Once you’ve made the decision to study medicine, the next step is to prepare yourself for the tests that are to come. Medicine is one of the most rewarding and enriching career paths you can choose, but it’s also one of the most competitive which is why there are several tests you need to pass in order to gain a spot on a medical degree. One of those is the UCAT which is the University Clinical Aptitude Test – this test doesn’t contain any curriculum or science-based content, instead focusing on assessing the reasoning and logical skills of the applicant. Here’s what you should know beforehand in order to successful prepare for UCAT test day.
Structure of the UCAT
The UCAT is multiple choice and has five sub-tests:
This section involves reading 11 passages of text, each of which will have four questions associated with it. These are designed to assess how the candidate weighs up the information they’ve read and how they make inferences based on it. For example, a question may be for the applicant to complete a sentence based on the text they’ve read or to make a judgement of whether a passage is true or false.
This section assesses problem-solving skills as well as numeracy skills. There are 36 questions, with most in sets of four, associated with a certain piece of data such as a table or graph.
This is the section that most worries applicants – it involves identifying patterns in images and inferring what the next picture will be based on the pattern they’ve discovered. This skill is important for doctors who will need to find patterns in symptoms and weigh up the information they’ve been given.
The decision-making section is based on 29 questions, each based on a piece of data or a section of text. Some of these questions are yes/no questions while others are multiple choice.
The final test measures the capacity to comprehend real-world scenarios and how to deal with them. There are 69 questions in this section, based around 22 scenarios, which require the applicant to consider how different options will impact their decision-making.
Tips for Test Day
The first tip for ensuring UCAT test day goes smoothly is to arrive at the test centre with plenty of time to spare – rushing around trying to find the location of the test centre will leave you stressed and unable to think clearly. Most centres will allow you to bring in a bottle of water, which is advised as the five tests can take a long time to complete. Don’t be distracted if the people around you are sitting different tests – often, centres are used for a variety of assessments, so just stay focused on your tasks. Finally, take some time to breathe deeply before you go in and think with a clear head – focus on each question thoroughly before answering and make sure you give yourself enough time to complete all of the tests.