UCAT (University Clinical Aptitude Test), or as known previously as the UKCAT, is an admission test or medical entrance exam most widely accepted and approved as a part of the selection process to a consortium of universities through the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand. After establishing itself as an international entrance examination, in 2019 it changed its name from the UK Clinical Aptitude Test (UKCAT) to what it is presently known as UCAT.
The fundamental difference that it claims to have to other medical entrance exams is that UCAT assesses both cognitive and non-cognitive skills of the applicant aspiring to be a successful clinician. However, the UCAT exam does not stand single but is part of other admission processes like the academic qualifications and Universities and Colleges Admission Service (UCAS) application. It is not particularly an academic achievement in terms but is rather designed as an opportunity to stand out of the crowd proving one’s aptitude and attitude to demand for a program of study.
UCAT Test Syllabus and Format
UCAT is a two-hour online examination that focuses primarily on a series of mental abilities as recognized, advised, practiced, and held important by the universities for being eligible to possess expertise in the fields of medical / dentistry / clinical services.
There are two variants of the test:
- Standard test
- Extended test
Note: Extended test entitles extra time in cases of medically documented medical conditions or disabilities of an applicant.
There are at present five separate subjects out of which four are cognitive tests and one tests the candidate’s professional demeanor. Each subtest holds a different number of questions. These questions are of multiple-choice format and are held without any break. However, after each subtest, there will be a timed instruction section for the next one which will substitute a short break for the candidates. These tests are held to assess and evaluate the applicant’s wide set of abilities of the candidates who aspire to pursue or practice in dental or medical science. The five UCAT subtests are:
- Verbal reasoning
- Decision making
- Quantitative reasoning
- Abstract reasoning
- Substitutional judgment
Each of these tests holds a separate medium of evaluating the candidate’s certain range of medical abilities, eligibilities, behavioral attributes wherein the medical abilities include critical and logical thinking processes as well as inference.
For example, the Verbal Reasoning (VR) test of UCAT assesses the ability to critically evaluate all the information that has been presented in a written form. In this test, the candidate can be given unknown passages of any text that they need to read and comprehend. This will, in the future, be an essential need in a medical career, to evaluate and reason the present circumstances based on reports and history of any case.
The Decision Making (DM) assesses the abilities of a candidate to make sound decisions and clear judgments with the use of serpentined instructions and the Situational Judgement Tests (SJT) assesses the capacity of a candidate to understand real-world circumstances and identify in them the critical factors with the aid of appropriate behavior while dealing with them to identify the best course of action. Both of these focuses on apprehending the need for clear conscience while dealing with the crude and actual world.
Quantitative Reasoning (QR) assesses the abilities of the candidates to critically evaluate the information that is given in numerical forms. In simpler terms, the QR test comprises of basic math problems that catechize the mathematical knowledge required in the field like a patient’s vital measurements, drug doses, and other daily aspects of medicines which are expected of everyone getting into the department of medical sciences.
Abstract Reasoning (AR) assesses the usage of convergent and divergent thinking of the candidates to infer relationships from the information that is being given. This indulges in the ability of a candidate to notice patterns in an assemblage of unknown values and pieces of information. Again, a very important part of a medical career, this is a very useful skill to apprehend while examining a patient with new and critical variations of symptoms of visible importance which often can be found to be unknown.
Here is a list of the subtests along with the number of questions and time allocated to each separately:
- Before each subtest in the standard test variation, there is a time of 1 minute for the instruction section
- Before each subtest in the extended test variation, there is a time of 1 minute 15 seconds for the instruction section.
|Serial Number||Subtests||Number of Questions||UCAT ANZ
|1||Verbal Reasoning (VR)||44||21 minutes of test time||26 minutes and 15 seconds of test time|
|2||Decision Making (DM)||29||31 minutes of test time||38 minutes and 45 seconds of test time|
|3||Quantitative Reasoning (QR)||36||24 minutes of test time||30 minutes of test time|
|4||Abstract Reasoning (AR)||55||13 minutes of test time||16 minutes and 15 seconds of test time|
|5||Situational Judgement Test (SJT)||69||26 minutes of test time||32 minutes and 30 seconds of test time|
UCAT Scoring Scale
The tests held in the UCAT are of multiple-choice format, hence attempting to as many as possible in the given time set for each subtest. What comes as a blessing is the absence of negative marking. This allows the candidates to answer the questions they are confident about efficiently and guess the rest keeping in mind the practicality and the relatability of the answer. This is not just a beneficiary factor scoring but also reduces a huge amount of pressure from the minds of the students/ candidates/ applicants name it as you may.
In the competitive world that we live in, even one mark makes a significant difference. To avoid the chances of being incorrect, one must make an educated guess with the use of smart strategies to the answers they are unsure of leaving no question blank. However, this should act like nothing more than ‘en dernier resort’.
The UCAT is scored out of 3,600 marks and divided into the above four subtests excluding the Situational Judgement Test. Each test holds a score scaling from 300 to 900 which is later summed up as a whole to get the UCAT score.
The SJT is calculated and scored separately wherein instead of numbers as a score, the candidate will be placed in a band. There are 4 bands, band 1 represents the highest and band 4 represents the lowest according to the performances of the candidates.
Here is a list of the band differentiation in SJT:
|Situational Judgement Scoring Bands||Estimated Equivalent Scores|
|Band 1||57 to 69 approximately|
|Band 2||38 to 56 approximately|
|Band 3||19 to 34 approximately|
|Band 4||0 to 18 approximately|
Each year, the UCAT scores are arranged into deciles. These are commonly termed the UCAT Deciles and each decile represents 10% of the candidates. For example, if a candidate scores under the 1st decile, it represents that the candidate has scored in the bottom 10% of all the UCAT applicants. And the exact opposite in the case of the 10th decile, where the candidates have scored in the top 10% of all the UCAT applicants.
According to experts, we can evaluate the results to be Good, Average, and Low following the below-mentioned pattern. However, keep in mind the scores vary every year and there is no chance of estimating an exact value. These are mere calculations and assumptions made in light of previous case scenarios.
- Good UCAT score – typically a good score ranges and varies from 640 to 670 and above that which is above 680 (approximate value) is commonly known as a high score.
- Average UCAT score – Again, a highly varying number that ranges between 620 to 630 is commonly known as an average UCAT score.
- Low UCAT score – a low UCAT score is generally known to be below 610.
How are UCAT scores considered?
A very natural question that comes to mind after going through the procedures is how will the calculation of the scores of a candidate happen and what happens after getting the results. To find a remedy to this question, here’s a list of the short and simple procedure explaining the steps that take places:
- Medical schools use the UCAT results comprehensively alongside all the components that make up the application.
- The selection of the candidate will depend on the cut-off score and the candidates need to meet that particular marks.
- All the candidates shall be ranked by score and all the top-scorers will be ultimately selected.
How to apply for UCAT exams?
There are a lot of things that need to be taken care of when appearing for an exam like this. We make that task easy for you here in this article of EduQuest by listing down all the necessary components and making them accessible and available all in one place.
Step 1 – Registration – All the applicants need to open a web account and register themselves for UCAT within the given deadlines. Deadlines and all the timelines are provided on the official website of UCAT for the given year. Failing to do so will result in a mishap as the UCAT will not allow any registrations after the deadline is over.
- The applicant must complete the registrations personally and no schools or colleges and substitute for the applicant.
- Until a successful registration, the candidate shall see this message “the feature you are trying to access is blocked. Please try again later” this indicates the condition of the registration.
- A single applicant can open only one account and in cases of repetition, the candidates shall need to use the same account they used previously.
- The candidates need to use their legal name exactly as it is given on the photo ID, they intend to present during the test failing to which the candidate shall not be able to sit for the examination with a loss of exam fee. The same rule applies to the UCAS application.
- During the registration, the candidate shall need to provide all the necessary information asked for in the process. A questionnaire will be given for that list of information.
Step 2 – Application for a Bursary or Access Arrangement (if applicable) – UCAT has introduced an amazing feature called the UCAT Bursary that covers the full test fees for the candidates in need of financial support. Also, candidates with special educational needs, medical conditions who require access arrangements must apply for these before the booking of their tests.
Step 3 – UCAT Booking – the booking dates are available on the official website for the given year and one may book their test through their web account or via calling Personal VUE Customer Services.
- Test fees in the UK: £75
- Test fees outside the UK: £120
Step 4 – Test Day: The candidate must familiarize themselves with the photo ID policy put forward by UCAT, read the rules of the examination, and get a clear concept of what to expect at a Test Centre.
Step 5 – UCAT Preparation – A clear idea of the UCAT test format, marking system, and syllabus alongside a consistent practice of enriching one’s creative as well as critical thinking is the most needed element during the preparation. UCAT also provides practice materials officially and free of cost to help the candidates prepare for the test.
Step 6 – Results – One needs to figure out how the candidates and the universities they’ve chosen receive the result and one needs to understand how the universities use their result beforehand.
It is highly advisable to use the official practice materials for a better experience along with the general material that the students gather. The abundance of time for applying allows the applicants to check and provide all the information with the utmost care and truthfulness. Therefore, the candidates must provide accurate information, and failing to do so is unpardonable.
UCAT is one of the most famous medical entrance examinations in the world and everyone must treat it with seriousness and care.