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Written By Team MedView
Reviewed By Callum Chalmers (Currently studying Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery - MBChB at University of Auckland)
When embarking on the journey to medical school in Australia, the University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT) stands as a critical milestone, a gatekeeper of sorts, that can significantly influence your admission prospects.
The medical school landscape is getting increasingly competitive each year and as such, your score needs to reflect this to be successful in the admissions process.
If you're gearing up for the journey to medical school, you're probably wondering what UCAT score you'll need to be successful and you've come to the right place.
This guide delves into the nuances of UCAT ANZ scores, how the system works and what UCAT score is generally needed to be offered a medical school interview. Ready? Let's go.
The UCAT is made up of 4 cognitive subtests:
The final section is the Situational Judgement Test (SJT), which measures the capacity to understand real world situations and to identify critical factors and appropriate behaviour dealing with them.
The scoring process for the 4 cognitive sections of the UCAT ANZ is based on a scaled score, which is not determined by raw marks or a percentage, but rather a scale that facilitates comparison between years.
For the Verbal Reasoning (VR), Quantitative Reasoning (QR), and Abstract Reasoning (AR) subtests, each question is worth 1 mark, while in the Decision Making (DM) subtest, multi-statement questions are weighted as 2 marks. Although, 1 mark is awarded to partially correct responses on the multiple-statement questions.
The total scaled score, which can be considered as an average score, is computed by summing the individual scaled scores of VR, DM, QR, and AR, which can range from 1200 to 3600.
This overall UCAT score allows universities to compare applicants’ performances across different testing years, ensuring a fair assessment of candidates’ aptitude and determining the cut off score for admissions.
The Situational Judgement Test (SJT) assesses an applicant’s ability to understand real-world situations and make appropriate decisions based on the information provided. The UCAT ANZ’s SJT score ranges from 300 to 900 — this scoring system is the same as that of the other subtests.
However, it's important to note that it's not common for universities to consider the SJT within the admissions process.
In fact, the SJT has been the focus of discussion in Australia and New Zealand regarding its efficacy in determining the aptitude of future medical students, as it is heavily reliant on knowledge of medical ethics, which is not encompassed within the National Australian Curriculum.
While it's often not taken into consideration by medical schools for the interview offer process, it is still a part of the UCAT that you have to complete.
The threshold to maintain a position in the top percentiles has risen in 2023, suggesting that candidates need to score higher than in previous years to achieve the same percentile rank.
Here's a look at the percentile breakdown of the UCAT scoring process.
In 2023, a score hovering around 3000 is the benchmark for the 90th percentile.
This score is a key target for those aspiring to enter competitive undergraduate medical programs. Historical data shows a steady climb in the 90th percentile score, from 2850 in 2019 to just under 3000 in recent cycles, underscoring the increasing competition among applicants.
The median score, representing the 50th percentile, has also seen a rise, reaching 2550 in 2023. This increase from 2530 in 2022 indicates a general trend of higher scoring among test-takers.
Each UCAT subtest has its own percentile variations. For instance, the 90th percentile score for Verbal Reasoning saw an increase in 2023 (coming in at 720 versus 680 in 2022), while Quantitative and Abstract Reasoning witnessed slight decreases — the former decreased from 810 in 2022 to 800 in 2023 and the latter dropped from 830 in 2022 to 820 in 2023.
Decision-Making scores have held steady, sitting at 750 for both 2023 and 2022, illustrating the diverse patterns of candidate performance across sections.
For the 2023 admissions cycle, a score that surpasses the 90th percentile is required to be offered a medical school interview.
Not only does this factor into the admissions process, alongside your ATAR mark, but for many universities, the UCAT score is the sole deciding factor on whether you'll be offered an interview or not.
While the median score for UCAT ANZ in 2023 was 2550, this is generally not considered high enough to be successful in the interview process for many universities.
Australian medical schools are committed to improving healthcare access in rural areas. This commitment is reflected in their admissions process, where rural applicants may be subject to different UCAT score and ATAR mark thresholds compared to their non-rural counterparts.
Understanding Rural Pathways
Rural Pathways are designed to encourage students from rural backgrounds to pursue medicine, with the aim of having them contribute to their communities in the future.
As part of this initiative, medical schools often allocate a certain number of places specifically for rural applicants and may apply a lower UCAT score threshold for these candidates.
UCAT score considerations for rural applicants
For the 2023 admissions cycle, while the exact UCAT score requirements for rural applicants are not universally fixed and can vary by institution, they are generally lower than those for non-rural applicants.
For example, a rural applicant might be considered for an interview with a UCAT score in the 60th percentile (in some cases, this can be lower), whereas a non-rural applicant will need to be in the 90th percentile or above to be competitive.
Some universities offer 'rural bonus points' or equivalent adjustments, which effectively lower the required UCAT score for rural applicants.
Those with a competitive UCAT score will understandably take a different approach to university admissions to those who have received a lower score.
Here's how to approach the admissions process, depending on your UCAT score.
If you have a high UCAT score, generally around 3100, you are in an advantageous position for medical school admissions.
Some people might want to leverage their high UCAT score by applying to universities that prioritise UCAT results in weighting.
In addition to strategically selecting medical schools, ensure that you also bolster other aspects of your application — your ATAR mark is also important and often needs to exceed the minimum required by the university to be considered for an interview.
While students who receive a low to average UCAT score will find the admissions process more difficult, it's important to know that it doesn't entirely rule out your journey to medical school. There are other ways!
Keep in mind that a lower score does rule a number of universities out due to their individual UCAT cut-off scores, so you may have to change your university preferences depending on where you were hoping to attend.
From here, the best way to secure a spot in a medical program is to achieve perfect grades in line with the school's requirements and look at the programs that don't rely as heavily on UCAT scores.
For example, while Flinders University requires applicants to sit the UCAT, its weighing of results for admissions is 90% ATAR and 10% UCAT.
Improving your UCAT performance involves getting to know the test format, studying the material, and taking practice tests. It is a complicated process and it's understandable if it feels daunting.
This is where external support comes in — there are a several resources you can engage to help you improve your chances of a competitive UCAT score.
At MedView, we understand that the process of applying to medical schools is not only complex and confusing but it’s more competitive than ever before!
MedView Education takes med school admission to a new level through personalised admission support, application review, entrance exam and interview tutoring, and extracurricular mentoring for students in Australasia.
Our dedicated team and personalised support helps students get the results they need, with our UCAT students 5 times more likely to receive an interview and 4.5 times more likely to gain admission to an Australian medical school.
Plus, you can access a bunch of free and helpful resources — including insights from current medical students and MedView Admission Experts on the pathways and requirements to successful admission into medical school — via the MedView website.
While this process can be extremely complicated, understanding the UCAT score you need for admission to the medical school of your choice is crucial when planning for your future.
But, you don't have to do it alone. If you'd like extra support from industry professionals with years of experience, we can help — simply book a free consultation with our MedView advisors for guidance on this process.
A top 1% UCAT score is a score of 3290 out of 3600, or an achievement of the 99th percentile. This is extremely high and will allow you to make a competitive application to any medical school.
In the current landscape, a UCAT score of 2900 isn't generally considered to be competitive enough to land an interview for medical school.
As mentioned previously, applicants with scores closer to 3100 and beyond are more likely to be successful in this process.
While it may not guarantee an interview offer from all universities, having such a score will greatly improve your chances of admission.
The UCAT score range is from 1200 to 3600 marks, with each cognitive section ranging from 300 to 900 marks.