UCAT 2024: Understanding the Test Format and Structure

Advice & Insight From UCAT Specialists


The University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT) is a crucial examination for students aspiring to pursue medical or dental careers in the UK. As you prepare for the 2024 iteration of the UCAT, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with the test format and structure. This article will provide you with a comprehensive overview of the UCAT, including its subtests, question types, and timing.

UCAT Subtests

The UCAT consists of five separately timed subtests, each designed to assess a specific set of mental abilities deemed important by university medical and dental schools. These subtests are:

  1. Verbal Reasoning: This subtest evaluates your ability to critically analyze information presented in written form. You’ll encounter 44 questions to be completed in 21 minutes.
  1. Decision Making: In this subtest, you’ll be tested on your ability to make sound decisions and judgments using complex information. You’ll have 31 minutes to answer 29 questions.
  2. Quantitative Reasoning: This section assesses your ability to critically evaluate information presented in numerical form. You’ll have 25 minutes to tackle 36 questions.
  1. Abstract Reasoning: This subtest measures your use of convergent and divergent thinking to infer relationships from information. You’ll face 50 questions in 12 minutes.
  1. Situational Judgement: This subtest gauges your capacity to understand real-world situations and identify critical factors and appropriate behavior in dealing with them. You’ll have 26 minutes to respond to 69 questions.
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Question Types and Scoring

Each UCAT subtest features a variety of question types, ranging from multiple-choice questions to true/false statements and rating scales. In the Verbal Reasoning subtest, you’ll encounter questions with four answer options and statements that require you to determine if they are true, false, or if you can’t tell based on the given passage.

The Decision Making subtest includes questions referring to text, charts, tables, graphs, or diagrams. Some questions have four answer options, while others require you to respond to five statements with “yes” or “no” answers.

In the Quantitative Reasoning subtest, most questions are presented in sets of four, each connected to the same data. Each question has five answer options, and you can only select one response.

The Abstract Reasoning subtest features questions associated with sets of shapes. You’ll be asked to determine whether a test shape belongs to a particular set, select the next shape in a series, or complete a statement.

Lastly, the Situational Judgement subtest presents hypothetical scenarios based in clinical or educational settings. You’ll rate the importance or appropriateness of statements and choose the most and least appropriate actions to take in response to the scenarios.

Timing and Preparation

The standard UCAT takes 2 hours to complete, with each subtest preceded by a 1-minute instruction section. Once the test has started, it cannot be paused. Eligible candidates can apply for Access Arrangements to sit an extended version of the test.

To excel in the UCAT, it’s crucial to develop effective time management strategies. Practice with timed mock tests to familiarize yourself with the pace and pressure of the actual exam. Focus on your weaker areas and work on improving your speed and accuracy.

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Resources and Tips for UCAT Preparation

When preparing for the UCAT, it’s essential to use a variety of resources and strategies to maximize your performance. Start by visiting the official UCAT website, where you’ll find valuable information, including the UCAT Official Guide, question tutorials, and practice tests.

To optimize your preparation, create a study schedule that allows you to cover all the subtests and question types. Break your study sessions into manageable chunks and focus on one subtest at a time. Regularly assess your progress using mock tests and identify areas that need improvement.

Remember to use question banks to enhance your understanding!

Finally, don’t neglect the importance of mental and physical well-being during your UCAT preparation. Ensure that you get enough sleep, maintain a balanced diet, and engage in regular exercise. Practice stress-management techniques, such as deep breathing or meditation, to help you stay calm and focused during the test.


Understanding the UCAT format and structure is the first step towards effective preparation. By familiarising yourself with the subtests, question types, and timing, you can develop a targeted study plan and hone your skills. Remember, practice is key to success in the UCAT. With dedication and consistent effort, you’ll be well-equipped to tackle the challenges of the UCAT 2024 and take a significant step towards your dream of a medical or dental career.

UCAT 2024: Understanding the Test Format and Structure

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