What is the UCAT (UKCAT)?

The UCAT is an exam required for entry to a medical/dentistry degree at many UK universities and it stands for University Clinical Aptitude Test The UCAT is a name change for the UKCAT (UK Clinical Aptitude Test), however the test remians identical. As such, just like the UKCAT, the UCAT is a computer-based test taken at Pearson Vue Centres between July and October every year.

What is the format of the UCAT test?

The format of the UCAT is a 2 hours computer-based test that consisting of five sections:

What skills / subjects does the UCAT test?

The UCAT tests a candidate’s mental abilities. The majority of the exam tests a student's critical thinking, verbal and mathematical skills. In 2014 the UCAT introduced a Situational Judgement section, which does contribute to your final result.

Do I need to take the UCAT?

Yes, you do need to take the UCAT if you plan applying to a medical or dental degree at the following universities:

University of Aberdeen
Anglia Ruskin University
Aston University
University of Birmingham
University of Bristol
Cardiff University
University of Dundee
University of East Anglia
University of Edinburgh
University of Exeter
University of Glasgow
Hull York Medical School
Keele University
King's College London
University of Leicester
University of Liverpool
University of Manchester
University of Newcastle
University of Nottingham
Plymouth University
Queen Mary, University of London
Queen’s University Belfast
University of Sheffield
University of Southampton
University of St. Andrew’s
University of Sunderland
University of Warwick (graduate only)
St George’s, University of London

When should I take the UCAT?

The UCAT could be taken between July and early October. If you are applying in 2020 for entry to university in 2021 (or deferred entry in 2022) then you should sit the UCAT by the start of October 2020 (the last testing date) . The UCAT test is available between July to October each year. The deadline for registration is usually mid September. However, due to COVID-19 the test has been delayed to start from 3rd August - 1st October in 2020.

Where do I take the UCAT?

UCAT tests are conducted at Pearson VUE test centres. When you register to take the test, you will choose the test centre you wish to visit. We advise students to register early, as test dates fill up quickly. For 2020, you can also take the test online and at home via Pearson's online proctoring service OnVUE. For this test delivery to work, you are required to have access to webcam as you will be monitored throughout the exam. For more information on sitting the test online watch this video, or visit the UCAT Consortium FAQ's page. Alternatively, read on for the differences between UCAT testing at home or in centre.

Is there a fee for sitting the UCAT?

Yes. The fee for UK/EU Residents is £75. The fee for test centres outside the EU is £120.

Can I resit the UCAT?

No. The UCAT test score is only valid in the year that you apply – i.e. for that application cycle only. So if you take the test in the summer of 2019, your score will be valid for university entry in 2020 or deferred entry in 2021. You cannot re-sit the exam during the same season. Students who do not achieve their desired score often need to wait to take the exam again the following year. This is why it is extremely important to go into the exam confident and feeling fully prepared.

What will test day be like?

  1. Once you arrive at your test centre you will need to present a print-out of your confirmation email, confirming your booking and photographic identification (see ucat.ac.uk for approved list).

  2. You should arrive at the test centre approximately 15 minutes before, to allow time for registration.

  3. You will be given the opportunity to place your belongings in a locker. Note that you may not bring anything with you in the room, not even drinks. You must empty your pockets and remove your watch. You will receive a laminated note board and a pen for rough work (it’s worth asking for an extra one of these as a wipe for the board is not provided).

  4. You will then go to your assigned computer, and complete a brief tutorial on the computer interface. If you are already familiar with the interface through your online practice tests, you should use this time to make sure that your environment is set up correctly. E.g. your monitor is free from glare; your chair is at the right height, your pen works, etc.

  5. Test now begins – you have 120 minutes (150 if you are taking UCATSEN). There are no breaks, so if you need to use the restroom, the test will carry on running whilst you do so.

  6. Once you have finished the test you will be handed a print out of your score report.

UCAT test day: most common mistakes.

Cramming the night before - This is likely to leave you feeling fatigued for test day. This is an aptitude test so you are not learning facts, but skills and techniques, which cannot be mastered in one night. It’s therefore much better to get a good night’s sleep, to be on top form for test day.
Not reading the question properly – This mistake can mean the difference between passing and failing the exam. Simple errors, such as missing the word “not”, will lead to incorrect multiple choice answers.
Obsessing over a certain question – There are likely to be tougher questions in each section that require more time to figure out. You should not fixate on these questions, but mark your answer, flag for review and move on. You can always come back to it if you have time left at the end. However it’s more important that you attempt more questions.
Being unfamiliar with the testing platform – There are still many students that sit the UCAT exam without having taken a UCAT practice test, which enables you to become familiar wiith all the features on the screen. It is also useful to familiarise yourself with using the onscreen calculator – with practice comes speed!
Overcomplicating the question/response – The multiple-choice nature of the UCAT exam, and poor guidance, often leads people to believe that the answer to a question is more complicated than is actually the case, again causing them to spend more time than necessary on a question.

How is the UCAT scored?

The first 4 sections of the UCAT exam are each scored from 300 to 900. The majority of test takers score between 500 to 700 in each of these sections, with an average score of approximately 660 per section. Therefore scores above 700 in each section would be considered competitive. Related article on what is considered a good UCAT score.N.B. The new Decision Making test, which was piloted in 2016, is now a scored section.  

The UCAT does not use negative marking, so you will not lose marks for incorrect answers or leaving questions unanswered. In fact, leaving questions blank is one of the most common mistakes that UCAT test takers make on test day.

The Situational Judgement section of the test is scored from Bands 1 to 4 (Band 1 being the highest), indicating the degree to which your answers match those determined by a panel of medical experts. Full marks are awarded for each matching answer and partial marks for choices close to the correct answer (details of partial marking have not been disclosed by the UCAT Consortium).

What's the average UCAT score?

The average UCAT score ranges from 500-700 on each of the cognitive sections of the UCAT exam. The scores for the 2019 sitting are as follows:

Verbal Reasoning: 565
Decision Making: 618
Quantitative Reasoning: 662
Abstract Reasoning: 638
Situational Judgement: Band 1: 17%, Band 2: 40%, Band 3: 33%, Band 4: 10%
Total scaled score: 2483 

For comparison the 2018 UCAT results are below:

Verbal Reasoning: 567
Decision Making: 624
Quantitative Reasoning: 658
Abstract Reasoning: 637
Situational Judgement: N/A
Total scaled score: 2485 

2017 UCAT Scores are below:

Verbal Reasoning: 570
Decision Making: 647
Quantitative Reasoning: 695
Abstract Reasoning: 629
Situational Judgement: N/A
Total scaled score: 2540  

The scores for the 2016 UCAT sitting are below:

Verbal Reasoning: 573
Quantitative Reasoning: 660
Abstract Reasoning: 630
Decision Making: unscored
Situational Judgement: N/A
Total scaled score: 1893 (relatively lower than other years due to the unscored Decision Making section).

What score do I need for my university?

Each university has their own cut-off score. Each year the UCAT Consortium releases details of how certain universities use UCAT scores. You can use this as a guide. 

When will I receive my score?

You will receive your score when you exit the testing room on the day of your test.

How important is a high UCAT score?

Your UCAT score will form part of your application, along with your UCAS Personal Statement, predicted A-Level exams, AS level results and Admissions Interview. A high UCAT score will ensure that you are submitting the best possible application and can really make you stand out from other candidates.

Is the Kaplan UCAT course worth it?

Although books are a great help and you can learn the majority of skills and tips required to succeed in the exam, during a course you will benefit from interaction with a teacher, have your questions answered, and learn from the feedback of someone who is an expert in this field. Teacher support will be provided to you right through until test day.

Our teachers have all scored in the 90th percentile and go through a rigorous training programme to assess their teaching ability- as not all high scorers make great teachers! Our teachers are also strictly monitored through student feedback surveys and observations.

Each course lesson includes timed practice, where our expert teachers have students answer questions using only the time allowed on Test Day. It is tough to simulate this when you practice on your own with a book. You can also benefit from learning in a group, taking advantage of questions that another student may have thought of, and benefiting from the experiences of fellow students.

A Kaplan course also provides you with a more structured environment for learning. This ensures you only spend as much time as you need on each aspect of the exam and do not waste time on something less relevant to performance on test day. We offer in person classroom and interactive online courses, which come with a UCAT Strategy book, and Online Study Centre containing thousands of practice questions, tips and the Kaplan methods and strategies.

All our students receive access to a personalised UCAT Online Study Plan. This includes 6 online practice tests, mastery sets and 30 section-focused quizzes. Your Online Study Plan also visually displays your progress as you work through the practice material and targets areas for improvement.

Finally, we invest a lot of time and resources into making sure that our course and materials are up to date each year and as test-like as possible. A book cannot adapt without releasing a new edition and as test changes are often not announced until the April before test season begins, there is not much time for that!

How long does it take to prepare?

We recommend starting preparation for the UCAT approximately 3-4 weeks before your test date. This will allow you enough time to preview the strategies and techniques essential to getting a high UCAT score, with expert guidance from experienced teachers. Practice with test-like questions to become familiar with each question type, and practice your pacing with timed questions. Then build your stamina/endurance with full-length practice tests. Online practice tests will help you to familiarise yourself with the testing format and layout, so you do not waste valuable testing time on finding different features of the test when it comes to the real exam. Timed practice in a classroom course is also highly recommended as teachers have students answer questions using only the time allowed on Test Day. And finally…Review the areas where you need the most improvement. Ideally the preparation materials you are using will help to easily identify these areas, so any time remaining before the test is used for reviewing these.

Top 5 UCAT tips

Answer all the questions! This is the most common mistake of UCAT test takers, as there is no negative marking on this multiple choice test. Each guess you make gives you a chance of getting it right! Remember that each question is worth one mark. Unlike in other exams you have taken, you don't get more marks for questions that are more difficult. 

Each question is worth one mark, regardless of difficulty. Thus, if you spend more time on a difficult question, it will be at the expense of other marks on easier questions later in the section.

Memorise your key formulae for Quantitative Reasoning. There are several key formulae that are commonly used in the UCAT Quantitative Reasoning section. Make sure to keep these top of mind, so you can apply them quickly and accurately.

Practice looking for patterns. Get to know the shapes and other elements of patterns that appear time and again on the UCAT. It takes a certain amount of practice to be able to find patterns quickly and accurately, but this is the key to success in Abstract Reasoning.

Practice with test-like material. When taking such a tightly timed test, it is important to get used to the testing format and question types before test day, so you do not waste valuable time figuring out how to use the testing interface.

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Course reviews from former Kaplan students

Lauren B, a Birmingham Classroom Course Student, scored 3020, Band 3

As I was the only student at my school sitting the UCAT, I felt I had little help and was concerned about how I would score. I feel taking part in the Kaplan course helped me massively as it provided me with skills and tips to allow me to succeed in the exam and get a score high enough to apply to the University of my choice. I can now happily say I start my Medicine degree at this University in just over a week - this may not have been possible without my help from Kaplan.

Yue W, a Live Online Course Student, scored 3220, Band 1

I really enjoyed the UCAT prep. It gave me some very useful advice particularly with triaging but the best thing about this course was probably the confidence and reassurance it gave me that it is possible to do well by putting in effort and it's not a game of luck.

Alice S, a London Classroom Course Student, scored 2790, Band 1

Kaplan was fantastic; it gave me the skills to tackle each section in a logical way, but also the teaching and the resources we were given meant that I continued to practice in a productive way. The methods I learnt from Kaplan, and the practice tests, meant I knew exactly what to expect from my UCAT test and how to approach each question. Without Kaplan, I definitely would have not got the score I did.

Sammy G : "You can see the teaching is actually working."

Sammy was referred to us by a current medical student who took a Kaplan course. She found the Kaplan strategies to be a helpful boost to the prep she did in advance.

Rupert V W: “It’s a great way to kick-off my learning in the UCAT (UKCAT).”

Rupert took the UCAT exam last year but didn’t get the high score needed for medical admission. This year he chose to take a Kaplan course based on recommendations, to boost his score.

Arjun M : "I would really recommend it to someone who's deciding to do the UCAT (UKCAT)"

Arjun was struggling with his UCAT (UKCAT) preparation before he learned Kaplan's techniques and strategies as part of his UCAT course. He really enjoyed the course and recommends it to anyone taking the UCAT.

Charlotte P : "Strategies to overcome really difficult questions"

Charlotte was recommended our UCAT (UKCAT) course by a friend. She found the Kaplan teacher's experience and advice invaluable over just studying from a book.

Cherry Jade L : "When I go to sit the UCAT (UKCAT) I'll have the right stategies and know what to do"

Cherry-Jade appreciates the importance of a high UCAT (UKCAT) score as part of a good medical application. She decided to take the Kaplan UCAT course after discovering that many medical students found the test harder than expected, and that the Kaplan course helped them to get a better result.

Ronan L : "What we have been learning in the course is extremely beneficial"

Ronan took the UCATSEN (UKCATSEN) and found it particularly useful that the teacher was able to adapt the course content so that no student was left behind.

Sambhavi Kumar, 2018 UCAT (UKCAT) Student, scored 3220, Band 2

I found Kaplan very helpful and definitely could not have scored as highly as I did without it. The classroom course was really well delivered, engaging throughout and quite motivating as well.

The online resources were also very good for practise and were brilliant for familiarising myself with the test format.

Shavanni scored an average of 743 on the UKCAT and band 2 for situational judgment.

"Thanks to Kaplan I had lots of practice and online resources - I felt much more confident going in to the exam"

Victoria scored 840 on the UKCAT with band 1 in situational judgment.

"I found Kaplan's realistic practice tests and comprehensive answer explanations incredibly helpful as they helped me learn from my mistakes and build up my confidence"