UCAT Situational Judgement Top Tips

The aim of the Situational Judgement section is to assess your ability to understand situations you might encounter as a medical student or doctor and how you would deal with them. In this UCAT SJT guide, we set out the questions that may arise, how to respond to the appropriateness and importance of the options.

Last Updated: 14th May 2018

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The aim of the Situational Judgement section is to assess your ability to understand situations that you could encounter as a medical student or doctor and how you would deal with them.

The Situational Judgement Test is the final section of the test. It is a psychological aptitude test and an assessment method used to evaluate your ability in solving problems in work-related situations. UCAT Situational Judgement Tests (or SJTs) are widely used in medicine as one of the criteria when deciding on applicants and it is used for the Foundation Programme and GP applications.

This subtest is the last out of the five sections in the UCAT. The other four are:

In this UCAT SJT guide, we outline the questions that can come up, how to answer the appropriateness and importance of options and provide some final tips to get more marks as an added bonus. Let’s get into it:

UCAT Situation Judgement Timing

The UCAT Situational Judgment test consists of 22 scenarios with 69 items. Each scenario will have 3-6 items. You will have 26 minutes to complete this section, which translates to approximately 22 seconds per item. Ensure you’re careful to mark your intended answers when working at this pace.

What are The UCAT Situational Judgement questions like?

As we mentioned earlier, the aim of the Situational Judgement section is to assess your ability to understand situations that you could encounter as a medical student or doctor and how you would deal with them. It is a method to test some of the qualities required in a healthcare professional (e.g. integrity and ability to work in a team).

Here is an example question; read it and see if you answer correctly at the end of this post!

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The Situational Judgement Test is a tough section of the UCAT, but it’s only one of five parts. There is no need to worry though as our UCAT Tuition Programme gives you expert support through many different avenues of learning, including one-to-one tuition, comprehensive preparation materials and intensive courses.

The SJT consists of a series of scenarios that include possible actions and considerations. Each scenario comprises two sets of questions. In set one, you will be asked to assess the “appropriateness” of options in relation to the scenario and set two is all about “importance”.

The first set is appropriateness

The four possible appropriateness choices are:

The second set is Importance

The four possible importance options are:

The third set 

The third type of questions builds on the ‘Importance’ questions. Instead of being presented with four options, candidates will only have two options.

This new question format is an amalgamation between ‘Importance’ and ‘Type 3’ questions. Therefore practicing older formats of SJT will further strengthen the skills needed. 

Watch this snippet from the UniAdmissions UCAT Programme in which Zenab talks through an “Appropriateness” question.

How to get more marks in UCAT Situational Judgement

Read “Tomorrow’s Doctor”

This is a publication produced by the GMC (General Medical Council) which can be found on their website. Reading through this guide will get you into a professional way of thinking that will help you judge SJT questions accurately.

Step Into Character

When doing this section, imagine you’re there. Imagine yourself as a caring and conscientious medical student a few years from now in each situation as it unfolds. What would you do? What do you think would be the right thing to do?

Think About Hierarchy

All decisions that affect patient care should be made to benefit the patient. Of secondary importance are your work colleagues. Finally, of lowest importance (unfortunately) is yourself. Remember the key principles of professional conduct and you cannot go wrong. Of utmost importance is patient safety.

Medical Ethics

There tend to be a few ethical questions in each SJT paper so it is well worth your time to learn medical ethics. Whilst there are huge ethical textbooks available, you just need to be familiar with the basic principles of the UCAT. Think: Beneficence, Non-maleficence, Autonomy, Justice, Consent and Confidentiality.

Here’s the answer to the example question, how did you do?

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What is a Good UCAT Situational Judgement Score?

The Situational Judgement Test is scored differently from the others, which use a point-based system converted form your raw marks.

Your raw marks in the SJT are instead converted into one of four bands, running from Band 1 (high) to Band 4 (low). The descriptions of each band below were provided by the official UCAT website: 

As you can likely interpret, a score of Band 2 or above would be considered a “good” SJT score in this case, with Band 1 being the most highly rated. There are two things to note about how universities use this section of the exam in the application process: 

Some Medical Schools will consider your Situational Judgement Test score when considering applicants for their courses. 

Some Medical Schools will not consider an applicant further if they have achieved a Band 4 in the SJT.

You can learn more about all of the UCAT Universities in the UK within our UCAT Medical Schools Guide

That covers the basics of what you need to know for the Situational Judgement Test in the UCAT. Be sure to check out our other UCAT guides to learn more about the other sections of the UCAT, or find out how you can triple your chances of success with our expert UCAT Tuition Programmes today!

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