background image

5 Tips About the UCAT Calculator

30 MAR 2022

The University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT) is a university admissions test used in Australia, New Zealand, and abroad. Universities use it for admission into a range of health science courses, including medicine and dentistry.

The UCAT is a:

  • 2-hour computer-based test
  • Consists of five separately timed subtests
  • Consists only of multiple-choice questions
  • There are no breaks between subtests except for a short introduction

Candidates can choose when to sit the test from a range of permissible dates. Results will be made available instantly upon finishing the UCAT.

In the UCAT exam, students are not allowed to bring in their own calculator or electronic device so instead, the UCAT provides an on-screen calculator you can use for the Quantitative Reasoning and Decision Making sections.

To access this calculator you must click the icon at the top left of your screen.

This calculator is super clunky so I would recommend making sure you’re mental maths is strong, however to ace the exam it is really good to understand how to use this tool to your advantage.

Learn these 5 things about how to effectively use the UCAT on-screen calculator to help you on exam day.

1. The calculator can store values

If you’re trying to remember a value under the timed conditions, it can be difficult, so it can be worth storing it in the on-screen calculator's memory for you to use later.

To save a positive value use the M+ button and to save a negative value use the M- button. To recall the memory click the MRC button.

Please note, that the calculator only has the capacity to store one value at a time and the calculator will override the previously saved number with the most recent.

Check out this blog for more shortcuts and calculator keys.

2. The display screen will clear at each question 

When you move to the next question the on-screen calculator screen will clear including anything saved, and this is because questions typically don’t require information from previous questions. However, with questions that occasionally do, make sure to write values down on the scrap paper you are given at the beginning of the exam. 

3. The calculator does not consider the order of operations

This is probably the most important tip to know about the calculator going into the exam, as it typically trips people up in the Decision Making section. In high school you may have learnt BEDMAS (or something similar):

  • Brackets
  • Exponents
  • Division
  • Multiplication
  • Addition
  • Subtraction.

However, the calculator disregards this convention and only applies the values in the order they were entered. This can potentially result in a very incorrect result that isn’t one of the multiple-choice options which can stress students out given the time pressure. When preparing for the UCAT make sure you've allocated time to revise the BEDMAS order of operations so you can decipher a calculation and use the calculator to your advance.

4. The backspace clears the screen

The backspace button doesn’t just clear one number at a time, it clears everything just like the ON or C button. This is important to note because if you aren’t accurate in your typing of equations you’ll have to do it all over again, which wastes time in the UCAT.

5. Use your keyboard number pad

The UCAT is a time-pressured exam, don’t waste your time moving your mouse to click on each number you need on the calculator, use your keyboard instead. To be able to use this feature you need to turn Num Lock on.

This also allows you to use key operations on your keyboard as well.

Check out this blog for more keyboard shortcuts.

Next Steps

The UCAT is an important exam that is key to medical school admission for undergraduates. We recommend starting your UCAT preparation early and integrating it into your study load to give yourself the best opportunity to succeed.

Other Resources

Here at MedView, we offer UCAT workshops that replicate the actual exam, 3000+ practice questions and exams with progress tracking and 1:1 private tutoring to make sure you have the speed, skill and knowledge to ace this exam. You can book a free consultation with one of our Academic Advisors to learn more about how MedView can help you today!