The UCAT/UKCAT Exam Structure
The UCAT/UKCAT exam structure contains 5 sections:
All sections of the UCAT/UKCAT exam structure contain a series of questions which must be completed certain time frame. The structure is the following:
Verbal reasoning has 44 questions to answer in 22 minutes. It is scored between 300-900.
You have roughly 30 seconds to answer each question. There will be 3-6 questions per long passage of text, the text is around 750 words long. The questions themselves aren’t difficult to read but may require you to understand transitive properties of elements in the text.
For example, the first paragraph may talk about A and how it relates to B, the second paragraph relates B to C, so what about A is to do with C?
Don’t expect the answer to every question to be available as a direct quote from the text – some interpretation is necessary. Questions may ask about specific details that you may not have properly acknowledged, so refer back to the text when figures are involved. Verbal reasoning is the most time-pressured out of all.
This section lasts 31 minutes and there are 29 questions; this means roughly one question a minute. It is scored from 300-900.
Decision making was introduced in 2017, replacing an older section called Decision Analysis. You will be presented with questions that refer to text, charts, tables, graphs or diagrams.
The questions are designed to assess how you use information and data to make a decision. The questions can be broken down into six main styles;
- Logical puzzles
- Interpreting information
- Recognising assumptions
- Venn diagrams
- Probabilistic reasoning
All of the questions are standalone so they do not use data or have any overlap from previous questions.
Quantitative reasoning has 36 questions and 25 minutes to answer them in. It is scored from 300-900.
The maths itself is nothing more difficult than around GCSE level, but questions may require several calculations to be made in quick succession. There is also a lot of interpretive analysis, so make sure you’re comfortable with pie charts, bar charts and the like. Currency and unit conversions are also common.
With these questions it’s essential that you keep track of units! The exam is multiple choice, and possible answers will often have similar values with different units.
You have access to a rudimentary calculator. It isn’t a physical one, but a desktop application. It only has basic functionality – the UCAT/UKCAT website has an example. Our best advice for this section is to practice calculations on this calculator. Find an extended keyboard (one with a separate number pad) and get comfortable using it. The faster you get with this, the more precious seconds you’ll be able to spend without fiddling with a mouse or keys.
Abstract reasoning has 55 questions and 14 minutes to answer them. This section is scored from 300-900.
Find as many practice questions as you can so you can get as many examples of the rules into your head. Common rules include looking at the number of sides in shapes (odd vs even or something in that vein), the number of angles, or intersections etc. Don’t spend too much time looking for a rule, if you haven’t got it in the first 45 seconds, guess through the question. Natural intuition may help. Also, your rule need not be perfect. Often full rules may have further nuanced parameters, but the general idea is good enough to get you 80%.
Experience is probably the most useful in this section.
The last part of the UCAT/UKCAT exam structure is the Situational Judgement, or SJT, tests the qualities required to work in healthcare. This might be ethics, your ability to work in a team or integrity. It is a psychological aptitude test.
This section consists of 20 scenarios with 67 items; each scenario has 3-6 items. You have 26 minutes to complete this section, which translates to around 22 seconds per item. This is the last section, so you may begin to fatigue. Make sure you stay focused and be careful to mark the intended answers!
There are two sets of answers for items in the SJT;
Appropriateness – this will be from “very appropriate” to “very inappropriate” with two choices in between.
Importance – this ranges from “very important” to “not important at all”.
This section benefits from practice as you will begin to understand the types of questions and answers that frequently appear. A general rule of thumb to follow for this section is to always put patient safety first, acting in the patients best interest.