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.

Author: Rob Needleman

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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.

The subtest is the second out of the five sections:

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

Let’s get into it.

Section Timing

The UCAT Situational Judgment test consists of 22 scenarios with 66 items. Each scenario will have 3-6 items. You will have 26 minutes to complete this section, which translates to approximately 24 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!

The Situational Judgement Test is a tough section of the UCAT. There is no need to worry though as our UCAT Programme gives you expert support through many different avenues of learning, such as 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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