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What is the UCAT?

07 JUL 2021

What is the UCAT?

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.

UCAT Sections Breakdown

The UCAT tests five different abilities: Verbal reasoning, Decision Making, Quantitative Reasoning, Abstract Reasoning, and Situational Judgement. These are reflected in the five subtests:

UCAT Section Breakdown
Section# of QuestionsTime Per SectionTime Per Question
Verbal Reasoning 441 minute of instruction 21 minutes of test time 29 seconds per question
Decision Making 291 minute of instruction 31 minutes of test time 64 seconds per question
Quantitative Reasoning 361 minute of instruction 24 minutes of test time 40 seconds per question
Abstract Reasoning 551 minute of instruction 13 minutes of test time 14 seconds per question
Situation Judgement691 minute of instruction 26 minutes of test time 25 seconds per question

The UCAT tests high-order thinking skills under intense time pressure. With our insight-oriented curriculum, individualised tutorial packages, and adaptive learning software, we can support every student with their UCAT preparation.

Deep-dive into the UCAT

Our educational experts and consultants analyse the five abilities, what they are, and break them down into core competencies required for each.

UCAT Verbal Reasoning

Verbal reasoning is the ability to comprehend, analyse, synthesise, and draw conclusions from the textual information, applying critical reasoning to written content.

In this section of the UCAT, expect to see: 11 textual excerpts with four questions each. These questions are based only on non-fiction texts and do not feature poetry, comics, or fictional work.

Core Competencies:

  • Recognise information types
  • Understand the difference between a statement, opinion, and fact.
  • Discern truth and certainty
  • Understand that the grey area between the dichotomy of true and false in written information.
  • Draw grounded conclusions
  • Understanding the conclusions we make from texts have to be grounded in the information provided.

It is pivotal to be aware of the core assumptions we make and the cognitive biases that subconsciously cloud our conclusions.

For more detailed analysis and a thorough examination of the MedView Competencies, join our UCAT program!

UCAT Decision Making

In the UCAT, decision-making refers to an umbrella of related abilities centred on drawing conclusions from complicated sources of information.

Data interpretation from text, charts, tables, graphs, and other diagrams and an understanding of logical argumentation are key for this section.

In this section, expect questions that require you to:

  1. Understand chains of logical reasoning
  2. Understand what makes an argument good or bad
  3. Identify salient information from crowded sources and draw conclusions from them

UCAT Quantitative Reasoning

Quantitative reasoning is more than numbers and mental arithmetic. It focuses on sound reasoning grounded in numbers, including statistics, figures, and costs. All candidates have access to an on-screen calculator.

In this section, there will be nine scenarios with four questions each. Expect questions that:

  1. Test your comfort with using numerical information to make conclusions
  2. Test your data interpretation from a variety of graphical sources
  3. Test core mathematical concepts such as measures of central tendency (mean, median, mode)

UCAT Abstract Reasoning

Abstract reasoning tests the ability to discern, analyse, and synthesise information. Students must be efficient in iterative thinking: the ability to constantly generate hypotheses and modify them dependent on their success.

In this section, you will encounter questions that expect you to:

  1. Identify similarities and differences between images. a. Identify which family of images to which an individual belongs b. Identify an individual image that belongs to a family (the inverse of the above)
  2. Choose an image that best completes a sequence.
  3. Identify relationships between composite images.

Complete the Sequence, This to That and Match the Question to the Family questions all display aspects of the core competencies required. For a more detailed analysis and a thorough examination of core competencies, join our UCAT program!

UCAT Situational Judgement

Situational judgement testing (SJT) has been a part of admissions processes for more than four years in Australia and New Zealand. It has now been subsumed into the UCAT process and will not be standalone as previously.

Testing on situational judgement focuses on clinical scenarios that involve university and medical students. Through these scenarios, candidates are evaluated on their integrity and ability to respond. Broadly, SJT seeks to evaluate the candidate's emotional intelligence (EQ) and how they will adapt to future careers in health sciences.

In this section, expect questions that require you to:

  1. Evaluate the appropriateness of different responses to scenarios and rank them from most to least appropriate.
  2. Stratify the most important responses in a scenario
  3. Understand the consequences of decisions in the immediate, short, and long-term
  4. Understand that an individual's motives and intentions are reflected in their overall behaviour
  5. Evaluate paralinguistic cues in assessing behaviour

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. If you’d like to learn more about the UCAT or how to get into Medical School, check out our free eBooks and blogs!

MedView offers a range of UCAT preparation courses as well as personalised 1:1 tutoring with our expert team. If you would like to know more about the UCAT and how MedView can help, get in touch today.