Achieved A Low UKCAT Score, What Should I Do?

Let me start by saying that achieving a low UKCAT score isn’t the end of the world. It just means you might have fewer options available. Universities with a high cut-off mark are obviously not an option to apply. However, A UKCAT score below the cut-off of one medical or dental school may be good enough for admittance to another. The following six things I recommend you do if you achieve a low UKCAT score:

1. Find Out Your Decile Ranking

The UKCAT exam board uses a statistical approach called deciles to report the overall performance of candidates each year. A decile is any of nine values that divide data into ten equal parts so that each part represents 10% of the sample population. This statistical approach is descriptive and gives the exam board a good overview of the overall test performance each year. I recommend finding out where your overall score ranks before applying. It could be that the year you take the UKCAT it is difficult and most students find it hard as well. This could potentially put you in a higher decile. You ideally want to be in the 6th decile and above.  Applicants below the 4th decile are normally rejected before the interview stage.

2. Research All 26 UKCAT Medical or Dental Schools

There are 26 universities that require the UKCAT as part of their admission process, If you score a low UKCAT score I recommend you research all 26 universities and find out how they each assess the UKCAT, you want to shortlist universities that do not have a cutoff mark or have a cut off below your achieved score. Shortlist universities that also use a points based system when picking applicants to interview and lay more emphasis on the entire application when shortlisting applicants i.e predicted grades, work experience, reference, personal statement etc. Once you have shortlisted the universities I recommend giving their admissions team a call, I cover this in detail in the next step.

3.Call Admission Tutors For More Information

Let’s assume you’ve found seven universities that do not have a cut-off or use a point based system. You want to get an idea on how heavily they rely on the UKCAT.  The best way to find out is by calling their admissions team. Here are a few questions you could ask:

  • How heavily do you rely on the UKCAT?
  • How are applicants shortlisted for interview?
  • What was the average UKCAT score for applicants you interviewed last year?
  • What was the lowest UKCAT score from last year’s interview pool?
  • What do you consider a good UKCAT score?

The admissions team’s answer to these questions will give you a rough indication on how much they rely on the exam and the likelihood of you being invited for an interview. You want to shortlist four universities that will most likely invite you for an interview.

4. Strengthen Other Parts of Application

To give yourself the best possible chance of being invited for an interview you need to strengthen other parts of your application. There are a few things you could do to give you a bit of an edge:

  • Show individual marks to modules on your UCAS application, show the marks of your highest scoring modules, GSCE subjects, etc
  • Personal Statement – Highlight your commitment to a career in medicine and what you’ve learned from work experience. Try to stand out in whatever way you can.
  • Provide a reference from someone in a medical or dental profession
  • Review your letter of recommendation – make sure all the attributes the university is looking for is highlighted by your referee. Ask your referee to also include an example of when you’ve demonstrated these skills in the letter.
5. Consider BMAT or GAMSAT Universities

There are many medical and dental programmes that do not require the UKCAT as part of their application process. I would recommend taking the time to also research these options, they might actually be a more suitable or an easier route for you to study medicine or dentistry.

6. Consider Alternative Routes

There is more than one route to medicine or dentistry, for instance – you could consider graduate medicine or dentistry with a foundation year. There are alternative routes to both courses. One of my friends actually studied nursing at university before getting into medicine and I have another mate that did Biomedical Sciences before getting a place on the dental programme at King’s College. These routes might be longer but will strengthen your application if you’ve achieved a high grade or degree class.


Universities To Apply To With A Low UKCAT Score

There are medical schools that do not rely heavily on the UKCAT. Each of these medical schools has their own unique application process, placing different weighting elements on GCSE,  A-level predictions, personal statements, interviews and UKCAT. I recommend having a further look on their websites, however, the following medical and dental schools do not have a minimum UKCAT requirement:

1. University of Birmingham

The University of Birmingham uses a ranking system when shortlisting applicants to interview. Applicants receive an overall score, which is the sum of weighted scores for each of the academic and UKCAT components. The weightings are academic – 70%; UKCAT – 30%. Applicants will be ranked according to this score. The UKCAT only accounts for 30% of the ranking – This could be a good option if you have particularly strong GCSE and  AS levels. Read More

2. University of Bristol

The UKCAT makes up 10% of Bristol’s selection process for an interview with no cut off score. The rest of the selection come from academics (20%) and Personal Statement (70%). So if your grades are really good, show your scores in individual subjects or modules. Also, work on improving your personal statement, I recommended buying the Get Into Medical School: Write The Perfect Personal Statement by Olivier Picard. It has everything you’ll need to produce a stellar personal statement. Theoretically, if you’ve got amazing grades and a great personally statement this could make up for a low UKCAT score. However, the course is really competitive! the university only has about 225 places with 18 applications per place. Read More

3. Cardiff University

The Cardiff University medical and dental school does not have a minimum UKCAT requirement. Cardiff University is known to put more emphasis on other parts of an application and have a ranking system based on academics and personal statement. On their website they mention that they do not have a minimum threshold score for the UKCAT, however, the UKCAT score may be used as part of the assessment procedure. Generally, they do not look at UKCAT scores at all, those at the top of the ranking are assessed on their personal statement. Cardiff only uses the UKCAT in ‘borderline cases’ – 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 UKCAT as a final tool in making their selection. Cardiff is a really good option if you’ve got academics and a strong personal statement, Make sure you strengthen other parts of your application to strengthen your ranking. Have a look on their website for more information on their entry requirements and what they look for in applicants. Read More

4. University of Exeter

The University of Exeter put a strong emphasis on academics when inviting candidates to interview. Applicants are ranked based on A-level predictions and GCSE results. It’s only when there are too many candidates in the middle tier that the UKCAT is used to further shortlist applicants. This means if you have really good A level predictions and stellar GCSEs this might put you in the top tier. Read More

5. Keele University

The University of Keele has a cutoff score but compared to many universities it is low. Last year the cut off was 582.5, however, this changes slightly every year. The cut off is used to eliminate the bottom 20% meaning that if you score above 590 you should be fine. Also be aware that you must score a band 3 or above in the Situational Judgment section of the UKCAT. Read More




About Mike 114 Articles
My name is Michael and I'm a Pharmacology graduate from the University of Manchester, I was able to improve my UK Clinical Aptitude Test (UKCAT) score from 2400 to 2840 and get offered a place at Warwick’s graduate-entry medical programme.