interview.  The scoring of a candidate’s GCSE’s are as follows: 
An applicant’s UCAT score is awarded up to a maximum of 6 points based performance in the exam. The bandings for UCAT scores are shown in the table below.  
​The table below shows the historical thresholds required for an interview at Queen’s Belfast.
St Andrew’s University:

To be considered for interview candidates initially require a strong academic record; a positive reference and relevant, medically related work experience. St Andrews then uses the UCAT to rank potential applicants for interview.  Thus, candidates who have done well academically but received a low UCAT score are still considered. 

St George’s University of London:

St George’s place less emphasis on the UCAT requiring a minimum score of 500 in each section. Furthermore, they currently do not use the Situational Judgement (SJT) as part of their consideration.  

Universities not requiring the UCAT for entry:

BMAT Universities:

Unlike UCAT, the Biomedical Admissions Test (BMAT) assesses a candidate’s ability in Chemistry, Biology, Physics and Maths as well as problem-solving skills and written communication. The BMAT is assessed in November (after UCAT). Therefore, candidates who feel that their strength lies in academic subjects or that their performance in the UCAT was not reflective of their potential, can use the BMAT as an alternative admission route into medical school.
Universities using BMAT rather than UCAT include:

  • Brighton and Sussex
  • Cambridge University
  • Imperial College London
  • Lancaster University
  • Oxford University
  • University of Leeds
Non-Admission Test Universities:

There are a small number of private universities in the UK which offer medicine, without the need to undertake either the BMAT or UCAT. These universities focus solely on the candidate’s ability in their A level exams (or equivalent). The downside to studying at these institutes is that the financial investment is likely to be much larger than at other universities. Further to this, not all institutes are presently recognised by the GMC and thus, registration and licensing after graduation is not presently guaranteed.
Private UK-based colleges which are GMC recognised include:

  • University of Buckingham
  • University of Sunderland
  • University of Central Lancashire
GMC Approved International Medical Schools:

Applying to international universities represents a limited opportunity cost, given that these universities are not included as part of an applicant’s four Medicine UCAS choices. Applicants considering studying medicine abroad should also be aware that only some international medical degrees are GMC recognised and further assessment may be required should the candidate wish to return to the UK to practice medicine. GMC guidance and further details regarding specific universities, countries and eligibility related to international degrees can be found at the following links:

Further Reading....

Where to apply with a low UCAT score

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