What You Need To Know About UCAT

What is UCAT?

UCAT stands for University Clinical Aptitude Test. It is used by most universities in New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom to select students for entry into medicine and dentistry.

UCAT is a computer-based test in multiple-choice question format. UCAT is administered by Pearson VUE on behalf of the UCAT Consortium of universities.

How important is UCAT?

UCAT is important in determining entry into medicine and dentistry. At Auckland University, it is worth 15% of the admissions criteria. At the University of Otago, students must achieve a minimum threshold score in each UCAT subtest to be considered for entry into medicine or dentistry.

UCAT is generally used along with your university academic performance and your performance in medical interviews to select students for entry. Note that there is no interview for Otago university medicine.

How hard is UCAT?

UCAT is a very difficult test. UCAT questions are completely different to those you will have encountered at school or university. UCAT is highly time pressured, and the vast majority of students do not finish the test. UCAT is a test requiring extreme concentration and quick thinking skills.

The good news? It is possible to prepare for and do well in UCAT.

What is the format of UCAT?

UCAT is a 2 hour, computer based test, which is very different to pen and paper exams that you are used to in school and university.

This video shows the key features of the UCAT platform, using MedEntry’s replica UCAT platform, which exactly simulates the live UCAT:

What will it be like sitting UCAT?

If you have ever sat a driver’s licence theory exam, the UCAT environment will be similar. You will be in a room with other candidates, some of whom may be sitting tests other than UCAT. You will be provided with a UCAT computer screen, keyboard and mouse. You can use headphones or earplugs to minimise distractions during UCAT.

You will also have access to a UCAT Noteboard and marker pen so you can make notes during the test. You will be provided with one when you attend a MedEntry UCAT Workshop so you can familiarise yourself with it.

There is a one minute timed instruction screen between each UCAT subtest. There are no scheduled breaks in UCAT. If you need to go to the bathroom, the UCAT timer will keep ticking!

What are the UCAT sections?

UCAT is composed of five sections, known as UCAT subtests:

  1. Verbal Reasoning: assesses your ability to critically evaluate information presented in a written form and draw logical conclusions
  2. Decision Making: assesses your ability to problem solve and evaluate arguments
  3. Quantitative Reasoning: assesses your ability to use numerical reasoning to draw valid conclusions
  4. Abstract Reasoning: assesses your ability to identify patterns and relationships using non-verbal images
  5. Situational Judgement: assesses your ability to identify critical factors and appropriate behaviour when dealing with real life situations

The first four subtests are known as ‘cognitive subtests’ and Situational Judgement is classed as a ‘non-cognitive’ subtest.

What is the structure of UCAT?

UCAT is composed of 233 questions, to be answered in 120 minutes. This table below displays the timing for each UCAT subtest:

UCAT SubtestQuestionsTest DurationTime Per Question
Verbal Reasoning 44 21 minutes 28 seconds
Decision Making 29 31 minutes 60 seconds
Quantitative Reasoning 36 24 minutes 40 seconds
Abstract Reasoning 55 13 minutes 14 seconds
Situational Judgement 69 26 minutes 22 seconds

As you can see from the above table, UCAT is extremely time pressured, and every year more than 20% of candidates fail to answer every question (that is, they run out of time to even make a random guess!). Therefore, it is vital that you understand and practice the UCAT strategies required to deal with this time pressure, covered in detail in MedEntry UCAT Courses.

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Do I need to sit UCAT?

You will need to sit UCAT if you are interested in applying to any of the following courses:

The University of Auckland

Medicine

University of Otago

Medicine, Dental Surgery

The University of Adelaide

Medicine, Dental Surgery, Oral Health

Charles Sturt University

Dental Science

Curtin University

Medicine

Flinders University

Clinical Sciences / Medicine

Monash University

Medicine

The University of Newcastle

Joint Medical Program

The University of New South Wales

Medicine

The University of Queensland

Medicine (provisional entry), Dental Science

University of Tasmania

Medicine

The University of Western Australia

Medicine (Direct Pathway), Dental Medicine (Direct Pathway)

Western Sydney University

Medicine

When is UCAT?

UCAT takes place over the month of July. You choose the time, date and location that you wish to sit UCAT. This video provides advice on how to choose a UCAT testing date:

You can only sit UCAT once per testing cycle. UCAT results are valid for one year.

How do I register to sit UCAT?

To register for UCAT, you should visit the Pearson VUE website. You will need to first create an account with Pearson VUE, and then book your desired testing date, time and location.

Further detailed instructions can be found at: https://www.ucat.edu.au/ucat-anz/registration-booking/

How should I prepare for UCAT?

Successful preparation for UCAT can be summarised in four key steps:

U – Understand UCAT

C – Create a bank of UCAT strategies that work for you

A – Assess your UCAT performance, and target weak areas

T – Train for UCAT by attempting simulated practice exams

MedEntry provides you with all the tools required to effectively prepare for UCAT:

  • Understand: MedEntry’s highly sought after workshops and online UCAT curriculum will cover everything you need to know about UCAT, including inside knowledge about the UCAT testing process. By the end of our program, you too will be a UCAT expert!
  • Create: MedEntry’s workshops, guides and UCAT video instruction cover effective UCAT strategies for tackling each UCAT question type and subtest. This comprehensive program will allow you to easily develop a personalised approach to UCAT that works for you.
  • Assess: MedEntry’s Personalised Adaptive Learning (PAL) technology analyses your responses and provides comprehensive UCAT feedback, allowing you to track your UCAT performance. It offers suggestions on where to focus your future efforts, allowing you to easily target weak areas and prepare for UCAT efficiently.
  • Train: In addition to UCAT subtest mocks and drills, MedEntry provides 16 full-length UCAT exams, delivered on a platform that exactly simulates the live UCAT. After undergoing MedEntry’s program, the live UCAT will just feel like another MedEntry practice exam!

From our decades of experience, we know that the best way to prepare for UCAT is to do a little bit of practice on a regular basis. That’s why we allow unlimited access to all of our resources right up until the end of the UCAT testing period. And it gets even better: you can access your resources anywhere, anytime, and any place – from your laptop, desktop, phone or tablet (via our exclusive, dedicated UCAT App).

It is important to choose the right UCAT preparation provider. Look for an organisation which is run by leading doctors and academics, has helped tens of thousands of students become doctors, and which has hundreds of independent five star reviews. This video explains why MedEntry is the most trusted UCAT preparation provider:

MedEntry is also running free UCAT information sessions, which cover how to prepare for and succeed in UCAT.