The Ultimate UCAT Guide — All You Need To Know (2020)

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UCAT is an aptitude test that is required for entry into UK medical schools. As there is the limitation of applying to a maximum of four medical programmes, and different schools require different tests, there is some amount of strategy involved when you’re choosing which tests to take, which results to use, and ultimately, which schools to apply to through UCAS.

In this guide we’ll cover the following:

  • Which test you should sit for
  • Complete tutorials for UCAT
    • Sections, test duration, format, types of questions
    • Breakdown of example questions and answers
    • Section-by-section tutorial
    • How to manage your time during the tests
  • UCAT Medical School League Table
  • UCAS application strategies: which schools to apply to and why

Table of Contents

Which medical admission test should I sit for?

Some things that are important to note is that exam results for both UCAT and BMAT are only valid for one year after taking the exam. Both exams may only be taken once a year which means that if you have bad results, you cannot retake the test in the same year. While BMAT allows more than one sitting, it is strongly discouraged and both results will be sent to your school.

How much does UCAT cost?

The UCAT costs £115 to take outside of the EU.

How much does BMAT cost?

BMAT costs £37 for a February sitting or £122 for an October sitting.

Choice of medical schools

It’s important to do research into UK medical schools and find out which ones you like best, then you can sit for the appropriate test as required by the school. We outlined some factors to consider when choosing medical schools in our guide.

Taking the UCAT will make you eligible to apply to 30 medical schools which offer courses in a wide range of tuition fees, entry requirements, university locations, and programme teaching styles. For those aiming to attend the top two medical schools which are Oxford and Cambridge, you would have to take BMAT. If you’re only going to take one test, UCAT will maximise your choices.

UCAT/BMAT sitting dates and early applicants

As we mentioned in our Complete Guide To Studying Medicine In The UK (2020), submitting your UCAS application early may put you at an advantage. 

You can sit for UCAT at any approved official centre as early as July. As UCAT is a computer-based test, results will be available on the day of the test and you can submit your UCAS application right away.

If you have your sights set on a school accepting BMAT, Malaysians have the option to take BMAT in February instead of October at the University of Malaya which allows you to submit an early application. However, taking BMAT in February will narrow the scope to just seven UK medical schools accepting BMAT as Oxford only accepts results from an October/November sitting.

Test format and preparation

Depending on your aptitude, you may find one test format easier than the other. While excellent admission test results are not all that matters to the admissions team, you still need to do fairly well in the admission tests so you should consider what type of tests you excel in.

UCAT is a multiple-choice test which has five sections: verbal reasoning, decision making, quantitative reasoning, abstract reasoning, and situational judgement. Each section or subtest is individually timed and you will have to complete the section before moving on to the next. The following table breaks down the number of questions for each section.

UCAT Section

Number of Questions

Minutes per Section

Verbal reasoning

44

31

Decision making

29

24

Quantitative reasoning

36

24

Abstract reasoning

55

13

Situational judgement

69

26

In comparison, BMAT consists of both multiple-choice questions and a written test. The first two sections are objective questions aimed at testing your aptitude and skills; and scientific knowledge and applications, while the third tests your writing skills. We discuss BMAT in detail in our guide here.

Recommended admission test

We strongly recommend applicants to sit for the UCAT if they don’t have a fixed medical school that they wish to apply to. Taking only UCAT is not a bad choice by any means – this should be sufficient for most applicants. However, sitting for both UCAT and BMAT maximises your options with your application as you would be eligible for 38 UK medical schools and you have two attempts at getting a good score.

For this reason, we always recommend that you sit for UCAT as early as possible which gives you more time to prepare for the other parts of your application such as the interview or to sit for the BMAT later if you are unhappy with your UCAT results.

UCAT Preparation

UCAT provides free practice tests for students to prepare with. You can find UCAT’s practice tests here. Try to take an untimed test to acquaint yourself with the format, then attempt at least a few timed tests to see how you do. There is also the UCAT Tutorial which is an official, although lengthy guide for the test.

How Is The UCAT Time and Format Like?

UCAT is a computer-based test with 233 questions and you’re given two hours (120 minutes) to complete it. You have to complete each section in its allotted time so time is of the essence when you’re taking the UCAT. You are also given a minute to read the instructions for each section. Even if you are already familiar with them from taking practice tests, you should still read it in case there’s been a change in the questions that year.

UCAT Section Breakdown

The test has five sections:

  1. Verbal reasoning – tests how you process written information
  2. Decision making – tests your decision-making process, ie logical reasoning and evaluating arguments
  3. Quantitative reasoning – evaluates your ability to solve numerical problems
  4. Abstract reasoning – tests your ability to identify logical patterns in shapes
  5. Situational judgement – assesses your judgement in clinical scenarios

UCAT Tutorial and Sample Questions

In the first section, there are 11 passages to read and four questions per passage to answer. The passages are designed to test you on your reading comprehension. Expect some passages to include unfamiliar topics, though take note that you are not expected to answer based on your own knowledge or opinion. Not all passages are related to healthcare and they are selected from a broad range of topics. It may help to read the newspapers, especially UK newspapers such as The Guardian.

It is important to remain calm at the start of your test, as this is the first section you will encounter – be assured that there is enough time to read the passages thoroughly.

Example Verbal Reasoning Questions

Following the 2011 riots in the UK, restorative justice was promoted as a response and it works by having offenders meet the victims in person. It works by having them understand each other as it breaks stereotypes – youths see the elderly as hostile and unsympathetic, while the elderly perceive youths to be violent and threatening in kind. It has been successful in reducing crime and reoffending.

In the case of a 15-year-old boy who was convicted of violent disorder, he was brought to speak to owners of local businesses that were affected by his acts. He had apologised and admitted to being foolish. One of the managers of an affected Brixton fast-food restaurant, Roy, said: “I was willing to speak to him and tell him how the attack made my staff and I feel. I feel that a lot of good has come from this, judging from his reaction. I could tell he was facing up to his actions and he was being genuine. We both benefited from the meeting, and now we can move on from it.”

The Ministry of Justice’s research into restorative justice for serious offences such as violent crime and burglary has shown a reduction in reoffending by 27%. Additionally, for every £1 spent on restorative justice programmes, £9 is saved in reduced crime compared to community punishments or prison services in the criminal justice system.

Source: adapted from https://restorativejustice.co.uk/

  1. Restorative justice works because it:
    A) 
    reduces reoffending.
    B) reduces costs for the criminal justice system.
    C) makes the offender aware of the effect of her or his actions on others.
    D) exposes the offender as a wrongdoer to others.

The answers A, B, and C were mentioned at some point in the passage. A is a close answer but only C addresses how it works.

  1. In discussing law and order issues, stereotypes are:
    A) 
    helpful because they help us form an opinion about others.
    B) helpful because they reflect patterns of behaviour among people.
    C) unhelpful because they distract from us thinking of individuals.
    D) unhelpful because they are often based on emotions.

The first paragraph has established that stereotypes are unhelpful. C is less relevant than D to the passage.

  1. The Ministry of Justice research supports the use of restorative justice:
    A) for minor crimes only.
    B) because it helps victims.
    C) for first time offenders only.
    D) because it is cost-effective.

A and C are eliminated as possible answers. The last paragraph shows that the Ministry of Justice has only been quoted on cost-effectiveness which makes D the answer.

  1. According to the writer, restorative justice is best used:
    A) with other punishments.
    B) as an alternative to incarceration.
    C) as an alternative to community punishments.
    D) as a stand-alone punishment for crimes.

Only C was suggested in the very last sentence quoting the research conducted by the Ministry of Justice.

Section 2: Decision Making

In the decision making section, you are tested on your ability to make decisions based on logical reasoning, using all the information that you’ve been presented with such as statistics or numerical data. You may encounter questions that are based on statements, or contain tables, graphs, diagrams and so on. 

You may encounter any number of questions that include: logical puzzles, syllogisms (forming a conclusion based on a premise), interpreting information from text or charts, recognising assumptions (choosing the best argument based on information), Venn diagrams, and probabilistic reasoning. You have relatively more time per question for this section (24 minutes for 29 questions), so be sure to read the questions thoroughly.

Example Decision Making Questions

Q: Everyone who lives in the house likes cookies, except for John. More than one person in the house likes cake.

Place ‘Yes’ if the conclusion does follow. Place ‘No’ if the conclusion does not follow.

John likes cake. NO

– If a person in the house does not like cake, it means they like cookies. NO

– If a person in the house does not like cookies, it must be John. YES

– If only two people in the house like cake, one must be John. NO

– Someone in the house likes cookies and cake. YES

These types of questions will require you to drag and drop a YES or NO button to the correct places. The question above constitutes one question, not five. Since we know that everyone but John likes cookies and more than one of them likes cake, then it’s correct to say that someone in the house likes both.

Q: Five tourists from different countries; Chile; India; Greece; Finland and Austria, wore shirts and hats of different colours: blue, green, brown, yellow and red.

No two tourists wore hats and shirts of the same colour.

The Finnish tourist wore a green shirt. Their hat was neither red nor blue.

The Austrian tourist wore a red shirt.

The Indian tourist wore a brown hat. The colour of their shirt was the same as the colour of the Finnish tourist’s hat.

 

Which of the following statements is true?

A) The Indian tourist wore a red shirt.
B) The Austrian tourist wore a red hat.
C) The Austrian tourist wore a yellow hat.
D) The Chilean tourist wore a blue or brown shirt.  

Each colour of shirts and hats are only worn once, and never of the same colour on the same person. We can tell that the Finnish tourist is wearing a yellow hat as it cannot be green, red, blue, or brown, as the brown hat is worn by the Indian tourist.

 

Therefore, we know the following to be true:

The Finnish tourist is wearing a green shirt and yellow hat.

The Indian tourist is wearing a yellow shirt and brown hat.

The Austrian is wearing a red shirt and a blue or green hat.

 

This leaves the blue or brown shirt to be worn by either the Chilean or Greek tourist which explains the answer.

Q: Should the legal voting age be reduced to 16 to overcome the issue of poor voter turn-out?

 

Select the strongest argument from the statements below.

A) Yes, if those under 18 can vote, politicians will listen to them and consider issues that affect youths.
B) Yes, because allowing those aged 16 and above will increase the number of eligible voters.
C) No, because 16-year-olds are not involved enough to make good political judgements.
D )No, because increasing the number of people eligible to vote may not guarantee an increased voter turn-out.

Answers should address the questions directly. B repeats the question as an answer, while A and C are irrelevant. D is a good argument as it points out that voter age reduction is not a good solution to the problem. These answers are not based on your opinion, rather it is about the quality of the argument.

Q: An artist has created paintings with yellow, black, silver, white, and blue paint.

example decision making question ucat

Based on the diagram, how many paintings have yellow, black and silver, but no white or blue paint?
A) 12
B) 37
C) 64
D) 75

This is a common type of question in this section. 75 is the only figure which intersects the oblong, rectangle, and triangle, excluding part of the pentagon which represents blue paint. It helps to narrow down the answer by looking at the shapes when you encounter these complicated diagrams.

Q: A school timetable is being prepared for 50 students. 20 students are taking Mathematics, 20 students are taking Science and 12 students are taking English. 10 students are taking Maths and Science, and of these 5 want to take English as well.

Which of the following diagrams best represents the above data?

example ucat question decision making

The correct answer is C as the totals for the respective groups are correct – the top set adds up to 20, the right set adds up to 20, and the left set adds up to 12.

Section 3: Quantitative Reasoning

In section three – quantitative reasoning, your mathematical abilities will be tested. The questions that you will be asked here are similar to what you will find in GCSE Mathematics. You will be expected to do some calculations as this is a test of your numerical and problem-solving skills. Expect to find graphs, charts, and tables in this section and you may have to calculate percentages, proportionality, rates, averages, and so on. A basic on-screen calculator is provided during the test.

Be sure to read the questions thoroughly! Some questions have more than one question for the same set of given data. As you will see in the sample questions below, some questions may be straightforward and only require you to calculate a simple percentage or apply a formula, while others may present data in a more complex way which will require extra calculations to complete. When you’re answering the questions, try to assume that there is more to the question than simple addition or subtraction.

Example Quantitative Reasoning Questions

Annual Taxable Income Bracket (£) Tax Rate Total Tax Paid (£) at the top of this taxable income bracket
0 – 8,950 10% 895
8,950 – 36,250 15% 4,990
36,250 – 87,850 25% 17,890
87,850 – 183,250 28% 44,602
183,250 – 400,000 33% 116,129
400,000 and over 39.6%
Q: The table above shows the total tax paid (£) on annual taxable income. 
A person with an annual taxable income of £60,000 will pay £4,990 plus 25% of (£60,000 – £36,250)Will has an annual taxable income of £28,950. 

The income tax he has to pay, rounded to the nearest £, is:

A) £2,895
B) £3,895
C) £4,342
D) £4,510

The amount of tax to be paid by Will is calculated as £895 + 15% of (£28,950-£8,950) which is £3,895.

Q: Cara has an annual taxable income equivalent to £2,500 per month. She wants to save enough every month to pay her tax at the end of the year. The minimum amount that she has to save each month, rounded to the nearest £, is:

A) £250
B) £263
C) £338
D) £341
E) £375

Cara’s annual taxable income is £30,000. Her annual tax is £895 + 15% of (£30,000-£8,950) which is £4,051.50. This is approximately £338 every month.

Q: The following graph shows the velocity of two vehicles at different times.

How much greater is the acceleration of Vehicle 1 than the acceleration of Vehicle 2?

[Acceleration (m/s²) = Change in velocity (m/s) ÷ Change in time (s)]

A) 4 m/s²
B) 6 m/s²
C) 8 m/s²
D) 12 m/s²
E) 16 m/s²

Using the formula provided, Vehicle 1’s acceleration is calculated as:
(16-0) / (4-0) = 4m/s²Vehicle 2’s acceleration is:(8-8) / (4-0) = 0/4 = 0 m/s²Since Vehicle 1 is moving at the acceleration of 4 m/s² while Vehicle 2 is moving at 0 m/s², the answer is A.
Programme Base Audience Population Number of Audiences Tuned in Through Services Ratings of Audience Tuned in Through Services
Network Cable Syndies Others
Programme 1 10,500 756 399 1.6 0.4
Programme 2 9,400 611 423 3 1
Programme 3 13,500 567 594 2 2.2
Programme 4 2,500 160 80 3.6 0.4
Programme 5 1,875 90 150 2.4 0.1

Q: The table above shows the viewership of prime time programmes on a weekday. What is the total number of the audience tuned in to Programme 3?

A) 1,161 B) 1,350 C) 1,520 D) 1,728 E) 1,844
The number of audiences tuned in through Network and Cable is 1,161. To calculate the audiences tuned in through Syndies and Other networks, you have to use the formula: Syndies: 2 x 13,500 / 100 = 270 Others: 2.2 x 13,500 / 100 = 297 The answer is therefore: 1,161 + 270 + 297 = 1,728 This is an example of a question that is more tricky than it seems. You have to be sure that you understand the questions well before you attempt to calculate your answer.
Q: 24.8% of the audience tuned in through the Syndies service for Programme 2 are men. How many audiences tuned in through the Syndies for this programme are women? A) 70 B) 92 C) 132 D) 168 E) 212
First, calculate the total number of audiences tuned in through the Syndies for the programme. 3 x 9,400 / 100 = 282 If 24.8% of the audience are men, then 75.2% of them are women. 282 x 0.752 = 212

Section 4: Abstract Reasoning

Abstract reasoning is the fourth and most challenging UCAT subtest. You are given a series of shapes and you have to determine the next shape in the pattern. Every change in shape can be explained by a rule in the pattern – for example, it might be a clockwise rotation of the elements in every image of the sequence, or the elements in the image are mirrored along the x-axis.

This is a test of your ability to recognise patterns and the relationship between shapes. There are a few types of questions in this section. One is where you are shown a series of shapes and you have to determine the pattern and select the next shape in the series. You may also be given a statement and you have to select the shape that most closely represents the statement. Another type of question you can expect is where you are shown two sets of shapes and you have to select the answer that belongs to either set.

These questions are especially tricky as one shape could have more than one type of movement or relationship to the other shapes. These shapes may be rotated, mirrored, moved, or even deleted in the next sequence of the pattern.

Example Abstract Reasoning Questions

Q: Which of the following completes the series?

The squares rotate around the circle in a counterclockwise direction while the black circle in the centre alternates colours with each move. The next move should have the black square in the bottom right position with a black circle in the centre which makes C the answer.



A) Set A
B) Set B
C) Neither

The pattern in Set A is a horizontal mirror reflection of the top half of the image.

The pattern in Set B is a vertical mirror reflection of the right half of the image.

This image belongs to neither pattern.

Test Shape:

A) Set A
B) Set B
C) Neither

Q: This image has been mirrored horizontally. It belongs to Set A.
Which of the following test shapes belong in Set A?

C is the answer as it is the only shape that mirrors the top half of the image correctly. As you can see, once you have identified the pattern in the sets, these questions are quite easy.

Q: Which figure completes the statement?

This is an example of a statement question. The first image (top left) “is to” the second image (top right) which means that there is a relationship between these two patterns. Once you figure out the relationship, you are to apply it to the bottom left image.

There are four rules in this pattern:

  • The elements within the square move to the outside
  • The top right element outside the square is eliminated
  • The other elements outside the square move to the inside
  • The elements moved to the inside of the square are rotated clockwise by one position (ie. top left goes to the top right, bottom left goes to the top left)

The correct answer is D as the elements inside of the square (=, %, ?) have moved to the outside while the elements outside the square have been moved inside, with the top right element eliminated. The elements moved inside have also been rotated once clockwise. For example, the top left c has been shifted to the top right position when placed inside the square.

Pay attention to how the shapes move and be sure that you take note of shapes that are eliminated from the sequence.

Section 5: Situational Judgement

The final section, situational judgement, is a series of statements that relate to various clinical and real-life scenarios. While they do not require medical knowledge to answer, it examines your understanding of ethics and duty, especially in relation to healthcare. The questions are also designed to test your team working abilities and conflict resolution skills.

Example Situational Judgement Questions

Junior doctor Nadia is working in the ward, which is understaffed for the day as a member of staff called in sick. After lunch, she was informed by the surgical team that they are running behind schedule for surgical procedures that day. They also tell Nadia that she should talk to the last patient on the surgical team’s list, Tom, that his surgery has been delayed to tomorrow, and he has been placed first on the list for tomorrow’s surgical procedures. This does not harm Tom’s health, however, Nadia is aware that Tom’s operation to remove a tumour has made him very anxious. Nadia informs Tom that she’s been informed to relay the information to him that his surgery will not happen that day.

Q: How appropriate are each of the following responses by Nadia in this situation?

1) Explain to Tom the reasons why his surgery will not happen today

A) A very appropriate thing to do
B) Appropriate, but not ideal
C) Inappropriate, but not awful
D) A very inappropriate thing to do

It is appropriate to explain why the patient’s surgery has been delayed as they have been anxious about the surgery and it is courteous to provide an explanation.

2) Ask Tom if he can come back to her tomorrow with any questions, rather than asking them now because she is busy

A) A very appropriate thing to do
B) Appropriate, but not ideal
C) Inappropriate, but not awful
D) A very inappropriate thing to do

Considering that the patient has been anxious about the surgery, prolonging the wait without giving any clarifications is very inappropriate.

3) Have a medical student tell Tom why his surgery has been postponed

A) A very appropriate thing to do
B) Appropriate, but not ideal
C) Inappropriate, but not awful
D) A very inappropriate thing to do

Tom has placed some level of trust in Nadia, so it is inappropriate to have a medical student explain this to Tom.

4) Inform Tom that his operation being postponed until tomorrow will not affect his safety

A) A very appropriate thing to do
B) Appropriate, but not ideal
C) Inappropriate, but not awful
D) A very inappropriate thing to do

It is important that Tom knows the surgery being postponed for a day will not affect his safety, especially given that he is particularly anxious about the procedure.

5) Marvin is a medical student who was walking through a hospital corridor when he sees a small pool of liquid on the floor. He is running late for the start of his shift, but he does not want to leave without cleaning the floor. Marvin must decide what to do in this situation.

How important to take into account are the following considerations for Marvin when deciding how to respond to this situation?

That Marvin is five minutes late for his shift

A) Very important
B) Important
C) Of minor importance
D) Not important at all

While Marvin should take into account that they are late, the safety of others is a bigger concern in this situation.

6) The possibility that the liquid on the floor could be hazardous

A) Very important
B) Important
C) Of minor importance
D) Not important at all

It is very important for Marvin to consider that this liquid could be hazardous and that he has a duty to ensure staff and patients are not exposed to such a hazard.

7) That it is not Marvin’s job to clean the hospital

A) Very important
B) Important
C) Of minor importance
D) Not important at all

This is not important at all, as the safety of staff and patients should be Marvin’s top priority. Marvin should ensure the right measures are taken in response to the liquid on the floor, even if he is unable to clean it himself.

UCAT Strategies

As a general rule, you should never leave questions unanswered – there are no penalties for wrong answers while unanswered questions will automatically be considered incorrect so guessing would always be a better option.

You must always be mindful of the time because you have to complete each section in its allotted time – you will find a clock on your page when you start the test. Time management is key here as you only have between 14-50 seconds per question depending on the section, and you still have to leave some room to go back to questions that you have skipped or flagged. Use keyboard shortcuts such as CTRL + F to flag a question and CTRL + C to quickly pull up the calculator.

Each section is prefaced with instructions. Be sure to read them thoroughly before you answer any questions.

Don’t hesitate to skip or flag a question if you’re stuck. Many questions won’t have an obvious answer and you may just have to make a good guess. This is okay and normal for UCAT – this is not about your knowledge, it’s an aptitude test. They’re trying to test your ability to think on your feet and gauge your thought process under stressful situations. At the end of each section, you can review and answer any incomplete questions.

In the first section (Verbal Reasoning), it is important to read the questions and passages thoroughly. It is understandable that you want to be fast, but you may waste time if you misunderstood the question or missed important information and have to read the text again. You have about 40 seconds to answer each question which should be enough time to take extra care when reading the passage. As we suggested earlier, reading the newspapers to practice reading comprehension and to get acquainted with unfamiliar subjects will put you at an advantage for this section.

Try to take your time in the second section, decision making, because you have about 50 seconds per question and only 29 questions to answer. This section can be easy if you practice interpreting complicated Venn diagrams and solving problems. This is the same for section three, quantitative reasoning. Before you take the UCAT, you should already be familiar with calculating percentages, interpreting graphs, and applying formulae. A key skill to acing this section is the ability to quickly extract the information you need from graphs, tables, and so on. Although the third section involves calculations and the occasional tricky question, you should have ample time (around 40 seconds) to answer each question.

The abstract reasoning section has been known to be the most difficult section and it is often a time sink. You have to answer a total of 55 questions in just 13 minutes which is about 14 seconds per question. So if you can’t identify the pattern within the first ten seconds, you should flag the question to review or try to guess the answer. The patterns will always have a set of logical rules that could explain the sequence. If you’re not seeing the logic in a particular question, answering another question may help you solve one you’ve flagged earlier. It is highly recommended that you practice more for this section as you need to be quick. Extra practice will help you see patterns faster and being familiar with this section may help your guesses to be more accurate.

The final section (situational judgement, or SJT) is the lengthiest section with 69 questions. The SJT results are separate from the others and they are not used by some medical schools, or if they are, only a minimum of Band 3 is required. If you are stumped in this section, don’t be too stressed about it – think about what a good doctor should do, make an educated guess and simply move on to the next question. Do take practice tests for this section and read the explanations for the answers, even for ones you answered correctly – the explanations give great insight into what doctors are expected to do in certain scenarios.

UCAT Scores Explained

The first four sections of the UCAT have a maximum of a 900 score each, while the fifth section is scored between Band 1-4, with Band 1 being the best. This varies from year to year, but a good UCAT score for each section is considered to be above 650-680, with 620-630 being the average. In 2019, the top 20% of candidates scored an overall of 2690 and above.

A lot of applicants taking UCAT will wonder, what is a good UCAT score? Some schools will favour applicants who score within the top 30% – this is around 2610 points based on 2019 results and it should be the score to be aiming for.

UCAT Section

Scoring

Average score

Excellent score

Sections 1-4

900 (maximum)

620-630

650+

Overall

3600 (maximum)

2480

2690+

Situational Judgement

Band 1 (best) – Band 4 (lowest)

n/a

n/a

UK Medical Schools League Table - UCAT Admission

The league table below displays medical schools that use UCAT as their admission test and its ranking in the UK as of 2020.

UK Medical Schools that use UCAT

Medical School Ranking in the UK

University of Aberdeen

11

Anglia Ruskin University

21

Aston University

University of Birmingham

28

University of Bristol

12

Cardiff University

15

University of Dundee

6

University of East Anglia

21

Edge Hill University

University of Edinburgh

5

University of Exeter

10

University of Glasgow

3

Hull York Medical School (Universities of Hull and York)

27

Keele University**

9

Kent and Medway Medical School (University of Kent and Canterbury Christ Church University)

King’s College London

17

University of Leicester

30

University of Liverpool

32

University of Manchester

26

University of Newcastle

14

University of Nottingham

24

Plymouth University

20

Queen Mary University of London

8

Queen’s University Belfast

23

University of Sheffield

18

University of Southampton

31

University of St. Andrews

25

St. George’s, University of London

33

University of Sunderland

University of Warwick***

29

* Medical schools without ranking are new programmes.

** Keele University: UCAT admission for UK & EU applicants only

*** Graduate programme only

UCAS Application Strategies

Once you’ve taken your admission tests, it comes the time now to finally submit your application. It is paramount that you select medical schools to apply to wisely.

While other aspects of your UCAS application depend on subjective factors such as how a reviewer perceived your personal statement or your performance at the interview, we know that good admission test scores will give applicants a significant advantage in many UK medical schools.

Each school will vary in how they use aptitude test scores. Among the schools that published information about how admission test results are used, many favour UCAT scores in the top third with a minimum of Band 3 for the situational judgement subtest (SJT), while some exclude SJT scores entirely. Some other schools are more lenient – for example, Birmingham does not require a minimum UCAT score while Keele excludes only the bottom 20%.

A number of medical schools such as Anglia Ruskin and Dundee will rank applicants based on admission test scores, while others consider the results as part of the application. It is also a common practice for schools such as Leicester, and Plymouth to automatically reject applicants who score under a specific threshold, typically the bottom third.

Your UCAT results won’t make or break your application as top results are not a hard requirement and your application is considered as a whole. However, you should still be strategic about which schools you choose. If you had average UCAT scores, you might have better chances with Keele, for example, as they only eliminate the bottom 20%, compared to St. Andrews which ranks applicants by UCAT score.

The ideal situation is that your school of choice accepts UCAT and you received excellent results for the test – this means that you will be eligible for admission to 30 schools and you have great chances of getting an offer letter.

Evaluating your results

For those who sat for both exams, you should evaluate your chances of admission with either test results. If you feel that you didn’t score very well in the tests, you should prioritise applying to schools with a lower or no minimum UCAT/BMAT score requirement as they may place more importance on other parts of your application.

If you’re certain that your BMAT score will be much better than your UCAT score, then you might want to prioritise schools that accept BMAT by applying to two schools requiring BMAT and two requiring UCAT. Splitting your application between schools that accept UCAT and BMAT is the best strategy in this case as it places your chances on two different test results and you’ll be making full use of your eligibility to 38 schools.

The October/November sitting for BMAT takes place after the UCAS application deadline around mid-October so you won’t know how you did at BMAT before you submit your application. For this reason, we strongly recommend that you always include medical schools accepting UCAT among your choices, no matter what your UCAT score is. While it’s possible to apply to four schools that use BMAT, this is risky and limits your choices of schools greatly.

Prioritising schools with best chances of admission

Another way you could approach this is by looking at individual schools and figuring out your chances of admission based on their requirements and international student acceptance rates. You would have the best chances with larger schools that admit most students. With good results, the odds of getting an offer may be better with schools that have lower requirements.

International students will face greater competition for an offer as there is only a 7% admission rate of overseas applicants. Some medical schools accept more international students than others – University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN) is the only medical school that admits mostly international students and Buckingham does not have a cap on the number of international students they admit which many other schools have. Additionally, these two schools do not require admission tests so students with poor UCAT and BMAT results can still apply. It’s still extremely competitive, but your chances might be better with a school that accepts more overseas students.

There isn’t really a wrong or right way to choose schools for your application, but being strategic about it can really help your chances at getting a good offer. It would be a waste to pick top schools with average UCAT/BMAT scores when you would have a fair shot at other schools with less competition and lower requirements.

UCAT Admission into Medical Schools outside the UK

In the event that you cannot secure a place in a UK medical school, there are a number of things you can do if you would still like to pursue medicine. We discuss various situations when being rejected and what you could do in those scenarios in our Complete Guide To Studying Medicine In The UK in the section After You Apply. As we have recommended in that article, if you’re still interested in pursuing medicine, you can always apply to study elsewhere.

UCAT results are accepted in a number of medical schools around the world which could simplify the application process if you would still like to study medicine in a different country. You could take a different admissions test, but being able to use the UCAT results you already have will save you some time.

It’s important to note that UCAT results are only valid for one year following the test. It is subject to the school’s discretion if your results are accepted after a certain amount of time. This means that if you have not been accepted by any UK schools, you should apply to your next choice before the year is up or retake the exam.

 

Medical Schools outside the UK that use UCAT

Country

American University of the Caribbean

USA

Poznan University of Medical Sciences

Poland

UniCamillus – Saint Camillus International University of Health and Medical Sciences

Italy

St. George’s University

Grenada

* The above schools will accept UCAT results, same as the one used in the UK – UCAT ANZ is a slightly different test taken for admission into some schools in Australia and New Zealand.

Make an Appointment with Britannia StudyLink Malaysia

We are a Kuala Lumpur-based education consultancy and we’ll be glad to guide you through the application process to study Medicine in the UK. You could make a free appointment with us to talk to one of our consultants by filling in our contact form or you can also contact us via WhatsApp (+6019 991 7575) to speak with us directly.

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