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Applying to Medical School Strategically: Part 5 - Where to Apply with a Low UCAT Score


In this blog series we are discussing how you should use your UCAT scores strategically when applying to UCAS, in order to maximise your chances of securing a place in medical school. In this blog we will focus on which universities you should consider applying to with a low UCAT score (615 and below).

What is a low UCAT score?

A UCAT score of less than 615 is slightly below average. Last year's average UCAT score was 627.5. Combined with strong academic grades and high-quality extracurricular activities, a place at medical school is still very much possible so long as your choices are strategic. It is advised to apply to medical schools which place less emphasis on UCAT. It is inadvisable to apply to medical schools outlined in our where to apply with an excellent and good UCAT score blogs.

Where should I apply with a low UCAT score?

It is advisable to apply to medical schools which are weighted less towards UCAT and more towards academic achievement and personal statement. You should consider applying to the following medical schools:

Keele University Medical School

At Keele, predicted grades are not used as part of the initial screening of candidates. The only requirement is that candidates achieve a UCAT cognitive subtest score greater than 570 and UCAT Situational Judgement Score of band 1, 2 or 3.

Candidates are then asked to complete a Roles and Responsibilities form which is like a personal statement, and which is used to invite candidates to a medical interview.

University of Cardiff Medical Stool

At Cardiff, candidates are first checked to ensure that they meet the minimum academic entry requirements (AAA in Chemistry and Biology).

Candidates are then scored on GCSEs or achieved A levels results, then personal statement and references are scored, and top performing candidates are invited to a medical interview.

UCAT is only used in 'borderline' cases when students have an identical score in all other assessment criteria. There is no specific information on how the UCAT Situational Judgement Score is used in the selection process at Cardiff.

University of Sunderland Medical School

At Sunderland, candidates are first checked to ensure that they meet the minimum academic entry requirements:

  • AAA in Chemistry or Biology and Biology/Mathematics/Physics/Chemistry/Statistics
  • Scoring in the top 8 deciles of UCAT

Candidates are then scored "holistically” using personal statement, references, widening participation background, academic grades and UCAT. Achieving band 4 in the UCAT Situational Judgement subtest leads to instant rejection.

University of Kent, Medway Medical School

At Kent, candidates are first checked to ensure that they meet the minimum academic entry requirements (AAB in Chemistry or Biology and Chemistry, Biology, Maths, Psychology, Physics, Computing/Computer Science).

Kent states on their website that they use a 'generous UCAT threshold' and then applicants are ranked on contextualised offers, which are applicants’ attainments relative to the school’s average. Applicants are split into four groups with different UCAT thresholds:

Group A: A levels OR IB or equivalent, UCAT threshold = 617.5

Group B: Post A level OR Pre-graduate student in final year of Bachelor’s degree, UCAT threshold = 617.5

Group C: Post Bachelor’s Degree, UCAT threshold = 625

Group D: Others, UCAT threshold = 617.5

A UCAT Situational Judgement band of 4 leads to an instant rejection from Kent.

University of Plymouth Medical School

At Plymouth, candidates are first checked to ensure that they meet the minimum academic entry requirements (AAA in Biology and Chemistry/Physics/Maths/Psychology).  

Plymouth has a certain UCAT cut off score required for entry which changes every year. In 2019, this was 582.5.

The UCAT Situational Judgement subtest is not used in any part of the selection process.

Queens University Belfast Medical School

At Queens, candidates are first checked to ensure that they meet the minimum academic entry requirements: A*AA in Chemistry and Physics or Mathematics and at least B at A level Biology. Candidates are then scored with the weighting as follows: 85% Academic and 15% UCAT cognitive subset score. Top scoring candidates are then invited to interview.

In 2019, it was possible to obtain a medical interview offer even if scoring 0 in the UCAT section (candidates would need to score 32/42 in the scoring system).

UCAT Situational Judgement subtest is not used as part of the selection as present but ‘consideration is being given to its use for 2022 entry’.

University of Central Lancashire Medical School (UCLan)

At UCLan no aptitude test (UCAT or BMAT) is used. However, candidates must satisfy the below criteria:

  • AAA in Chemistry or Biology/Human Biology; and one of Chemistry, Biology/Human Biology, Physics, Psychology, Mathematics or Further Mathematics
  • Either a home student from North West England or taking the UCLan BSc Medical Sciences Foundation

University of East Anglia (UEA) Medical School

At UEA, candidates are first checked to ensure that they meet the minimum academic entry requirements: (AAA in Chemistry or Human Biology/Biology).  

If there are more applicants than interview places for a particular year, students are then ranked using academic and UCAT score. The top scoring candidates are invited to interview. In 2020 the lowest score a student achieved to be invited to interview was 560.

The UCAT Situational Judgement subtest is used at interviews. Achieving band 4 in UCAT Situational Judgement leads to zero points awarded in the Situational Judgement Test section at interview.

Non UCAT options:

There are other options for getting into medicine that do not require the use of UCAT:

  • Applying to BMAT-requiring universities
  • Applying to Foundation/Gateway years
  • Applying for Graduate Entry Medicine on completion of an undergraduate degree

Check out other blogs in this series:

Note: UCAT score thresholds do change year-to-year and are impossible to predict with certainty until after the UCAS October 15th deadline.

Written by George Garratt

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Applying to Medical School Strategically: Part 4 –...
How to Interpret Your UCAT Scores

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