If you’re applying for university this year and hoping to study medicine, you’ll probably already be familiar with the UCAT exam. The UCAT is unlike any exam you will have taken for your A-levels or GCSEs and despite what many people think, the test doesn’t measure scientific knowledge or ability. Instead, the test measures specific skills that are deemed important to become a medical professional.
In this post, we discuss what a good score is for the UCAT and what score you need to beat the competition and get into medical school.
Before determining what UCAT score is a good one, you must know how the scoring system works and the test format.
The verbal reasoning section of the UCAT tests your ability to read and comprehend information and decide if a conclusion can be drawn from that information. You will need to read written passages and answer related questions.
The mean verbal reasoning scaled score for 2022 was 567. For this part of the test, you will have 44 questions and 21 minutes to answer. This is considered the most time-pressured part of the test.
In this subtest, you will be presented with various scenarios and asked to make decisions based on the information presented, which is essential when entering medical school. You must apply critical thinking skills to make sound decisions, often under time pressure.
The mean decision-making subtest scaled score for 2022 was 616. For this part of the test, you will have 29 questions and 31 minutes to answer.
The quantitative reasoning subtest tests your ability to solve numerical problems. The questions in this subtest are based on mathematical concepts, and you must use your knowledge of basic arithmetic, algebra, and geometry to solve them.
The mean scaled score in this subtest for 2022 was 658. You will have 36 questions and 24 minutes to complete this test part.
The Abstract Reasoning subtest tests your ability to identify patterns, relationships, and trends in abstract shapes and designs.
The mean scaled score in this subtest for 2022 was 659. You will have 55 questions and 13 minutes to complete them.
The final section of the UCAT is the situational judgement section. This section tests your capacity to understand real-life situations, find the key critical factors and the best way to deal with each situation.
This subtest is scored differently from the first cognitive subtests. The raw scores are expressed as 4 bands, with band 1 being the highest and band 4 being the lowest. For this test, you will have 69 questions to answer in 26 minutes.
Overall UCAT breakdown:
- Verbal reasoning – 44 questions in (21 minutes)
- Decision Making – 29 questions in (31 minutes)
- Quantitative reasoning – 36 questions in (24 minutes)
- Abstract reasoning – 55 questions in (13 minutes)
- Situational judgement – 69 questions in (26 minutes)
How is the UCAT scored?
The UCAT is marked on the number of correct answers you give, and no marks are deducted for incorrect answers. As the number of questions varies between the five subtests, making a direct comparison is impossible; therefore, the raw marks are converted into a scaled score that share a common range between 300 and 900.
The total scaled UCAT score is generated by summing the scaled scores from the first four cognitive subtests, which range from 1200 to 3600. Doing practice tests allows you to calculate your UCAT score, giving you an idea of what to work on for your areas of development. Set a score goal and work on it by increasing your score in your weakest areas.
UCAT percentiles tell you how your score compares to the scores of other candidates. The higher your percentile, the better you performed compared to everyone else. If you’re in the 90th percentile, this mean you have done extremely well and scored higher than 90% of other test taken. On the other hand, if you score anywhere on the 1-50th percentile, it means you have scored less than at least 50% of other candidates.
Once your score has been converted into a percentile, it is when converted into a decile. Each decile represents 10% of the candidates. Similar to the percentile, the higher your score the higher the decile group you’ll be in. The 9th decile is the highest and the first decile is the lowest. You want to be in the highest decile, or as high as possible, to be considered for medical school.
What is a good UCAT score?
So now you know how the UCAT is scored and ranked, you need to know what a good, scaled score is so you have a goal to aim for. Usually, a good score is around 650 or a raw score of over 2500, however this can change easy year depending on other candidate scores for the reasons explained above.
If many other candidates score exceptionally well, even if you still achieve a good score, the number of candidates that scored higher than you will push your score down on the percentile and decile groupings.
UCAT preparation is one of the most important things you need to do as part of your medical school admissions journey, and it should start several months before the actual exam. Most aspiring medical students wonder if the UCAT is hard when they first learn what it is and the answer is yes, it’s likely to be the hardest exam you have ever taken… but, there is hope.
Knowing how to prepare and having an experienced and qualified medical professional on your side to offer expert advice and detailed explanations to tricky questions is paramount to your success. In this section, we offer excellent advice on how to prepare and why you need a UCAT tutor.
How long before UCAT should I start preparing?
Planning how long to revise for UCAT depends on your personal circumstances but we generally advise you to start at least 3-6 months before the exam, with some students starting even earlier. The more prepared you are, the more likely you are to get a good score so make sure you allow yourself enough time to do the best you can. Remember that your score is going to be compared to the scores of other candidates so starting revision early can give you the boost needed to score on that 90th percentile.
Many students wonder if the UCAT is harder than practice tests, generally speaking the answer is no, they UCAT exam mirrors that of the practice tests but often students claim that they found the UCAT exam easier than the practice test but this could be due to excellent preparation, beginning months before as well as the help of a UCAT tutor.
How can a UCAT tutor help?
Competition to study medicine is extremely competitive with only a 1 in 3 chance of getting accepted and a 1 in 10 chance at getting accepted into the most popular universities or if you’re an international student. Many universities use UCAT scores as a basis for deciding who they invite for an interview so if your score doesn’t impress the panel, you’re unlikely to progress to the next stage of the process.
At The Future Medic, we want you to succeed!
Ace the UCAT and book an appointment with one of The Future Medic’s tutors who are experts in the medical school application and UCAT process. Boost your score, get personalised 1-1 lessons, and be fully supported along the way by qualified and experienced doctors.
The average score on the UCAT test is around 607 and with The Future Medic’s help, our students have an overall average score of around 743, giving them a more likely chance of getting noticed by their chosen universities. With more than 30,000 more students 2023 applying to medical school than in previous years, preparation is more important than ever.
More reasons to get a UCAT tutor
- The competition is greater and tougher, so it is getting harder and harder to get accepted onto a place to study a medical degree.
- 30,000 more students are applying to medical school than in previous years, meaning there is only a 1 in 10 chance of getting accepted into the most popular universities.
- Having an excellent UCAT score makes your application stand out.
- Many universities use UCAT scores as the basis of their decision to shortlist applicants for interviews.
So now that you know exactly how to practice for the UCAT, what are you waiting for? Start working through our process and contact us today.