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How to achieve Band 1 in UCAT SJT

Advice & Insight From UCAT Specialists

What is the Situational Judgement Test?

The SJT is last part of the UCAT exam – the final hurdle to jump of your 2-hour exam. You are given 22 scenarios, each consisting of a short text followed by 2-6 questions on possible actions or responses with 69 items in total. You will have 26 minutes for this section of the test.

It is marked differently to the rest of the UCAT – you will not get a score of 300-900 but you will get a ‘Band’ from 1 (highest) – 4 (lowest).

The Situational Judgement part of the UCAT exam is of increasing importance when applying to medical schools in the UK. Medical schools will look at your ‘Band’ to determine whether they will give you an interview offer therefore Band 1 (the highest band) is the level you would want to aim for in increasing your chances of an interview offer.

What are the challenges?

  • Like the rest of the UCAT, you will be time pressured and must read and assess the question very quickly.
  • You have already answered the other sections, so this is the last hurdle you will have to cross therefore you might be tired and burnt out.
  • This section depends on your knowledge of professionalism and ethics, so you may feel like you don’t know enough.

In this article, I am going to tell you a few tips that will hopefully help you overcome these challenges.

1. Know your question types – preparation!

There are 3 types of SJT questions:

  • Importance questions: Assess whether each factor is important in deciding how to respond – you must assess these independently of each other.
  • Appropriateness: Is it appropriate or inappropriate? – again, assess these independently of each other.
  • Action: Similar to appropriateness questions except you must choose the most to least appropriate response.

 

By knowing your question types and how to handle each question, you will be able to score higher. The scoring is different on the SJT as you can get partial marks if you are close to the correct answer. Thus, it is important you know your stuff for this section as you can pick up quite a few marks by applying principles of professionalism.

2. Understand the answer options

For SJT questions, you will have to read the whole scenario to ensure you do not miss anything. Then, identify if the response is roughly positive or negative.

A good way of thinking of how you will respond to appropriateness or importance questions is to simplify the answer options.

For example:

A: A very appropriate thing to do = ideal

B: Appropriate, but not ideal = not ideal

C: Appropriate, but not awful = not awful

D: A very inappropriate thing to do = awful

 

A: Very important = directly relevant to the situation

B: Important = worth considering

C: Of minor importance = gone off on a tangent, not really relevant

D: Not important at all = no bearing whatsoever

Now, you can make sense of the answers and see which ones apply to your scenario more suitably.

3. Know professionalism within medicine and dentistry

When going through SJT questions in your question banks, you will notice that there is a pattern of answers that have applied professionalism values and ethics from the document ‘Good Medical Practice.’

You will have to read this document for your interviews anyway, so it is a good idea to get an understanding of medical professionalism for the SJT test, as it will make your life so much easier!

Take some time to read around medical professionalism so you are up to date. The SJT questions are written by a panel of medical experts so a good general principle to follow is ‘What would they do?’ if you are stuck. Hopefully, as a future medical or dental student, your principles will align.

Here are some general rules that will help you through the SJT questions to quickly identify if the response is appropriate or important:

  • If a doctor or medical student is working within their limits and skills – it is likely the response is appropriate.
    • Be aware that this may apply to urgent scenarios where you may be tricked into thinking that an inappropriate person should deal with a scenario beyond their limits just because it is urgent. However, a more appropriate response would be getting a suitable person that should be notified and can attend the situation urgently.
  • Responses where the healthcare professional lies will be very inappropriate.
  • Doctors must always be polite and understanding to patients, even if they are in the scientific wrong. For example, if the scenario outlined that the patient would like to try Pilates and herbal medicine as a treatment for cancer after years of chemotherapy and radiotherapy, you cannot call the patient reckless and invalidate her thoughts. If a patient is not happy with their choice of treatment, then they are unlikely to comply.
  • Doctors must act with integrity and truth at all times – at work and out of work hours.
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