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  • Writer's pictureCameron Elsworth

What is the UCAT? An Introductory Overview.

What is UCAT?

The UCAT exam is required for entry to medical and dental schools across the UK, in Australia and New Zealand. Around 37,000 candidates sit the exam each year.

When applying to medical school in the UK, for example, applicants will sit the exam during the summer of the year they apply; an applicant applying to university in October 2022, for an entry in September 2023 would sit the UCAT during summer 2022.

How does the UCAT test candidates? What is the UCAT Exam format?

The UCAT exam is designed to test a selection of mental abilities identified by medical and dental schools as important for candidates to possess.

The UCAT exam is split into 5 subtests. These can be further divided into four cognitive subtests (Verbal Reasoning, Decision Making, Quantitative Reasoning and Abstract Reasoning) and one non-cognitive subtest; the Situational Judgement Test (SJT).

The UCAT exam will take candidates around two hours to complete, it is computer-based and cannot be paused once started. There is a 1-minute break between subtest sections.

What is involved with each section of the UCAT?

As mentioned, there are four cognitive sections and one non-cognitive section. Each section will test a different desirable mental attribute of a potential candidate.

Here is an overview of what each section entails

Verbal Reasoning: This section tests your reading comprehension and interpretation skills. You must identify relevant information in a passage and interpret this correctly to reach a conclusion.

Decision Making: this section tests your logical reasoning, forcing you to perform stepwise exercises to move from the question to the answer.

Quantitative Reasoning: This section tests your numerical reasoning with arithmetic, algebra or geometric calculations or data interpretation. The difficulty is created by time pressure.

Abstract Reasoning: This section tests your spatial reasoning, you will be presented with a series of shapes, must identify unifying patterns and select which one of the options given fits the identified pattern.

Situational Judgement: you are tasked with judging the importance of factors to consider or the appropriateness of interventions in relation to a scenario.

The attributes tested in the UCAT will probably be different to anything you have done before, aside from Quantitative Reasoning. Preparation is needed to fully understand each section. Since the UCAT is not a memory-based exam, your efforts should be invested in understanding the foundational principles of each section and refining your exam technique so you can succeed under pressure.

Do you like what you see? Join our UCAT Masterclass!

We have designed 15 hours of tuition to cover each section of the UCAT in-depth. The course has been developed by UCAT experts and will be taught by UCAT experts. This is a premium and bespoke service.

We limit ourselves to a maximum of 9 students per weekend to enable us to work individually with each student.

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More Questions about the UCAT or Medical Admissions in General?

We have information on the MasterMedPrep website breaking down every element of the medical school admissions process. If you have a specific query please don’t hesitate to get in contact with us using the LiveChat on our website, via email or via any of our social media channels.


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