How to Achieve Band 1 in the UCAT Situational Judgement Section
Advice & Insight From UCAT Specialists
The final element of the UCAT is the Situational Judgement section (SJT) which looks at how you would react in certain clinical and professional settings. It measures your capacity to understand real-world situations and to identify critical factors and appropriate behaviour in dealing with them. In order to optimise your score, you should be aware of the format of the test and understand how to answer the questions effectively.
The SJT section contains a total of 69 questions that relate to a series of scenarios taking place in a clinical setting (there are usually 22 scenarios which have between 2 and 5 items to consider). You have 26 minutes to complete this section.
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Marks Available and Banding System
The SJT section is scored differently from the other four sections of the UCAT. It uses a banding system from 1-4. You will achieve full marks for correct answers, and partial marks for the second best answer. The raw scores are then converted to band 1-4 as mentioned. If you achieve band 1 (the highest) it means you have “performed at an excellent level, displaying judgement similar to the majority of the expert panel”.
Two Question Formats
In the first part of this section you will need to rank the importance of a set of statements about the given scenario, in other words, you need to focus on what actions you would/should take.
Typically, the question will ask: How important are the following considerations? (Scale: Very important – Not important).
In the second part of the section, you will need to evaluate the appropriateness of certain actions in response to the scenario, ranging from the most to least appropriate – in this sense, you need to think about what thoughts and principles you should/would prioritise in any given situation.
Question: Rate the appropriateness of the following responses to this scenario (Scale: Very appropriate – Very inappropriate).
The more you are aware of this important distinction, the more likely you will be able to achieve band 1.
The scenarios themselves do not aim to test your cognitive skills, rather, they present you with potential real-life situations and seek to challenge you to think about how a medical professional would act in those situations.
When presented with the scenarios, you should therefore demonstrate that you understand what attributes a good medical professional should hold: integrity, perspective taking, team involvement, resilience and adaptability. Thinking about these central themes should help you to select the most appropriate answer and optimise your marks.
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It is vital that you read each scenario very carefully to understand all of the key details. The scenarios will identify the role being playing in the imagined situation (point of view) and therefore you should think carefully about how you would act in the given situation if you were in the same role. Compare, for example, a situation where a doctor confirms to his/her patient that they will make a full recovery, with a first-year medical student giving the same news. In the first scenario, the doctor’s response is appropriate because s/he has the appropriate knowledge and authority to tell the patient this news, but in the second scenario, it would very inappropriate for a first-year student to do this, given their lack of experience and responsibility. Considering the different roles and responsibilities of the different people in the scenarios is vitally important so that you can best decide which answers to choose.
Read All Answers Carefully Before Choosing
As with the other sections of the UCAT, ensure you read all the possible answers first, perhaps ranking them in order on a piece of paper before inputting your final answers. One of the keys to the SJT is to consider the pros and cons of each option before ranking their relative importance. So being able to compare the strengths and weaknesses of statements is an important skill to practise.
Read the “Good Medical Practice” document (gmc-uk.org) for a comprehensive overview of the expectations of how a doctor should behave along with the key attributes mentioned above.
Revise Using Practice Questions
There are about 20 common SJT scenarios that you should familiarise yourself with. You can find these online, or alternatively, attend a UCAT Course and we’ll discuss essential information for a number of these topics. When preparing, make sure you practise for the full length of the test to help you build up your stamina – remember that you will face 69 questions in 26 minutes. Since this is the final section of the test, you need to make sure you have energy and stamina when you get to this section.