How The UCAT Test Works

The UCAT #

UCAT stands for the University Clinical Aptitude Test and is currently required by 30 UK medical schools and was first launched at Medlink in Nottingham as the UKCAT. It does not contain any curriculum or science content (other than mathematical competence) and focuses on exploring the cognitive powers of candidates and other attributes considered to be valuable for healthcare professionals.

The UCAT has FIVE sections: #

NOTE: Each section has an additional minute for reading instructions.

Section 1 (21 mins)  #

Verbal Reasoning: This assesses your ability to critically evaluate information presented in a written form. There are 44 questions (that’s less than 30 seconds per question).
Scoring: Questions are worth 1 mark each, no marks are deducted for wrong answers.

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Section 2 (31 mins) #

Decision Making: This assesses your ability to make sound decisions and judgements using complex information. There are 29 questions (just over a minute per question).
Scoring: Questions with 1 correct answer score 1 mark, questions with multiple statements score 2 marks (or 1 if partially correct). No marks are deducted for wrong answers.

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Section 3 (24 mins) #

Quantitative Reasoning: Assesses your ability to critically evaluate information presented in a numerical form. There are 36 questions (40 seconds per question).
Scoring: Questions are worth 1 mark each, no marks deducted for wrong answers.

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Section 4 (13mins) #

Abstract Reasoning: Assesses your use of convergent and divergent thinking to infer relationships from the information. There are 55 questions (14 seconds per question).
Scoring: Questions are worth 1 mark each, no marks deducted for wrong answers.

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Sections 1 – 4: Raw scores #

reconverted to scale scores for easier comparison. For each section, scale is 300 – 900, so the range for overall UCAT scores is 1200 – 3600.

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Section 5 (26 mins) #

.Situational Judgement: This test measures your capacity to understand real-world situations and to identify critical factors and appropriate behaviour in dealing with them. There are 69 questions (just over 20 seconds per question).

Scoring: For each question, full marks are awarded for correct answers, and partial marks for those close to correct. Raw scores are ranked in 4 bands, 1 – 4, with 1 demonstrating similar judgement to the experts who set the test.

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When do I take the exam? #

For 2021 (2022 entry) testing opens on 26th July with the last testing date 29th September.

When do I need to register? #

Registration for 2021 opened on 2nd June and booking opened on 28th June. Registration closes at 12 noon on 22nd September with final bookings by 12 noon on 28th September. You will set up a web account through which you will be able to find a test centre and check availability. The fee of £75 must be paid at the time of booking, either by card or UCAT bursary voucher.

Special arrangements and financial assistance #

If you have special needs you can apply to sit at the UCATSEN. There are 4 versions, giving extra time and/or rest breaks between sections, which need prior approval. Check the UCAT website for eligibility and how to apply. Other accommodations such as the use of a separate room may be arranged with your test centre but will depend on availability. The official deadline for access arrangement applications is 22nd September but you are advised to apply well in advance of your test date.

You can sit UCAT for free if you qualify for a bursary. Check eligibility and apply on the UCAT website. The deadline for bursary applications is 29th September, but if you apply early you will receive a voucher to use, rather than needing to claim reimbursement.

Where can I sit the exam? #

It is expected that most candidates will sit their test in a Pearson Vue test centre. Should this not be possible for any reason (eg your centre is closed due to COVID, or you are self-isolating) then an online proctored UCAT will be offered using the OnVUE platform.
If you want to check where Pearson Vue test centres are located you can find those nearest you at:
click this link for Pearson test centres

Preparing for the test #

For all sections, practise as much as you can so you are familiar with the format of the questions. There are many free resources with lots of questions, including the UCAT website, where you can also find out what onscreen test tools are available to you.

Section 1: #

This section is regarded as particularly important by some medical schools, so you want to do well in it. Learning speed reading can help, as well as techniques for spotting the right answers.

Section 2: #

Practice is important to experience the many different types of questions. Brush up on probability, Venn diagrams, and make sure you understand inductive logic and logical conclusions.

Section 3: #

Brush up on basic numerical techniques: percentages, conversions, statistics. Make sure you understand how the on-screen calculator (that you will use in the test) works

.Section 4: #

Given the timing is particularly tight for this section it will help to develop strategies for how to deal with different types of questions.

Section 5: #

The people setting this test are looking for you to display the qualities that will lead to you being a good doctor: integrity, safety, dealing with pressure, and teamwork. The blueprint for this is the Good Medical Practice compiled by the GMC, which gives detailed advice on how a doctor is expected to behave. Download it here, read and absorb it.
Click here to view

This section can make or break in terms of getting an interview or a place, so you really want to get in the top-scoring bands. You can learn more about the psychology behind the test to make sure you are thinking like the people setting it.