4th April 2023
The UCAT calculator is important when it comes to answering certain UCAT questions – but what’s the best way to use it without wasting time? Find out with these tips!

What Is The UCAT Calculator?

In the UCAT, a simple on-screen calculator is available to you in the Quantitative Reasoning and Decision Making sections of the test.

When used correctly, the calculator should speed up your process of working out answers. If used incorrectly, you could waste time by spending too long on a question.

How To Use The UCAT Calculator

There are two main ways to operate the UCAT calculator:

  • Mouse: UCAT test centres offer a computer mouse which can be used to operate the calculator. You can easily practise this from home, which makes it a good option. However, the mouse can be slower to operate than using the keyboard.
  • Keyboard: UCAT test centres offer keyboards which can be used to operate the calculator. However, it will be the type of full-size keyboard that you might find somewhere like your school library. To practise this method, you’ll need to use a full-size keyboard and not your laptop keyboard.

The calculator opens in a separate window to the test screen. This means that if you go back to the test screen after using the calculator, you will then need to click back on the calculator to continue using it.


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Tips For Using The UCAT Calculator

Familiarise yourself with it

It’s vital to practise using the UCAT calculator before test day, because it’s different from the type of normal calculator that you’re already familiar with. You will waste precious time if you aren’t sure how to use the UCAT calculator during your exam.

You can practise with the calculator on the UCAT website and also in our UCAT Question Bank.

Practise using keyboard shortcuts

You will be able to use the calculator much quicker if you are familiar with some time-saving keyboard shortcuts.

Important UCAT calculator shortcuts include Alt + C to open the calculator, Num Lock to activate the number keypad and Backspace to clear all digits.

See more: UCAT keyboard shortcuts

Know the limits

Bear in mind that the UCAT calculator doesn’t have a square or power button. If a question comes up that requires this, you won’t be able to use the calculator and will need to use mental maths instead.

It’s a good idea to remind yourself of basic squares to avoid getting stuck on these questions.

Use the memory function

The UCAT calculator has a memory function which you can use to retain a number and save time during complex calculations.

Click M+ (or type P) to save a number and click MRC (or type C) to recall this number. Click MRC twice (or type C twice) to clear the memory.

Don’t rely on it too much

You don’t need to use the UCAT calculator for every maths question in the exam. In fact, using it for every calculation would waste time rather than save it!

If a calculation is simple enough, use mental maths to solve it. Remember that it’s a multiple choice test, so your mental maths doesn’t necessarily need to get you to the exact answer – just close enough so that you can select the right option.

Timing is crucial in the UCAT, and there is no point wasting valuable seconds on the calculator when you could easily use mental maths instead. Make sure you dedicate some time to brushing up on your mental maths skills during UCAT preparation.


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