The University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT) is the most used admissions test by Medical Schools to select medical students. Unlike tests you may have sat at school, the UCAT tests a broad range of skills associated with medical practice. There is no specific content or curriculum you need to know. Instead, it is designed to test your aptitude for being a doctor.

The hardest element most test-takers face is the brutal time restrictions. The best way to combat this is knowing what the test will consist of and knowing how you are going to tackle every question.

Sections of the UCAT

P.S. Each section title in this article links to a smaller sub-article: give them a click if you want a bit more info on a specific area of the UCAT!

Verbal reasoning – 21 minutes, 44 questions 

You are given a text of 200-300 words to quickly read and analyse. You will then answer a series of questions based on the content of the text. There are usually  2-4 questions for each sample text. 

Decision Making – 32 minutes, 29 questions

This section assesses your logic and reasoning skills, as well as your ability to interpret data. There are two types of questions:

  • Multiple choice answers
  • A series of yes/no statements.

You must use your reasoning to find the best answer to the question.

Quantitative reasoning – 25 minutes, 36 questions

This section evaluates your basic mathematical and analytical skills. You are given some data and asked to find a question on it. These questions assess your understanding of percentages, rates, averages, and proportionality. There is a fairly significant time restraint. During the UCAT you are provided with an online calculator. It is worth familiarising yourself with this as it can be difficult to use.

Abstract reasoning – 14 mins, 55 questions

This is probably the section that is the most unlike any previous learning you may have encountered (and probably the most hated section!). Here you are assessed on your ability to find patterns and sequences through a series of shapes.

There are four main types of questions:

UCAT Abstract reasoning
  1. 1. Identifying if a given shape fits into one of two different series of shapes.
  2. 2. Finding the next shapes from a given series.
  3. 3. Finding which shape will complete a group of shapes.
  4. 4. Detecting which shape (from a group of four) fits into one of two different series of shapes.

These will make much more sense once you start working through examples. The next guides from AIMS.Guide will work through some example questions.

Situational Judgement 37 mins, 69 questions

In Situational Judgment, you will be asked a series of questions that focus on the issues around good medical practice and ethics. Typically, these situations relate to a conflict or dilemma.

You will then be given a brief statement outlining the scenario and there are two types of questions asked. The first asks you to rate how appropriate a given response is. The second, you are a list of actions to resolve the situation asked to rank those responses in order of appropriateness.

UCAT Scoring

Each UCAT section is scored between 300-900 but your score is not simply based on the number you get right. Instead, it’s based on how well you compare to those who sat the test in the previous year.

Very roughly speaking, half of the test-takers will get below 600 (the ones who did worse) and half will score above 600 (the ones who did better). Your final UCAT score is the sum of your results for each section.

The exception to this rule is situational judgment. Instead, you are given a ‘band’ based on the quality of your answers. Band 1 being the best and band 4 is the worst.

You are given the results of the UCAT when you walk out of the exam room. This is given as a score for each section, with a maximum combined score of 3600. Then your situational judgment band.

Sitting the UCAT and Cost

You will sit the UCAT in the summer before year 13 (see the relevant dates in the table below). Normally, you book to sit the UCAT in a local testing centre (often the same place you will do a driving theory test). During the COVID pandemic, you can now book to sit the UCAT at home via your browser.

Currently, the UCAT costs £75 to sit (which notably has increased from around £50 in previous years). For those who may struggle to pay this, there’s a bursary scheme. This lets you sit the UCAT for free, provided you meet at least one of their criteria.

Early June Registration opens,
Bursary applications open
Late JuneTesting booking opens
Late July Testing booking opens
Second-to-last week of SeptemberRegistration for tests closes.
Last week of SeptemberFinal booking deadline
Last testing day
Bursary application deadline
Mid OctoberUCAS application deadline
Find out more from the UCAT website

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