The UCAT (University Clinical Aptitude Test) is a two-hour computer-based examination that is required by the majority of UK medical and dental schools as an important criterion for admission alongside A-levels and interviews.
The UCAT tests aptitude rather than academic knowledge. Each section of the UCAT aims to test a different component of cognition:
The UCAT consists of 233 multiple-choice questions across five separate sections. Each section has a different number of questions and time allocations, as below:
(+1 minute for instructions)
Number of questions
44 questions on 11 passages
69 on 20 scenarios
Admission to medicine is extremely competitive as the number of applicants far outweighs the number of available places (approximately 1 to 4). The UCAT serves the purpose of selecting the applicants that possess cognitive abilities and professional behaviours desirable for a healthcare professional. These may not be adequately assessed by academic record and interview.
The UCAT is compulsory for the following courses:
*Please note that these courses may have alternative requirements for some students.
You can sit the UCAT in your final year of secondary school and subsequent years. Over 34,000 students sat the UCAT in 2020.
The UCAT is held between 26th July and 29th September. However, you need to register by 22nd September and book by 28th September, so don’t leave this until the last testing date.
You need to create a web account with Pearson VUE first, before booking your test session.
The UCAT costs £75 for tests taken in the UK and £120 for tests taken outside the UK.
Candidates in financial need may be able to sit the UCAT for free after providing supporting evidence.
UK candidates who meet one of the following criteria were eligible for the bursary in 2020:
Details for the 2021 Bursary Scheme has not been confirmed yet.
UCAT access arrangements are available for students with a disability, upon providing evidence:
You may resit the UCAT an unlimited number of times as long as you meet the eligibility criteria, but only once per year.
The UCAT can be sat at Pearson VUE test centres in the UK and overseas.
Due to COVID-19, students could choose to sit the UCAT from their home in 2020. It isn’t certain whether this will be the case in 2021.
No. Therefore guess the answers that you are unsure about, or which you do not have any time to concentrate on. After all, you have nothing to lose.
Your raw scores (the number of questions you answer correctly in each section) are converted to scaled scores between 300 and 900.
The cognitive subtests (VR, DM, QR, AR) are summed to provide you with a total scaled score that ranges between 1200 and 3600. Based on this total scaled score, you will also receive a percentile rank that shows how well you’ve performed relative to other candidates in your cohort. For example, a total scaled score of 2850 in 2020 meant you were in the top 10%, or 9th decile.
The situational judgement test is not included in the total scaled score. Instead, students are placed in Bands 1-4, with the top performers in Band 1 and the worst performers in Band 4.
Each university is different in using the UCAT scores:
Most students find the UCAT challenging not because the questions are particularly difficult but because of the huge number of questions (233) that need to be answered in just two hours. On average, you need to answer around two questions every minute.
A research paper has shown that students that spend more time studying for the UCAT using preparatory materials scored higher than those who didn’t.
Preparing for the UCAT involves four key steps:
The official UCAT website has some free preparatory materials to get you started. Our Online UCAT Course provides you with extensive video tutorials, a huge bank of over 10,000 questions, 8 unique full mock exams, 18 mini-mock exams and question walkthroughs, as well as performance feedback.
This is difficult to say as it varies from year to year and also depends on the universities you are intending to apply to.
Generally, a total scaled score of 2,700 or higher would give you a good chance of securing interviews, provided that you have a strong application and academic record.
For the SJT section, 30% of the candidates were placed in Band 1, 36% in Band 2, 24% in Band 3 and 9% in Band 4.
A high UCAT score takes you closer to medical school, but even with a low UCAT score, there are several options:
Your UCAT scores are available soon after you finish the test, on the same day. To find out how well you performed in your cohort, you will need to wait until September for the interim test statistics and October for the final results.
The UCAT scores are valid for a year. This means that if you sit the UCAT in 2021, you can only use it for entry to medical programmes commencing in 2022.
Your UCAT results are delivered directly to the chosen universities.
The BioMedical Admissions Test (BMAT) and the Graduate Medical School Admissions Test (GAMSAT) are alternative entrance exams used by some medical courses in the UK. The GAMSAT in particular is only relevant to graduate entry programmes.
The UCAT is a purely skills-based test, whereas some sections of the BMAT and GAMSAT assume prerequisite knowledge in sciences.
The BMAT and GAMSAT also require you to write an essay, whereas the UCAT consists entirely of multiple-choice questions.
All exams require a high level of critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
The UCAT used to be known as the UKCAT (United Kingdom Clinical Aptitude Test). It has been renamed to UCAT in 2019 to reflect the incorporation of Australian and New Zealand universities.
The UCAT ANZ is the equivalent of UCAT in Australia and New Zealand. They are identical in terms of test format, contents, duration and difficulty.
One difference is that the UCAT ANZ can be used for applying to UK universities while UCAT (UK) results are not accepted by Australian and New Zealand universities. Therefore, if you are a UK resident who is interested in applying to Australian or New Zealand universities, you will need to sit the UCAT ANZ.
Note that you can sit the UCAT or UCAT ANZ only once in a calendar year. If you sit the UCAT and UCAT ANZ in the same calendar year, only the first result will be valid.
You can ring 0208 616 5106 (or +44 208 616 5106 from overseas) between Monday-Friday 8am-5pm.
Alternatively, you can send an email using a form.
We provide you with extensive video tutorials, a huge bank of over 10,000 questions, 8 unique full mock exams, 18 mini-mock exams and question walkthroughs, as well as performance feedback.
We’ve been lending a successful helping hand since 2009. Medify is here to support you, just reach out to us.
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