Which Medical Schools Don’t Require The UCAT?

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.

If you’re anything like me, my first thought after learning about the UCAT was “hmm… so which medical schools don’t require it?”

There’s no denying it’s a tough exam and there are plenty of reasons to want to avoid it.

Medical schools that don’t require the UCAT include BMAT universities, such as Oxford or Cambridge, medical schools that don’t require any entrance exams, such as the University of Buckingham, and foreign medical schools such Gomel State University or Riga Stradins University.

It may be that you were just unlucky on the day and got a particularly low UCAT score or perhaps you just can’t face more exam stress (can’t blame you).

For whatever reason, read on as I’m going to cover four ways you can apply to medical schools that don’t need it.

BMAT Universities Don’t Require The UCAT

The first way you can avoid the UCAT is by applying to medical schools that require the BMAT instead.

Admittedly this isn’t much better if you’re trying to completely avoid entrance exams…

However, you may find you’re much more suited to the BMAT’s longer form essay style questions compared to the UCAT’s rapid fire multiple choice.

What Actually Is The BMAT?

The BMAT, or BioMedical Admissions Test, is an alternative aptitude test used by some medical schools in the UK instead of the UCAT.

It’s a two-hour pen-and-paper test consisting of three sections.

The first two are multiple-choice but you have to write an essay for the third.

Section 1 covers problem solving and critical thinking, Section 2 tests your GCSE science knowledge and Section 3 gets you to write an essay from a choice of three questions.

You can learn more about the BMAT here.

Which Medical Schools Require The BMAT?

There are currently nine UK medical schools that require the BMAT.

This is an increasing number each year so I’d recommend double-checking each medical school’s website before applying.

Brighton and Sussex Medical SchoolA100 Medicine
Imperial College LondonA100 Medicine
Lancaster UniversityA100 Medicine & Surgery
A104 Medicine & Surgery with a Gateway Year
University College LondonA100 Medicine
University of CambridgeA100 Medicine
University of Manchester Medical School
(For some groups of international applicants only.)
A106 MBChB Medicine and A104 MBChB Medicine (with foundation year)
University of LeedsA100 Medicine
A101 Gateway Year to Medicine
University of OxfordA100 Medicine
A101 Graduate Medicine
Keele University
(Keele only requires international applicants to take the BMAT.)
A100 Medicine

To be clear, to get out of having to do the UCAT altogether, you’d have to apply to exclusively BMAT universities.

Some people apply to a mixture of both BMAT and UCAT universities as a way of spreading their bets- if one exam goes particularly badly they’ll still have the other options as back-up.

Medical Schools That Don’t Require The UCAT… Or Any Entrance Exams!

Believe it or not, there are in fact two medical schools in the UK that don’t require any entrance exams!

But don’t get your hopes up too much, they are very much in the minority.

Let’s look at both of them in a bit more detail:

University of Buckingham Medical School

The University of Buckingham Medical School is the UK’s first independent, not-for-profit medical school.

They run a 4.5 year medicine course with an intake each January.

However because they’re independent, they receive no government subsidies.

The downside of this is you have to cover the cost of your own training.

Although UK national medical students generally still pay £9000 per year in course fees, the reality is this falls far below the actual cost of training them.

Student doctors training on a laparoscopic model

The government helps universities with subsidies so as to provide doctors for the NHS.

Without these, the cost is unfortunately passed on to you.

Tuition fees for the 2022 intake will be £38,000 per annum for both UK and overseas students.

Although this may seem eye-watering, it more accurately represents the real cost of training doctors.

If you like, you can find more information on their fees here.

University of Central Lancashire Medical School

Applications to the University of Central Lancashire are made via UCAS for their five year MBBS course.

Their course fees for home students are £9250 per year, in line with standard undergraduate courses.

At A-level you need to achieve a minimum of AAB in at least two science subjects, including Chemistry.

Sound like a winner? There’s just one catch…

If you’re a UK applicant, you must live in the North West of England.

That’s right, their MBBS programme only has a small number of places available for UK students, restricted to residents of the North West.

International applicants can apply either via UCAS or directly, and require a minimum of 136 UCAS Tariff points.

Just before you go moving abroad to apply to Lancashire without having to take the UCAT:

Their international fees are slightly higher- £40500 per year…

Foreign Medical Schools That Don’t Require The UCAT

Studying medicine abroad is becoming an increasingly popular option with UK nationals.

The mismatch between a relatively small number of places at UK medical schools and the high number of applicants means lots of people are missing out on spots for their dream career.

There are also plenty of misconceptions about studying medicine abroad that can make it seem a lot more daunting than it actually is. For example:

  • You don’t have to learn a second language. You can find plenty of courses taught entirely in English.
  • You won’t have to pay incredibly high course fees. Many international programmes in Europe are actually far more affordable than the UK.
  • You can get a job in the UK after graduating abroad. Many British hospitals have extremely strong links with international medical schools, regularly recruiting new graduates to their trust.

There are a vast variety of entry requirements for all the different international medical school.

I’ve picked out just three English speaking medical schools that have no entrance exams.

This list is in no way exhaustive, rather just a taste of what’s available.

University of Nicosia

The University of Nicosia Medical School is located in Cyprus’ capital city and offers both a six year undergraduate degree and a four year postgraduate programme.

They provide EU accredited medical degrees, allowing medical practice pathways worldwide.

The last two years of the course are spent on clinical placements at teaching hospitals.

This can be in Cyprus or the UK.

The university has close ties with Barnsley Hospital, with placements available to UK citizens for the final two years.

You can find out more about their admissions process here.

CountryEntry RequirementsTuition Fees
CyprusABB including Biology and one other science/Maths€18,000 for the first 3 years and €22,000 for the final 3 years

Gomel State Medical University

Gomel State Medical University offers a six year medical degree taught entirely in English.

Located in Gomel, the second largest city in Belarus, the university offers arguably the most affordable course in Europe.

The university is also highly diverse, with about a quarter of their student population being internationals.

After graduating you’d be able to work in the UK after sitting the Medical Licencing Agreement– an exam run by the GMC that tests the core knowledge, skills and behaviours needed for safe practice.

CountryEntry RequirementsTuition Fees
BelarusBased on grades only on a case-by-case basis$4,200 USD per year

Riga Stradins University

Riga Stradins University offers a six year course based out of the beautiful capital of Lativa, Riga.

The university boasts state of the art clinical simulation facilities as well as cadaveric dissection for learning anatomy.

They also have two intakes per year, one in February and one in September- perfect if you plan to take a bit of time out before applying.

Again, you won’t feel out of place as a foreigner with over 2000 international medical students at the university and 28% of the student body not being Latvian.

You can find out more about their admission requirements here.

CountryEntry RequirementsTuition Fees
LatviaMinimum three Cs at A-level€12,000 per year

Medical Schools That Don’t Really Consider The UCAT

Now I’ll admit it, this last category is a bit of a cheat.

These medical schools do require the UCAT but they put very little weight on it in when assessing your application.

So much so that the last one might invite you to interview without them even looking at your UCAT score!

Without further ado, here are three UK medical schools that do require the UCAT but hardly look at it.

University of Sunderland

The University of Sunderland works in partnership with Keele University to offer a five year undergraduate medicine course.

Because of this partnership, Sunderland actually have the same UCAT requirements as Keele.

That is, they have a minimum UCAT cut-off.

The cut-off Sunderland use is that your UCAT score must be within the top 8 deciles of the cohort and your Situational Judgement test (SJT) must be within bands 1-3.

After you’ve passed that hurdle your UCAT score will only be used again if it’s needed as a tie-breaker.

Students studying at the library

Looking at the data for 2020, you’d have been in the top 8 deciles if you’d achieved an average scaled score of 572.5 or above.

Selection for interview is based entirely off a Roles & Responsibilities form.

Here’s a description of the R+R form from Keele’s website:

It provides an opportunity for you to tell us about experiences you have undertaken that demonstrate your direct engagement with people in a supportive, assistive or caring role, your ability to handle responsibility and your understanding of how somebody has benefited from some help, support or care you have provided.

It’s similar to a personal statement that’s then scored, and that score is used to decide whether you get invited to interview or not.

Because of the fact that you’re interviewed or not based entirely off this form, and not the UCAT, Sunderland (or Keele) could make a good choice if you think you can pass their minimum standards.

University of Plymouth

The University of Plymouth again uses a minimum UCAT cut-off score.

However, instead of being based off UCAT deciles, this is set and reviewed annually by the Admissions Advisory Panel.

In the last three years it’s generally hovered around 2400, or an average of 600 per section.

Year of EntryScore Threshold

After meeting this threshold, your UCAT score is used in combination with your grades to select direct school leavers for interview (the process is slightly different for postgraduates).

So admittedly again, Plymouth do require the UCAT but they place far less emphasis on it than some other medical schools.

That’s why it could be a good choice if you’re aiming to avoid the UCAT because you don’t think it will play to your strengths.

Queen’s University Belfast

This final section about Queen’s is an excerpt from my article ‘Where To Apply With Your UCAT Score’:

Queen’s use a points system to decide on candidates to interview but have a relatively small focus on the UCAT.

Your UCAT decile can get you up to 6 points– however this somewhat pales in comparison to the possible 36 on offer for your 9 best GCSE grades[9].

The Situational Judgement section is currently only used as tie-breaker between candidates following interview.

In 2020 the points threshold for interview was 30 points and above.

This means you could possibly secure an interview with only your GCSEs!

Queen’s University Belfast is a no-brainer if you’ve got excellent grades but couldn’t get your head round the UCAT.

You could almost be guaranteed an interview!

Final Thoughts

Congratulations, you made it! You now know which medical schools don’t require the UCAT.

As a quick recap, you can either apply to BMAT universities, study medicine abroad, or choose one of the two UK universities that don’t require it.

The final option we talked about was applying to a medical school that doesn’t weight the UCAT highly.

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.