All you need to know about the UKCAT

The UK Clinical Aptitude Test (UKCAT) is an entry test required by many medical and dental schools in the UK. It is essential to check whether the medical school you are applying to requires you to take the UKCAT. You can have a look at the UKCAT or UCAS websites for this information, or visit the medical school’s website for valuable information.

Aptitude and Reasoning

Due to the highly competitive nature of medical courses, this test has been specifically designed to assess aptitude rather than academic performance, Therefore, it is not related to any particular subject and cannot be revised for in the normal way as with your current studies. It covers the qualities, attitudes and behavioural attributes necessary to become a medical professional. The UKCAT is designed to assess your cognitive abilities and mental capacities to undertake a medical training course and be a successful doctor.

Four part assessment

The UKCAT has four different sub sections, all of which must be taken and are regarded as essential skills and abilities for medical school. These are:

1.     Verbal reasoning. This assesses your ability to think logically about written information and develop a reasoned conclusion.

2.     Quantitative reasoning. This will consist of solving numerical problems.

3.     Abstract reasoning. This assesses your ability to read information and infer relationships through abstract thinking.

4.     Problem solving. This section involves a range of cognitive problem solving tasks based on provided information.

Registering for the UKCAT

The test is accessed and delivered via a computer. This allows you to take it at a convenient time and it is then marked automatically. The test has been developed in partnership with Pearson VUE, and therefore can be taken through Pearson VUE's high street test centres. There are about 150 test centres around the country, and you can attend a centre of your choice. During the test, you are allowed to use the on-screen calculator that is provided during some sections, and a pen and paper are also available.

You will need to register to take the UKCAT, note that it does not form part of the UCAS application process and therefore you need to this separately. However, the UKCAT website provides information about the test and is the portal through which to register for the UKCAT. There is also a registration fee that must be paid at the time of the booking, which again is done online. There are limited bursaries available to fund the UKCAT, and more information can be found on the website, along with the current cost of test.

Take time out to practice

Whilst there are no formal academic subjects required for the UKCAT, it is advisable to undertake some practice tests so that you know the types of questions that will be asked. You may wish to familiarise yourself with the question style, the multiple choice format and the different UKCAT subsections. Again, these practice questions can be found on the UKCAT website, along with an official guide to preparing, registering and taking the assessment test.

UKCAT Website: http://www.ukcat.ac.uk