UCAT Timings: How to Tackle the Hardest Part of the Exam

Imagine ball bearings dropping into a metal bucket. As each one drops it clangs and pulls your attention away from your task.

Your heartbeat quickens and your eyes just can't help glancing over to the bucket.

That's what the UCAT feels like if you walk in unprepared for the time pressure. In fact, given that only around ⅓ of applicants get into medical school in the UK (¼ for dental school), getting on top of this is essential. 

Why are UCAT timings important?

  • The exam is deliberately time-pressured as a way of differentiating students. Timing is one of the main ways you can improve with practice.
  • Learning how to ‘play the game’ intelligently can boost your score without any additional knowledge.
  • Being short of time creates stress, which leads to poorer performance. Regular practice keeps you cool and focused.

Creating a plan to save time in the UCAT

The key to UCAT timing is a solid preparation plan. Read up on how to create a plan and prepare for the UCAT. This one is worth pulling out all the stops for, so you get it right first time.

Try some free diagnostic tests and UCAT practice questions to help you with your preparation

UCAT test time

The UCAT is a 2-hour computer-based assessment with 5 sections. Some are more time pressured than others, but all require speed of thought and strategy.

Find out about the average UCAT score for each section

UCAT section times

UCAT section timing infographic with minutes, questions and time per question for each section


A textbook marked with highlights and sticky notes

Verbal Reasoning timing

Minutes: 21

Questions: 44

The key to timing in Verbal Reasoning is how quickly you can interpret written information. This is arguably the most time-pressured section, with only 28 seconds per question and very large texts to read.

Get tips to master VR timing

Try our VR Inference Trainer (free with all UCAT subscriptions)



A laptop, a mobile phone and books used to revise for the UCAT

Decision Making timing

Minutes: 31

Questions: 29

Decision Making has some easy questions you'll breeze through and others that could trap you and waste your time. The main issue is the variety of possible questions. This is a great place to focus your practice and work on creating solid routines.

Get UCAT Decision Making tips

A calculator

Quantitative Reasoning timing

Minutes: 24

Questions: 36

One of the keys to QR timing is mastering the UCAT calculator and knowing when and when not to use it. Part of this is improving your ability to guesstimate answers at speed to save time.

Tips for UCAT Quantitative Reasoning or learn how to use the QR calculator.

A number of shapes between two hands

Abstract Reasoning timing

Minutes: 13

Questions: 55

Once you have mastered the different types of recurring problems in this section, it shouldn't pose a timing issue. The article below outlines the SCANS mnemonic and some other tricks to save time.

Master UCAT Abstract Reasoning timing

A balance scale

Situational Judgement timing

Minutes: 26

Questions: 69

Some questions may just be reading a short text and marking an action as “appropriate” or “inappropriate”, others take more thought.

Good exam technique can prevent you getting stuck on questions. Read UCAT SJT tips to learn more.

Medify's UCAT mock timing statistics

Medify's Online UCAT Course features mock timing statistics, where you're able to view all your timings and scores for each question:

Image of 'Timing Statistics' representing time taken to answer questions as a graph

This allows you to compare your time-per-question data across all sections of your mock exams and gives you a comparative view of the average time Medify users take to reach a correct answer. 

Your weaknesses can easily be spotted via this new feature that shows your exact strengths and weaknesses.

Unanswered questions? Try our UCAT FAQs article.

Summary

Timing is critical to performing well in the UCAT.

VR is often considered to be the hardest section in terms of timing. Read our tips and tricks articles above to create your revision plan, as targeting your weaknesses and sticking to routines increases your speed.

Ultimately, the best way to improve your timing is by doing timed UCAT practice questions. Medify has over 20,000 - the largest UCAT question bank in the world.

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