Medical School Application Guide

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By Hannah Igoe 8 months ago 602 Views No comments

What is The UKCAT?

Most medical programmes in the UK use the UKCAT in their selection process. The way in which the medical school uses the UKCAT score is variable, and cut-offs (if they are used) vary each year depending on cohort performance.
The UKCAT does not contain any curriculum or science content. It focuses on exploring the cognitive powers of candidates and other attributes considered to be valuable for health care professionals.

UKCAT Structure and Timing

The UKCAT is designed to be a test of aptitude rather than a test of academic achievement, however, preparation can substantially improve an applicant’s score. The test assesses a wide range of mental abilities and behavioural attributes identified by medical and dental schools as important. The exam is only valid for one application cycle, thus students need to write it the year they are applying. Students receive their results immediately after completing their test at the test center.

The UKCAT consists of five subtests:

  • Verbal reasoning: Assesses candidates’ ability to think logically about written information and to arrive at a reasoned conclusion.
  • Quantitative reasoning: Assesses candidates’ ability to solve numerical problems.
  • Abstract reasoning: Assesses candidates’ ability to infer relationships from information by convergent and divergent thinking.
  • Decision making: Tests the candidate’s ability to apply logic to reach a decision or conclusion; to evaluate arguments and analyse statistical information. N.B. This test is replacing the ‘Decision analysis’ section from previous years. As it is being piloted in 2016, the score for this section will not be used to make up the final UKCAT score (only the verbal, quantitative and abstract reasoning scores will be used).
  • Situational judgment: Measures capacity to understand real world situations and to identify critical factors and appropriate behavior in dealing with them.

The full test lasts for 2 hours. Students with special educational needs may be eligible to receive more time on the test. Each of the subtests is in a multiple-choice format and is separately timed.

UKCAT Scoring

Each of the first four sections is marked based on the number of correct responses. No marks are deducted for incorrect answers. How you perform on one item does not influence other items you are presented with. As the number of items varies between the four cognitive sections it is not possible to make a direct comparison of the raw scores. Raw scores are therefore converted to scale scores that share a common range from 300 to 900. Summing individual scale scores of the four cognitive sections generates a total scale score. The total scale score ranges from 1200 to 3600. N.B. In 2016, as the Decision Making section is being piloted and its score will not contribute to the overall score. As mentioned above, the total scale score will instead range from 900 to 2700.

Within the fifth section, the Situational Judgement Test, full marks are awarded for an item if your response matches the correct answer and partial marks awarded if your response is close to the correct answer. Raw scores are then expressed in one of four bands, with Band 1 being the highest. Alongside their band, candidates will be given an interpretation of this performance:

As the SJT is a measure of non-cognitive attributes, universities will consider it in a different manner to the cognitive subtests

Medical Schools Requiring UKCAT and How it is Used

Most programmes in the UK use the UKCAT. Please follow this link to see if you are required to take the test -

Different Medical Schools use the UKCAT score in different ways as part of the admissions process. Please note that the UKCAT cut-off scores (if used) for each university varies each year, depending on the results of that year’s cohort.

Please see individual Medical School pages for detailed information about how UKCAT is used in the admissions process and what cut-off scores were used in previous years.

Below are some examples for 5-year programmes, this is not an exhaustive list as most medical schools use the UKCAT. Please see individual university pages for more information \ about 4-year or 6-year courses.

Medical School How (the exam) is Used Last Year’s Cut-off (if applicable)*
Barts and the London UKCAT score and academic performance are given equal weighting in interview selection Minimum – 2400 See here for more information:
Kings College London UKCAT score considered with the rest of the application N/A
Keele University Bottom 20% of UKCAT scores will not be considered 2310
Queens University Belfast UKCAT score is considered with GCSE performance in interview selection
St George’s University UKCAT scores are used to rank applicant for interview 2600
Nottingham University UKCAT is highly weighted in the selection process. For more info-
University of Birmingham UKCAT results are ranked according to the results of all applicants who are applying and candidates are given a score of up to 3.0, which is combined with the GCSE score, to give a total academic score of up to 10.0. The threshold score for interview for 2016 entry was 6.2. N/A
University of Exeter Candidates will be ranked by UKCAT scores in the first part of the application process 2500
University of Southampton Candidates will be ranked by UKCAT scores in the first part of the application process 2500

*Note that in 2016 total UKCAT scores will be expressed on a scale from 900 to 2700, instead of 1200 to 3600, due to the new piloting of the Decision Making section (which will not contribute to the 2016 total UKCAT score).

Important Dates

In this table the competition ratios for UK graduate entry programmes are listed. These are typically 1 year shorter than undergraduate entry courses. Graduates are also eligible to apply for undergraduate programmes.

3.5.16 Registration opens
1.7.16 UKCAT testing period begins
21.9.2016 Registration closes – 5pm
4.10.2016 Booking closes – midday
5.10.2016 UKCAT testing period ends

Registration and Test Centre Locations

All UKCAT candidates must register before they can book their test. Candidates need to register for the test personally – this cannot be done by a school/college.

To register for the UKCAT candidates need to create an online account using the Pearson VUE online registration system. Candidates can register here -

View test center locations here -

Cost of UKCAT

The exam costs £65 to £80 for EU applicants depending on when the exam is taken, and £100 for non-E.U applicants. EU candidates may be eligible to receive a bursary for the full cost of the test if they meet one of the requirements listed at:

Preparing for the exam can cost between roughly £40 to £260 for home and classroom course preparation, as well as roughly £10 to £100 for books and practice questions. Private tutoring usually costs between around £27 to £100 per hour depending on the materials included and the qualifications and experience of the tutor.

How to Prepare for UKCAT

All costs are approximate


Course Location Description Cost Link
Duff Miller 1 day UKCAT course London Covers approach to abstract reasoning and decision analysis. Students will practice questions in the afternoon £325
Get Into Medical School UKCAT classroom course Oxford Includes tuition on all parts of the test with mock questions.
Kaplan UKCAT courses Throughout UK/ online Courses include a full length test and teaching on each section of the exam. Study material consists of a UKCAT strategy book plus 5 full length exams, 24 section quizzes and ongoing support from the tutors until the test date. £195-£330
UniAdmissions offer a 1-day UKCAT intensive course London/ Birmingham/ Manchester/ Leeds/ Cardiff It will include a full interactive seminar and a full mock text on the day. Full study materials will be provided. £115

Private Tutoring

Course Location Description Cost Link
Kaplan 1-2-1 UKCAT private tutoring London/ online The same material as the classroom based course will be provided (UKCAT strategy book, 5 full length exams and 24 section quizzes). 10 hours - £1250 15 hours - £1750
UniAdmissions London/ online Offers personalised tuition, delivered one-on-one in London. UKCAT preparation pack will be provided containing helpful tips and example questions, consolidating the key points. 2 full UKCAT mock papers along with answers will also be provided. £290-£895


Books Description Cost
Get into medical school - 1000 UKCAT practice questions. Edition for 2017 Entry Book includes exam techniques and 1000 questions with explanations covering all sections of the test. Updated yearly. £15
The Ultimate UKCAT Guide 1200 Practice Questions. 2017 Edition Contains strategies, worked examples, and practice questions. Updated yearly. £15
BMAT and UKCAT uncovered Book includes tips, strategies, practice questions and explanations for all sections of the UKCAT and BMAT exams. 344 pages. £15
Elite Students Series: How to master the UKCAT Book includes exam techniques section and over 750 practice questions with explanations covering all sections of the test. 384 pages. £9
How to pass the UKCAT Book includes exam techniques and over 600 practice questions with explanations. 320 pages £10
Succeeding in the UKCAT Includes tips on each section of the exam as well as practice questions, mock exams and explanations. Approximately 400 pages £10
UKCAT for Dummies Includes test-taking strategies, practice questions and explanations. 350 pages £10

Free UKCAT Resources

Case Study of Current Medical Student Who has Sat UKCAT

Final year medical student at The University of Sheffield:

  • How did you prepare for the exam? I used a book of UKCAT questions and practiced going through them under exam conditions, I felt that this helped me prepare.
  • How did you find the exam? It was difficult but this was to be expected; given the preparation I had done, it wasn’t anything that I wasn't prepared for.
  • What advice would you give to someone sitting the exam? Although some people may tell you that you can't revise for the UKCAT, it is imperative that you prepare for the exam. Without preparation you would be completely thrown by the exam, as it is a very different style of examination.