Let me first start by saying WELL DONE on achieving your target UKCAT score !! If you are anything like me you probably did the Carlton dance at some point to celebrate.
With one huge hurdle out the way there are still a few more you need to cross before reaching the finish line, in this article I share 5 key things to ensure you do before submitting your application.
1. Find out Your Decile/Percentile
The UKCAT exam board uses deciles or percentiles 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 (percentile is out of 100). I recommend finding out where your overall score ranks before applying. It could be that the year you take the UKCAT is easier and most students scored highly as well. This could potentially put you in a lower decile or percentile.
Important – The exam board releases interim UKCAT results mid-September and if you tweet them directly after the last testing day in October you can find out your exact decile or percentile score before submitting your application.
2. Research Your Choices (Again!)
It is important to understand how universities use the UKCAT before submitting your application. You can make more informed decisions after taking the exam. Use your results to shortlist universities based on the outcome of your results, I strongly advise to speak with the respective admission teams if you have any further questions or would like more information on how they assess the exam. some really good questions to ask include:
- 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?
3. Strengthen Other parts of your application
Further increase your chances of being invited for an interview by strengthening other parts of your application. Here are a few things you could do to give yourself 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.
4. Pick Final four choices Strategically
It is tempting to apply to all your ideal choices when you have a high UKCAT score. However, it is important to tread with caution because Medicine and Dentistry are so competitive. I recommend after the test research all the medical or dental schools that use the UKCAT
Split them into three UKCAT assessment groups:
- First Group – Rely little on UKCAT results
- Second Group – Do not rely too heavily on UKCAT results
- Third Group – Rely heavily on UKCAT results
Also look at their application:place ratio, this is a measure of how competitive a course is based on how many students apply versus the number of places on the course. You can find out the number of places and number of applicants by visiting the respective university website or calling their admissions office.
A dental school with 380 places and 3000 applicants per year will have an application:place ratio of 7.9, which means about 8 people were applying for every place.
The lower the application ratio the higher your chances
Use results from the application:place ratio and UKCAT assessment group, to make a more calculated decision on where to apply to increase your chances of getting a place.
You may want to pick a couple universities in the 1st or 2nd group that have a low application:place ratio if your first and second choices are really competitive.
5. Have a Back-up Plan
I think it is important to have a well thought out back-up plan before applying, this could be anything from your 5th choice to studying abroad or taking a gap year. It is important to have this all planned out in case things do not go as planned. Take into consideration the follwoing factors when constructing your back-up plan.
- What would you do if you do not get an offer?
- What else are you good at?
- What else do you enjoy?
- Will you take a gap year?
- Will you consider alternative routes?