UCAT – Everything you need to know in 2022

UCAT – Everything you need to know in 2022

UCAT - Everything you need to know
UCAT - Everything you need to know
Holly Melvin
4th Year Medical Student at The University of Manchester, Instagram account: @that.girl.medic
May 15, 2022

What is the UCAT?

The meaning of the UCAT is University Clinical Aptitude Test. It is one thing you have most likely heard about if you are seriously thinking about applying to medical school. Most UK medical schools require all the applicants to take the UCAT as a part of the application process. 

In short, the UCAT is a computer-based exam used as an entry exam to some of the medical schools in the UK, however, not every medical school requires applicants to take the UCAT. Have a look at our other guide to see which Medical Schools in the UK require UCAT.

What is the UCAT summary

  • It’s a computer-based exam
  • Not every medical school in the UK requires the UCAT, some require a different test called the BMAT
  • You book your exam through the UCAT website
  • The UCAT cost £70 for applicants inside the UK and £115 for applicants outside the UK
  • The UCAT consists of 5 sections
  • Situational Judgement is scored separately to the other sections
  • You have to bring your ID on the day of sitting your exam

How can I take the UCAT?

The UCAT is a computer-based test, and you have to go to one of the testing centres located around the UK. You pick your location and the date when booking your exam. For more information have a look at our UCAT Registration Process Guide.

How long is the UCAT?

The UCAT is 120 minutes long. That’s all the sections added up, including 1 minute for reading the instructions before each section. If you have special educational needs, you can take the UCATSEN and you will get an extra half an hour (150 minutes in total). It’s essential you prepare for the UCAT so you know how to maximise the time you have to answer the questions.

There are also no breaks during this test. The only ‘break’ you will get is the 1 minute introduction before each section.

If you need to, you can go to the toilet during the test and then return. However, the time will not stop and you will lose valuable time to answer the questions.

How much does the UCAT cost?

If you are taking the test inside the UK, the cost is £70. If you are taking the test outside of the UK, the cost is £115.

UCAT time per question

How much time per question you have during the UCAT depends on the section you are working on:

How much time you have on the UCAT per question

UCAT Crash Course

Live and interactive UCAT teaching from expert mentors

UCAT Masterclass

Live online course to help you achieve the top percentiles

UCAT sections

The UCAT consists of 5 different sections – Verbal Reasoning, Decision Making, Quantitative Reasoning, Abstract Reasoning and the fifth section is Situational Judgement. Situational Judgement is scored and structured differently to the other sections. The UCAT scoring is explained later in this article.

Verbal Reasoning

This section is also called ‘Comprehension text’. You will be presented with a text/article to read, and you will be asked questions related to the text.

In total, there are 44 questions in the verbal reasoning section, and you will get 21 minutes to complete the section.

The key here is to be quick at reading and being able to comprehend the text effectively.

Decision Making

This section includes questions and tasks such as logic puzzles, interpreting information, recognising assumptions, syllogisms, probabilistic reasoning and Venn diagrams.

The decision-making section consists of 29 questions, and you will get 31 minutes to battle your way through them.

The only way to get better at this is, unfortunately, to practice.

Quantitative Reasoning

Graphs, charts, tables and formulas. The title of this section is quite self-explanatory, and it’s all about evaluating numeric information.

You will get 25 minutes to complete the Quantitative reasoning section, and there 36 questions in total in this section.

But in general, these questions don’t tend to be too difficult, and the key is to be able to work with the calculator quickly.

Abstract Reasoning

The section of the UCAT people fear the most. This section is basically about recognising patterns and finding the next step in the sequence.

You will get 12 minutes to answer 50 questions in the Abstract reasoning section.

Similarly to the decision-making section, the only way to prepare for the abstract reasoning section is to practice. To practice a lot.

Situational judgement

Here you will be responding to real world scenarios. You will be presented with a situation that could occur in real life, and you have to choose what your reaction to this situation is.

You will be asked 66 questions, and you will have 26 minutes to answer all questions in the situational judgement section. 

UCAT scoring

Verbal Reasoning, Abstract Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning

In these 3 sections, you will get one point for every correct answer. Easy as that. Plus, there is no negative marking, so definitely guess if you can’t work out the answer.

Decision making

In general, you will get one point for each correct answer. However, some of the statements can be linked to 2 different questions.

In this case, you can get 2 points for answering both questions correctly, 1 point for answering 1 question correctly and 1 incorrectly, or 0 points for answering both questions incorrectly.

Again there is no negative marking, so definitely have a guess!

Your final UCAT score

Since each section has a different amount of questions, the points you receive are converted into 300-900 scale to give a total score out of 3600.

The scoring system here is very complicated but do not worry. You will start getting the hang of it once you start practising. And at the end of the day, all you need to do is to answer the questions correctly. You do not need to understand the algorithm for converting the points into the scoring scale.

Scoring in Situational judgement

If you give the correct answer, you will get full marks for the question. If you give an answer that is close to the correct answer, you can get partial marks.

Your marks are then counted and converted into the ‘Band system’. Band 1 is the best, and Band 4 is the worst. Every university looks at Situational judgement bands differently, some may cut off everyone from Band 3 and 4, and some may give more marks if you are in Band 1.

Things to remember for the test day

Bring your ID

One of the most important things when it comes to the actual UCAT testing day is to bring your ID. You will not be allowed to take the test if you don’t have any identification on you.

Pens, notepads etc.

You will not be allowed to bring in any notepads or pens. You will be provided with a laminated whiteboard and a pen.

You also can’t bring in your own calculator, but there will be an on-screen calculator for you to use.

You can also request earphones if you are struggling to focus during the test, but you can’t bring in your own earphones.

Lastly, you have to lock all your belongings into a locker room before the start of the test, including your water bottle and any snacks.

UCAT results

You will receive your results immediately after the test. You will receive an envelope with the results inside, so you do not have to open it immediately after taking the test if you don’t want to. You can also access your results online in your account.

Your results will be passed on to your uni for you, so you do not have to send your results to universities you are applying to yourself.

Key UCAT dates for 2022

24 May – Accounts registration opens (you can create your account)
20 June – Test bookings open (you can book your test)
11 July – Testing begins (the earliest possible date you can take your test)
20 September – Access Arrangements application deadline 

22 September – Test bookings close (you can’t book your test after this date)
29 September – Final testing day (the latest possible date you can take your test)
30 September – Bursary Scheme application deadline

15 October – UCAS application deadline
Early November – results delivered to universities

To make sure you are preparing for the UCAT correctly, check out our UCAT Preparation Guide.


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