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UKCAT Information – A Free Guide to The UKCAT Test

For many aspiring medical and dental students, the UK Clinical Aptitude Test (UKCAT) is one of the most daunting stages of the Medical School application process. This page will cover all sections of the UKCAT test, including UKCAT timing and how UKCAT scores are used by UKCAT universities.

Unlike the exams you’re more familiar with, this is a two hour computerised exam designed to test aptitude rather than knowledge. The idea is that high scores indicate candidates with the best potential to successfully train as doctors.

This page provides the headline information on the exam, before offering a step-by-step guide on what you need to do. Don’t forget to use all the subpages to make the most of the section.

Book Our 99% Recommended UKCAT Course

Why not also take a look at our popular online UKCAT course and UKCAT question bank?


What Does It Involve?

The exam consists of five sections, each designed to assess different skills required by doctors – including problem-solving, communication, numerical skills, spatial awareness, integrity, empathy and teamwork skills. As of 2016, the Decision Making section is unscored.

You can click any of the links below to read more about that particular section of the exam.

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How Many UKCAT Universities Are There?  

Most medical schools in the UK use the exam to assess students’ suitability for Medicine. Currently, there are 26 UKCAT universities that require the test for entry to Medicine in 2017. These are:

UKCAT Universities
University of Aberdeen
Barts and The London
University of Birmingham
University of Bristol
Cardiff University
University of Dundee
Durham University
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
Newcastle University
University of Nottingham
Plymouth University
Queen's University Belfast
University of Sheffield
University of Southampton
University of St Andrews
St George's University of London
University of Warwick

You can also view this map of the UKCAT universities.

How Do UKCAT Universities Use UKCAT scores?

Each university uses the exam results differently. The majority of UKCAT universities look at your total or average UKCAT scores, although some will look at individual sub-sections. Some UKCAT universities place a great deal of significance on the test. They either rank candidates by their score or have a minimum cut-off which must be achieved before progressing to the next round.

Many universities use UKCAT scores in combination with other factors such as your Personal Statement and A-Level exam results. Some, however, only use it in borderline cases where it is helpful in deciding between two very similar candidates. It varies hugely!

As the last testing date is approximately two weeks before the UCAS submission date, it’s important that you use your score to apply strategically.

Wondering which UKCAT universities particularly value high scores, and which look more at your BMAT or academic results? You might find it useful to look at our blog series on:

Remember that these blogs are only suggestions and if you’re applying to university, we strongly encourage you to check with the individual universities themselves on their policies.

Want to know how each university uses your score? See our Medical School Comparison Table.

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How Do UKCAT Scores Work?  

The number of questions differs between each section of the exam:

In each of Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, Abstract Reasoning and Decision Making, you will be awarded a raw score depending on the number of correct answers given. This score is then scaled into a score between 300 and 900 points. You can therefore score between 1200 and 3600 points overall.

Situational Judgement assesses non-academic skills, such as teamwork, empathy and communication skills. In this section the scoring differs in that the correct answer scores full points but other answers close to the correct answer may also score points. The raw score then falls into one of four bands, with Band 1 being the highest and Band 4 the lowest.

In 2014, the score for Situational Judgement was not used due to a marking error. Candidates in 2015 were therefore the first cohort to use Situational Judgement. In 2016, Decision Analysis was replaced by an unscored Decision Making section. You can visit our Decision Making page to find out the key differences between the two sections.

Average UKCAT Scores from 2013 to 2016:

 2013201420152016
Verbal Reasoning557571577573
Quantitative Reasoning655684685690
Abstract Reasoning661636640630
Decision Analysis (replaced by unscored Decision Making in 2016)771614629Unscored in 2016
Total 2643250525311893
Average661626633631

The scores are also shown by decile ranking. Each decile represents 10% of students. For example, the tenth decile represents the top 10% of students. The scores in the table below show the highest score you would need to achieve to be placed in that decile. Don’t forget that the deciles for 2016 do not include Decision Making scores!

Decile Ranking2013201420152016
1st2230218022101640
2nd2390231023301730
3rd2500238024101790
4th2590245024701850
5th2670251025401890
6th2740257026001940
7th2820263026601990
8th2910271027402060
9th3030282028402150
10th3040 & above2830 & above2850 & above2160 & above

What’s the Timing of the UKCAT Test Like?

For each section of the UKCAT test, timing is different. The exam is structured in the following ways:

Verbal Reasoning, as there’s only 21 minutes to answer 44 questions, is considered the most time pressured section of the UKCAT test – so you may want to spend some time practising this section before the exam.

One of the best ways to manage your timing in the UKCAT test is to have completed lots of practice beforehand. You could do this by trying our Question Bank to get used to the format of the questions. As you familiarise yourself with different question types across Verbal Reasoning and Situational Judgement, this will help with your efficiency. For example, as you practice, you’ll pick up certain tricks for each style of question that will save you time – such as reading the question first before the Verbal Reasoning passage, so you can focus your reading.

Another good way of managing your timing is to complete these practice questions in timed conditions. Our Question Bank includes two mini mock exams, so you can make use of these to identify any areas you need to work on before the real exam. Also included in the bank is a full, timed mock of 233 questions, lasting 115 minutes – a perfect way to prepare for the real exam’s timing. This will help you to get used to the pace of the questions, as well as their content, so you’re ready when faced with the real exam.

Access 2,500 UKCAT Questions

What Are The UKCAT Test Dates And Costs?

Registration opens on 2nd May 2017 and closes on 19th September 2017. Testing itself then spans from 3rd July until 3rd October, closing shortly before the UCAS deadline. Keep an eye on the official website to make sure that you have the latest information – and remember to register before 19th September!

The cost of sitting the exam varies depending when it is taken. 2017 costs are to be announced, but in 2016, the cost was £65 between 1st July and the 31st August, after which it rose to £80 until 5th October. To take the the exam internationally costs slightly more – in 2016, this was £100 in non-EU countries.

Where Can I Find UKCAT Centres?

To sit the UKCAT test, you’ll need to register and book your exam at one of the official centres. It’s recommended that you sit your exam as soon as possible so spaces are available at your local test centre – don’t leave it until the last minute!

The exam is offered worldwide and there are centres across a range of countries, including the UK, France, Hong Kong, Italy and the USA. In the UK, there are centres in a variety of towns and cities across the country, including London, Manchester, Birmingham, Southampton and Oxford.

The best way to find your nearest centre is to search on the Test Centre Locator, where you can search for the nearest centre to your town. Before selecting one of the centres, you need to register for the exam. After registering, you can then select the nearest centre to you. Remember that the longer you leave registering, the less likely you are to find a date and a centre that suits you, so make sure you do this early!

Still Have Unanswered Questions?

If you still have questions about the exam, check our Frequently Asked Questions page.


What You Need To Do

1. Familiarise yourself. Go through each section and understand what it entails.

2. Register. It’s best to do this early so you can secure your preferred date and start working towards it.

3. Book a UKCAT Course. Ours has helped thousands of students.

Book Our 99% Recommended UKCAT Course

Alternatively, you can learn from home with our Online UKCAT Course.

4. Practice questions. We offer 2,500 online UKCAT questions in a realistic examination environment.

5. Read a book. Our Mastering the UKCAT book equips you with clear strategies.

6. Still struggling? Then you can book a private tutoring session with our experts.

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