The University of Auckland weighs both the UCAT and an interview for medical school candidates. The University of Otago does not have an interview and so weighs only the UCAT alongside grades.
By the way, if you want to brush up on your basic knowledge before reading ahead, have a read through these:
- Entry into medical school guide
- Part 1 of our Truth About UCAT series
- Information about medical school entry in Auckland
- What grades are required for medical school entry
When you look at the percentage weighting for each component, the numbers seem clear. Grades are most important, then interview (if you’re at Auckland), then the UCAT.
This is both true and false.
Why they matter more than you think
The UCAT and MMI have fixed percentage weightings. At the time of writing this, the UCAT accounts for 15% of the entry requirement at Auckland and the MMI accounts for 25%.
But they matter more than their percentages suggest.
Because grades are not continuous.
When you look at our article on what grade point average (GPA) you need to enter medical school, you see that the core GPA is around 8.5 and above. This means students are generally achieving no fewer than two A’s, with the remaining two being A+.
If the lowest GPA to enter through general admission schemes is 8.25 (which has been the case for the last couple of years), this means that there are a few hundred candidates spread across only 4 grades.
|Grade combination||Grade Point Average (GPA)|
|A, A, A, A+ OR A-, A, A+, A+ OR B+, A+, A+, A+||8.25|
|A, A, A+, A+ OR A-, A+, A+, A+||8.5|
|A, A+, A+, A+||8.75|
|A+, A+, A+, A+||9.0|
If you’re following the logic, you can see that it becomes incredibly difficult to rank candidates based on grades and decide who is ranked higher than who.
Grades are gatekeepers, UCAT and MMI are deciders
As a result of the high overall GPA, grades become more of a “minimum threshold”. If you reach it, you really get ranked on your UCAT and interview. If you don’t reach it, you simply aren’t eligible.
The ranking now becomes very easy because the UCAT is out of 3600 (or more depending on if section 5 is included – which at the time of writing this, is used in Otago), or if it is scaled as a percentile, out of 100. The MMI is out of 240 points with an average mark of around 200.
Regardless, the much wider range of scores means that you can now individually distinguish and rank the hundreds of candidates against each other.
Why hundreds when there are over 1500 students at the beginning of the year? Because they didn’t pass the gatekeeper (grades). They lost their ranked position in (most likely) the first semester, and (most likely still) in the first 2 months.
Years ago, this wasn’t the case. The grades were spread down to as low as 7.5 or 7.75, but for whatever reason (probably because the courses progressively become easier and more students receive tutoring), the GPA has been creeping up.
I don’t like it, but it’s the reality.