The UCAT (University Clinical Aptitude Test) is a standardised computer-based assessment designed to assess students’ ability to interpret numerical and written information presented in various formats. All UCAT sections are related to important qualities for medical professionals.
As a standardised test it is used to compare and rank applicants across the UK, as well as international applicants.
Admittedly, the test sounds scary, but it is actually a lot less stressful than you might think, if you approach it in the right way.
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.
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.
Admission to medicine and dentistry is extremely competitive as the number of applicants far outweighs the number of available places.
As an example, in 2021, 28,690 students applied for undergraduate medical programmes in the UK. Only 9,500 of these applicants will be offered a place.
In 2020, there were 15,925 dental applications, 3250 received an offer.
The UCAT helps medical schools decide who to invite to interview and sometimes who gets the final offer. Getting a good score will increase your chances of getting accepted.
Use our comprehensive UCAT course and start as early as possible.
Our course has a fully realistic online exam simulator, 13,000 questions, personalised feedback, and detailed video tutorials on every section. To widen access, we always keep our content affordable, with prices starting at just £35.
Keep a diary of how you are doing in each section, and target your weaknesses systematically.
The UCAT tests aptitude rather than academic knowledge. Each section of the UCAT assesses a different proficiency:
Verbal Reasoning (VR): Critically evaluating written material
Decision Making (DM): Making appropriate decisions in complex situations
Quantitative Reasoning (QR): Assessing and evaluating numerical information
Abstract Reasoning (AR): Using both convergent and divergent thinking styles
Situational Judgement Test (SJT): Testing your reasoning against real-life medical situations
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
The UCAT is compulsory for the following courses:
*Please note that these courses may have alternative requirements for some students.
The UCAT test takes 2 hours to complete.
Each section has 1 minute for reading the instructions.
We recommend giving yourself plenty of time. A month is the absolute minimum, and six weeks is the recommended minimum.
It is an aptitude test, and some students may be able to get a good score with just a month’s preparation. The question to ask yourself is ‘will I risk jeopardising my future career if I prepare too little?’ There are a limited number of medical school places so you need to score as high as you can to give yourself the best chance of gaining entry.
Many students prepare for months before the test, so make sure you are ready for the intense competition. Doing 20 minutes to an hour a day over months is a great way to learn the ins and outs of the exam without the stress.
Most students find the UCAT challenging not because the questions are particularly difficult but because of the huge number of questions that need to be answered in just two hours (233 in total!).
On average, you need to answer two questions every minute, so time is very much your enemy.
Research indicates that students who use prep materials and study more for the UCAT score higher.
Preparing for the UCAT involves four key steps:
a. Learn about the different styles and formats of the questions, as well as strategies for solving them.
b. Practise with plenty of questions to become faster at answering correctly.
c. Simulate with mock exams to gauge your readiness for the time pressure.
d. Review your performance and focus on weaker areas.
Try our free UCAT questions to give yourself a better understanding of the exam.
Our Online UCAT Course provides you with extensive video tutorials, a huge bank of over 20,000 questions, 21 unique full mock exams, 40+ mini-mock exams and question walkthroughs, as well as personalised performance feedback.
Medify has a team of experts following UCAT developments and continuously responding to student feedback to make the simulated tests as realistic as possible.
For example, we have recently updated the entire Verbal Reasoning section, and it is now the most up-to-date and realistic resource on the market. We have also updated our VR tips and tricks guide.
If you prepare thoroughly with Medify’s software, you won’t have any nasty surprises on the day.
You can sit the UCAT in your final year of secondary school and any year after that.
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. Then you can book your test session.
It’s possible to postpone your exam with appropriate notice. However, if you miss the deadline you can lose the fee. Cancelling and rebooking is sometimes better.
The official UCAT site says: ‘Tests can be cancelled for a full refund as long as you give appropriate notice. If you miss the cancellation deadline, your test fee will not be refunded.’
You cannot cancel or reschedule an appointment by email, only through your account or by calling UCAT customer services.
Yes, the UCAT is taken the year before you want to begin your studies.
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:
(Medify’s platform fully supports UCATSEN)
Yes, for anyone with visual impairment, adjustments can be made to font size to help you during the exam.
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.
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 added up 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 year.
For example, a total scaled score of 2850 in 2020 meant you were in the top 10%, or 9th decile.
The scaled score for the Situational Judgement test also ranges between 300 and 900 but this is not included in the total scaled score. Candidates are also placed in bands for the SJT. In 2020, the top 30% of candidates were in Band 1, the next 36% in Band 2, the next 24% in Band 3 and the bottom 9% in Band 4.
No. Guess the answers that you are unsure about or do not have time to concentrate on. You have nothing to lose.
This is difficult to say as it varies from year to year and also depends on the universities you apply to.
A score in the 90th percentile or higher (=2850) would give you a solid chance of securing interviews.
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.
Each university uses UCAT scores differently. Some use the UCAT as part of both interview invitation and final selection, whereas others use it as part of final selection only.
Find out about the specific UCAT requirements in the UK.
A high UCAT score takes you closer to medical school, but even with a low UCAT score, there are several options:
You can study medicine overseas (e.g. Eastern Europe).
Your UCAT result is communicated directly to your chosen universities in early November 2021.
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 and dental programmes commencing in 2022 (or 2023 if you are deferring your place).
Your UCAT results are delivered directly to the chosen universities. You don’t need to take any further action once you’ve completed the exam.
The Graduate Medical School Admissions Test (GAMSAT) is an entrance exam used by graduate medical and dental courses.
The UCAT is a purely skills-based test, whereas some sections of the GAMSAT assume prerequisite knowledge in sciences. The GAMSAT also requires you to write an essay, whereas the UCAT consists entirely of multiple-choice questions.
Both exams require a high level of critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
You can’t use a pen and paper for notes or workings.
You will be provided with a small whiteboard (or laminated sheets), a marker pen and a board rubber.
Nothing is allowed into the testing room apart from the indoor clothes worn and any permitted items on the Pearson VUE Comfort Aid List.
Person VUE says: ‘All personal belongings (including bags, coats, hats or head coverings, papers, books, pens, watches, wallets, keys, IDs, mobile phones, food/water/drinks) must be placed in the lockers provided before you enter the test room. The only exceptions permitted are religious apparel, headwear worn for medical reasons and small hair clips/hairbands (less than 1/2 inch wide).’
There is an onscreen calculator available, which is useful for the QR section. No personal calculators are allowed.
You can email email@example.com
For Pearson VUE-related queries, you can call
Open Monday to Friday, 8am - 5pm UK time (excluding UK bank holidays).
Medify can provide you with the most accurate feedback on the market. 70% of those who take the UCAT use Medify, so we feed that enormous data set back into the system.
That means we can compare, with unparalleled accuracy:
Little and often.
Trying to cram for such a time-pressured test can be very stressful and leave you at a disadvantage.
In our experience, the best students take a proactive approach early in the year, so by the time they take the exam the format is second nature.
Ready to get started? Go to our UCAT page, for more information, a free test or to sign up.
We provide you with extensive video tutorials, a huge bank of 20,000+ questions, 21 unique full mock exams, 40+ 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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