The UCAT Test

The UCAT Test, or University Clinical Aptitude Test, was first launched in 2006 and is a two-hour online test, which is widely used by dental and medical schools in the UK, Australia and New Zealand, to determine whether applicants have the right ability and attitudes  to study medicine or dentistry. Up until 2024, some British universities chose to use the BMAT for medical admission, while others opted for the UCAT. In 2024, the BMAT was scrapped, and the UCAT is now the only test administered in the UK for medical candidates.

How is the UCAT Test organised?

The test is made up of five sections :

  • Verbal Reasoning
  • Decision-making
  • Quantitative reasoning
  • Abstract Reasoning
  • Situational Judgement.

During the UCAT test you will be provided with a whiteboard and marker pen for calculations and notes in the Decision-Making and Quantitative Reasoning sections, and will have one minute, per section, to read through the texts.

Section Number of questions Allocated time Seconds per question
Verbal Reasoning 44 22 28
Decision-Making 29 32 66
Quantitative Reasoning 36 25 40
Abstract Reasoning 55 14 14
Situational Judgement 69 27 23

The questions are multiple-choice and, as you can see, time is of the essence, since  you need to work efficiently  and fast if you are to answer every question.

The UCAT Test - Verbal Reasoning

The aim of this section is to check your comprehension and your ability to reach conclusions on the basis of what you have read. You will be given 11 or so passages, each of which is 200-300 words long. There are four questions relating to each passage, which means that you have under 30 seconds to skim read the text and  answer one of two types of questions:

  • True/False/Can’t Say (16 questions)
  • Free text questions, where you are asked to fill in incomplete statements (28 questions)

The UCAT Verbal Reasoning paper has consistently had the lowest scores, and it is thought that this is down to lack of time, and a tendency on the part of applicants to concentrate on the text rather than the question.

The UCAT Test - Decision-Making

In this part of the UCAT Test you will be asked to evaluate arguments, and statistical analysis, and reach conclusions. You may be presented with charts, texts, graphs, tables or diagrams. 

In this section of the UCAT there are six different types of questions and you will be given partial or abstract information and asked to analyse the data, recognise patterns and make a decision. The multiple-choice questions will have four answers , or you may be asked to choose between Yes and No conclusions.

Six Categories of question in the UCAT Decision- Making Section:

  • Syllogisms (4-5 questions), where you will need to apply rules to fresh information or examples.
  • Logic puzzles (4-5 questions), which will show you a sequence and ask you to complete it, match items, or understand relative positions from a description etc.
  • Strongest argument (4-5 questions), assessing arguments
  • Inference (4-5 questions),you may be given textual or visual information – such as graphs, charts and tables – and will need to use this to infer conclusions.
  • Venn diagram (6-7 questions),you will need to choose or interpret the diagram.
  • Probability reasoning (4-5 questions)you will have to choose the best answer by examining  statistics contained within a text

The UCAT Test - Quantitative Reasoning

The UCAT Quantitative Reasoning section tests your ability to solve numerical problems and assumes you have good knowledge of order, ratios, percentages, averages, mean, areas, perimeters, rates etc. You will be provided with a basic, on-screen calculator . Be prepared for tables, charts and graphs.

The UCAT Test - Abstract Reasoning

This section of the UCAT Test focuses on divergent and convergent thinking skills and expects you to infer relationships from the information you are given – which could be a set of shapes  or a text.  You are asked to find patterns in geometric shapes and finish sequences, or choose appropriate shapes to fill in blanks. For example, you may be shown two sets of shapes – A and B – and asked if another shape fits into either set, or neither set. The questions will contain the rule being tested, and you are simply asked to apply it. You may also come across an analogy question, such as  “A is to B as X is to ?”

The UCAT Test - Situational Judgement

In the UCAT Situational Judgement paper you will focus on medical ethics, moral issues and conflicts which are at the heart of this section. This part tests how you would act in a number of scenarios. 

There are approximately 27-8 questions, where you will have to rank options according to whether they are Not Important, all the way through to Very Important.

Another 40-41 questions ask you to decide to rank items according to whether they are Very Appropriate, on a scale down to Not Appropriate. You may have to answer drag-and-drop questions where you will need to choose the most and least appropriate actions .There are a range of scenarios in this paper, dealing with:

  • patient care, and whether professionals are fit to practise
  • minimising risk, which deals with mistakes and problems
  • professionalism, namely issues such as fraud and confidentiality
  • teamwork , conflict and cooperation
  • offensive behaviour, such as bullying
  • empathy, how to communicate bad news or deal with patients’ worries etc

It is essential to remember that you are not being asked directly for your own opinion, but to decide how a professional would respond in a particular situation.

The UCAT Test - How is the UCAT Test scored?

In the first four sections you can score from 300-900, which is then averaged to produce your final score. The last section is scored from Band 1 (high) to Band 4 (low).

Judging by the requirements posted in recent years , you  should aim to score 680 and upwards, if you want to have your pick of the most prestigious medical schools, although the 2023 average was 629. Of course, each university has its own cut-off point. 

You can only sit the UCAT Test once a year and your score is valid for 12 months.

The UCAT Test - How do I register for the UCAT?

The UCAT is administered at Pearson VUE test centres, both in the UK and abroad. You need to register in person (your school cannot do it for you) between the end of June and mid-September. In 2024, the registration period runs from 18 June to 19 September, for example. 

  • Go to  THIS WEBSITE 
  • Open an account, ensuring that the name you use is identical to that on your ID
  • Fill in the questionnaire
  • Set a user name and password to activate the account
  • You will receive confirmation of your registration and a candidate ID. Once booking opens in June, choose a date to sit the UCAT.
  • You will need to pay a fee of around £70 if you are in the UK, and £115  if you are outside the UK.
  • Note that it is not possible to book the test by email.

The UCAT Test - UCAT day procedures

On the UCAT Test day, make a point of arriving 15 minutes early and bringing your ID and confirmation email with you.

All personal belongings have to be placed in the lockers provided.

You will be visually inspected by test centre staff, who will check your arms, clothes and hands .

The UCAT Test - What shall I do?

You can contact us, here at Elab, either by email or by giving us a call.

Our mentor programme  can put you in touch with current Elab students studying medicine or dentistry abroad, so that you can get an insider’s view of the UCAT, its various sections and the techniques and preparation timetable you need to follow to maximise your score and excel in the test.

  • Introduction
  • Diagnostics
  • Personal Profile Map
  • Research
  • University Report
  • Final application choices
  • Application process plan
  • Mentor Program
  • Exam and Interview prep
  • Document completion
  • Application portal setup
  • Submission
  • Acceptance
  • Pre-departure procedures
  • Finances
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