What Is the UCAT Test? (2023 Guide)
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For those looking to study a degree in medicine or dentistry, the University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT) is one of the most challenging stages in the application process.
It is used by a number of UK universities to filter candidates looking to apply for their medical programmes. It is also used in Australia and New Zealand.
The UCAT is not like a conventional examination; it is a two-hour, computer-based test developed to evaluate aptitude and professional behaviour, rather than medical knowledge.
The UCAT comprises five sub-tests (each detailed below) and can only be taken at Pearson Vue centres. Results are provided immediately and forwarded to the institution(s) to which the candidate is applying.
The UCAT exam is used by a group of university, medical and dental schools in the UK as part of their selection process.
It is part of the admissions process that enables academic institutions to make more objective decisions on who to select for their medical courses, based on how likely they are to be good performers.
The UCAT results of the test are used to identify whether candidates have the required potential to train successfully as a medical professional through becoming medical students.
The UCAT does not include any science-based content or curriculum material. Instead, the admissions test focuses on evaluating cognitive abilities, attitude and professional behaviours.
Applying for a medical degree? You may well be facing a UCAT test if so.
There are five distinct sections of the UCAT, each of which is designed to evaluate the skills required by doctors and dentists.
Among the skills assessed are:
Let’s look at each of the five sections in turn:
This section aims to assess your ability to read and consider the information you have been presented with in various passages.
The structure of this type of questioning will be based around several paragraphs of text.
In total, there will be eleven paragraphs, each of which will have four statements.
You are expected to carefully review each paragraph of text and then determine whether the statements provided are logical.
For each statement there are three options that you can choose from:
- True. On the basis of the information presented in the paragraph, the statement is true.
- False. On the basis of the information presented in the paragraph, the statement is false.
- Difficult to determine. On the basis of the information presented in the paragraph, it is difficult to state for certain whether the statement is true or false.
When deciding if the statement is true, false or difficult to determine, it is vital that you base your reasoning on the information presented in the paragraph rather than using your own knowledge.
You will be expected to complete the 44 questions in this test within 22 minutes, so time is of the essence.
Read more here about how verbal reasoning tests work.
Verbal reasoning tests are used by interviewers to find out how well a candidate can assess verbal logic. SHL is perhaps the most well known producer of verbal reasoning tests, and the most widely used.
If you would like to practise a simulation verbal reasoning test, please try the one below, which was created by WikiJob in association with psychometric experts, and is closely modelled on real tests.
The test consists of 10 questions to be answered in 5 minutes approx (although there is no timer on the test itself).
Our test is slightly harder than the real thing, in order to make it sufficiently challenging practice. You need to get 70% correct to pass the test. Don't forget to first check out the test tips and techniques section further down this page.
You can take the test as many times as you like. Click the 'Take test' link below to get started.
|Time Limit||5 min|
The quantitative reasoning test will evaluate your numerical capabilities using a variety of techniques and strategies.
Your task will be to analyse information and solve problems from charts, tables and other sets of numerical information.
Each quantitative reasoning test features a set of ten tables, graphs or charts. For each of these, you will typically be given four test items which relate to the graph, table or chart.
There will be a selection of five possible answers to choose from and it is your task to select the most suitable answer. Calculators are permitted.
The timescale to complete this test is 25 minutes for 36 questions.
Read more here about how numerical reasoning tests work.
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It was created by WikiJob in association with psychometric experts, and is closely modelled on real tests.
The test consists of 10 questions to be answered in 10 minutes approx. (although there is no timer on the test itself).
Our test is slightly harder than the real thing, in order to make it sufficiently challenging practice. You need to get 70% correct to pass the test.
Don't forget to first check out the test tips and techniques section further down this page.
You can take the test as many times as you like. Click the 'Take test' link below to get started.
|Time Limit||10 min|
Medical professionals will often be expected to identify patterns in the information they are presented with – and to reflect this, an abstract reasoning section features in the UCAT test.
This test assesses your ability to evaluate and generate a hypothesis, which can then be used to develop new systems and ideas.
Usually you will be given two sets of shapes, Set A and Set B. The shapes contained within both of the sets will be similar.
For each set you will be presented with a series of test shapes and it is your task to determine whether the shape belongs to the first set A, the second set B, or neither A nor B.
There will be a total of 11 pairs, and for each pair there will be five items.
In total you will have to progress through 55 test shapes and 11y pairs of shapes. You will have 14 minutes to progress through the test.
Read more here about how abstract reasoning tests work.
The situational judgement segment evaluates your ability to assess and understand realistic work scenarios.
Having read the description of the scenario, you will need to determine the critical factors and act accordingly.
The test will include 68 questions in total, which are associated with 21 scenarios. You will have 27 minutes to complete the section.
Questions will be in a multiple-choice format and they do not require any prior medical or procedural knowledge.
For the first set of questions, you will be asked to assess the appropriateness of the given options in relation to a given scenario.
The second set of questions will ask you to rate the importance of options in response to the scenario, from very important through to not important at all.
Read more here about how situational judgement tests work.
Situational Judgement tests assess your ability at solving problems in work-related situations.
If you would like to practise a simulation SJT, please try the one below, which was created by JobTestPrep in association with psychometric experts, and is closely modelled on real tests.
The test consists of 5 questions to be answered in 5 minutes approx (although there is no timer on the test itself). You need to get 80% correct (4 out of 5) to pass the test. You can take the test as many times as you like.
Click the 'Take test' link below to get started.
|Time Limit||5 min|
This is the newest section of the test, designed to assess your ability to decipher coded information. You will be provided with a scenario accompanied with a combination of text, charts and other snippets of information, which become increasingly ambiguous and complex.
Candidates will then be expected to make judgements, though ones which are not based solely on logical deduction. This attempts to simulate real situations where decisions, particularly in the medical field, have to be made when all of the information is not easily accessible.
The test comprises of 29 questions, each of which has up to five options as a response. In some of the questions more than one option will apply. This test will usually last for 32 minutes.
Read more here about decision-making skills.
The UCAT consists of five subtests, and each subtest is scored differently:
Verbal Reasoning: This subtest assesses your ability to critically evaluate information presented in written form. The score ranges from 300 to 900.
Decision Making: This subtest evaluates your ability to make sound decisions and judgements. The score ranges from 300 to 900.
Quantitative Reasoning: This subtest measures your numerical reasoning skills. The score ranges from 300 to 900.
Abstract Reasoning: This subtest assesses your ability to identify patterns and relationships in abstract shapes. The score ranges from 300 to 900.
Situational Judgment Test (SJT): This subtest presents scenarios and assesses your responses to various ethical and practical situations. The SJT is not scored with numerical values but rather in bands from Band 1 (lowest) to Band 4 (highest).
Your raw scores on each subtest are converted into scaled scores to account for any differences in difficulty between test versions. The scaled scores are then combined, and a total UCAT score is calculated. The total UCAT score is often used as a part of the selection process for medical and dental schools.
It's essential to check the official UCAT website or the website of the universities you are applying to for the most up-to-date information on scoring, as processes and scoring methods may change over time.
The UCAT key dates for the UK testing cycle were as follows:
The registration and booking for the UCAT typically open in June or July. Specific dates can vary, so it's essential to check the official UCAT website for the exact opening date.
The UCAT testing window usually runs from the beginning of July to early October. During this period, candidates can schedule their test day at a Pearson VUE test center on a date and time that suits them best.
If you are eligible for a UCAT bursary to cover the test fee, the application deadline is usually in September. Make sure to apply before the specified deadline.
UCAT results are generally available shortly after you complete the test. You can view your score report online, and the results are automatically sent to the universities you've applied to.
Please note that these dates are specific to the UK testing cycle, and the key dates for UCAT in other countries like Australia and New Zealand may differ. It's crucial to check the official UCAT website for the most up-to-date and accurate information on registration, testing windows, and other key dates for your specific location and testing year.
Tips and Techniques for the UCAT Test in 2023
As with any aptitude test, UCAT preparation is crucial. The following tips should help you succeed:
There is no magic formula for preparing for the UCAT, and what works for a friend or fellow student won’t necessarily work for yourself. The time that you will need to prepare will depend on your individual strengths and weaknesses.
There are a number of questions on the UCAT and it is possible to prepare using practice questions.
When you are faced with one of these tests, practicing can seem like a daunting and mammoth task. Create a schedule for each section and stick to it.
There are many websites which offer free practice tests: try, for example, these UCAT practice tests, produced by JobTestPrep.
Managing your time during the test is one of the greatest challenges for candidates. Through practicing for the tests, you can refine your technique and improve your timing.
We recommend you do the following in each of the five separate tests:
Verbal Reasoning: read each passage of text and the follow-up information very carefully.
Quantitative Reasoning: review the basic numerical functions for addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, in addition to percentages, fractions and ratios.
Abstract Reasoning: when looking at the sets, evaluate what the shapes have in common. Practice for this test is essential, so you can familiarise yourself with the types of patterns that you will encounter.
Situational Judgement: when answering the questions for this test, imagine that you are a qualified professional and what you would do if you were working in the field. Choose a response that is appropriate for your profession.
Decision Making: learn to prioritise, so you can quickly judge whether you cannot answer a question quickly. This prevents you wasting too much time on one question. Remain calm and collected, so you can complete each section in enough time to go through and check your answers.