Understanding the 2019 UCAT Test Statistics

The rankings

The Summary Test Statistics for the 2019 UCAT have just been released. For students, the most important information contained in this report is the decile ranking. Every student’s score has been ranked; e.g. the 9th decile represents a score at the 90th percentile (i.e. a score in the top 10%).

These are the scores for each decile, as shown in the report:

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To have a good chance of receiving an interview, an ATAR of 99+ and a UCAT score of 2830+ is highly desirable. However, since medical schools use competitive entry, no absolute cut-offs can be given. Some universities require higher scores because of the greater level of competition they experience. For example, UNSW, which receives a very large number of applications, has often required a much higher ATAR and UMAT score in previous years. With this in mind, candidates are advised to apply for multiple universities (even interstate) to maximise their chances of successful medical entry.

A student with a UCAT score of 2700 (8th decile) may also receive an interview, provided their ATAR is high enough. A candidate’s score may also be boosted due to their rural location or disadvantaged circumstances, which means that it is possible for students with a UCAT score lower than 2700 to be offered an interview. In the past, we have seen students with a UMAT score as low as 70th percentile get an interview. (This would translate to a score of 2610 in UCAT.) In the same way, a student with an ATAR slightly below 99 may also receive an interview if their UCAT score is high enough.

As emphasised earlier in this article, entry is competitive, meaning that there are no clear cut-offs or thresholds—they change from year to year. Given that universities typically release a fixed number of interview offers (e.g. to the top 300 students), your chances of getting an interview are almost entirely dependent on how the rest of your cohort performs. Even if some universities may set UCAT thresholds, they generally do so retrospectively, i.e. AFTER examining how the whole cohort performed on the UCAT.

Therefore, to increase your chances of entry, we would encourage you to properly prepare for interviews, as students generally perform very poorly on this assessment. Most candidates underestimate the value of interviews (and hence go in underprepared), and many do not understand how to score highly in them because they don’t realise what the interview is actually assessing. Contrary to popular belief, the interview is not just a ‘chat’: rather than simply being a chance to demonstrate your charisma and eloquence, the purpose of the interview is to assess whether or not you possess specific traits that are highly valued in the medical profession (e.g. empathy, problem-solving skills).

The 5 subtests

The Summary Test Statistics released by the UCAT Office also include a section breakdown. Please note that ‘Total Score’ refers to the sum of the first four subtests. The fifth subtest, Situational Judgement, is not used by every university.

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Some universities may use cut-offs for individual subtests: for example, in the past Monash University required a minimum of 50 for each section of the UMAT. If cut-offs are also applied to the UCAT, students would most likely have to achieve a score higher than the mean for each of the subtests. Universities have not yet released any cut-offs for the UCAT; we’ll keep you posted by making an announcement once they release any information.

What to do now

With the UCAT over, the ATAR and interview are the only remaining assessments for medical school placement. All students realise the importance of ATAR; however, most students tend to undervalue the medical interview. The interview is the final assessment used to separate candidates who already have a good ATAR and UCAT score, making it extremely important. In addition, each minute of the interview is extremely valuable: for universities that weight your interview equal to your ATAR (e.g. Monash, UWA, University of Adelaide, Curtin), a short interview is worth just as much as all of the work you have put into your Year 12 subjects combined. If you are completing four Year 12 subjects and receive an offer for a 20-minute interview, this would mean that 5 minutes of your interview is equal to one whole Year 12 subject!

If your UCAT score is not very high, it is entirely up to you to decide whether or not you will prepare for interviews. We have no way to guarantee that you will or will not get an interview offer – we simply wish to share what we have seen in previous years. However, on the off chance that you receive an interview offer, undertaking thorough preparation and performing strongly in the interview is a great way to make yourself competitive and score a place in medical school. It never hurts to try—there are students every year who are surprised to receive an interview offer—and we encourage you to make the most of every possible opportunity to get into medical school.