The Situational Judgement portion of the UCAT can be a little scary and intimidating for prospective medical students when they first start preparing for the exam, often because this is the first time they are faced with such question types. The aim of the Situational Judgement section is to assess your ability to understand ethical situations you might well find yourself in at some point in your medical career and to identify what the ideal response in such a situation would be.
The Situational Judgement test gives you26 minutes to answer 69 questions, so navigating through this subtest can understandably be a bit stressful in the beginning. We have compiled some tips for you on how to best prepare for this section, so have a read below! For any more information on the Situational Judgement test, you can also check out the UCAT Consortium’s official website, as well as our blog post UCAT Situational Judgement Overview.
Read GMC’s Good Medical Practice
When you start medical school, you will quickly get familiar with the General Medical Council’s Good Medical Practice - a code of conduct for all medical students and healthcare professionals. If you want to prepare well for the Situational Judgement subtest, you can already have a read through it, and familiarise yourself with its concept. Good Medical Practice outlines the key principles that a medical professional should follow and those often underpin the appropriate reaction to various ethical situations that you mind find yourself in.
As such, having read through it will help you become more aware of what’s expected of you at the Situational Judgement test and will help you identify the correct answers quicker.
It’s not about how you would react
A common trap applicants fall in when they first start preparing for the Situational Judgement test is that they answer questions in the way they think is appropriate to act. It is very important at that moment to remind yourself that in these scenarios, you are acting as a medical student or even sometimes, as a senior doctor on the ward. What would that person do? What would the examiners who have written these questions expect you to do? What would they themselves do?
The more you practice and the more you learn, hopefully the answers to the two questions “What would you do?” and “What would the examiner do?” become one and the same, but even at this early stage it is important that you are able to demonstrate understanding into the appropriateness of the actions of a healthcare professional in certain ethical situations.
Partial points are still points
Some questions will provide you with a response and then ask you whether that response has been “Very appropriate”, “Appropriate, but not ideal”, “Inappropriate, but not awful” or “Very inappropriate”. If you get confused and still don’t know what the best answer on a particular question is, try to identify at least which side you lean on - the appropriate or inappropriate one.
Even if you don’t answer the question entirely accurately, you’d get half a point for identifying which of the two it is. So if the correct answer was “Very appropriate” but you answered “Appropriate, but not ideal”, you’d still be awarded some points. Don’t underestimate this and always try to identify what side of the argument you think is correct, even if you don’t know exactly to what extent.
Don’t overthink it
The more you spend on a question, the more likely you are that you will overlook the correct answer and overthink the situation, taking into account many things that do not play a role in the scenario and ultimately pick the wrong answer. Try and follow your instinct and if you feel an answer is correct, you are probably right. It is very easy to overthink these scenarios and get bogged down into minor details, identifying aspects of the scenario that are probably unimportant - as a general rule, the Situational Judgement questions are not trying to trick you, so pick an answer and move on.
Practice your speed
To answer 69 questions in 26 minutes, you would have to go through this section relatively quickly. There won’t be much time left for second-guessing your answers, so you will have to firmly answer each question and swiftly move on to the next. The best way to prepare for the Situational Judgement is practice tests. The more you practice, the clearer the expectations from the questions will be to you and the more familiar you will become with various situations, which will help you on test day, as you might be given situations that you already know how you would respond in! The UCAT course we offer is a great place to start, with plenty of tips and lots of practice questions!
We hope these tips were helpful in your preparation for the Situational Judgement part of the UCAT. Good luck and if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us at hello@theMSAG.com.
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