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UKCAT (UCAT) – a Free Guide to the UKCAT Test

For many aspiring medical and dental students, the UK Clinical Aptitude Test (UKCAT) – to be renamed UCAT in 2019 – 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.

In September 2018, the UKCAT Consortium announced that the UKCAT is to be renamed UCAT (University Clinical Aptitude Test) in 2019.

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.

Our team works hard to ensure that our UKCAT (UCAT) Guide is as up to date as possible. We endeavour to reflect any changes to the exam as soon as we can, though changes may not be made immediately.

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

What Does It Involve?

UKCAT (UCAT) 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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Preparing for your UKCAT (UCAT) and want The Medic Portal’s top tips? Watch our three tips in 60 seconds below!

How Many Universities Use the UKCAT (UCAT) Test?  

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

UKCAT Universities
University of Aberdeen
Barts and The London
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
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 universities. Wondering how universities use your UKCAT score? You can find out at the bottom of the page.

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 2014 to 2017:

Verbal Reasoning571577573570
Quantitative Reasoning684685690695
Abstract Reasoning636640630629
Decision Analysis (replaced by unscored Decision Making in 2016)614629Unscored in 2016647
Total 2505253118932540

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 Ranking2014201520162017
10th2830 & above2850 & above2160 & above2870 & above

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 to apply to with a particular score? You might find it useful to look at our blog series below.

Remember that these blogs are only guidelines – if you’re applying to university, we strongly encourage you to check with the individual universities themselves on their policies before making any significant application decisions.

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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.

Read our blog on How to Manage Your Timing in the UKCAT>>

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What Are The UKCAT Test Dates And Costs?

You can see UKCAT 2018 dates below – 2019 dates and costs are yet to be announced.

Registration and booking opens1st May 2018
Bursary scheme opens1st May 2018
Testing begins2nd July 2018
Registration and online booking closes

18th September 2018 at 5pm

Bursary deadline18th September 2018 at 5pm

Final booking deadline1st October 2018 at midday
Last testing date2nd October 2018
UCAS application deadline

15th October 2018
UKCAT results delivered to universitiesEarly November 2018

The following test fees apply in 2018:

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!

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How Do Medical Schools Use UKCAT scores?

Each university uses the exam results differently. The majority of universities look at your total or average UKCAT scores, although some will look at individual sub-sections. Some 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!

You can have a look at the table below to see how each university uses your score.

Please note that while we’ve tried to ensure that this information is as up to date as possible, admissions procedures are subject to change so we’d recommend contacting the different universities if you’re unsure.

UKCAT UniversitiesHow do they use your UKCAT score?
University of AberdeenCandidates' UKCAT scores are considered in selection for interview alongside actual and predicted academic achievement. A minimum UKCAT cut-off score is NOT used. A score (between 1200 - 3600) is allocated based on the applicant's overall performance compared with all other applicants. At Aberdeen for 2016 they allocated a score based on the total numerical result from the three subtests: Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning and Abstract Reasoning. The SJT will not be scored, but it may be used in offer-making when there are candidates with similar scores. For 2016 entry, the lowest score for interview invitation was 2180, and the lowest score for offer made was 2480.
Barts and The LondonThose who meet their minimum academic criteria will be ranked according to 50:50 weighting (UKCAT 50% and academic ability 50%). UKCAT scores sorted into deciles; candidates must score more than average UKCAT score to be considered (this was around 2330 in 2016). An interview will not be offered if the total UKCAT score is below the third decile. However, there is no guarantee of interview if you score above the third decile.
University of BirminghamAt Birmingham, there is no UKCAT cut off score. An application will receive an overall score, which is the sum of weighted scores for each of the academic and UKCAT components. GCSE and UKCAT used for interview. The weightings are: academic – 70%; UKCAT – 30%. Total UKCAT scores of our applicants (excluding the band score for the SJT component) will be separated into deciles and scored (i.e. the top 10% of applicants’ scores will be in the top decile). The maximum score is 3.0. For example, for 2015 applicants, the 10th decile was a score of 2980 and allocated a score of 3; 9th decile was a score of 2880 and allocated a score of 2.67 - and so on.
University of BristolThe weightings of your application are as follows: GCSE 15%; A-level 15%; Personal statement 50%; UKCAT 20%.
Cardiff UniversityCardiff does not have a minimum threshold score for the UKCAT, however, the UKCAT score may be used as part of the assessment procedure or in borderline cases.
University of DundeeAt Dundee, there is no minimum cut-off score. Your UKCAT score will be factored into the pre-interview rank alongside academic ability. There is no specific cut off applied but obviously a high score is advantageous. Weighting is dependent on applicant type: school leavers - 40% UKCAT, 60% academic; graduates: 60% UKCAT, 40% academic.
University of East AngliaUEA do not set a minimum cut-off score for the UKCAT, but consider the component scores within the academic screening processes. Whilst a high UKCAT score may be advantageous, a low score in an otherwise strong application will not automatically disqualify an applicant from consideration. From UEA's experience, it is unusual for an applicant with a UKCAT score of less than 2400 to be invited to interview.
University of EdinburghAt Edinburgh, once all the scores are received they rank them, divide the groups into octiles and allocate a score. Weighting is based on applicant: school leavers: 50% academic, 15% SJT (of UKCAT), 15% personal statement, 20% UKCAT (excluding SJT); graduates: 30% interview, 35% academic, 20% UKCAT (excluding SJT), 15% SJT (of UKCAT). The points are then added to your total score to contribute towards your final ranking. Due to the introduction of the Situational Judgement section of the test, they will be assessing this as part of their non-academic requirements and not alongside your overall UKCAT score. They will consider all scores and no applicant will be excluded from selection based on the score achieved in their UKCAT test. The average score to receive an offer in 2016 was 2370.
University of ExeterExeter uses the UKCAT as a factor in determining which candidates are selected for interview, along with predicted or achieved grades and other information contained within an applicant’s UCAS form.
University of GlasgowGlasgow consider the UKCAT with all other aspects of your application. The range of scores they consider changes each year as the performance of each admissions cohort varies. The Situational Judgement section of the UKCAT test will not be taken into consideration for entry in 2017.
Hull York Medical SchoolAt Hull York, applicants with a Situational Judgement Test Band of 4 (the lowest band) will not be considered. Prior to interview, they use your total UKCAT score (allocated points out of 50) alongside your GCSE results (allocated points out of 40) in order to decide who to invite to interview. Following interview, they make offers based primarily on interview performance, and they use the UKCAT Situational Judgement Test as an extra interview station.
Keele UniversityKeele exclude students who scored in the bottom 20% nationally, or students who score Band 4 in Situational Judgement. Keele also uses UKCAT results in borderline cases. Applicants who narrowly miss achieving the required score for their application may receive further consideration on the basis of their UKCAT score. Similarly, if the number of applicants tied on a particular academic score exceeds the number of interview slots available, these applicants will be ranked on their total UKCAT score. In these borderline cases, the required UKCAT score will depend upon the level of performance in the test among this group of applicants. For 2015 entry, applicants who were successful in gaining an offer had total UKCAT scores in the range 2,190 - 3,170.
King's College LondonAt King's, GCSE scores, predicted A-Level grades, the personal statement and the reference contribute to the shortlisting of candidates, but examination performance and the UKCAT score are perhaps the most important. KCL does not have a threshold UKCAT score in any particular year, and UKCAT is only one of the factors considered in selecting candidates for interview. Scores for the last five years have varied between 630 and 735.
University of LeicesterLeicester do not have a minimum UKCAT cut-off score, but your total UKCAT score (scored up to a maximum of 34 points) is used in selection for interview alongside academic ability (also scored up to a maximum of 34 points, making the maximum possible score out of 68). Applications from candidates with Band 4 in the Situational Judgement Test will be fully scrutinised prior to interview. UKCAT will be scored according to the total by dividing your score by 100 as follows: 2,400 = 24; >2250 = 22.5; >2100 = 21; >1950 = 19.5; >1800 = 18; >1650 = 16.5 and so on. The Situational Judgement Test (SJT) may be used as a virtual multiple mini-interview station, should you reach that stage of the process.
University of LiverpoolAt Liverpool, the UKCAT is assessed alongside academic criteria. It is expected that applicants who achieve Band 4 in the Situational Judgement Test of the UKCAT will not have their applications processed beyond the first stage. Of the remainder, only those applicants who meet or exceed their minimum academic criteria and who offer the most competitive overall UKCAT scores will have their applications proceed to the second stage. The UKCAT threshold is determined each year on a competitive basis. For Home/EU applicants a competitive score was considered to be 2500 or greater.
University of ManchesterAt Manchester, UKCAT scores are ranked and the top 1000 applicants proceed to the interview stage. To help identify talented students from all backgrounds, UKCAT scores from UK/EU candidates who come from similar educational and socio-demographic backgrounds are considered against each other. This is conducted using supplementary information provided by publicly available datasets. Equal proportions of top scoring applicants from each group are then selected for interview. Those applications that do not meet the UKCAT threshold will not progress to the next phase.
Newcastle UniversityAt Newcastle, applications fulfilling the academic thresholds will then be assessed on their UKCAT scores. The UKCAT threshold may vary depending upon the competition to each programme. The threshold is based on the total UKCAT score. This threshold may differ in each admission cycle, as it is dependent on the scores achieved by applicants in the current cycle.
University of NottinghamAt Nottingham, there is no UKCAT threshold. Individual UKCAT results are scored as follows (the weighting for each of the four components is equal). The maximum that can be achieved for 2016 when the cognitive and non-cognitive is added together is 30 points. The scoring system is as follows for the three cognitive components (Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, Abstract Reasoning): 801 - 900 = 9 points; 701 - 800 = 8 points; 601 - 700 = 7 points; 501 - 600 = 6 points; 401 - 500 = 5 points; 301 - 400 = 4 points. The fifth component, SJT is scored as follows: Band 1 = 3 points; Band 2 = 2 points; Band 3 = 1 point; Band 4 = applicant is not considered further. For example, if you scored VR 680 (7 points), QR 500 (5 points), AR 710 (8 points) and got SJT Band 2, you would receive 22 points out of 30. The top 50% of applicants will go forward to the next stage, which involves scoring personal statements.
Plymouth UniversityAt Plymouth, the UKCAT is used alongside academic ability. You are required to meet a minimum standard in each of the subtests plus an overall target score set and reviewed annually by the Admissions Advisory Panel. For example, in 2015 for 2016 entry: The minimum scores were: Verbal Reasoning - 530; Quantitative Reasoning - 650; Abstract Reasoning - 610; Decision Analysis - 600.
Queen's University BelfastAt QUB, you are awarded points for your UKCAT score and this is used at stage one of the selection process. For example: a score of 2,200+ would score 6 points; 2040 - 2190: 5 points; 1880 - 2030: 4 points; 1720 - 1870: 3 points; 1560 - 1710: 2 points; 1400 - 1550 1 point. The current scoring system is being reviewed for 2018 entry.
University of SheffieldAt Sheffield, in addition to academic entry requirements, candidates must have achieved a score of 1850/2700 or above to be given consideration. The Situational Judgement component is considered for those invites to attend a Multiple Mini Interview (MMI).
University of SouthamptonAt Southampton, students are ranked by UKCAT score and from there invited to a Selection Day, provided they also meet the academic criteria. They do not currently use the Situational Judgement test.
University of St AndrewsAt St Andrews, the UKCAT is used to rank for interview (top 400). for the 2016 sitting of the test, total scores range from 900 - 2700 (instead of 1200 - 3600 as the Decision Analysis subtest was removed). The Situational Judgement score contributes to the overall interview score.
St George's University of LondonAt St. George's, the UKCAT is used to rank applicants for the interview and post-interview waiting list. Candidates are required to score 500 or above in each section. The 2017 entry minimum overall UKCAT score will be determined after the results have been published. In 2016, the overall UKCAT score required was 2600.

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

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4. Practice questions. Get started with online UKCAT questions.

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.

READ NEXT ➜ UKCAT Verbal Reasoning

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