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What UCAT Score Is Needed For Medicine? (UK Specific)

What UCAT Score Is Needed For Medicine? (UK Specific)

Updated on: December 3, 2023
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Written By Dr Ollie

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

The UCAT is the most popular entrance exam required by medical schools in the UK.

But, is there a specific score you’ll need to achieve if you want to have any hope of getting into medicine this year?

There are no fixed UCAT scores that will achieve either a guaranteed offer or rejection from UK medical schools. However, a UCAT score under 600 will greatly limit which universities a candidate should apply to whilst a UCAT score of over 700 will put them in the top third of applicants.

There are no absolutes when it comes to medicine applications.

You can have the best UCAT score in the country and still get rejected from every university you apply to if you interview like a baked potato- or you can completely tank on exam day but still get in by applying tactically.

In this article, I’m going to explore what sort of UCAT score has historically got candidates interviews and offers, thereby giving you an idea of where the benchmark might sit for this year’s application cycle.

What’s The Minimum UCAT Score For Medicine?

Because each university evaluates their applicants’ UCAT scores differently, there is no minimum UCAT score needed for medicine.

You could genuinely have the worst UCAT score in the country, but if you applied to Cardiff medical school and interviewed like a champ, you could be in with a good chance of getting an offer: because Cardiff only consider a candidate’s UCAT score in borderline cases.

However, just because it’s possible to get into medicine with below average UCAT scores doesn’t mean your life won’t be a whole lot easier if you get a good one.

A student studying for the UCAT sat on her bed

Having a good UCAT score will mean that you’re not limited to only applying to universities that don’t really consider it in their application process.

If you’re looking for a broad-brush answer (that has plenty of exceptions) then I’d say 600 is the minimum score that will set you up with a fighting chance of bagging an offer.

Below this and you’re really having to work against the odds to get in.

Now if you’ve just got back from your UCAT with a score under 600 you don’t need to panic- you just need to apply tactically to medical schools suited to your application’s strengths: which I’m going to touch on slightly later on in this article.

UCAT Cut-Off Scores For Entry

One very common method that universities use for selecting candidates to interview is to rank every applicant by their UCAT score.

They then work down this master list inviting people to interview until they fill up all the slots available for the year.

Some medical schools will factor in points for your grades or personal statement but many will use just your pure unadulterated UCAT score.

Using this method, there’s then a certain UCAT score that will either have got you an interview or not at each medical school- depending on where it placed you in this master list of applicants.

This is the UCAT cut-off score for a university.

A couple of medical schools preemptively decide what the minimum score needed for interview will be, but most simply calculate it using the above method.

Edinburgh actually tends to announce a set UCAT cut-off score. For 2023, this was 2470- or an average score of 617.5 per section.

Although not every university releases this data, you can often find previous years’ cut-off scores simply by Googling ‘medical school name + UCAT cut-off score.’

Bristol on the other hand uses the exact method described above. For 2022 entry, the lowest UCAT score to be invited to interview was 2870- or an average of 717.5 per section.

Although previous year’s UCAT cut-offs can’t tell you exactly where the line will lie for this year’s cycle, they can give you a pretty good idea.

Bristol is notorious for highly weighting the UCAT and essentially only using student’s grades as a minimum threshold needed to progress in the application process.

This in turn attracts applicants who are confident in their UCAT score- further raising the minimum standard of UCAT score needed to get an interview.

Before you press submit on your UCAS application, I would do a quick sanity check that your UCAT score at least roughly meets your universities’ previous years’ cut-offs.

This won’t guarantee you an interview this year but it could save you from pretty much wasting one of your four slots.

What To Do If You Fail The UCAT

The UCAT is an incredibly difficult exam and doesn’t always go to plan.

If things didn’t go your way on exam day and you’ve come home with a score that you’re really not happy with: all is not lost.

Your dream of getting into medical isn’t over yet, you’re just going to have to be clever about how you apply.

A student disappointed with their UCAT results

Disappointment on results day is a horrible feeling.

But, there are a number of steps you can take to not let your UCAT score hold you back.

Apply To A BMAT University

The UCAT and BMAT are two very different exams.

Just because you didn’t do well in the UCAT doesn’t say anything about how you’ll perform in the BMAT.

By applying to medical schools that use this alternative entrance exam they’ll never need to even see your UCAT score.

There are also a lot more universities that use the BMAT than just Oxford and Cambridge. You can find the full list here.

Apply To Universities That Don’t Look At Your UCAT

As I mentioned above, Cardiff medical school only uses a candidate’s UCAT score in borderline scenarios.

So you can otherwise progress through their application process unscathed by a below average score.

By only applying to medical schools that don’t place much weight on an applicant’s UCAT score you can more than make up for this minor deficiency with other aspects of your application- such as your grades, personal statement or interview performance.

You can find which medical schools don’t highly weight applicant’s UCAT scores here.

Apply To A Medical School That Doesn’t Require Entrance Exams

There are a select few medical schools that don’t actually require the UCAT… or indeed any entrance exams at all!

They are admittedly few and far between but could be worth looking at if your UCAT score is otherwise going to hold you back.

Just bear in mind that because they don’t use an entrance exam to thin out candidates they may be more competitive at other stages of the application process.

They are also, unfortunately, very much in the minority.

Consider Studying Medicine Abroad

The number and quality of foreign medical schools has been noticeably on the rise over the last 10 years.

Notably, a number of these foreign medical schools don’t require applicants to sit the UCAT.

You also don’t have to worry that you won’t be able to practice as a doctor in the UK once you’ve graduated- a number have extremely good relationships with British NHS trusts and regularly send their graduates to work in the UK.

Final Thoughts

Although there aren’t any UCAT scores set in stone that you absolutely need in order to get into medicine, there are trends from the past that we can use to inform current application decisions.

A high UCAT score will give you more options as to where you can apply with a good chance of progressing through the process.

However, by using a bit of strategy, a low UCAT score in no way has to hold a candidate back.

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.