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UCAT Blog Series: What is an admissions test?

What is an admissions test? How should I revise? Is it important? What happens if I fail it? How does the medical admissions process work?

These are all perfectly normal questions to have about the Medical School application process – I know I certainly wondered the same thing! Through this UCAT blog series, I will aim to clarify these questions - and much more - to help you make sense of your medical journey. This is the first blog in the series and will focus on de-mystifying the mysterious application process, so we can build on that foundation in our next blog.

Firstly, I thought I would introduce myself! My name is Andeep, and I am a Second Year Medical Student at the University of Birmingham, and a BWAMS Conference Officer. That's me on the left!

How does the application process for Medicine work?

I get it. The Medicine application process is long and tedious, and often not that well explained. I remember having to navigate the process with very little guidance so, hopefully, this blog will help! The below image summarises the process from beginning to end.

The application deadline for Medicine normally falls on the 15th of October in Year 13. The exact date can be checked on the UCAS website – which is also where you will submit your application to your four prospective medical schools. You will have five spaces on your application, but you can only apply to four medical schools. As this leaves you with an empty application slot, most applicants put another degree they would be happy to study – such as biomedical sciences.

The summer before you apply is crucial to your application. Once you have decided Medicine is for you, you will need to research entry requirements; write your personal statement; get work experience, and sit some admissions tests! I know that is a lot of hoops to jump through – so this blog series will help with some of the admissions test hurdles!

But, let’s not jump ahead… what is an admissions test? As Medicine is a competitive course to get into, most UK Medical Schools require you to sit an admissions test to help them select the right students. Your admissions test scores are then used alongside other factors - such as your personal statement, academic grades and widening participation factors - to decide which applicants get interviews and offers.

The two major admissions tests are known as the UCAT (University Clinical Aptitude Test) and the BMAT (BioMedical Admissions Test). The UCAT is the focus of this blog series. Most medical schools will require one of these admissions tests, but none will require both. The Medical Schools Council – which represents all UK Medical schools – publishes a document each year about the entry requirements of universities, and this includes the admissions test they require. This document can be found here: Please look at individual university websites for the most up-to-date information!

When Universities receive your application, they will check it meets their minimum entry requirements published on their website (which is why it is important to check before you apply)! If you meet the entry requirements, you will then be scored according to the University's ranking algorithm. Each University has a different ranking algorithm to rank its applicants – so it is important to look at these when applying! Some will have more focus on academics, while others may focus more on admissions tests.

When all applicants have been scored, you will then be ranked with a proportion of top-ranking applicants being offered an interview. Once all interviews are conducted, the highest-ranking candidates from the interviews - and looking at other factors e.g. admissions tests, teacher reference etc – will receive an offer! You then need to meet the requirements of your offer which will include things like academic grades and vaccinations. If you meet the requirements, you will have your place at university confirmed and you can start in September!

And that concludes the whistle-stop tour of the Medicine application process! In our next blog, we will go into more detail about the UCAT! If you have any queries, please email BWAMS!

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