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The Complete Guide To The UCAT

Everything you need to know about the University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT)
The Complete Guide To 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. The testing session runs from July to September. 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.

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.

  • Content/Skills covered Critical reasoning, Reading comprehension
  • Total time 21 minutes
  • No. of questions 44 questions
  • Time per question 28 seconds

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.

  • Content/Skills covered Logical inference, Data interpretation, Argument assessment
  • Total time 31 minutes
  • No. of questions 29 questions
  • Time per question 64 seconds

 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 25 minutes to answer 36 questions.

  • Content/Skills covered Numerical problem solving, Data analysis
  • Total time 25 minutes
  • No. of questions 36 questions
  • Time per question 41 seconds

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 12 minutes to answer 50 questions.

  • Content/Skills covered Deducing logical patterns and understanding relationships
  • Total time 12 minutes
  • No. of questions 50 questions
  • Time per question 14 seconds

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.

  • Content/Skills covered Ethical scenario analysis, Teamwork, Conflict resolution skills
  • Total time 26 minutes
  • No. of questions 69 questions
  • Time per question 22 seconds

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 2020 was 2511 (Section Breakdown: Verbal reasoning: 570, Decision making: 625, Quantitative reasoning: 664, Abstract reasoning: 653). 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 2730. 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.)

UCAT Test Dates

It is important to keep tabs on all things UCAT for proper planning and to fully maximise your preparation time. For a start, booking a test would require you to first create an account with Pearson VUE and this has to be done by you – not by your school.

16 May 2023 at 9:30am BSTUCAT Account creation opens
Bursary and Access Arrangement applications open
20 June 2023 at 6am BSTTest Booking opens
10 July 2023Testing begins
19 September 2023 at 12 noon BSTAccess Arrangements application deadline
21 September 2023 at 12 noon BSTFinal Booking deadline
28 September 2023Last testing date
29 September 2023 at 4pm BSTBursary Scheme application deadline
Mid October 2023UCAS application deadline
Early November 2023Results delivered to universities

More Information: UCAT Key Dates, UK Medical School Application Deadline & FAQs

Need help with your UCAT preparation or medical school application?

Every year, Prep Zone Academy help hundreds of aspiring medical school students with both their admissions tests and school applications. Here are some common questions we receive from our students year after year.

  • What is the difference between the UCAT and BMAT?
  • At what age do most people take the UCAT?
  • What sections are in the UCAT?
  • How do average students fare on the UCAT?
  • What are the average UCAT scores to get into top UK medical schools?

Sign-up for a free 1-hour consultation to ask any questions you might have about the UCAT & your desired medical program. Simply fill in the following form with your personal details to schedule a call/meeting with our UCAT experts.

For further inquiries, contact us at +65 6812 9999.


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