Where to apply If I have a low UCAT score?

What should I do with a low UCAT score? We are often asked: "My UCAT score is low, which universities should I apply to?", so this blog aims to give you an idea of which medical schools you can apply to with a low UCAT score.

Author: Isabella Zou

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What should I do with a low UCAT score?

We are often asked “My UCAT score is low, which universities should I apply to?”, so this blog is aimed at giving you an idea for which Medical Schools you can apply to with a low UCAT score. Of course, it’s important to do more research for yourself – looking at university admissions pages and speaking to admissions tutors is a good place to start.

a low UCAT score does not mean the end of the world

A low UCAT score is generally around 2400 or lower but this can fluctuate each year depending on the performance of students on the UCAT and what universities decide on as a cut-off score. Remember, just because your UCAT score is below the cut-off score for one Medical School does not mean that every School will turn you down. 

Every Medical School has a unique application system that places different weightings on certain aspects of your application, i.e. the UCAT, academic performance (GCSEs/A-levels), UCAS reference, Personal Statement and Interview. What does this mean? Well if you have a low UCAT score, the key is to apply to Medical Schools that place more emphasis on GCSE and A-level grades and your Personal Statement. Here are some places you could apply to:

Birmingham

birmingham-university
Photo © Graham Norrie (cc-by-sa/2.0)

Birmingham gives each applicant a score and ranks them for Interviews based on this score. The score is a weighted sum of your academic and UCAT scores. Your academic grades (GCSEs and A-level grades) make up 70% of the score and your UCAT score makes up 30% of the score. Therefore, although the UCAT score is taken into account, it only forms a small part of the score used to select applicants for Interviews.

There is also no minimum UCAT cut-off score. This makes Birmingham a good choice if your UCAT score is low but you have good academic grades.

Cardiff

cardiff-university
Armonjones, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

In most cases, Cardiff doesn’t look at your UCAT score at all. They select candidates for Interviews based on their academic performance and Personal Statements. Cardiff rank applicants based on the top 9 GCSEs, with 3 points awarded for an A* (9 or 8), 2 for an A (7) and 1 for a B (6). They then look at the Personal Statements of the top-scoring candidates to make their decision.

Cardiff only use your UCAT score in a “borderline case”, where two applicants have the same academic score and they can only accept one for an Interview, so more likely, they won’t look at your UCAT score at all.

Keele

keele-university
Tanya Dedyukhina (CC BY 3.0) via Wikimedia Commons

Keele University has a UCAT cut-off which is relatively low compared to other universities. The threshold is above 2280 and band 4 on the Situational Judgement. If an applicant fails to meet these, they will not be invited to Interview. There is another criteria section that you must fulfil which is completing the ‘Roles and Responsibilities’ form. This assesses the applicant’s suitability to study Medicine. This will also be used to select students to interview.

Other options for a low UCAT Score

Of course, a low UCAT score is not the end of the road – you can apply to more BMAT Medical Schools instead. BMAT Medical Schools do not get to see your UCAT score, so in some ways, this is like a fresh start for you. These are the UK Medical Schools that require you to take the BMAT:

Sitting the BMAT exam means that you have a lot more options for Medical Schools to apply to if you get a low UCAT score, but don’t underestimate the test as it is designed to be a difficult exam! 

In conclusion, you shouldn’t see a low UCAT score as a major setback. Use the time before submitting your UCAS application to fully explore all of the Medical Schools available to you, and start preparing for the BMAT exam if you want to apply to BMAT Medical Schools.

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