UCAT Test Format
The UCAT assesses a range of mental abilities identified by university medical and dental schools as important.
The test consists of five separately timed subtests in multiple-choice format:
- Verbal Reasoning assesses your ability to critically evaluate information presented in a written form
- Decision Making assess your ability to make sound decisions and judgements using complex information
- Quantitative Reasoning assesses your ability to critically evaluate information presented in a numerical form
- Abstract Reasoning assesses your use of convergent and divergent thinking to infer relationships from information
- Situational Judgement measures your capacity to understand real world situations and to identify critical factors and appropriate behaviour in dealing with them
The standard test is 2 hours. Once the test has started it cannot be paused but each subtest is preceded by a 1 minute instruction section.
Eligible candidates can apply for Access Arrangements to sit an extended version of the test.
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||300 - 900
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||Bands 1 - 4
Each year several test forms are created, drawn from a large question bank. The test form that a candidate sits is selected at random and within each subtest questions are presented randomly. This ensures that every candidate's test experience is different.
All test forms are equated and balanced to ensure that the scaled scores that candidates receive are equivalent between forms. Questions in the UCAT have been pretested and have passed rigorous data analysis and statistical screening.
Detailed information on how the UCAT is scored is here.
The information below provides an overview of the five subtests. More detailed information can be found in the Question Tutorials. The tutorials include general advice on how to approach the test as well as in-depth tips and strategies on how to approach and answer each of the different question types within all five subtests.
The Verbal Reasoning subtest assesses your ability to read and think carefully about information presented in passages and to determine whether specific conclusions can be drawn from information presented. You are not expected to use prior knowledge to answer the questions.
Doctors and dentists need excellent verbal reasoning skills in order to understand complex information and communicate this clearly and simply to patients. Medical practitioners must also be able to interpret findings from published materials and apply this to their own practice. It is essential they are able to critique such materials and draw their own conclusion as to the validity of any findings.
Verbal Reasoning Questions
You are be presented with eleven passages of text, each associated with four questions.
There are two different question types in this subtest:
- a question or incomplete statement with four answer options where you are required to pick the most suitable response.
- a question where you must determine, on the basis of the information in the passage, whether a statement is true, false or you can’t tell.
The Decision Making subtest assesses your ability to apply logic to reach a decision or conclusion, evaluate arguments and analyse statistical information. Knowledge of specific mathematical or logical reasoning terminology is not required to answer any questions.
Doctors and dentists are often required to make decisions in situations that may be complex. This requires high-level problem solving skills and the ability to assess and manage risk and deal with uncertainty.
Decision Making Questions
You are presented with questions that may refer to text, charts, tables, graphs or diagrams. Additional information may be presented within the question itself.
All questions are standalone and do not share data. There are several different question types in this subtest:
- Logical Puzzles
- Recognising Assumptions
- Interpreting Information
- Venn Diagrams
- Probabilistic and Statistical Reasoning
Some questions have four answer options, but you are only able to select one response.
Other questions require you to respond to five statements by placing a 'yes' or 'no' answer next to each statement.
A simple on-screen calculator is available for use in this subtest. You may also need to use your notebook and pen.
The Quantitative Reasoning subtest assesses your ability to use numerical skills to solve problems. It assumes familiarity with numbers to the standard of a good pass at GCSE. Questions are less to do with numerical facility and more to do with problem solving.
Doctors and dentists are constantly required to review data and apply it to their own practice. On a practical level drug calculations based on patient weight, age and other factors have to be correct. At a more advanced level, clinical research requires an ability to interpret, critique and apply results presented in the form of complex statistics. Universities considering applicants need to know they have the aptitude to cope in these situations.
Quantitative Reasoning Questions
You are presented with questions that most often refer to charts and graphs containing data.
Most questions are shown as sets of four questions each connected to the same data. There are some questions that standalone and do not share data.
Each question has five answer options. You are only able to select one response.
A simple on-screen calculator is available for use in this section. You may also need to use your notebook and pen.
Abstract Reasoning assesses your ability to identify patterns amongst abstract shapes where irrelevant and distracting material may lead to incorrect conclusions. The test therefore measures your ability to change track, critically evaluate and generate hypotheses and requires you to query judgements as you go along.
When considering possible diagnoses, medical practitioners may be presented with a set of symptoms and/or results. Some information may be more reliable, more relevant and clearer than other information. Doctors and Dentists need to make judgements about such information, identifying the information which helps them reach conclusions. Carrying out research involving data often involves identifying patterns in results in order to generate further hypotheses.
Abstract Reasoning Questions
You are presented with questions associated with sets of shapes.
Most questions are shown in sets of five, each connected to the same sets of shapes. There are some questions that standalone. Each question has three or four answer options. You may only select one response.
There are four different question types in this subtest. You may be asked to:
- decide whether an example test shape belongs to Shape Set A, Shape Set B or Neither;
- select the next shape in a series;
- determine which shape completes a statement;
- decide which shape belongs to a particular Shape Set.
The situational judgement test (SJT) measures your capacity to understand real world situations and to identify critical factors and appropriate behaviour in dealing with them. Questions do not require medical or procedural knowledge.
The test assesses integrity, perspective taking, team involvement, resilience and adaptability. SJTs are used widely in medical and dental selection, including selection of Foundation Doctors and Dentists, GPs and other medical specialities.
Situational Judgement Questions
You are presented with a set of hypothetical scenarios based in a clinical setting or during educational training for a medical or dental career.
Each scenario may have up to six questions associated with it.
Some questions ask you to rate the importance or appropriateness of a series of statements in response to each scenario. There are four answer options, but you are only able to select one response.
Other questions require you to choose the most and least appropriate action to take in response to the scenario, from the three actions provided.