UKCAT

The UK Clinical Aptitude Test (UKCAT) is a two-hour computer-based admissions test, used by many universities for medicine degrees and some dentistry degrees. It is currently used by 28 universities in the UK and 5 universities abroad; you can see an up-to-date list here.

It is taken in the months preceding a university application, usually between July and October of the year you apply. UKCAT results are only valid for the year of applications in which you take them, and you would need to retake the exam if you wanted to reapply in future years.

This pages covers:

How is the UKCAT scored?

Key Dates and Important Info

Fees and the Bursary System

Access Arrangements

Preparation

The Test

After the Test

My Experience


How is the UKCAT scored?

The UKCAT is comprised of 5 sections. The first 4 are each scored from 300-900, and the total score range is 1200-3600. The final section is scored as Band 1 to Band 4. To see what these results mean, click here to see how universities use UKCAT results.

Key Dates and Important Info

Registration for the UKCAT opens on 1st May 2018 and closes on 18th September 2018 for entry in 2019, or deferred entry in 2020.

You can take the test from 2nd July 2018 until 2nd October 2018, and results are delivered to universities in early November 2018.

It doesn’t matter when you take the test, but it’s best to leave yourself time in case you need to adjust your UCAS application after you get your results.

Fees and the Bursary System

If you take the test in the EU between 2nd July 2018 and 31st August 2018, the fee is £65.

If you take the test in the EU between 1st September 2018 and 2nd October 2018, the fee is £87.

To take the test outside the EU, the fee is £127.

Access Arrangements

If you have extra time in public exams, you can apply for up to 50% extra time in the UKCAT, or to have rest breaks. For more information click here. For other access arrangements, for example wheelchair access, you can find more information here.

Preparation

The official UKCAT website has amazing practice resources, such as 400 official practice questions which you can find here. They are the same type as those which appear in the test, and have fully explained answers.

You can find many free practice questions online, and there are also some paid courses. However, these are not always the same as ones you’ll get in the test. The UKCAT has changed in recent years, so questions for some sections may be out of date. It is completely up to you whether you use these, but they are not necessary as the official ones are more than enough.

The UKCAT website also has three timed practice tests which you can find here. They mimic the experience very well, but do not tell you which questions you got correct. As such, it’s best to save them until you have practiced some questions before.

There are free official mobile apps for Apple and Android which are helpful tools to complement the official practice questions.

The Test

At the test centre you can find lockers to store personal belongings, as you can’t take anything into the test room (including water).

Once the test has started, you can’t pause it. If you really have to take a break then the test will keep running, so it’s a very good idea to go to the toilet before you enter.

1. Verbal Reasoning

This test is 21 minutes long and has 44 questions (approx. 29 seconds per question).

It involves reading and understanding information and drawing conclusions from passages you are given. You don’t need any prior knowledge – everything you need to know is given to you in the passage.

In total, you get 11 passages of text, each with 4 questions. For some questions, you are asked to answer a question or complete a statement using multiple choice answers. In others, you are provided with a statement and have to choose whether the passage proves the statement true or false, or whether you can’t tell based on the information you’ve been given.

This section assesses your logical thinking, so it’s handy to practice and see what kind of things you might be expected to infer.

2. Decision Making

This test is 31 minutes long and has 29 questions (approx. 64 seconds per question).

It involves applying logic to complex information, reaching a decision or evaluating arguments. In each question, you may be given text, graphs, tables or diagrams, along with some additional information.

Some questions ask you to pick the correct answer from four options, and others ask ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to a series of statements. If you want, you can use an on-screen calculator or a booklet and pen which is provided for you by the test centre.

3. Quantitative Reasoning

This test is 24 minutes long and has 36 questions (40 seconds per question).

It involves critically evaluating numerical information, and assumes mathematical ability up to the standard of a good pass at GCSE. However, questions are more to do with problem solving than mathematics.

Each question may have tables, charts or graphs. You are expected to extract relevant information from these figures and use it to choose the best option from five possible answers.

In this section, you will need to use the on-screen calculator. It is very helpful to be familiar with the calculator, as you can’t bring your own in. To find out more about how to use the calculator, click here or complete the practice tests.

4. Abstract Reasoning

This test is 13 minutes long and has 55 questions (approx. 14 seconds per question).

This is often found as the hardest section so it’s best not to stress too much about it. It assesses your ability to find patterns in abstract shapes, and often the patterns are obscured with irrelevant and distracting shapes.

There are four types of question in this subtest:

1. You are given two sets of shapes (‘A’ and ‘B’) and are asked to decide whether a test shape fits into set A, set B or neither.

2. You are given a series of shapes and asked to pick the next shape in the series.

3. You are given a statement and asked to pick which shape completes the statement.

4. You are given two sets of shapes (‘A’ and ‘B’) and asked to select which of the four options belongs to set A or B.

5. Situational Judgement

This test is 26 minutes long and has 69 questions (approx. 23 seconds per question).

It assesses your ability to understand real word scenarios and deal with them appropriately. For each scenario, you will need to consider either the appropriateness of possible actions, or the importance of possible considerations. In some questions you rate a response in terms of its appropriateness, and in others you will be asked to choose the most and least appropriate action to take in response to the situation.

Questions do not require any medical knowledge, however it’s good to try and get into the mindset of a doctor by thinking professionally and safely.

After the Test

When you’ve finished the test, you’ll get a printout of your results immediately. You can then use these to check whether you meet thresholds for particular universities, and therefore if you need to adjust your UCAS application.

Universities receive your UKCAT results automatically, so you don’t need to do anything else.

Some universities have cut-offs and if your UKCAT score is below this then you won’t be considered – do not apply to these universities unless your score meets the threshold as it will be a wasted application.

My Experience - Medical Student 

Being familiar with the format will be a great help. It’ll help you relax during the test and save you time having to work out what’s going on.

There’s no need to rush – you don’t have to (and are not expected to!) finish every question. It’s much better to be accurate and not finish than have time left over and make silly mistakes. Despite that, remember that it is timed so keep focused and try to be efficient.

If one particular question is very tricky and taking lots of time, consider skipping it.

The official UKCAT practice questions are brilliant, if you do them then that’ll be more than enough preparation.