1st June 2020
An Introduction To The UCAT Exam
- What is the UCAT?
- How is UCAT scored?
- When should I take UCAT?
- When should I start preparing?
1. A Brief Introduction
The UCAT is an admissions test used by many universities as part of the admissions process into medicine, veterinary sciences and dentistry. This generally allows a candidate to progress into the interview stage if the university deems the candidate as a potential medical student.
2. Structure Of The UCAT
The UCAT is composed of five sections: verbal reasoning, decision making, quantitative reasoning, abstract reasoning and situational judgement.
VR is made up of 11 passages, each passage is made up of 4 questions, totalling 44 questions. 22 minutes are given to complete this question which leaves 30 seconds per question.Verbal reasoning is scored between 300-900. The average score for 2019 applicants was 565. This section aims to test your ability to obtain information from long, and difficult text passages.
DR questions have a few types. Overall the types of decision making questions make up 29 questions. 32 minutes is given to complete this section, leaving just over a minute for each question. Decision making is also scored between 300-900. The average score for 2019 applicants was 618. This section tests your ability to follow logical information to reach a conclusion.
QR is a section of mathematics. It is made up of 36 questions. You are given 25 minutes to complete this section, this leaves roughly 40-50 seconds per question. This section is scored between 300-900. The average score for quantitative reasoning in 2019 was 662. This section tests your ability to carry out mathematical calculations under pressure.
AR has four types of questions. These four types of questions total 55 questions. You are given 14 minutes to finish these questions. Abstract reasoning is scored between 300-900. The average score for 2019 applicants was 638. This section tests your ability to identify patterns of given shapes.
SJ is similar to verbal reasoning as it is also made up of passages. Each passage contains many questions. Overall there are 69 questions amongst all the passages. You are given 27 minutes to complete the situational judgement section. This leaves about 20-25 seconds per question. This section is scored in bands between band 1-4 where band 1 is the highest and band 4 is the lowest. The average score for applicants is usually band 2. This section tests your understanding of the ethical and professional aspect of being a doctor.
To learn more about these sections of the UCAT and how to prepare for them make sure you check out the UCAT page on our website.
3. When Should I Take The UCAT?
You can usually take the UCAT anywhere between July and early October. Moreover, some studies show that students who take the UCAT earlier in the summer tend to score higher on average than those who take it towards the end of the summer holiday. However, different applicants may have different circumstances that means they take the UCAT at different times of the test window, but it is generally recommended that you take it near the beginning of the summer.
4. When Should I Start Preparing For The UCAT?
It is usually recommended that you spend two to three hours a day for two to three weeks prior to your test date. Spending less time is risky given that you may not have reached your peak experience by the test date. Spending too much time revising for it, however, is also risky because you may surpass your peak point and your performance may start declining.
You can find free UCAT resources and free practice questions here on our website.
5. How Do Universities Use The UCAT?
UCAT is one aspect of many that universities look at when deciding whether to invite a candidate for an interview or to make him/her an offer. Of course there are a lot of variables that affect the likelihood of success when applying to medicine. However, an application is more likely to be successful if UCAT score is higher than average. The higher the score the higher the likelihood of successful application. This trend is particularly true for universities that do not require A-level Biology,as they try and compensate for this by looking out for higher UCAT scores.
You can learn much more about the UCAT, how to revise for it and our top tips by having a look at our UCAT guide.