JUN 10, 2020 • 7 min read
What is the UCAT? The UCAT, or the University Clinical Aptitude Test is the medical school admission test required for many universities in Australia and New Zealand. The UCAT is designed to assess applicants for the aptitude, attitudes and beliefs required of a doctor. In order to defeat the UCAT - we should understand what it is. First off, it’s a two hour computer based exam. There are 5 separately timed subtests - Verbal Reasoning, Decision Making, Quantitative Reasoning, Abstract Reasoning and Situational Judgement. In this blog we break down each of the sections and offer guidance on how to prepare for this important exam.
Verbal reasoning is meant to assess your ability to read something and draw appropriate conclusions. You can see why this would be important to a doctor - you’re part of a multidisciplinary team and will have to communicate effectively. In addition, doctors have to keep current with new research and draw reasonable conclusions from published findings. Decision making involves 11 text excerpts with 4 questions each, meaning this section has 44 questions in 21 minutes - that means an average of 29 seconds per question. That doesn’t even take reading the stem into account!
Decision making is essentially data interpretation from graphs, tables, text and charts. You don’t need to have background knowledge on any subject, because part of what they’re testing is your ability to understand new information. Can you think of a time a doctor might have to do the same? This section has 29 questions in 31 minutes - an average of 64 seconds per question. Compare the timing of section to verbal reasoning, it’s more than double. Consider the length of time per question as an indication of how much the test writers want you to analyse.
Quantitative reasoning is a straightforward mathematics section - there are nine scenarios each with four questions. You’ll have access to an on screen calculator - which is functional but pretty clunky! You’ll have to strike a balance between using mental maths to be quick, and keeping your wits about you, and staying accurate. This section has 36 questions in 24 minutes - an average of 40 seconds per question. It’s not a lot of time to question your maths abilities!
Abstract reasoning is used to evaluate your ability to locate patterns and understand logic, separate from your language abilities. If you’ve seen the guides online with pictures asking you to find a pattern - that’s abstract reasoning. This section is sometimes hard for students to grasp, because it’s such a different set of skills. It’s also probably the biggest struggle with time management. This section has 55 questions in 13 minutes - that’s only 14 seconds per question. Don’t even think about going into this section unprepared!
Situational judgement assesses your judgement and character in different situations - the situations are usually clinical or education based. Either situations you’ve likely been in, or a situation you could be involved in future. Then you’ll have to evaluate the appropriateness, importance or consequences of the situation. It’s one way for universities to evaluate the characteristics that are important for future doctors! Situational judgement has 69 questions in 26 minutes - an average of 25 seconds per question.
This sounds like a no brainer, but preparation is the most important thing you can do if you want to succeed on the UCAT. Going over questions is one thing but the most effective thing you can do is to practice under exam conditions. That means doing computer based exams - so when you get to test day, you know what to expect. Luckily MedView has a bank of questions so you can take practice tests that simulate the experience as closely as possible.
Time is a precious resource when you’re preparing for medical school admissions - you have to continue doing well in your studies, prepare yourself for an interview, and master a new exam. There’s not infinite time - so you have to learn how to study smarter, not just harder. So many students waste their time by continuing to drill skills that they’ve already mastered. It’s important to identify the weak points that need more TLC.
Find friends that have taken the test before and ask for their experience. Better yet, schedule a free Academic Assessment with MedView today! When you start your journey as a MedView student, you are allocated an Education Coordinator who has experience helping hundreds of students get into med school. They’ll help you stay on track with your goals, offer you support, and help you succeed on your path to medical school. Sign up for a free consultation today, to learn more about how MedView can help you achieve your medical school goals!