The UCAT is the entrance exam you need to do well in to stand a reasonable chance at getting into most medical schools in the UK.
It’s not a difficult exam, and it’s easy enough to get a good score provided you put in the effort when the time is right. There’s no need to spend months preparing. Typically, a month or three weeks is all you need.
What is the UCAT?
The UCAT or “University Clinical Aptitude Test” is sat by most students applying to study medicine or dentistry in the UK. It is more of an aptitude test than an academic test which tests abilities such as Problem Solving and Critical Thinking.
It is made up of five section:
- Verbal Reasoning
- Decision Making
- Quantitative Reasoning
- Abstract Reasoning
- Situational Judgement
Which universities require the UCAT?
There are 33 medical schools in the UK and 16 dental schools. The majority of these universities and schools use the UCAT as their admissions test, the remaining universities use the BMAT instead.
A less frequently addressed issue is when the best time to take your test is and where it is.
The test is administered by Pearson, the same company that administers the driving theory test, so both exams occur in the same building. If you’ve taken your theory test, you’ll know what to expect; an old school CRT monitor and a loud, poor quality keyboard. This wouldn’t be an issue if everyone in the room was taking the UCAT, but it’s perfectly possible to be sitting next to a rather loud and distracting theory test candidate banging away at the keys, so make use of the large headphones provided!
How to book the UCAT?
You need to first register for the UCAT by visiting the UCAT website. They’ll take you to the Pearson Vue site from these where you can find your nearest location and book your test. You’ll first need to register an account with them. You must ensure you are registered within the deadlines UCAT set. For 2020, booking opens on the 1st July 2020.
Costs of sitting the UCAT
The cost of the test varies upon when you sit the test. The specifics can be found on the UCAT website as these change each year. It usually costs £55 if you sit the test between July and August, after which time it goes up to £80. If you sit the UCAT outside of the EU, the cost goes up to £115.
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A word on timing…
Assuming you’re applying to medicine as an undergraduate going into upper sixth, I’d recommend booking the test for after your AS Level results come out. This way you hedge your bets on the fee. If, regrettably, your results aren’t the best, you may want to reconsider applying for medicine this year but if you’d already taken your test the results wouldn’t mean much – by booking the test for after results you buy yourself a cancellation window.
You should also book your test for before your new academic year starts. Any potential medical student should be throwing themselves into performing well in their upper sixth year, so it’s best to avoid juggling both A2 material and the little tricks of the ukcat. So the ideal window is after results and before the new academic year.
Unfortunately, a lot of people recognise the benefits of this window, and spaces are limited, so book early! Also, if your local testing centre is booked up, the benefits of the window mean it’s probably worth looking at other centres.
Side note: it’s also essential to make sure you have the right ID for the test. Take no risks, double-check the website.
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