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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 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.
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!
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.
This section assesses your logic and reasoning skills, as well as your ability to interpret data. There are two types of questions:
You must use your reasoning to find the best answer to the question.
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.
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:
These will make much more sense once you start working through examples. The next guides from AIMS.Guide will work through some example 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.
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.
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 June||Testing booking opens|
|Late July||Testing booking opens|
|Second-to-last week of September||Registration for tests closes.|
|Last week of September||Final booking deadline |
Last testing day
Bursary application deadline
|Mid October||UCAS application deadline|
|Find out more from the UCAT website|