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UCAT – A Free Guide to UCAT 2020

COVID-19 Update: UCAT has announced that “2020 testing will take place between 3 August and 1 October.” 

The UCAT (University Clinical Aptitude Test) is an aptitude test used by admissions teams at the majority of UK medical schools.

UCAT was known as UKCAT until 2019. Despite the name change, there has been little or no change to the exam. Learn more about the change from UKCAT to UCAT here.

UCAT is a very important exam for aspiring medics. So, we’ve created this comprehensive guide to help you with everything related to it.

We try to keep our guides as up to date as possible. But we advise that you also reference UCAT and university websites before making application decisions.

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What Is The UCAT?

It is a test designed to help medical schools gauge whether a candidate has the right skills to become a doctor or dentist.

It does this by assessing their attitude, mental ability and professionalism.

It is often considered a key entry requirement for Medicine courses, alongside your grades, work experience and personal statement.

Who Should Take The UCAT?

If you’re applying to study Medicine in the UK, it’s highly likely you’ll need to sit the test.

Universities in other countries, like Australia and New Zealand, have also adopted the exam.

Most students sit the test in the summer after their penultimate school year.

You can only take the exam once per application cycle.

What Is The UCAT Format?

The UCAT is a 2-hour, computerised test. You’ll take it at a designated test centre.

The exam consists of five sections. These must be attempted in the order presented.

The sections of the exam are:

In combination, these sections are designed to assess different skills required by doctors.

These include problem-solving, communication, numerical skills, spatial awareness, integrity, empathy and teamwork.

Some candidates might be eligible for additional time. Those students will take the UCATSEN.

UCAT Dates and Pricing

Please note that UCAT has announced it aims to open UCAT registration and booking on 1 July.

The test usually runs between July and October in the UK. Registration typically opens in May.

However, there may be exceptions and this is subject to change. For example, in 2020, dates have shifted due to the outbreak of Covid-19.

The pricing varies, depending on when in the year you sit the test. But it’s typically around £55-80 in the UK and £115 if you’re outside the EU.

For more details on dates and pricing, see our dedicated Dates and Pricing page.

UCAT Scores

How is UCAT scored?

For the Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, Abstract Reasoning and Decision Making sections, you are awarded between 300 and 900 points.

You can, therefore, score between 1,200 and 3,600 points in the test overall.

The scoring is a little complicated. But it’s important you understand it, so you know exactly what you’re trying to achieve and how you can do so.

You can find out more about scoring – and see our analysis of previous years’ results – in our Scores section.

UCAT Universities

It’s important to understand how universities use the UCAT.

First, this will allow you to set goals. For instance, if you’re applying to a school that requires high scores, you might focus extra attention on the test.

Later, when you have your score, it’s important to know how universities will use it. You complete your UCAS application after sitting the test, so you can apply strategically.

If you didn’t do as well as you hoped, for example, you might focus on universities that place less emphasis on scores.

To see which universities use it and how they do so, see our Universities page.

UCAT Preparation

The sooner you start your preparation, the better.

Most candidates who perform badly state that they were underprepared. Don’t be one of them!

What is the best way to prepare? Find out on our Preparation page.

UCAT Practice Questions

Practice questions are essential to your preparation. After all, practice makes perfect!

Read more about Practice Questions and how to use them here.

What To Bring To The UCAT Exam

You must book your test through Pearson VUE.

After booking, they will send you a confirmation email for your sitting. Make sure you print this out and bring it with you to the examination venue.

You will also need to bring photographic identification. A passport or driving license will suffice.

As this is a computerised test, there is no need for you to bring pens, pencils or a calculator.

Please note that unlike in previous years, candidates will be given access to both an erasable whiteboard and a scratchpad.

Candidates will be able to practice using the scratchpad with preparation material available on the UCAT website that has the function in-built.

There will be lockers available on site for you to keep your personal possessions in.

Try to arrive in good time. Getting there late and flustered is unlikely to help you achieve your best outcome!

Find out more about test centres on our Dates and Prices page.


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