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UCAT Scores

UCAT Scores and What do they Mean?

Since the very first day of the UCAT 2019, our office has been inundated with calls and emails from UCAT candidates, parents and teachers alike, all asking the same questions:

‘What do my UCAT Scores mean?’

‘What percentile did I get?’

‘How does my mark compare against other UCAT candidates?’

‘Is my mark good enough to get a medical interview?’

‘Which universities should I apply for, based on my UCAT score?’

‘Should I start preparing for the interviews now, or do I have to wait until I get an offer?’

And so on…

While we are doing our best to address each and every enquiry personally, we have also decided to write this article to address the most frequent questions in relation to the UCAT scores, UCAT percentile, and medical school university applications. 

So what do your UCAT scores mean?

In short – not a whole lot until universities release their requirements! The initial score sheet provided by Pearson VUE simply shows the raw scores, which you attained for each section of the test. We must note that the UCAT is new to Australia, hence no one really knows for certain how things will fair in this first round of interview offers. This is also the reason why neither Australian nor New Zealand medical schools have given much clarification about their UCAT score or percentile requirements. 

Things have become a bit more clearer, since the release of UCAT 2019 Test Statistics in the way that candidates do have a rough idea of their percentile band. More detailed information with exact percentile scores is said to be released to the universities in September 2019.  

Furthermore, we also have ample data available to us from the UK, which we can use in order to gain a better understanding of how UCAT marks have been used in the past. The table below can be used as a form of a rough guide to give you some idea of what your marks could mean. Note that we are using the word ‘could’, because ultimately, we cannot be 100% sure of anything until Pearson VUE releases the final percentile rankings and the universities release their own UCAT scores and/or UCAT percentile requirements. Even then, nothing is for certain, because historically we have seen applicants time-and-time again getting interviews with scores below various universities' advertised cut-offs.

Note: The scores discussed below are the total for the first 4 sections of the UCAT.

 

UCAT score

UK Universities

NIE Students

Under < 2500

Historically, the lowest minimum UCAT cut-off score by some UK universities has been 2400. Note, that a minimum score does not guarantee an interview. Most people in the UK start seeing interview offers in the 2650+ range.

During the practice and preparation stages, we see scores below 2400 (40th percentile) most frequently amongst new students. From our experience this score will fall below average performance of other candidates. As shown in the 2019 test statistics the mean (average) score for the test was 2480 (50th percentile) 

2500 - 2800

While a handful of universities in the UK had a lower cut-off score of 2400, for the majority of others the minimum score has been somewhere between 2500-2600. While most candidates receiving an interview offer scored above 2700, there have been reports of those who did receive an offer with a total score below the 2600-2700 range.

Whilst scores in the 2500-2600 (50th & 60th percentile) range are still on the lower side, scores within the 2600-2800 (70th & 80th percentile) range fall within the 60th to 80th percentile. From roughly about 80 students that have reported their UCAT scores to us this year, about a third got a score within the above range. We would anticipate for quite a few of those who scored between 2700-2800 to receive interview offers, providing that their ATAR scores will make the cut. It is also important for each section score to be above the 50th percentile for that particular construct. 

2800 - 2950

From what we have gathered this is the range where percentiles start to move up quite quickly from 2800, being in the 85th to 88th percentile, and 2950, heading well into the 90th percentile. In UK candidates in this category tend to see interview offers and naturally the chance is much higher for those who score above 2800.

Scores of 2800+ were quite common amongst those candidates who had prepared for the test for at least 2 to 3 months. From the initial feedback, around 15 students out of about 80 attained a score within this range.

2950+

Historically, once you reach the 2950+ zone, you are well in the top 10th percentile and so the chance of receiving an interview offer in this category is quite high. In past years, the mean highest scores in the UK has been around 3250. Naturally there may have been a handful that even scored in 3300 range, but this does not play a very significant role as the differences amongst candidates in this category are only marginal.

From feedback that we have received so far, the highest recorded score has been 3310, followed by the second highest at 3260. Overall from 80 or so candidates supplying feedback, around 20 scores were recorded in this category.

According to Pearson the highest score for Australia for 2019 test was 3530. 

Recommendations if your UCAT score is below 2500:

First of all, understand that there is no way for us to know for certain what percentile you will score and so the fight is not over just yet. But you must consider the possibility that your percentile ranking may fall short of what universities are looking for. So start planning ahead:

  1. Apply for universities that do not require a UCAT score such as James Cook University (JCU) in QLD, and if it is within your financial means, then we would highly encourage you to consider Bond University. 
  2. Work hard on your ATAR and do your best. There are additional (UCAT free) opportunities for those who will manage to get a very high ATAR score. For example, the direct entry pathway into medicine at the University of Sydney. Furthermore, in past years, the University of Western Australia has had very low UMAT score requirements, yet their ATAR requirement was 99+ or equivalent.
  3. DO NOT GIVE UP! Getting into medicine is competitive for everyone and you would be foolish to think that you will definitely get in, even if you had perfect scores in both the UCAT and ATAR. Over the years we have met hundreds of students with very high scores who did not even receive an interview offer. There may be many reasons outside of your control for this, including various university selection quotas. Hence, you cannot just drop your head and give up. Doctors require resilience as a key personal characteristic. If you want to get into medicine, you need to stay in the running and try again!
  4. If it happens that you need to sit the UCAT again, do not leave your preparation for the last minute. Low frequency and high consistency preparation has been shown to be beneficial and more manageable than high frequency preparation over a very short timeframe. View UCAT 2020 Courses...
  5. Think clearly about your Plan B. If you are considering going into another undergraduate degree, then think which degree and why? Research undergraduate degrees thoroughly and consider them from industry and employment opportunity perspectives. Do not guilelessly believe what universities write about their degrees.
  6. Should you prepare for medical interviews? Obviously, you are in a tricky situation, where the chance of getting an interview is somewhat modest, and yet, if you leave your interview preparation until the last minute, all the training slots for competitive training programs will be booked out. Investing into interview preparation programs might be something to think twice about depending on your own personal situation. On the same token, you should not leave yourself completely unprepared, especially if your ATAR (or equivalent) score is going to be high and there may be other opportunities for you. Medical interview training can also be a profoundly life-changing experience that helps with a variety of future opportunities such as job interviews, public speaking, work experience opportunities, self-development, and gaining situational judgement for future career milestones. If you are already relatively competent in those areas and you do not feel hopeful for your chance to use the criteria-based information provided in interview training, then we would instead encourage you to have a look at the NIE online bookshop and get yourself a book or two to get familiar with medical interviews (and Bond University Psychometric Testing, if relevant to your potential pathway) and start steadily reading through the materials.

Universities which offer Undergraduate Medicine without the requirement for UCAT are: 

James Cook University (Medicine) - selection is based on ATAR, Application, Interview. Read more...

Bond University (Medicine) - selection is based on ATAR, Bond Psychometric Test, Interview. Read more...

Recommendations if your UCAT score is above 2500:

Evidently, this is a fairly broad range and the chance of receiving an interview offer is much higher for those in the 2700+ range than those in the 2500 to 2700 category. It is anticipated that the minimum cut-off scores for some universities could go as low as 2500. However, as stated in the above table, getting an interview with the minimum cut-off score is questionable. Yet UK candidates with scores in the 2600+ range have received interviews in the past. While all candidates should consider the advice given for people in the ‘below 2500’ category, there are additional factors to consider if you have scored higher than 2600:

1. Interview training is very important and should not be left until the last minute. In most cases you simply will not have enough time to prepare for the interviews if you are thinking that you will wait to see if you will receive an offer first. Not only do session spots book out instantly, but you will have missed the chance to do any homework exercises or to work on the deeper personality or mental constructs being measured – some of which can take weeks or months to develop sufficiently. You will also not have time to create functional mind maps of the materials that you need to become familiar with the optimise your answers for the range of questions possible in a medical interview. Most universities only give you about one weeks’ notice before the date of your actual interview attendance.

2. Don’t let your marks get to your head! As mentioned earlier, every year we meet many students who did not receive an interview offer despite their excellent marks. The most common reason for this is that these candidates have only applied for their local university. If you are thinking to do this yourself, it is a big mistake and will cost you dearly, so be careful. Understand that universities need to be fair to all applicants, and therefore they may have selection quotas in place to make sure that their selection process is equitable. This is so that applicants from lower ranking institutions, under-resourced regions and less fortunate communities will also have an opportunity to study medicine. So most definitely consider applying for multiple universities across Australia. And if you cannot imagine how spaces may be available for you with your score, take heart that surprising events happen every year when interview offers go out. Most importantly, exercise your resilience, and ensure that you continue forward positive intentions for your future.     

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