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UCAT Blog Series: The UCAT Broken Down

Welcome back to our UCAT Blog Series! If you haven’t already, please read our first blog in the series on the Medicine application process. This is the second blog in the series, where we will bring a microscope to the UCAT to provide a bit more detail to the admission test.

My name is Andeep Ghataure – a second year medical student and BWAMS conference officer. We've all been through this process at BWAMS and are keen to make sure you succeed!

The Logistics

The UCAT stands for University Clinical Aptitude Test. During your revision, you may find it is called the UKCAT (UK Clinical Aptitude Test). UCAT and UKCAT refer to the same thing. The UKCAT was renamed the UCAT in 2019 as the test is now used by medical schools internationally, and some of the sections have changed.

The UCAT is a two-hour multiple-choice exam taken on a computer. It consists of 5 sections –known as subtests. You may be able to get extra time in the UCAT if you meet the criteria: The UCAT is a highly time pressured exam, and you can only sit the exam once during each admissions cycle. Each of the subtests tests a different skill. While this exam tests skills as opposed to academic knowledge like GCSE and A-levels, it is still possible to prepare for it! We will discuss how to prepare in our next blog.

The period to sit the UCAT is mid-July to mid-September before you apply for university on the 15th October, and it is sat in a Pearson Test Centre. The date you sit the exam is up to you, subject to test centre availability. UCAT publishes the exact period you can sit your exam on their website: I would recommend sitting the exam at the end of August before you go back for Year 13.

In 2022, the UCAT cost £70 to sit. The exact amount for the exam will be confirmed by UCAT before you can book your test. Bursaries are available to cover the cost for those struggling financially, so please review the UCAT Bursary Scheme found on the UCAT website for eligibility criteria:

The Test

The 5 subtests of the UCAT are split into 4 cognitive sections, and 1 non-cognitive section. The table below shows the five sections in their exam order:

The UCAT is marked on the number of correct answers you give. There is no negative marking for incorrect answers. Most of the questions are worth 1 mark, but some are worth 2 marks if they require more than one answer. For the 4 cognitive tests, you will receive a score between 300-900 for each section. These are then added together to give you your overall score which will be between 1200–3600. You will receive a number – not a pass or fail. However, your score decides which Universities you have a chance of getting into depending on their ranking algorithm. 2600 and above is considered a good score, and 2800 and above is considered competitive. For 2021, the top 10% of candidates received 2850 or higher.

For the Situational Judgement Test (SJT), you will be given a band between 1 and 4. Band 1 is the highest and Band 4 is the lowest. Band 1 means you matched a panel of experts in most of the scenarios given, and Band 4 means you did the opposite to a panel of experts in most of the scenarios given. Some universities may automatically reject you if you have a Band 4. You will receive your numerical score and band on the same day as you sit your UCAT exam.

Each of the subtests test a different skill that medical schools view as important in medical students and future doctors. Justification about the different sections can be found on the UCAT website: Each section contains different questions, which forms the beginnings of your preparation! However, that is something we will delve into more in the next blog! See you next time! If you have any queries, please email BWAMS!

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