How is the UCAT scored? How do universities use the UCAT? What does the UCAT score mean?
These are some important questions for people wanting to sit the UCAT. Knowing how the UCAT is scored and what a good, bad or average score is can help you do the best you can. Your score can help you tailor how you prepare for the exam and later, help you decide which universities to apply to.
In this article, we will discover the mechanisms of the UCAT scoring system, the essentials you need to know and how different universities use this notorious admissions test in their applications process.
The Structure Of The UCAT
These 5 sections each test different abilities relevant to being a doctor.
When Do You Get Your UCAT Results?
One good thing about this exam is that you get your results as soon as you leave the test room, so there’s no waiting required!
When you receive your results, you get a score reporting your individual numerical scores for the first 4 subsections from 300 to 900 and a Band for Situational Judgement from 1 to 4.
Your numerical scores will also be added together to give you an overall score from 1200 to 3600 which is what a lot of universities look at during applications.
To know exactly what this means for your medical school application and how you did versus other candidates, you will have to wait for the final test statistics to come out which happens about a week after the testing period ends.
This contains the average overall and subsection scores for that year with decile rankings to help place your score relative to everyone else.
The image below is what you’ll receive from Pearson VUE upon sitting and completing your UCAT exam. It’ll tell you your individual section scores, along with a total score.
How Is The UCAT Scored?
The UCAT scoring system doesn’t directly correlate to the number of questions you get correct or incorrect.
The score for a person that got 50% of the questions correct one year would be different to someone else with 50% correct another year.
The process of converting raw marks into a UCAT score is very much like calculating grade boundaries for GCSEs.
Read on to see how the first Verbal Reasoning, Decision Making, Quantitative Reasoning and Abstract Reasoning sections are scored versus the final Situational Judgement section.
How Is Each UCAT Section Scored?
Scoring For Verbal Reasoning, Decision Making, Quantitative Reasoning & Abstract Reasoning Sections
The scoring for Verbal Reasoning, Decision Making, Quantitative Reasoning and Abstract Reasoning is the same.
Essentially, raw marks are scaled and converted into a score between 300 and 900 using a designated group of “test takers” that help the exam board judge how hard the exam is that particular year.
The mean score of the group corresponds to a score of 600 with one standard deviation to either side of the mean correlating to 500 and 700.
This means that on the day, your raw mark will be converted to a UCAT score based on how well you did compared to the average score of the sample of “test takers” of that year.
Keep in mind that you don’t need to get all the questions correct to get 900 in a section. In practice, this means that you can skip hard or time-consuming questions as not all the questions are designed to be completed in the time. However, to maximise your chances of a high score, you should attempt all questions.
The image below shows the minimum, maximum and median score for the UCAT (along with the average score successful candidates get).
Scoring For Situational Judgement
For the Situational Judgement section, the same process applies but instead of a numerical score, you are awarded a Band from 1 to 4 with Band 1 being the best and Band 4 the worst.
This subsection tests your judgement of different ethical or team scenarios and compares them to what a doctor would do in each situation. So the closer you are to what the panel of doctors said they would do, the higher a band you get.
One of the main points to note about the scoring of the UCAT is that there is no negative marking. So leave no question blank and you might pick up a few extra marks at no extra cost.
Here are the official definitions for the UCAT Situational Judgement (SJT) bands:
Those in Band 1 demonstrated an excellent level of performance, showing similar judgement in most cases to the panel of experts.
Those in Band 2 demonstrated a good, solid level of performance, showing appropriate judgement Frequently, with many responses matching model answers.
Those in Band 3 demonstrated a modest level of performance, with appropriate judgement shown for some questions and substantial differences from ideal responses for others.
The performance of those in Band 4 was low, with judgement tending to differ substantially from ideal responses in many cases.
What Can We Learn From Past UCAT Scores?
Here are the average scores from the past 3 years’ UCAT cycles;
|Situational Judgement||Band 2||Band 2||Band 2||Band 2|
|Mean Overall Score||2499||2519||2483||2485|
When we look at the 2019 scores, we can see that overall, people found Verbal Reasoning the hardest section which has been the case since the exam was created. Most people get a Band 2 in Situational Judgement which is a good score to get.
The other information published by the UCAT Consortium is the table of deciles. This splits everyone that took the test into 10% increments. Last year’s information tells us that most people scored around the average with very few people getting very low or very high scores.
But what does this mean for you?
Well, it means that it is hard to get a very bad score (which is good) but also hard to get an amazing score. So the preparation you put in should focus on getting the best score on the day as a few questions could be the difference of getting a place at medical school or not.
Here’s the decile table if you’re interested to see where the boundaries were.
|Decile Rank||2021 Final Scores||2021 Actual Percentile|
How Do Universities Use The UCAT?
Universities all have slightly different admissions processes and use the UCAT in different ways. Below is a breakdown of how UK universities use the UCAT for picking undergraduates for the A100 course.
|University (2022/2023 UCAT Cut-Off)||How They Use The UCAT|
|University of Aberdeen|
|UCAT results are considered alongside academic ability during selection for interviews. |
The SJT is not included but may be used in offer making when there are candidates with similar scores.
|Anglia Ruskin University||Applicants are ranked based on UCAT score and other factors which are considered during selection for interviews. Applicants with an SJT Band 4 score will be automatically rejected.|
|Aston University||UCAT results will be considered alongside other parts of your application. |
There is no lower cut-off score for the UCAT or the SJT.
|University of Birmingham||Applicants will receive an overall score calculated using academic ability and UCAT performance with a 30% weighting on the UCAT. This score is used for selection for interviews. SJT score only considered post-interview.|
|University of Bristol|
|UCAT score is the only factor considered in the selection for interviews for applicants meeting the minimum academic requirements. SJT score is not explicitly considered.|
|Cardiff University||No emphasis is placed on the UCAT as part of their selection process – therefore there is no minimum threshold.|
|University of Dundee||Weighting is split between GCSEs/A-Levels and UCAT with the latter making up 40% – a low score can be supported with good grades and vice versa.|
|University of East Anglia||The subsection scores may be used to rank applicants for selection for interview. Total UCAT (including SJT) score is used alongside interview performance during final offer decisions.|
|Edge Hill University||UCAT score is the only factor considered in the selection for interviews for applicants meeting the minimum academic requirements. Applicants scoring SJT band 4 are automatically rejected.|
|University of Edinburgh||Applicants are ranked based on an overall score they receive that is calculated using academic ability and UCAT (including SJT) score. Those with the highest scores are invited to interview.|
|University of Exeter||UCAT is considered secondary to academic ability during selection for interviews and in borderline cases in the post-interview selection process.|
|University of Glasgow||UCAT score is the only factor considered in the selection for interviews for applicants meeting the minimum academic requirements. SJT score may not be taken into consideration at any stage.|
|Hull York Medical School||UCAT score is given a 40% weighting in selection for interview and SJT band is considered in final offer decisions alongside interview performance. Applicants with an SJT band 4 score are automatically rejected.|
|Keele University||A minimum cut off score of 2280 is used in the first phase of the application process. UCAT score will also be used in borderline cases in final offer decisions. Applicants with an SJT band 4 score are automatically rejected.|
|Kent and Medway Medical School|
|A UCAT threshold (corresponding to the 40th centile) is applied to applicants that meet the minimum academic requirements.|
|King’s College London||UCAT score (including SJT) is considered alongside the rest of the application when shortlisting for interview. UCAT and academic ability are the more important factors taken into consideration.|
|University of Leicester||Applicants are ranked based on an overall score encompassing academic ability and UCAT (including SJT) score. Those with the highest scores are invited to interview. Applicants with an SJT band 4 score are automatically rejected. |
Selection is based on a 50/50 approach between applicants’ academics and the UCAT.
|University of Liverpool||Applicants that meet minimum academic requirements are ranked based on UCAT score. Those with the highest scores are invited to interview. Applicants with an SJT band 4 score are automatically rejected.|
|University of Manchester||UCAT score is considered in the second stage of the application process. Applicants with a score in the top third of the global cohort with an SJT band 1 or 2 score are likely to receive an interview invite. Those with SJT band 3 or aren’t within the top third are considered on a more holistic basis for the interview. Applicants with an SJT Band 4 are automatically rejected.|
|University of Newcastle||A UCAT score threshold is applied to applicants that meet the minimum academic requirements. The threshold is set depending on the number of interview slots available.|
|University of Nottingham||Applicants are ranked based on a score which the university calculates using academic achievement and UCAT score. 40 of the 58 available points are allocated to the UCAT and the top-scoring applicants receive invites to interview. Applicants with SJT band 4 are automatically rejected.|
|Plymouth University |
|UCAT score is used alongside academic ability to select applicants for interview. A UCAT threshold is applied to applicants as part of the minimum entry requirements for the course.|
|Queen Mary University of London||UCAT and UCAS Tariff scores are considered in a 50/50 weighting for selection for interview. Applicants with a UCAT score below the third decile are not considered for an interview.|
|Queen’s University Belfast||Applicants are ranked based on the score they receive from the university taking into account academic ability and UCAT overall score. 6 out of 42 possible points are allocated to the UCAT. SJT score may be used in borderline cases during final offer decisions.|
|University of Sheffield|
|Applicants who meet both minimum academic and UCAT (2420) requirements are ranked based on UCAT score during the selection for interview. SJT score is considered post-interview.|
|University of Southampton||Applicants are ranked based on UCAT score. If they then meet the minimum academic requirements, the highest-ranked applicants are invited to the Selection Day. UCAT score (including SJT) is also considered in final offer decisions.|
|University of St Andrews|
|Applicants that meet all the entry requirements are ranked by UCAT score and the top-scoring applicants are invited to interview. UCAT score is also used in borderline cases during final offer decisions.|
|St George’s, University of London||Applicants must meet the minimum UCAT requirements which consist of achieving above 500 in each subsection as well as scoring above total UCAT threshold (to be determined). Applicants that meet all minimum requirements are ranked based on UCAT score with the highest-ranked receiving invites to interview. SJT score is not taken into consideration at any stage of the process.|
|University of Sunderland||UCAT score is taken into consideration along with the academic ability and the “Roles and Responsibilities” form during selection for interviews. Applicants with SJT band 4 score are automatically rejected.|
We can see from the table that there are a few different ways that universities use the UCAT. Some put a lot of emphasis on what you get, like Nottingham or Glasgow, while others, such as Cardiff, may not even consider it in their process.
This means that whatever score you eventually get in the UCAT can have quite a bit of influence on where you apply.
A higher score might make universities that put a large weighting on the UCAT more appealing while a lower score might mean that you could waste a precious space on your UCAS form to a university that will likely reject you.
Also notice that if you receive a Band 4 in the Situational Judgement section of the UCAT, a lot of universities will not consider your application.
It is very important that you have a look at some Situational Judgement questions before you walk into the exam room as this could be a deal-breaker many universities when applying to medical school.
What Is A Good/Bad UCAT Score?
To get into medical school, a good UCAT score is generally considered to be anything above 2,600 or an average of 650.
An excellent score is anything above 2,800 or a 700 average which would pass almost all university UCAT thresholds.
For Situational Judgement, a Band 1 or Band 2 puts you in an ideal position for university applications.
However, these numbers are very dependent on the final test statics for each year which means that they can fluctuate.
The End Of Our UCAT Scoring & Results Article
So, in summary, the first 4 subsections of the UCAT are given numerical scores between 300 and 900 with the last being allocated a Band from 1 to 4. Universities use the UCAT in different ways with some putting more emphasis on it than others. A higher score is better so leave no question unanswered!
Thank you for reading the article and we at 6med hope it has cleared some things up about the UCAT exam.
If you want more information on the UCAT, then please check out our other articles or the official UCAT website.