Table of Contents
Summary of Selection Criteria
The University of New South Wales (UNSW) Undergraduate Medicine course is historically very competitive and the application process consists of two main stages; interview offer & course offer. Typically the first stage i.e. interview offer, is the most difficult initial hurdle as there are minimum cut-offs for the selection criteria. There are two main selection criteria for an interview offer:
- ATAR (termed selection rank)
- UCAT ANZ
For non-rural students who do not qualify for any special access schemes, UNSW Medicine has an official ATAR minimum cut-off of 96.00, and no official UCAT ANZ cut-off exists. However, to have a realistic shot, your scores need to be higher than around ATAR 99.50 & UCAT 92%tile. We’ve collated student data of those who have received interview invites in 2021/2022 cohort to give you a better idea of how we reached those numbers.
The following article is covers the interview offer selection criteria, specifically for non-rural local applicants who do not qualify for special access schemes i.e. non special-entry candidate. If you fall under the special-entry categories, you may still find this useful. Read on to find out more.
What ATAR do I need?
UNSW published the lowest ATAR (termed selection rank) to receive an offer for the 2022 medicine cohort was 97.20 (non-rural). However, it’s important to recognise this is likely due to special access schemes which lower the threshold for individuals who have experienced disadvantage or hardship.
For a non special-entry candidate, based on a sample of 55 students taken from the 2022 cohort, the lowest ATAR that was offered an interview was 99.55. Furthermore, from the table you can see that there was a student with a 99 UCAT but an ATAR of 99.45 who was not offered an interview. Thus the minimum ATAR to realistically get an interview offer is around 99.50 or higher.
If you are a student who is based in an area at socio-economic disadvantage (based on postcode of residence), indigenous, rural or a person of underrepresented background, you should consider applying to the gateway entry scheme as it will significantly lower the barrier for entry.
Dr. Jason Yu
What UCAT do I need?
UNSW does not publish official UCAT cut-offs as the scores tend to change year-to-year however the test is comparative in nature and the percentile score cut-off is usually quite stable. From the table you can see that in the 2021/2022 cycle, the lowest recorded UCAT that received a UNSW medicine interview was 92%tile (top row). There is no record of a non special-entry candidate attaining an interview offer with UCAT below that threshold so it’s reasonable to assume that 92%tile was the approximate cut-off.
However, keep in mind that the UCAT and ATAR are considered in tandem so getting a UCAT on the lower side means you have to perform exceptionally well in your HSC or secondary studies exams (or tertiary). Keep reading to find out the exactly how the two selection criteria are combined.
Percentile is a measurement of an individual compared to a cohort. For instance 99%tile means that you performed better than 99% of the students who took the test. Given it is inherently a ranking system, it is much more stable as a cut-off for university entry compared to a raw score which can fluctuate year to year depending on the difficulty of the test and the calibre of the students. If you are curious about your percentile ranking you can use the official UCAT ANZ percentile calculator to determine your percentile.
Dr. Jason Yu
How are the UCAT & ATAR weighted for Interview Offers?
Firstly, there are two cut-offs for each of the selection criteria – one for the UCAT ANZ and one for the ATAR i.e. selection rank, which we summarised in 2021/2022 to be about 99.50 and 92%tile respectively. If an applicant scores below these thresholds for either selection criteria, it does not matter how well they perform in the other, they will still be denied entry. For instance, one student in 2022 (bottom row) received a 99.95 ATAR however scored a 71%tile on their UCAT and was thus not offered an interview.
Due to the two-pronged threshold, our advice to students is to be wary of discounting the importance of UCAT. A common mistake is allocating time asymmetrically into school studies whereas a better strategy for successfully getting an interview offer would be to spend ample time on the UCAT and treat it as a subject.
Dr. Jason Yu
Secondly, for the applicants that surpassed both thresholds, all their UCAT and ATAR scores are then ranked separately. Subsequently, each applicant gets a combined rank that aggregates both their UCAT and ATAR ranking. The first 500 applicants with the highest combined ranking i.e. overall score, are then selected for interview at UNSW.
Simplify Medical Interviews
Provided both scores are at least above the threshold there is some compensation that can occur whereby a sub-optimal UCAT score can be made up by an excellent ATAR. Take the previous successful example of 92%tile UCAT which was made up for by an ATAR of 99.75. Likewise, a sub-optimal ATAR of 99.55 was made up for by a UCAT of 96%tile. From that perspective, it’s important to not be disheartened by a subjectively low UCAT percentile, as there is always an opportunity to come back stronger!
Finally, an important point to note is that the process described above is for the interview selection process and NOT for an offer to study the course. These are two distinct stages of the application process however usually the interview offer hurdle cuts the most people out.
Does UNSW Medicine have subject prerequisites?
A common question that gets lumped with UCAT & ATAR requirements is whether UNSW requires you to have completed specific subjects in secondary or tertiary school. For UNSW Doctor of Medicine, the only requirement is English proficiency. Provided you complete an Australian Year 12 Qualification (e.g. NSW HSC), you should not need to provide any extra documentation as the high school certification will be sufficient.
Does UNSW Medicine allow ATAR Adjustment Points
A common question is whether UNSW Medicine rewards extracurricular achievements / subject with ATAR adjustment factor points i.e. extra points. Some commonly known adjustment factor programs are the HSC Plus program, Elite Athlete, Performers and Leaders program. Unfortunately, UNSW Bachelor of Medical Studies / Doctor of Medicine is not included in either program. However, the ACCESS Scheme (termed EAS for Educational Access Scheme) is available and can provide an adjustment of up to 10 points depending on varying circumstances. It covers a broad range of disadvantages so make sure to check it out in case you qualify.
Will the ATAR/UCAT affect which clinical school I go to?
In short yes, but not at the interview invitation stage. However, ranking does occur again after interviews are conducted. Your selection rank i.e. ATAR, UCAT & Interviews determine your aggregate score / ranking. The higher ranked you are, the more likely you will get first preference of the clinical school you are after. For instance, out of the three campuses Kensington, Port Macquarie and Wagga Wagga, the most popular first preference campus is Kensington. However, only applicants with a higher aggregate score are likely to get their first preference.
Where did we get our UCAT & ATAR data?
We aggregated data that was posted by the wonderful members in the MedStudentsOnline community. If you are student looking to get into medical school and don’t know about this wonderful community yet, make sure to join. For transparency’s sake, we’ve made all the recorded data available below. If you ever have any questions, don’t hesitate to drop us a line.
Working on your UNSW written application at the moment? You may want to check out our comprehensive written application guide for UNSW!
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