Author: Holly M.
Fourth Year Medical Student
By now, you may have already sat the UCAT exam, and as a result already have your UCAT result. After so much preparation for the exam, suddenly you have to decide what to do with your test results, something you may not have really thought or worried about before sitting your UCAT. Hopefully, this article will give you some ideas of the kinds of things you should be thinking about, factors you should be weighing up, and choices you may have to start making. For the most up to date information, make sure you check out the UCAT consortium website, and if you have any questions specifically about exam format etc. to contact them via their social media. As with all articles, I suggest keeping a pen and paper to hand, so that you can make notes on anything important or particularly relevant to you.
What to do whilst testing is still open
Once you have sat your UCAT exam, relax! You have put in so much time and hard work, you should be proud of yourself, even if you perhaps didn’t do quite as well as you were hoping. There are a few things that you can do whilst you are waiting for testing to close, which I will list below, but make sure you don’t become too obsessive!
– You can check out interim mean scores and deciles on the UCAT Consortium website, which will be published around mid-September time. Although these are by no means definite or final, they do give you a pretty good idea of how well your UCAT score will compare to other candidates, and you should use really this information wisely in order to help inform your university choices, so that you have the best chance of being successful
– Also, you can look at previous years’ final percentiles, deciles and scores. Of course, this has to be taken with a pinch of salt, because these were different candidates, sitting a different exam, but it can again give you a good idea of the kind of score you may need to achieve in order to be able to secure an interview or even have your application considered at universities
– Make sure that you attend as many university open days as you can, specifically the talks the medical schools hold on their application process. I imagine that this year, the vast majority of these will be virtual, which in fact makes it much easier for you to attend more than you normally would be able to, so make you sure you take advantage of this. The reason why this is so important, is that normally, somewhere in their presentation, medical schools normally have a slide on their ‘cut-offs’ or scores candidates need to reach to be considered for an interview. Of course, this will change from year to year, but I found it useful to calculate an average score, or average percentage that candidates had to reach for this particular university. Then when you receive your own score, you can compare it to these averages you have calculated, and you will have at least a rough idea of whether or not you have a chance of obtaining an interview at these medical schools
As I previously mentioned in an article specifically on the SJT section of the UCAT exam, you really need to be scoring at least a Band 2 for this, preferably a Band 1, as this really sets you apart as being an exceptional candidate and won’t in any way limit your medical school application.
If you do receive a Band 3 or 4 for the SJT exam, I would strongly advise against applying to medical schools, which require UCAT, with this score. You could decide to take the risk, and apply to medical schools that place less weight on your UCAT score, but do be wary of the fact that you will quickly be discounted if there are other applications with better SJT results. Instead, if you do achieve a Band 3 or 4 in your SJT, I would advise that you follow one of the two following options. You could decide against applying to universities that require the UCAT, and instead opt to sit the BMAT. If you then take the time to prepare well, and achieve a good score in the BMAT, you can just pretend that the UCAT never happened and only apply to medical schools that require the BMAT! However, if you are sure you don’t want to sit the BMAT exam (e.g. if you don’t like any of the universities that require it, or don’t like essay writing), or you don’t achieve a good enough score in your BMAT, then you can always take a gap year, and retake the UCAT the following year, focusing your revision efforts on the SJT.
What to do if you get a ‘good’ UCAT result
This is actually quite straight forward; in simple terms the world is your oyster! You can choose to try and apply strategically to universities widely known for only accepting candidates with high UCAT scores for interview, and perhaps give yourself the best chance of securing a medical school interview. However, if you have already chosen the universities you like, do not feel as if you have to change your mind just because you have achieved such a good score. Instead, you can just feel happy and confident that your UCAT score will really enhance your overall application, and only strengthen your chances of achieving an interview.
What to do if you get a ‘bad’ UCAT result
Firstly, don’t count your chickens before they hatch. If the final results have yet to come out for the UCAT, you might have actually done better than you think, and end up achieving an average score, which is completely fine. If this is the case, I would just advise applying to universities which don’t place so much weight on the UCAT results of their candidates.
However, as I mentioned in the SJT section above, if you really have not done as well as you wanted to, the two main options you have are to either sit the BMAT or wait for the following academic year to redo your UCAT.