UCAT® (UKCAT) Calculator Shortcuts
A handy time-saving breakdown
The UCAT is such a time-pressured exam that you cannot afford to waste valuable seconds/minutes completing lengthy calculations for questions. You also can't afford to lose time figuring out that the mouse takes longer to use than the keyboard during the exam. Whichever device you use in the exam, you should aim to be familiar with it in the weeks leading up to the big day.
The exam itself consists of a computer screen, a mouse, keyboard and erasable board with marker. This may vary amongst test centres, with some having touch screens. However, resist the temptation to try a new approach in the test itself. Using the online mock tests (or, if you’re a Kaplan student, your online study plan) can help you work out the best strategy for answering questions beforehand - thus making the exam itself one less thing to worry about.
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Beware of touch screen calculators
Also bear in mind that the on-screen calculator may be touch screen but it's actually not advisable to use this feature for a number of reasons. Firstly, the touch screens are unlikely to be state-of-the-art tech, meaning you would have to touch very hard to input a number. Secondly, this is something that cannot easily be replicated before the exam as the screen is unlikely to be familiar to you. Thirdly, previous test-taker experience tell us that they can be fairly temperamental and may take more time than anticipated. Remember - always do what you have been practicing before test day as this will give you an edge over the time constraints.
The shortcut keys
Below are a few handy tips that can help save you time in the exam. Remember to practice with these keyboard shortcuts to assess if you feel comfortable using them or if you prefer to use the mouse to navigate the screen.
- Alt + p = previous question
- Alt + n = next question
- Alt + f = flag current question
- Ctrl + C = to make the calculator appear
- Num Lock = activate number keypad (if number lock is off)
- Backspace for On/C = to go back and delete a number you have inputted in the calculator.
Other useful tips
When using the calculator, keep in mind that to close the calculator you can simply click away from it and to re-open it, click on the calculator icon in the corner of the screen. To clear the calculator, click the ON/C button. You can always use the number keypad on the keyboard to input the numbers or click on the individual numbers on the on-screen calculator with your mouse. Just bear in mind the calculator is very simple, with no memory function. Another tip is to use the erasable board and marker to your advantage. You can use scrap paper during your practice questions. This will help you to structure your thought process when answering the question as there is no memory or ANS button on the calculator. Remember too, that often in a set of questions, you may have to use the intermediate steps or answers to previous questions in later questions for that set.
For some test-takers, using the keyboard and mouse together has proven to help with speed during the exam. For example, using the keyboard keypad to input all numbers, however using the mouse to click next and previous is a good way to use the calculator rapidly. However, other students have solely used all the keyboard shortcuts and found that equally time efficient. Practice what feels most comfortable to you and give yourself one less thing to worry about on test day.