How Universities Use The UKCAT (2019 Entry)

how universities use the ukcat

Medical and dental schools part of the UKCAT consortium use the UKCAT differently – some look at your overall score, others look at individual marks, whilst a few consider the band score in the situational judgement section. The key to increasing your chances of getting invited for an interview is by understanding how they use the UKCAT. Depending on how well your score goes you can pick your choices wisely. I recommend using the information in this article as a guide and double check the university websites for more information. The information in this post is sourced directly from the official UKCAT university guide (Click here to view)

A UKCAT score good enough for admittance to one particular university might be below the cut- off of another. Universities  have their own approach to assessing UKCAT scores, some schools do not have a minimum requirement, while others do – here are some of the methods used by medical and dental schools to set a cut-off score

Minimum score system: This is basically where, in most cases, a  university would look at the overall performance of candidates in a particular testing cycle to set a minimum score. For example, they might consider the average total score achieved in a particular year and decide to set that as the cut-off. Any applicants that achieves below that average is automatically rejected.

Decile ranking system: This is quite common with universities that state that they do have a minimum UKCAT score but it varies each year. This method basically depends on the overall UKCAT performance of candidate in a particular year. 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 divides data into ten equal parts so that each part represents 10% of the candidates in a given testing cycle. This statistical approach is descriptive and gives the exam board a good overview of the overall test performance each year, and some universities use this data to pick a minimum UKCAT score. For example, a university might automatically reject applicants in the 3rd decile and below, in 2015, that would mean below 2470, but in 2017 would have been below 2480.

Point-based system: This approach is where universities award points to your UKCAT score as well as entire application, the higher your score the more points you earn. However, most universities that use this system also award points to other parts of an application such as personal statement, academics and reference. These universities might be a more suitable option if you do not do particularly well in the exam.

Individual Score cut-off: Some universities have a cut-off marks for individual sections in the exam, regardless of how well your overall score might be. If you achieve below the minimum in a particular subtest they will reject your application.

Situational Judgement banding: The Situational Judgement is the final section of the UKCAT. Unlike the other subtests, you do not receive a score out of 900. Instead you are assessed from Band 1 to Band 4. Some universities automatically reject candidates that achieve a band 4 (lowest band).

Universities That Have A UKCAT Cut-Off Score

The following universities use a cut-off mark to shortlist students for interview, they include:

University                   Description
University of GlasgowAll applicants will be ranked on the basis of their UKCAT score, the percentile cut-off point varies from year to year.
St George’s, University of LondonBoth the section scores and overall cut-off score must be met – 500 or above, in each section. The minimum overall UKCAT score will be determined after the results have been published. The 2016 Entry minimum was 2600.
University of LiverpoolThe UKCAT threshold is determined each year on a competitive basis and thus the range of UKCAT scores suggested can only be considered as indicative.
University of NewcastleThe UKCAT threshold may differ in each admissions cycle as it is dependent on the scores achieved by those applicants who apply to our Medical School in the current cycle. Therefore information on what the threshold is, is not available to prospective students
Plymouth UniversityThe UK Clinical Aptitude Test (UKCAT) threshold score applied to determine candidate selection for interview can alter each year and is influenced by overall candidate performance in the UKCAT and the number and quality of applications received.


Universities That Consider The Situational Judgement Band Score

The following universities consider your Situational Judgement band score, they include:

University of AberdeenIn Aberdeen we will allocate a score based on the total numerical score from the three subtests: verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning and abstract reasoning. The SJT will not be scored, but it may be used in offer making when there are candidates with similar scores
University of BirminghamThe band score for the Situational Judgement Test (SJT) component of UKCAT will be used at the interview stage.
University of EdinburghWe accept all UKCAT scores and have no minimum requirement. We also consider the Situational Judgement section of the UKCAT test separately.
Hull York Medical SchoolAll applicants must take the UKCAT in the year they apply. Applicants with a Situational Judgement Test Band of 4 (the lowest band) will not be considered. Following interview, we make offers based primarily on interview performance, and we use the UKCAT Situational Judgement Test as an extra interview ‘station’.
Keele UniversityWe exclude total scores in the bottom 20% nationally or band 4 SJT.
University of Leicester Applications from candidates with band 4 in the Situational Judgement Test will be fully scrutinised prior to and, if appropriate, following interview
University of Liverpool It is expected that applicants who achieve Band 4 in the Situational Judgement Test of the UKCAT will not have their applications processed beyond the 1st stage and of the remainder only those applicants who meet /exceed our minimum academic criteria and who offer the most competitive overall UKCAT scores will have their applications proceed to the second stage.
University of ManchesterYour UKCAT score will be ranked by the percentile provided by Pearson Vue and your SJT Score should be in Band 1, 2 or 3.
University of NottinghamThe fourth component, SJT, is scored as follows: Band 1 = 3 points Band 2 = 2 points Band 3 = 1 point Band 4 = 0 point Please note: Applicants who achieve a Band 4 are not considered further.
Queen’s University BelfastFor all candidates UKCAT is therefore taken into account at stage 1 of the selection process. UKCAT has introduced an additional paper called a Situational Judgement Test, but it has been agreed that the results of this will not be used for 2017 entry except, if necessary, to inform decisions on borderline applicants who have achieved a similar score at interview.
University of SheffieldThe Situational Judgement Test (SJT) component is considered for those applicants who are invited to attend a Multiple Mini Interview.
University of St Andrews Decisions to make offers will be based on the interview score and the global UKCAT score. Use of Situational Judgement Test (SJT). We intend to use the SJT as an element of our interview process; with the score being incorporated into the interview score


Universities That Do Not Rely Heavily on the UKCAT


The following universities do not rely heavily on the UKCAT, they include:


University of Aberdeen A score is allocated based on the applicant’s overall performance in UKCAT compared with all other applicants to Aberdeen. (Academic – 60%, UKCAT – 40%)
University of BirminghamThe 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
University of BristolThe UKCAT makes up 20% of Bristol’s selection process for an interview with no cut off score
Cardiff UniversityThe 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
University of ExeterThe 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


My Recommended Strategy for Picking University Choices

Medicine and dentistry are very competitive – to give yourself the best possible chance of being invited for an interview find out how universities use the UKCAT and assess an application – You must know which of the following  is the most important for your perspective choice:

  • Academic Achievement
  • Personal Statement
  • Work Experience
  • Reference

Instead of narrowing down your choices to four, I’d recommend initially shortlisting 12 medical or dental schools. Bearing in mind that every candidate applying  will have good predicted grades and at least a half-decent personal statement. The real differentiator is the UKCAT. I recommend picking your university choices based on the outcome of your UKCAT result. First, research all the UKCAT universities and find out how they assess the UKCAT and set your target score,  then shortlist  12 choices  into the following three groups:

  1. First Group –  Ideal 4 Choices if UKCAT score is above minimum target and above the UKCAT requirements for each university.
  2. Second Group –  My 4 choices if I score below my minimum target score. These universities take into account the UKCAT but do not rely heavily on it.
  3. Third Group – My 4 choices if I do not perform well.  These universities do not use the UKCAT or rely little on UKCAT. (Make sure you have a strong personal statement, academics, and good reference).

Watch My Youtube Video For The step-by-step Guide Picking Your Choices


In conclusion, make sure to find out how your choices assess the UKCAT before applying to them. Use this information to set a minimum target UKCAT score for your preparation. I provide a step-by-step guide on how to do this in my UKCAT Study Guide. It includes all the tips, techniques and strategies I used to achieve a UKCAT in the 90th percentile, the 2017 edition was bought by 1-in-7 candidates, with 100% agreeing it helped improve their score and 79% achieving their UKCAT (See Testimonials).

About theukcatblog 115 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 in 3 months and get offered a place at Warwick’s graduate-entry medical programme.