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UCAT · May 31, 2019

UCAT Exam Structure

The University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT), previously the UKCAT, is the most widely accepted medical school entrance exam across universities not only in the UK, but as of recently, abroad, too. To reflect the fact that this is now an internationally accepted entrance exam in the selection process for medicine, the exam’s name was changed from the UKCAT to UCAT as of this year. The actual exam has not changed at all, however, so if you are familiar with or may have even sat the UKCAT before, rest assured, as the format and content of the exam remain identical.


For those of you who are currently applying to or thinking of applying to medicine, chances are that you might have to sit the UCAT, depending on the universities you are interested in applying for and as such, a good knowledge of the structure and content of the exam will be of great value for the start of a successful preparation. Continue reading below for a full breakdown of the UCAT exam and what will be expected of you when you sit it. 

ucat-structure

The UCAT is a two-hour-long computer-based test that aims to evaluate a wide set of abilities that you will be expected to practice in medical or dental school. The test consists of five separate stations, each with a different number of questions and lasting a different amount of time. These sections are, in order of appearance in the test, Verbal Reasoning (VR), Decision Making (DM), Quantitative Reasoning (QR), Abstract Reasoning (AR), and Situational Judgement Test (SJT). Each of the subsections tests a different set of abilities, each relevant to your successful career as a medical student and later on, a physician.

For example, in the VR section of the UCAT test, you will be given unknown passages of text to read and comprehend, which is something that you will get used to doing both during your time in medical school and later on, on the wards, as well. The QR will test basic math skills which are essential and expected of everyone going into medicine, as you will be making simple but crucial calculations regarding patient’s vital measurements, drug doses and many other aspects daily. The AR subsection tests your ability to notice patterns in a set of unknown values or information, which once again, while abstractly done, is a useful skill for every doctor to have when examining a patient with new and sometimes unknown set of symptoms. The DM and SJT subsections both aim to test your capacity to understand real world situations and assess your behaviour in dealing with the information presented. You will be expected to identify critical factors and appropriate behaviour in a certain situation and to identify what the best course of action is.

Please have a read at the table below detailing each section of the test, together with the amount of time allocated to it and the number of questions each of them tests. 

UCAT Section

Number of questions

Time (minutes)

Verbal Reasoning

44

21

Decision Making

29

31

Quantitative Reasoning

36

24

Abstract Reasoning

55

13

Situational Judgement

69

26

You will also have a minute at the start of each section to read the instructions and prepare for the section. For those who are entitled to special access arrangements, the time may vary, and so you should consult with the UCAT Consortium for more details. Remember that once you start the test, you cannot pause it and the whole test needs to be taken in one sitting. 

The UCAT format

The exam is in a multiple choice format and there is no negative marking. Therefore, while attempting to answer as many questions as possible and learning to work efficiently within the timeframe provided is encouraged and provides the best chance at performing successfully at the UCAT, should you struggle with a question or start running out of time, you can and should still guess the remaining questions, putting an answer down for every single question. As there is no negative marking for incorrect answers, your best bet at scoring as highly as possible at the UCAT is to leave no questions unanswered. If you had to guess, however, make sure you made educated guesses and used smart strategies to answer questions you are unsure of. For more tips on how to perform well at the UCAT, make sure you check out our blog post How to get 900 in UCAT. 

UCAT registration

Once you decide that you want to sit the UCAT and have identified the universities which require this exam, the first step will be to register for a test date and location of your preference and begin your preparation. To do this, you will need to create a personal account with the Pearson Vue Center and register, which you will be able to do until September 18, 2019 for this application cycle.

Once you have done this, you will be ready to begin your preparation. UCAT practice tests are amongst the most helpful resources you can get in your successful preparation, as you will be able to mimic real exam conditions and try your hand at practicing the actual question types that will come up on test day. For more information, check out our comprehensive UCAT course, which offers a huge variety of tips and strategies for the UCAT, together with plenty of practice questions. 

Practice for the UCAT with a real exam simulation 

questions.We hope this information regarding the UCAT structure and content was useful to you. All the best in your preparation and if you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to contact us at hello@theMSAG.com

giulia-bankov

Miss Giulia Bankov

 Giulia is a graduate medical student at the University of Glasgow. She previously studied Neuroscience at King's College London and completed her Cognitive Neurobiology and Clinical Neurophysiology at the University of Amsterdam 


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