About the UCAT

The University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT), formerly known as the UKCAT, is a 2 hour multiple-choice admissions test used for medicine and dentistry applications by the vast majority of universities in the UK. The content is not medicine related – it is designed to test whether medical school applicants have the right skills to become a doctor.

The UCAT is an online test, and is usually done at designated test centres around the world (for UCAT 2020, the option to do the test at home has been made available). The testing session runs from July to October; due to Covid-19, the testing session will be from August 3 to October 1 for the 2020/21 application cycle. It is recommended for students to take the UCAT in the early half of the testing window as students will be preoccupied with other components of their applications such as the personal statement and other admissions tests like the BMAT in the later months. An additional advantage of taking the test early is that since you will receive your score as soon as you finish your test, you can plan your college options more effectively.

Do note, you are only allowed to take the test once in an admissions cycle, with the results being valid for only the admissions cycle in which the test was taken.

About the UCAT

UCAT Format

The test is divided into 5 sections: Verbal Reasoning, Decision Making, Quantitative Reasoning, Abstract Reasoning and Situational Judgement.

Verbal Reasoning

This section assesses your ability to critically analyse and evaluate written information. Similar to the SAT, you will be presented with passages on diverse topics and you will be asked questions that test your comprehension of the passage. You’ll have 21 minutes to answer 44 questions.


Decision Making

This section assesses your ability to make sound decisions and judgements using complex information. For each question, you may be required to interpret text, tables, charts, graphs or other diagrams to select the best answer. You will need to use logical reasoning to make valid inferences and deductions. You’ll have 31 minutes to answer 29 questions.


Quantitative Reasoning

This section assesses your ability to critically analyse and evaluate numeric information. You’re not allowed a calculator– instead, you have access to an onscreen calculator. The questions that you will be asked here are similar to what you will find in GCSE Mathematics (graphs, charts, tables, percentages, proportionality, rates, averages). You’ll have 24 minutes to answer 36 questions.


Abstract Reasoning

This section assesses your ability to use creative thinking to infer relationships from information. You will be provided a series of shapes and you have to determine the next shape in the pattern. This tests your ability to recognise patterns and the relationship between shapes. The time constraints certainly makes this section one of the most difficult. You only have 13 minutes to answer 55 questions.


Situational Judgement

This section assesses your ability to understand real world situations and appropriately respond to them. It is a series of statements that relate to various clinical and real-life scenarios. The situations include clinical scenarios as well and it examines your understanding of ethics, team work abilities and conflict resolution skills.This is the lengthiest section and you’ll have 26 minutes to answer 69 questions.

Summary

SectionTotal TimeNo. Of QuestionsTime/QuestionContent/Skills Covered
Verbal Reasoning21 minutes4428 secondsCritical reasoning, reading comprehension
Decision Making31 minutes2966 secondsLogical inference, data interpretation, argument assessment
Quantitative Reasoning24 minutes3640 secondsNumerical problem solving, data analysis
Abstract Reasoning13 minutes5514 secondsDeducing Logical patterns and understanding relationships
Situational Judgement26 minutes6923 secondsEthical scenario analysis, teamwork and conflict resolution skills

UCAT Score Guide

The Situational Judgement section score is separate from the first four sections. In the first 4 sections there’s equal weightage for questions, with no penalties for wrong answers. Your raw score in each section will be converted to a scaled score between 300-900, meaning your total score is between 1200 and 3600. For the Situational Judgement section, scores are ranked into 4 bands, with band 1 being the best. Some universities don’t take Situational Judgement into consideration, while others have cut off bands in order to be considered (min band 3).

At this point, you might be wondering – what is a good UCAT score? The mean scaled score for 2019 was 2483 (Section Breakdown: Verbal reasoning: 565, Decision making: 618, Quantitative reasoning: 662, Abstract reasoning: 638). You will find a more detailed analysis of the 2019 statistics here. However, as there are very few spots available for international students, you’ll want to be in the 80th percentile and above. The 80th percentile translates to a score of 2690. In order to be even more competitive, you would want a score above 2800. Do note some med schools weigh the UCAT score heavily, while others rely more on your performance in school (A Levels, IB scores, GCSEs, etc.)