Tackling the UKCAT

The UK Clinical Aptitude Test (UKCAT) is a two-hour computer-based test. It is part of the selection process for Medicine and Dentistry at certain UK universities. It is made up of five subtests which are designed to assess a range of mental abilities identified as important for new doctors and dentists. Each subtest contains a number of items in a multiple-choice format. 

You can find out if you need to take the UKCAT here. You can register for the UKCAT here. If you are entitled to additional time due to a medical condition or disability, you will sit the UKCATSEN instead of the standard UKCAT.

The UKCAT consists of five subtests:

Verbal Reasoning

Here, your ability to critically evaluate information presented in a written form is assessed. You are presented with 11 passages of text (which you will need to read carefully), each associated with 4 items (questions). You have 21 minutes to answer the items in this subtest.

Some items comprise a stem, which might be an incomplete statement or a question, with 4 response options. You are required to pick the best or most suitable response.

Other items require you to read the passage and then decide whether the statement provided follows logically. You can answer that the statement is true (on the basis of the information in the passage, the statement is true) or false (on the basis of the information in the passage, the statement is false), or say that you can’t tell (you can’t tell from the information in the passage whether the statement is true or false).

Tip: You are unlikely to be familiar with the content of the text shown to you. Do not draw on existing knowledge as this will not be relevant.

Frederick H., a MyTutor tutor who is studying Graduate Entry Medicine at Oxford University, says: “The speed at which you have to scan the passages for key information is so fast that it is useful to practise exam-style questions and then examine how you came to correct and incorrect conclusions – you are likely to find that you’re making the same errors of reasoning repeatedly, and that you can correct them!”

Decision Making

Here, your ability to use complex information to come to a logical conclusion is assessed. You are presented with 29 items (questions) that may refer to text, charts, tables, graphs or diagrams. All questions are standalone and do not share data. Some questions have 4 answer options but only 1 correct answer; others require you to respond to 5 statements by placing a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer next to each statement. You have 31 minutes to answer the items in this subtest.

Tip: Timing is important in this subtest. If you are struggling with a question, make your best guess and move on. Flag questions you are unsure about so you can come back to them at the end. No points are deducted for wrong answers, so try not to leave blanks!

Tip: Brush up on your probability and Venn diagrams.

Quantitative Reasoning

Here, your ability to critically evaluate information presented in a numerical form is assessed. You are required to solve problems by extracting relevant information from tables and other numerical presentations. You are presented with 36 items (questions) associated with tables, charts, and/or graphs. For each item, there are 5 answer options to choose from. You need to choose the best option. You have 24 minutes to answer the items in this subtest.

Tip: If you have not studied Maths beyond GCSE level, or recently, take the time to revisit and practise your maths skills. You may need to work out percentages, averages, ratios and fractions. Practice your mental arithmetic to speed up your answering.If you think you would benefit from some help brushing up on your maths, don’t hesitate to contact a MyTutor tutor.

Abstract Reasoning

Here, your use of convergent and divergent thinking to infer relationships from information is assessed. You are presented with 55 items (questions) associated with sets of shapes. You will see 4 different item types in this subtest:

    • For type 1, you are presented with 2 sets of shapes labelled ‘Set A’ and ‘Set B’. You are given a test shape and asked to decide whether the test shape belongs to Set A, Set B, or neither.
    • For type 2, you are presented with a series of shapes. You are asked to select the next shape in the series.
    • For type 3, you are presented with a statement, involving a group of shapes. You are asked to determine which shape completes the statement.
  • For type 4, you are presented with 2 sets of shapes labelled ‘Set A’ and ‘Set B’. You are asked to select which of the 4 response options belongs to Set A or Set B.

You have 13 minutes to answer the items in this subtest.

Tip: Consider issues around size and shape of objects; number of objects; sides of objects; shading and colour; symmetry, number of angles, position and direction… this sounds complicated but as you look at these shapes you will start to grasp what you need to focus on.

Rebecca D., a MyTutor tutor who is studying Medicine at Sheffield University, says: “Do things in the same order every time. No matter what. The mnemonic SCANS (shape, colour, arrangement, number, size) might help you remember what you need to look for!”

Situational Judgement

Here, your capacity to understand and deal with real world situations is assessed. The test is designed to test your integrity, team involvement, resilience and adaptability. The test is made up of a series of scenarios with possible actions and considerations. You are presented with 68 items associated with 21 scenarios. The test consists of two sets of questions. For the first set, you are asked to rate the appropriateness of a series of options in response to the scenario. For the second set, you are asked to rate the importance of a series of options in response to the scenario. You have 26 minutes to answer the items in this subtest.

Tip: Read each scenario and response thoroughly before answering.

Frederick H., a MyTutor tutor who is studying Graduate Entry Medicine at Oxford University, says: “In the Situational Judgement test, you are asked to make decisions about situations where there are conflicting ethical, practical, and professional factors at play. Some advantage may be gained here by learning some of the principles of medical ethics and good medical practice.”  

The UKCAT doesn’t contain any curriculum or science content, and you can’t ‘revise’ for it. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t prepare – it’s important to get used to the style of the test. Have a look at the Practice Questions on the UKCAT website, to get a sense of the kinds of questions you can expect to be asked. Use the Question Tutorial to learn how to approach the kinds of questions asked in each subtest. Use the Tour Tutorial to get used to the test format, to learn how to move around the screen and through the test, and to use the calculator provided. Do the Practice Tests on the UKCAT website, to get a real sense of what the test will be like. It is important to get used to working under test conditions, and to develop strategies for each subtest to help you get through each subtest in time.

Do you want more support?

If you think you could benefit from one-to-one tuition from a tutor who’s recently passed the UKCAT, contact one of the MyTutor UKCAT tutors.

Should I move away for university or stay close to home?

It is extremely exciting choosing which university to go to. You may even start to ima...

AdmissionsEducational AdviceMyTutorMyTutor for StudentsUncategorizedUniversity

How to nail the Thinking Skills Assessment (TSA)

You will be asked to take the Thinking Skills Assessment (TSA) if you apply for: Land...

Admissions

Geography?! Isn’t that just colouring in?

I’m an old, old woman now, well into my fourth year at university, but when I think ...

A LevelAdmissionsChoosing your A levelsMyTutor for StudentsSchool SubjectsUniversityUniversity Subjects