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How Many Times Can You Take The UCAT?

How Many Times Can You Take The UCAT?

Updated on: December 8, 2023
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Written By Dr Ollie

Every article is fact-checked by a medical professional. However, inaccuracies may still persist.

If you’re planning on applying to medical school then you’re very likely going to need to sit the UCAT.

But, is there a limit on having more than go at it? How many times can you take the UCAT?

Students are only permitted to sit the UCAT once per application cycle. The UCAT cannot be retaken in a single year so a student’s result is their final score to apply to university with. However, the UCAT can be taken in consecutive years, with each result superseding the last.

The UCAT has a huge influence on your chances of getting into medical school.

Which only puts you under more pressure on test day knowing you only have one shot at it.

However, there are a few nuances as to exactly when you can or can’t take the UCAT for a second time which I’m going to explore in this article.

Can You Sit The UCAT More Than Once?

Because you can’t sit the UCAT more than once in a single application cycle, how you do on test day will determine your hopes of applying to medical schools that highly value applicants’ UCAT scores.

Unfortunately, you can’t book your UCAT early on in the testing season and then rebook it later if you didn’t do as well as you’d hoped.

For that year, you’re stuck with the score that you get.

This is why it’s so vitally important you feel prepared and ready when you go to sit the exam. And a lot of this will be to do with when you choose to sit the UCAT.

A student looking over their UCAT revision notes

However, all this isn’t to say you can’t sit the UCAT more than once but just in different years.

If you applied to medical school as an undergraduate, didn’t get in and then applied as a postgraduate, you’d sit the UCAT for a second time and this second score would be what was sent to the universities.

Equally, if you’re not successful in your first attempt because of a low UCAT score, you’re able to take a gap year and sit the UCAT for a second time the following year in order to try and get a better result.

How Long Is Your UCAT Score Valid For?

What about if you got a high UCAT score but didn’t get any offers because it just really wasn’t your day when you attended your medical school interviews.

Can you apply again next year with the same result or is your UCAT score no longer valid?

A candidate’s UCAT score is only valid for a single year. This means a student can only use their UCAT score to apply to universities in the same year’s application cycle they took the exam. This is irrespective of whether they applied using it in a previous year or not.

Unfortunately, if you apply to medical school again you need to take the UCAT again.

There’s no way to carry over a UCAT score from a previous year to another year’s application.

The only thing you can use it for is confidence that you can do even better the second time around!

Can You Sit Both The UCAT And UCAT ANZ?

The majority of medical schools in the UK use the UCAT as a screening entrance exam for medicine applicants.

A small handful use the GAMSAT, BMAT or don’t have an entrance exam at all, but most require students to sit the UCAT.

In Australia and New Zealand however, medical schools use the UCAT ANZ.

There isn’t actually any difference between the UCAT and UCAT ANZ.

They’re the same computer-based aptitude test with the exact same 5 sections: verbal reasoning, decision making, quantitative reasoning, abstract reasoning and situational judgement.

Because of this fact, you are not allowed to sit both the UCAT and the UCAT ANZ.

This would be like being able to sit the UCAT twice.

So, if you want to apply to Australian or New Zealand medical schools, you’re going to need to take the UCAT ANZ.

But, you are allowed to use this UCAT ANZ score to also apply to UK medical schools.

However, to confuse things, you can’t use a UCAT score to apply to Australian or New Zealand medical schools.

The reason for this is timings.

The UCAT ANZ is run earlier in the year than the UCAT, in order to get students their scores in time for Australian and New Zealand university deadlines.

When sitting the UCAT in the UK however, you wouldn’t be able to get a score in time to submit an application to a medical school down under.

Can You Sit Any Medical School Entrance Exams Twice?

Although you aren’t allowed to sit the UCAT twice in one year, that’s not true of every medical school entrance exam.

For example, the GAMSAT is run twice a year: once in March and once in September.

If you want to, you can sit the GAMSAT in each test window.

A graduate entry medicine applicant studying for the GAMSAT

You’re then allowed to choose which score from your two sittings you apply to university with.

So, you can essentially take the highest score out of your two attempts.

Not only that, but your GAMSAT score is valid for 2 years.

So you can apply to university with your best attempt of a 2-year-old GAMSAT score.

With both of these put together, it means you can take 4 shots at sitting the GAMSAT and then take your very best score out of the 4 attempts!

It certainly sounds pretty good compared to the UCAT’s one chance or bust.

However, I wouldn’t rush too quickly to apply to every GAMSAT graduate entry medicine program you can find considering it’s a gruelling five-and-a-half hour long exam each time you take it!

Can You Sit The UCAT The Year Before You Apply To Medical School?

School students will apply to medical school in their final year of secondary school or college: year 13.

This means they have to take the UCAT around the time of the summer between the end of year 12 and the start of year 13.

But, could you take the UCAT in year 11 if you wanted to?

Well, as far as I could tell, you can. There is no minimum age to sit the UCAT.

This means, if you really wanted to, you could sit the UCAT both in the summer after year 11 and the summer after year 12.

It would then be your second attempt’s score that would be passed to universities that you applied to through UCAS.

While technically possible, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this approach.

I think the UCAT is best prepared for in a shorter, sharper fashion.

You don’t need over a year to revise for it. You need a couple of months of concentrated revision in the lead-up to your real exam.

Although it could be good exam day practice, I think you’d likely forget most of the important learning points from the first time around by the time it actually got to your real attempt.

Final Thoughts

To put yourself in with the best chance possible of getting into medical school, you need the day you sit the UCAT to be a good one.

You essentially only have one chance to get it right or you may face having to do it all over again the next year.

Despite this, with the right preparation plan, I’m confident you’re capable of getting a score that would mean you wouldn’t sit the UCAT twice even if you could!

About the author
After studying medicine at the University of Leicester, Dr Ollie now works as a junior doctor in London. His interests include medical education and expedition medicine, as well as having a strong belief in the importance of widening access to medicine.