What is the UCAT (UKCAT)?
The UK Clinical Aptitude Test (UKCAT) or university Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT) is a multiple choice, timed, a computerised exam that prospective medical or dental applicants for UK universities may be required to take. The UCAT (UKCAT) is made up of five different sections and is designed to evaluate your cognitive abilities. It ensures that candidates selected have the most appropriate mental abilities, attitudes and professional behaviour required to be successful in a clinical career.
The UCAT (UKCAT) does not contain any curriculum or science content. It focuses on exploring the cognitive powers of candidates and other attributes considered to be valuable for healthcare professionals. The UCAT (UKCAT) is provided by Pearson Vue and is taken at Pearson Vue’s centres. Score results are provided immediately upon completion of the exam. Scores are sent directly to the university or universities to which you are applying.
What is the UCAT (UKCAT) format?
The UCAT (UKCAT) test assesses a range of mental abilities identified by Medical and Dental Schools as important. There is no curriculum content as the test examines innate skills. Each subtest is in a multiple-choice format and is separately timed.
Here is the breakdown of the UCAT (UKCAT) format based on the 2019 format:
Verbal Reasoning - 22 minutes - 44 questions
Quantitative Reasoning - 25 minutes 36 questions
Abstract Reasoning - 14 minutes 55 questions
Decision Making - 32 minutes 29 questions
Situational Judgement - 27 minutes 69 questions
How is the UCAT (UKCAT) marked?
The first four UCAT (UKCAT) sections: Verbal Reasoning, Decision Making, Quantitative Reasoning and Abstract Reasoning are marked depending on how many correct answers you give. Questions that have one correct answer are awarded a maximum of 1 mark and those that have multiple answers are worth 2 marks. Questions with multiple answers such as those in the Decision Making section, can be awarded 1 mark if you give a partially correct answer. Each UCAT (UKCAT) section does not have negative marking, and there is no influence between sections.
Marking each UCAT (UKCAT) Section
Verbal Reasoning, Decision Making, Quantitative Reasoning and Abstract Reasoning have a different number of questions. Hence, there is no direct link to the number of correct answers and a score. Therefore the UCAT (UKCAT) convert your raw score into a scale between 300 and 900. Once your UCAT (UKCAT) exam is complete, you will receive a score per UCAT (UKCAT) section. Your overall score will be the total score of all 4 UCAT (UKCAT) section hence ranging from 1200 to 3600.
For example, your scaled score may be: Verbal Reasoning: 500, Decision Making: 600, Quantitative Reasoning: 700 and Abstract Reasoning: 800. Your total score will be the total of all 4 sections: 500 + 600 + 700 + 800 = 2600. Your average UCAT (UKCAT) score will be your total score divided by 4. Using the example: 2600/4 = 650.
Marking the Situational Judgement Test
Here, the marking system is different. The Situational Judgement section uses a banding system depending on how correct your response is. Full marks are given if you answer correctly, and partial marks may be given if you are close to the correct answer. There are 4 bands ranging from Band 1 to Band 4 where per question, you will be awarded Band 1 if you choose the correct answer, band 2 or 3 if you are further from the answer and band 4 if you have incorrectly chosen the answer. After all SJT questions are complete, you will be given an average Band which will be your SJT score.
A guide to the UCAT (UKCAT) SJT Banding System is below:
Band 1: The candidate has demonstrated an excellent level of performance, a level that is similar to the panel of experts
Band 2: The candidate has demonstrated a good level of performance, frequently matching the answers similar to an expert level
Band 3: The candidate has demonstrated a modest level of performance, with many appropriate answers but several answers different to the panel of experts.
It is likely that the SJT will be considered in a different manner to the other cognitive subtests, refer to each university website for further details
Band 4: The candidate has a demonstrated a low level of performance with most answers differing from the ideal answer.
When do I receive my UCAT (UKCAT) results?
After finishing your UCAT (UKCAT) exam, you will be given a sheet with your UCAT (UKCAT) scores at the test centre. The exam result will involve a score per UCAT (UKCAT) Section as well as your SJT band. Your UCAT (UKCAT) result will be valid for one year. Additional copies can be requested at a fee of £25 GBP. You can order additional copies by contacting Pearson VUE.
How do I interpet my UCAT (UKCAT) results?
Your UCAT (UKCAT) result can help guide you into choosing your universities. Your UCAT (UKCAT) result will be given before the UCAS deadline, giving you time to decide which university you want to apply to. By going onto each university’s admission criteria page on their website, more insight will be given as to how they use the UCAT (UKCAT) in selecting candidates.
For some universities, the UCAT (UKCAT) plays a big factor in the candidate’s application and for others it plays a less significant part. Some universities provide information involving a rough UCAT (UKCAT) score they would prefer based on previous years results as well as if they even consider UCAT (UKCAT) in their application process. Some consider the total score and some look at the individual sections with a cut-off score per UCAT (UKCAT) section. For those that do not look at the UCAT (UKCAT) or consider the UCAT (UKCAT) to be a less significant part of the UCAS application, other parts of your UCAS application: academics, personal statement or interview are considered to play a bigger part. Hence by going onto the university’s website / open day more information can be received.
Many universities use the UCAT (UKCAT) as a way to discriminate between candidates who are ranked equally in terms of other parts of the UCAS application (personal statement, academics etc) whereas other universities use the UCAT (UKCAT) as a way to boost your UCAS application if other parts of your UCAS application are not as beneficial such as performing less well at GCSE. Each university considers the UCAT (UKCAT) differently by some considering the UKCAT to play a significant part in the candidate’s application and some to not consider it at all. Use your UCAT (UKCAT) score as a way of deciding which university you want to apply to by finding out more information about each potential university.
What do I need to bring on the day?
A print out confirmation of your booking from Pearson Vue
One piece of photographic identification from the approved list which meets requirements stated on the Pearson Vue website.
You cannot take any personal belongings into the UCAT (UKCAT), nor can you take any food or drink. Anything that you do bring will need to be stored in a locker at the test centre.
You may not bring a calculator into the exam - there is one provided online for you.
What does the UCAT (UKCAT) venue look like?
You will get a desk space with a PC, keyboard and space for a whiteboard and pen. There will be other people doing different tests in the same venue, you may request earplugs or headphones if you think you might require them.
You will be given a laminated note board and permanent marker pen to make notes on during the test. If you need another pen or board, raise your arm and an invigilator will give you a new one
Please check the pen is working before you begin