Where To Apply With A Low UCAT Score?
Please keep in mind that the information on this page is now out of date. We’ve updated our blog post “Where to Apply with a Low UCAT Score for 2023 Entry.” Please visit the updated blog by clicking here.
Did you get a low UCAT score? This does not mean that your application to medical school is over. Your options will be limited, and you will need to apply to universities that place less emphasis on your UCAT score.
Before you choose your universities, here are a few things you should know…
🔎 You must still meet the other admission requirements for that medical school. This includes academic requirements such as predicted or actual GCSE and A-level grades, work experience, and a suitable UCAS personal statement.
👁 The university where you earned your medical degree is less important. When applying for NHS jobs, it should make no difference where you obtained your medical degree, as long as it allows you to register with the General Medical Council.
Use the information as a starting point for your decisions. Because guidance is subject to change, always check the medical school website before making a final decision. If you are still unsure, you should always email the medical school for guidance.
Don’t automatically rely on BMAT universities as a safety net. Oxbridge uses the BMAT and attracts some of the best candidates. Furthermore, our data shows that students who perform poorly on the UCAT do not perform well on the BMAT, unless there were exceptional circumstances that contributed to the lower UCAT score.
Where To Apply With a Low UCAT Score
If you don’t get the UCAT score you hoped for or planned for, it can be crushing and disappointing, especially if you had specific medical schools in mind and have now missed their entry requirements.
Although it may be upsetting, please don’t be too discouraged because there are several steps you can take next.
4 Options if you got a low UCAT score:
- Apply to medical schools that have lower UCAT requirements.
- Apply to medical schools that do not consider the UCAT.
- Think about applying to BMAT schools and taking the BMAT in October/November.
- As a last resort, consider taking a gap year and retaking the UCAT the following year.
Method 1: Medical Schools With The Lowest UCAT Requirements
Here is a list of medical schools with the lowest UCAT cut off scores or that place the least weight on the UCAT in their admissions process:
1. Cardiff University – Unless there is a ‘borderline’ case, Cardiff does not look at your UCAT score. Cardiff places a high value on GCSEs, A levels, and personal statements. If you have excellent grades but a low UCAT score, this could be a viable option.
Check: Cardiff’s Website
2. Keele University – requires the UCAT but has a’relatively’ low cut off score. Keele has previously cut the lowest 20% of UCAT scorers out, so as long as you are not in the bottom 20%, which was around 570 in 2021, you still have a chance.
Check: Keele’s Website
3. Queen’s Belfast University – Queen’s employs a point-scoring system with a total of 42 points. The UCAT accounts for 6 of these 42 points, with the remaining 36 based on your GCSEs, so if you have strong GCSEs, you can still meet the cut off here.
Check: Queen’s Website
5. Plymouth University Peninsula School of Medicine – They have previously stated that they use a low UCAT cut off score. In 2021, they stated that a cut off of 600 for the UCAT would be used, which is’relatively’ low compared to other medical schools.
Check: Plymouth’s Website
6. University of Lincoln – The average UCAT score for students invited to interview in 2020 was 630, so there is some room for improvement if your UCAT score is only slightly lower.
Check: Lincoln’s Website
7. According to the University of Sunderland – Sunderland, you must be in the “top 8 deciles” and have an SJT score of Band 3 or higher. This means you can continue your application as long as you are not in the bottom 20% of UCAT scorers and achieve a Band 3. Another viable option.
Check: Sunderland’s Website
Because the 2022 UCAT scores had not yet been released at the time of writing, this data is only valid for the 2021 Entry cycle. Each website link will contain the most recent information.
METHOD 2: Medical Schools That Don’t Require the UCAT (excluding BMAT universities)
There are several medical schools that don’t require any entrance exams at all:
1. Buckingham University
2. The University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN)
So, regardless of your UCAT score, you could apply to these universities.
There are several major drawbacks to these two medical schools. UCLAN only accepts a small number of UK students each year, and they must already reside in the North West. Furthermore, The University of Buckingham is a private medical school, and students must self-fund their place.
These are two very specific options if you want to avoid UCAT universities entirely, and they come with some serious drawbacks.
METHOD 3: Apply to BMAT Universities
If you do not meet the entry requirements of the above mentioned UCAT universities, you can apply to the medical schools that accept the BMAT instead. These will not look at your UCAT score at all, but you will need to sit the BMAT examination.
Students sit the BMAT in late October/November (it alters slightly each year) which is after you submit your UCAS application on the 15th October. This means you will not know your BMAT score before you apply to the BMAT universities. You are applying semi-blind as you will need to perform well on the BMAT or you will be rejected, so make sure you think you can score well on this exam.
The BMAT universities you can apply to are:
- Oxford University
- The University of Cambridge
- Imperial College London
- University College London
- Leeds School of Medicine
- Brighton & Sussex Medical School
- Lancaster University
- Keele University (only for international applicants)
METHOD 4: Consider a Gap Year
If none of the above options work for you, you could take a year off and reapply the following year. This can be a good option if you need to improve several aspects of your medical school application. You could, for example, gain some additional work experience, rewrite your personal statement, and have more free time to study for the UCAT.
UCAT Interim 2021 Results
The following scores and deciles are based on the UCAT Interim results 2021. Because nearly 20,000 students took the exam after these results were released, there is a chance that they will change.
- A High Score is on 8th and 9th Decile which is a score of 2800 or more.
- A Medium Score is on the 6th and 7th Decile which is currently 2640 – 2800
- A Low Score is on the 5th Decile and below which translates to a score of 2639 or less
What should I look for if I have a low UCAT score?
Did you get a low UCAT score? This should not put an end to your medical school application or your dream of becoming a doctor. However, your options for medical schools are now limited, and you must apply to a university that places less emphasis on your UCAT score.
Before you begin your UCAS application, here are a few important details to consider: –
- You must still meet the other admission requirements for that medical school. This includes your selection of A-levels, GCSEs, and actual or predicted grades. Almost everyone wants Chemistry or Biology, and some even specify what their third A-level subject should be. Minimum grades in some subjects, usually Maths, English, and Science, as well as a minimum number of subjects with specific minimum grades, may apply to GCSEs.
- You must meet non-academic requirements such as relevant work experience and proper completion of the UCAS application form.
- The university where you earned your medical degree is unimportant for the vast majority of jobs in the NHS. Your employer will expect you to be a member of the General Medical Council.
- Use the information below as a starting point. Medical schools’ admission requirements can and do change, sometimes after the UCAS deadline. Before making a final decision, always check the medical school’s website, and even email them if you have specific questions.
- Don’t rely on BMAT medical schools as a source of insurance. In our experience, students who perform poorly on the UCAT are unlikely to perform well on the BMAT, unless there were extenuating circumstances when you took the UCAT that resulted in a lower score.
Here is our list of medical schools to apply with a low UCAT score for 2022 entry
Plymouth University Peninsula Medical School
The medical school has indicated on their website ‘The UCAT threshold score applied to determine candidate selection for interview – We do not currently include SJT Band score. 2019 cut off 2330’
🔎 To us this means they will use your UCAT score to decide whether to call you for interview, but the threshold is relatively low.
Queen’s University Belfast Medical School
To determine who will be called for an interview, the university employs a point-based system. This is graded out of 42, with points awarded based on your GCSE results and UCAT score.
The school will be looking for your best work. 9 GCSEs are worth points based on your grade in each subject, with 4 points awarded for an A* (or 9 on the new system), 3 points for an A (7 or 8) grade, 2 points for a B (6), and 1 point for a C. (5). As a result, the maximum academic score based on your GCSE grades is 36.
🔎 The remaining 6 points are based on your UCAT score, which has a much lower weight than your GSCE results. In a tiebreaker situation, situational judgement scores are used.
👉 Furthermore, Queen’s Belfast is a medical school with a lower applicant to place ratio.
University of Sunderland School of Medicine
According to the medical school’s website, “scores must be within the top 8 deciles of the cohort and situational judgement test (SJT) must be within bands 1-3.”
🔎 Based on interim 2021 results, this corresponds to a UCAT score of more than 2350, indicating a relatively low UCAT cut off score. Sunderland also has a lower applicant-to-placement ratio.
Aston University Medical School
According to the university’s website, ‘Academic qualifications and UCAT scores are taken into account for interview shortlisting, and we then use both of these and MMI results to offer a place to study medicine.’
This means that you may be able to compensate for a lower UCAT score if you perform well in the other indicators, which they have identified as academic qualifications and performance in your medical school interview.