Guide To The 2020 UCAT

Advice & Insight From UCAT Specialists

The University Clinical Aptitude Test, also known as UCAT and previously called UKCAT, is one of the many haunting hoops aspiring medics have to jump through. Let’s go through some of the basics about the 2020 UCAT.

How is the UCAT test structured?

You’ll have to answer 202 questions divided unevenly between five sections. The first one will assess your understanding of written texts (verbal reasoning); you will then move on to decision making, where you will have to use the information you’re given to make quick judgements. The quantitative reasoning section will assess your basic mathematical skills and numerical problem-solving, while abstract reasoning will stretch your thinking to recognize patterns and how pieces of information relate to each other. Situational judgement will wrap up your test with real-life ethical scenarios; you will need to rank the most appropriate course of action. Before each section starts, you will have one minute to read through the instructions and take some deep breaths.  ​

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Tips for Verbal Reasoning

This section is quick! With 21 minutes to answer 44 questions you will be short of time. Don’t worry too much, as the difficulty will vary across the section: consider making educated guesses for the questions with wordy answers and come back to them if you happen to have time at the end.
You can practise for this section by skim-reading some articles and then thinking back to them: you’ll be able to retain more details as you practice.

Tips for Decision Making

This is the latest section to be added to the test; it asks you logically evaluate statements and make inferences. It is key that you pay attention to details and read the question very carefully! Practice looking at some data or complex sentences and make deduction about them (e.g. what does this information imply?).

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​Tips for Quantitative Reasoning

This section assumes you’re very confident in basic maths (roughly, GCSE level) and will ask you to approach some tables, charts and measurements.
How to get ready for this? Practice doing basic calculations in your head very quickly; this section’s score is nearly guaranteed to rise with more practice!

Tips for Abstract Reasoning

This section is even quicker than verbal reasoning, with 13 minutes to go through 55 questions. Try not to be overwhelmed by the hardest questions and learn to make an educated guess rather than getting stuck on a sequence of shapes the pattern of which you’re just about to grasp. This is probably the most obscure of all the sections, as it thoroughly tests your observational and focusing skills. The more you practice, the more you’ll be able to spot recurrent patterns, and hence the better you’ll perform.

Tips for Situational Judgement

This section is less about knowledge and more about your ethics and sensibility. Rule out the obviously wrong course of action and then make your best assessment of what the most appropriate way to deal with the situation is. Since you will get partial marks if you’re close to the correct ranking of that course of action, don’t stress too much and focus on having a rough idea of the principles behind the ethical scenarios you’re provided.

What’s a Good UCAT Score?

Needless to say, this is really up to the specific year, so it’s hard to say what will be considered ‘good’ in 2020. However, it’s handy to know that the UCAT is scored between 300 to 900 for all sections but the SJT (Band 1 to Band 4). Usually, a score above 700 is considered high, while the majority of candidates tend to average between 620-650. Anything below 610 is considered a below-average UCAT score. Depending on your score you will probably want to target more or less UCAT-heavy universities when putting down your four choices.

Time To Get Started.....

If you haven’t started practicing yet, why not do a full mock to start with? This will allow you not only to understand what your greatest challenges will be (e.g. are you a maths wizard but not amazing at reading very fast?) but also to not underestimate this exam. On the test day try to keep a clear head and don’t let one question or one section affect the others. Best of luck!

Guide To The 2020 UCAT

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