The UCAT (University Clinical Aptitude Test) is currently taken by over 30,000 Medicine and Dentistry applicants each year – but what is a good UCAT score to aim for?
With such strong competition for a limited number of places at Medical and Dental schools, it’s no wonder that all students want to find out whether they had a good UCAT score compared to the rest of the year’s cohort.
Unfortunately, there’s no definitive answer for what counts as a good UCAT score. Although there are suggested cut-offs, there is no such thing as a “score you need to get into X Medical School” as the UCAT forms only one component of the application and your Personal Statement, A-level grades, GCSE and Interview performance all need to be strong too.
That said, we can take a look at the mark distributions of the previous years to give you an idea of where a UCAT score stands within your cohort year. This article will do just this, as well as explore the UCAT requirements of some of the top medical schools and where you may wish to apply with the mark you get. Let’s dive in.
How is the UCAT scored?
As you may already know, the UCAT consists of five sections:
The first four sections of the UCAT are scored and graded in the same way — resulting in an average score being calculated. Your raw score for each of the first four sections is converted to a score ranging from 300 to 900. For the final, overall UCAT score, these four scores are added together to make a score between 1200 and 3600. This score will sometimes be converted back into an average score within the 300 to 900 scale.
The majority of students score in the range from 500 to 700 and the total average is usually around 620-630 each year. The mark for each individual section of the exam varies — here are the average scores for different sections over the last five years:
Average UCAT Scores
|Total UCAT Tests Sat|
However, the Situational Judgement Test is marked differently because the answers can be close to being right, but not exactly correct, and still get you some marks. Each candidate’s average score places them in either Band 1 (best), Band 2, Band 3, or Band 4 (worst). The data from the UCAT Consortium lists the average UCAT scores for applicants — here are the scores for the last five years:
Average SJT UCAT Scores
|2024 Entry||2023 Entry||2022 Entry||2021 Entry||2020 Entry|
Each candidate is assigned a Band from 1 to 4, with 1 being the best score. Ideally, you should aim to get a Band 1 or 2 to put yourself in a good position. Some universities have a cut-off band for the SJT so will not accept candidates with a Band 4 score in the SJT.
UCAT Decile Rankings 2023
UCAT Deciles represent the rankings of all UCAT test takers in lots of 10%. Each score stated is the threshold for that decile, so an applicant that scored in 2890 or above in 2023 would be in the 9th Decile, meaning they scored higher than 90% of test takers. There are the Deciles for 2023:
|Decile Rank||Score (2023)|
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What is a good UCAT Score?
Firstly, a good UCAT score is different to a ‘high’ UCAT score. Secondly, good UCAT scores vary between years depending on the average UCAT performance each year. For 2023, the average score was around 629 (2516) which is 4 points higher than in 2022. So for 2023, we suggest that a good score was between 650-690 (2600 – 2760).
You will typically see a trend suggesting that mean UCAT scores are increasing each year, so a good UCAT score could potentially be higher in 2024 than in 2023. For SJT bands, as we mentioned earlier, we recommend that you aim for at least Band 2 on the SJT to improve your chances of receiving your Medicine offers.
Where to apply with a good UCAT score
Remember that each university uses UCAT scores differently, so the best way to make the most of your score is to apply to the Medical Schools that place the right level of emphasis on the UCAT that suits your performance. Here are some examples of medical schools that
St George's University
St. Georges University in London is a medical school that operates fairly high cut-off scores in their application process, meaning applicants must achieve a certain score in order to be considered. In 2022, this score was 2710 (678) while the previous year was 2620 (655). In 2021, the average score achieved by successful applicants was 2725 (681), which is definitely on the higher end of the UCAT percentiles.
King's College London
King’s College London is one of the most famous universities in the UK’s capital, so it’s no surprise that they have high standards for applicants of one of their most competitive courses. During the 2021 admissions cycle, shortlisted applicants scored an average of 2788 (697), with 2774 (694) being the previous year’s average. However, KCL doesn’t operate cut-off scores so you aren’t required to reach a certain score to officially be considered.
University of Edinburgh
The University of Edinburgh is one of the most renowned medical schools in Scotland, and its UCAT requirements prove that they are very selective with its offers. For 2024 Entry, they operated a UCAT cut-off score of 2470 (618), which isn’t very high. However, the average scores for successful applicants from previous years greatly surpass this score, with applicants scoring an average of 2700 (675) in 2021 and 2780 (695) in 2020. Therefore, it is clear that passing the threshold may not be enough to get you an offer at Edinburgh.
University of Southampton
The University of Southampton uses the UCAT as the main consideration when shortlisting applicants, meaning a good score is important to get an interview. Beyond this, they operate fairly high cut-off scores, with applicants for 2021 Entry needing to score at least 2680 (670) to be considered. In the 2022 admissions cycle, the lowest UCAT score invited to interview was 2580 (645), meaning, all shortlisted applicants for that year scored above average.
What is a high UCAT Score?
Again, it is difficult to pinpoint what makes a ‘high’ UCAT score, as the UCAT requirements of medical schools all differ from each other, and each year the spread of marks achieved by applicants fluctuates.
However, you could say that a high UCAT score is an average of 700+ (2800+) in the four Cognitive Skills sections and a Band 1 in the Situational Judgement Test.
An average score of 700+ across all sections and a Situational Judgement Band 1 is likely to land you in the top 10% of the cohort, and you’ll certainly pass all UCAT cut-offs set by universities.
Where to apply with a High UCAT score
If you’ve scored highly on the UCAT, you might consider a Medical School with a higher UCAT cut-off score or average offer-holder results. Here are a few examples:
University of Bristol
The University of Bristol no longer uses the Personal Statement as a selection factor for the Interviews and now mainly focuses on the UCAT. For 2021 Entry, applicants with a UCAT score of nearly 2800 or more are usually invited to interview but this threshold will of course vary each year. Beyond this, Bristol actually implemented a cut-off score of 2910 (728) for 2023 Entry, meaning applicants would have to score extremely well to get an interview.
University of Manchester
The University of Manchester consistently enforces high cut-off scores in its application process, with applicants for 2024 Entry being required to score 2750 (688). The average score for shortlisted applicants in 2022 was 2826 (707), meaning a high score was required to stand a good chance of success. This trend is likely to continue in the future as medicine becomes more competitive.
Newcastle University is generally regarded as the university that takes the UCAT most into account. They rank the applicants that qualify to enter entirely on their UCAT scores, and then select the top of these. You will need to be in the top 15%-20% of those sitting the test to be considered, so you likely need a score of over 700 on average! The cut-off score for 2023 Entry was 2820 (705), with averages from previous shortlisted cohorts reaching 2943 (736).
University of Glasgow
The University of Glasgow exceeds other Scottish universities when it comes to UCAT results. Successful applicants for 2022 Entry scored an average of 2868 (717), with 2021 applicants scoring 2791 (698). This gives Glasgow the highest average UCAT results in the country. This is made even more important by the fact that the UCAT is the universities primary method of shortlisting applicants (after they have met the minimum academic requirements).
This is by no means a definitive list of UCAT universities and their requirements, but having an understanding of what you should be aiming for will help you in your preparation.
It is also important to note that the average UCAT scores or UCAT requirements are not a reflection of the quality of the medical school, so don’t assume that the universities with the highest requirements are the best ones for you. Do your research and attend open days to help you decide where you would like to study. The information in this guide is simply to inform you of your chances of gaining an offer with different scores.
What happens if I get a low UCAT Score?
If your UCAT score was closer to average you will find there are plenty of medical schools that have similar average scores for their successful candidate’s results. Many of these medical schools have been known to admit applicants with much lower scores, with some successful candidates scoring below 2000. The key here is to choose universities that de-emphasise the UCAT and ensure that your Personal Statement and Interview techniques are extremely competitive.
We have a full guide dedicated to this topic, so check it out if you’re worried about what you can do with a lower UCAT score.
That concludes our guide on UCAT scoring and results. Any medicine applicant should be aiming to do the best that they can, so don’t feel that you need to limit yourself based on the average scores of previous years. Go in with the attitude that you will get a high score and you will be more likely to find success.
Of course, the most important thing you can do to ensure you get a great score is to effectively prepare for the UCAT. If you’re looking for the best way to prepare for the UCAT, discover our UCAT Tuition Programme, which supports you in your journey all the way through to your test date. If you would prefer complete application support, then our Medicine Programme is for you.
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The UCAT is just one part of your Medical School application. A strong application for Medicine also includes nailing your Personal Statement, Interviews and depending on your university choices, the BMAT too. Our Standard Medicine Programme aims to maximise your Admissions Test score (BMAT and UCAT), perfect your Personal Statement and develop your Interview skills to get you Interviewing like a pro.
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