You are due to give a presentation in front of your school, when your presentation partner calls in unwell. You know, however, from social media pictures, that your partner has uploaded pictures of what looks like a party they attended last night. How would you respond? Would you be angry and tell your teacher straight away? Would you not bring it up? Or would you talk them? How would you talk to them?
What does it test?
UCAT Situational Judgement scenarios do not test your cognitive skills in the way that, say, quantitative or abstract reasoning do. Instead, the examiner gives you real life scenarios, like the one above, that you might come across.
However, different responses to that scenario are also given to you. Your task is unique: you have to identify how ‘appropriate’ or how ‘important’ these responses are.
Here are some top tips for doing UCAT Situational Judgement questions.
1. Keep in mind the main ‘themes’.
These form the repertoire of a good doctor. Some of these themes include: honesty and integrity, safety, dealing with pressure, and team-working. You should select the answers which show that you excel in these themes.
The best response to the above scenario would be the one that exemplifies your ability to deal with pressure and team-working. Maybe your colleague is legitimately unwell, and deserves the benefit of the doubt. Speaking to them in an empathetic way might be the best way to start. In this way, you have kept calm and professional but you have also demonstrated the value you place in your team members.
2. Do rate the response, and not the scenario
Many situational judgement scenarios portray your actions as incorrect or problematic. Then when it comes to the response, your selection of the answer can be clouded by the actions of the scenario. It is important you focus on how appropriate or important the response to the scenario is, rather than the scenario itself. The question will really test how well you respond when something has gone wrong.
For example, the scenario could have said that as a doctor, you could have given the wrong medication to a patient. However, the given response may include apologising to the patient for making the mistake. Although the scenario itself was negative, this response demonstrates honesty and integrity (one of the key themes as mentioned above) and so is very positive.
3. Be aware of your stated role
Most of the time, the scenario will highlight what your role is: you could be a school pupil, a medical student or even a doctor. This is not just the scenario spouting text to fill up space. It is likely that one of the responses you need to judge is related to how you act WITHIN your role.
An example scenario states that a patient has asked you if they are likely to get better from their illness. The response clearly says that you confirm this to the patient. No doctor would shirk away from telling a patient this great news. But, if the scenario states that you are a work experience student, then clearly you are not in any position to tell the patient anything about their health, as you are not qualified. If the question asked what the appropriateness of this response would be, the correct answer would be ‘a very inappropriate thing to do’.
This 30+page document (click here to view it) is essential reading, as it elaborates on the above-mentioned themes in more depth. It is compiled by the General Medical Council (the regulatory and disciplinary body for doctors), and gives detailed advice on how a doctor is expected to behave.
As someone sitting the UCAT, you can think of this document as a literal blueprint for the situational judgement section. Many of the principles and themes of the situational judgement test are derived from this document. If you do not have time for reading the document, at least read the first page, Duties of a Doctor.
Hopefully these tips are helpful for your UCAT Situational Judgement revision. Good luck!