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Access Into Medical School: Guide - Your community for widening participation in medicine: UCAT training, BMAT training, mock interviews and mentorship.
The UCAT Situational Judgement Section is the odd one out of the bunch. In this section, you’ll be given a situation in which you have to decide what is the most appropriate/ethical thing to do is. Instead of getting a numerical score between 300-900, students will receive a banded score. While you might think might make it a bit of a throwaway section, think again! Some universities will assess students’ UCAT scores in addition to their situational judgement band. So without further ado, Let’s crack into it.
The UCAT Situational Judgement section lasts for 26 minutes in which you have to answer 69 questions. These questions are linked to 22 scenarios, so that’s a bit more than a minute per scenario + the relevant questions. As mentioned, this section is banded rather than scored. Band 1 is the best while band 4 is the worst. Some universities won’t look at your band, while others might reject applicants who receive a band 3 or 4. Around 60% of people will get band 1/2, so it’s not about being better than the average applicant!
All the questions you’ll get will be about a scenario in clinical practice. Some of them will be common ethical scenarios, others quite specific situations where you might have to apply general ethical situations. For some questions, you might be asked to decide whether a certain response to the scenario would be very appropriate, appropriate but not ideal, inappropriate but not awful, or very inappropriate. Alternatively, you might just have to pick if the statement is appropriate or inappropriate. Another variation is to decide how important a given factor should be in making a decision about the scenario. Once again, these come in 4-choice or 2-choice questions. The final type of question is where you’ll be given 3 options for responding to the scenario. You’ll pick from these 3 options the most and least appropriate.
There’s another little quirk to abstract reasoning: Where in all other sections if you get the question wrong you won’t get the point, you can actually receive “half marks” for some of these questions. You can get this in the 4-choice important/appropriate questions if you choose correctly as to whether it’s appropriate or important/unimportant or inappropriate but don’t get the exact right extent. For example, say the answer to one question was “appropriate but not ideal”. In this case, if you said it was “very appropriate” you’d get half marks. However, if you said “inappropriate but not awful” you’d get no marks, as it wasn’t appropriate. You might also get partial marks for getting one of the 3 statements corrects in the given style of questions, but we’re less sure of that.
This section is a little harder to give advice to students, as it’s all about perceptions of an ethical situation. Hence, why you can get partial marks! If you want to learn a little more about the rationale behind certain ethical principles, the GMC Handbook on good practice is a good place to start! As with all the other sections though, practice makes perfect. Some of the scenarios you’re given might be a little wordy, so it’s a good idea to treat them like the verbal reasoning sample texts and learn to skim read for pertinent sections.