Finding out your UCAT percentile and how to use it

ucat percentile

The UCAT exam board uses a statistical approach called deciles (or percentiles) to report the overall performance of candidates each year. In this article we will explore how to find out your percentile and how to use it.

A decile is any of nine values that divide data into ten equal parts so that each part represents 10% of the sample population. This statistical approach is descriptive and gives the exam board a good overview of the overall test performance each year. You can use this data to find out the strength of your UCAT compared to the current application pool. I recommend you viewing this report before applying to medical or dental school. The UCAT releases two sets of reports, a preliminary report in September and a final overall report in October. Candidates should use these figures as a rough guide to judge their own performance – Check out the latest UCAT mean scores and deciles.

The following are my 4 steps in assessing your UCAT percentile and judging your performance in the exam:

Decile Rank vs Average

Your UCAT score decile rank is an indication of total score compared to the overall candidate pool. Its between 1st  and 9th deciles, the higher your score the higher you rank, students in the 9th decile are in the top 10% and those in the 1st decile are in the bottom 10%. The exam board release the overall results for candidates each year, I recommend taking to the time to find out your decile rank and how  it compares to the mean score. Is it below or above the years average? If it above then good, but if it below then you might want to double check your score is high enough for admittance into the university of your choice. For more tips on how to deal with a low UCAT score.

Individual Sections Vs Average

Compare your score in each section of the exam with the individual mean scores. Which sections did you perform higher than the UCAT average? Bear in mind that your highest score isn’t necessarily your strongest section, it is the section that you scored far higher than the overall average.

Decile Rank Vs University Requirement

Find out if your score is good enough for admittance to your choices. If you are not sure give the respective admissions team a call and find out if they have a cut-off. If not, how do they shortlist applicants? or get more information on last years cycle. Finding out the minimum UCAT score achieved by applicants they invited for interview last year is a good indication.  You can find more information on how universities use the UCAT includes download link to the official UCAT university guide.

Situational  Judgement Band Score

You do not receive a scaled score from 300 to 900 in the situational judgement section,  instead you are put into Bands, from band 1 to Band 4. The bands reflect the degree to which your answers match the correct answers determined by a panel of medical expert. Band 1 means that most of your answers were the same as the panel of medical experts; Band 4 means very few of your answers matched. Your goal is to match the same answers as the panel.

Band 1 – Very Good
Band 2 – Good
Band 3 – OK
Band 4 – Poor

Some universities take into consideration band scores in the STJ whilst other dont.  Some universities consider it when shortlisting candidates for interviews whilst others use it at later stages to make offers.

Shortlisting Your Choices

Regardless of the outcome of your performance I recommend being tactical when considering medical or dental schools. When I took the UCAT I looked into every medical school in the UK – I looked in how they all assessed the UCAT and only picked out the universities that would most likely admit me based  my performance in the exam . This allowed me make a more tactical decision that increased my chances of being invited for an interview. 

In conclusion, finding out your UCAT decile rank is an important step that gives rough indication of your performance in the exam.