Applying to Dental School Strategically Using Your UCAT Score

Applying to Dental School Strategically Using Your UCAT Score

10 months ago by Stan

With the UCAS October 15th deadline soon approaching, narrowing down the 15 available dentistry schools to 4 can seem like a daunting task. Our advice is to use your UCAT score and GCSEs strategically to apply to dental schools where you are most likely to be offered an interview.

In this blog we will focus on how your UCAT score, achieved before the October 15th UCAS deadline, should help you decide where to apply. This will give you the best chance of obtaining an interview and securing your place in dental school.

How do dental schools select candidates for interview?

Generally, dentistry schools use a combination of an aptitude test (most commonly UCAT, occasionally BMAT) and academic performance (GCSE, A-levels or degree depending on what has been achieved) to select students for interview. Each applicant is given a score using various numerical scoring systems, and then the top scoring students are offered an interview.

Most schools do not post specific information about UCAT cut off scores required to secure an interview. However, this blog contains information about how each UCAT requiring dentistry school uses UCAT in the selection process.

University of Aberdeen (Graduate Entry Only)

At Aberdeen, candidates are ranked using 60% UCAT and 40% academic criteria (actual and predicted academic achievement) in deciding who will be selected for interview. The UCAT Situational Judgement Test is only used in borderline cases.

For 2016 entry:

  • Applicants: the lowest total UCAT score for an applicant was 1580 and the highest was 3140. The average UCAT score for all applications was 2430.
  • Interview: the lowest total UCAT score for applicants who were invited to interview was 2240 and the highest was 3140.
  • Offers made: the lowest total UCAT score for successful applicants who were made offers was 2320 and the highest was 2850.

University of Birmingham

Currently Birmingham scores all applicants, ranks them and then divides them into quartiles based on the total of the four cognitive UCAT subtests (UCAT Verbal Reasoning, UCAT Decision Making, UCAT Quantitative Reasoning and UCAT Abstract Reasoning). The bottom quartile is automatically rejected. The UCAT is then scored along with personal statement, references and academic achievements. The UCAT Situational Judgement Test is not used in selection.

University of Bristol

Bristol scores applicants using UCAT alone in inviting candidates for interview. Once at interview UCAT is no longer used. No information is available for how Bristol uses the Situational Judgement Test.

University of Cardiff

At Cardiff candidates are invited to interview using a combination of academic score, personal statement and UCAT. No information is available for how Cardiff uses the Situational Judgement Test.

University of Dundee

At Dundee there is no minimum UCAT cut-off score. Candidates are ranked using academic achievement (UCAT and predicted grades), then top scoring candidates invited to interview. No information is available regarding how the UCAT Situational Judgement Test is used in selection.

University of Glasgow

At Glasgow a cut off score is used for UCAT scores.

2016 entry

2017 entry

2018 entry

2019 entry

2020 entry

2530

1900*

2540

2470

2530

University of Liverpool

Liverpool does not have a minimum UCAT cut off score, but UCAT is considered in the application process. The UCAT Situational Judgement Test is also used, and their website states that it is ‘unlikely that we would consider an applicant that was placed in band 4 of the situational judgement part of the UCAT’.

University of Manchester

At Manchester, candidates are first ranked according to overall UCAT and Situational Judgement Test score, then other parts of the application are used including academic achievement and contextual data flags. Manchester states that they do not consider candidates who achieve band 4 in the Situational Judgement Test. Those who achieve band 3 in UCAT Situational Judgement are welcome to apply but candidates in bands 1 and 2 are prioritised.’

University of Newcastle

Newcastle scores candidates on UCAT scores when inviting to interview. For 2020 entry, the UCAT cut off score was 637 (this is the average UCAT score from the four UCAT cognitive subtests). Over the previous four years, the average UCAT cut off score was 643. No information is available regarding how Newcastle uses the UCAT Situational Judgement Test in selection.

University of Sheffield

At Sheffield the UCAT is used in combination with predicted grades to screen applicants for invitation to interview. They expect a total score which is average or above average. A Situational Judgement Score of Band 4 leads to an instant rejection.

Queen Mary’s School of Dentistry

At Queen Mary’s, a UCAT threshold of the third decile is used. Then candidates are scored with 50% UCAT and 50% academic ability. No information is available regarding how the UCAT Situational Judgement Test is used in selection. For 2020 entry the top and bottom UCAT scores for School Leavers that received offers for interview were 3130 and 2330 respectively. The top and bottom UCAT scores for Graduates that received offers for interview was 3150 and 2330 respectively.

Queen’s University Belfast

At Queen’s, students are ranked using personal statement, academic performance and achieved UCAT using a banding system, with no indication of its weighting. For 2022 entry Queens is still considering the use of the Situational Judgement Test.

Banding of UCAT Scores Points
1200 - 1899 0
1900 - 2099 1
2100 - 2299 2
2300 - 2499 3
2500 - 2699 4
2700 - 2899 5
2900 - 3600 6

Plymouth University

Peninsula Dental School uses a UCAT cut off score. The past UCAT cut off scores are as follows:

2015 entry

2016 entry

2017 entry

2018 entry

2019 entry

2020 entry

2021 entry

2280

2280

1790 (3 subsections only)

2230

2190

2280

2290

The 7-year average UCAT score required is 568 (i.e. a total overall cognitive UCAT score of 2272).

The UCAT Situational Judgement Test is not used in the application process.

King’s College London

King’s ranks students for interview using GCSE / predicted or achieved A-level grades, personal statement, reference and UCAT score. The UCAT score used is an average across the four UCAT cognitive subtests and UCAT Situational Judgement Test to rank students for invitation to interview. There is no information on how each part of the application is used but Kings states ‘examination results and the UCAT score are perhaps the most important factors when considering applications’ for interview.

How should I use my UCAT score strategically when applying for dentistry?

It is important to research the scoring system of each dental school and apply to universities where the specific system matches your strengths.

A good strategy is to check whether last year with your UCAT score, you would have received an interview offer. (Note however that the UCAT cut off scores required for an interview do change depending on the UCAT and GCSE scores achieved by the cohort each year).

Note that when applying strategically, this might mean applying to a lower ‘ranked’ university to improve your chance of obtaining a place in dentistry. However, the difference between top and bottom rankings of dentistry schools is very small. Importantly, every dentistry school in the UK is GDC approved. This means that your degree will qualify you as a registered dentist. Thus, the school you attended makes very little difference to your prospects after dentistry school.

We wish you all the best for your UCAS applications!

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