UCAT Scratchpad: The Essential Guide

Advice & Insight From UCAT Specialists

What is the scratchpad?

The scratchpad is a feature of the UCAT, in which candidates are able to take notes on their computer or laptop during the exam. It is accessible to candidates sitting the exam at a test centre, and also if taking it online via OnVUE, and is provided alongside a physical whiteboard. To access the scratchpad, candidates must select a ‘pop up window’ icon at the top of the screen, or alternatively can use alt + D. To close the scratchpad, the ‘close’ button can then be selected. The other keyboard shortcuts present in the exam must also be noted. The ‘alt’ feature can be used for any underlined letters present in the instructions; for example, when selecting ‘previous’ to go back to the previous question, alt + P can be used, and when selecting ‘next’, alt + N would be chosen. However, these shortcuts may differ for Mac users taking the test online, thus it is important to trial them during the short sample exam present in the OnVUE System Test.
When using the scratchpad, users can type up any notes they feel to be useful in answering the question. Candidates are able to cut, copy and paste within the text, but cannot do this from the actual UCAT questions. For example, it is not possible to select a section of information or data from the question, and paste it into the scratchpad to use to take notes. The scratchpad will automatically close when continuing on to the next question, however the notes will remain when reopening it. The notes are removed once each section of the exam has been completed. For questions such as those in the Quantitative Reasoning section, in which calculations have to be carried out or diagrams must be drawn, the physical whiteboard may be a more suitable option to take notes on, as notes cannot be drawn using a mouse on the scratchpad. Nonetheless, for other questions in the Verbal Reasoning section, for example, it could instead be more effective to use the scratchpad, as notes can be made without taking your eyes off the screen, ensuring that you remain focussed on the question. Therefore, it is important to make use of both of these resources, and be able to use them interchangeably during the exam. Completing the practice tests available on the UCAT website will help you familiarise yourself with using the scratchpad, in addition to the other resources available such as the online calculator. As the UCAT is a time pressured exam, with there being five sections to be completed in two hours, ensuring that you are able to use and access these resources quickly during the test is vital.

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Taking the UCAT at a Test Centre

When taking the UCAT at a Pearson Test Centre, as well as the scratchpad, laminated noteboards and a pen will be provided. These should be provided by the administrators at the beginning of the test, however if they have not been it is vital to ask for them, as not requesting them is not regarded as a mitigating circumstance. 

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​Taking the UCAT Online

When taking the exam online, candidates will be required to provide their own whiteboards, or alternatively a single laminated piece of plain white paper, which should not be larger than 30cm by 50cm. The whiteboards must be erasable, have a maximum of two dry erase markers, one dry erase whiteboard eraser, and as mentioned above be equal to or smaller than 30cm by 50cm.
There are items that are not allowed, when taking the UCAT online. These are as follows:

  • Whiteboards with grids/markings or background colours
  • Paper
  • Pen or pencil
  • Permanent marker
  • Tissues, paper towels or napkins
  • Whiteboard spray
  • Paper in a clear slide
  • Writing table, boogie board or doodle pad
  • Chalkboards

At the beginning of the test, candidates will need to show the Proctor their whiteboard, to ensure it fulfils the requirements. The front and back will be checked, to show that it is blank prior to taking the exam. Once the test has been completed, candidates will again be required to show the Proctor their whiteboard, to make sure that all notes have been erased or removed.

Further Reading....

UCAT Scratchpad: The Essential Guide

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