The UCAT is like no other test you will ever have taken before but it is a necessary step in the process of applying for a place at medical school. Competition for places is fierce so it’s more important now than ever to score highly on your UCAT to set yourself apart from the thousands of other applicants and to do this you need to be prepared.
One of the most important things to be aware of is how the UCAT is scored and how to prepare well enough so that you score highly and get yourself noticed. Here at The Future Medic, we have helped hundreds of aspiring medics get into their chosen schools and we’re here to support you with your UCAT preparation.
What is UCAT?
First things first, what is UCAT? TheUniversity Clinical Aptitude Test, is an admissions test to help universities select applicants for their medical and dental courses. The test forms part of the application process when applying for a place at medical school alongside a personal statement.
Using the results from the UCAT, the personal statement, qualifications, experience and personal attributes, university admissions panels will form a judgement on which candidates they wish to invite to the next stage of the process, the interviews.
The UCAT is unlike any other test you will have taken and it doesn’t assess scientific knowledge so you don’t need any medical or dental knowledge to score highly on the test. Instead, the UCAT is cleverly designed to test different skills and mental abilities that are deemed important to be successful in the medical field.
The UCAT will cost you £70 if you’re taking it in the UK and £115 if you’re taking it outside of the UK in 2023.
Before looking into how the UCAT is scored you need to know the test format.
The verbal reasoning section of the UCAT tests your ability to read and comprehend information and decide if a conclusion can be drawn from that information. You will need to read written passages and answer related questions.
For this part of the test, you will have 44 questions and 21 minutes to answer. This is considered the most time-pressured part of the test.
In this subtest, you will be presented with various scenarios and asked to make decisions based on the information presented, which is essential when entering medical school. You must apply critical thinking skills to make sound decisions, often under time pressure.
For this part of the test, you will have 29 questions and 31 minutes to answer.
The quantitative reasoning subtest tests your ability to solve numerical problems. The questions in this subtest are based on mathematical concepts, and you must use your knowledge of basic arithmetic, algebra, and geometry to solve them.
You will have 36 questions and 24 minutes to complete this test part.
The Abstract Reasoning subtest tests your ability to identify patterns, relationships, and trends in abstract shapes and designs.
You will have 50 questions and 12 minutes to complete them.
The final section of the UCAT is the situational judgement section. This section tests your capacity to understand real-life situations, find the key critical factors and the best way to deal with each situation.
For this test, you will have 69 questions to answer in 26 minutes.
Overall UCAT breakdown:
- Verbal reasoning – 44 questions in (21 minutes)
- Decision Making – 29 questions in (31 minutes)
- Quantitative reasoning – 36 questions in (25 minutes)
- Abstract reasoning – 50 questions in (12 minutes)
- Situational judgement – 69 questions in (26 minutes.
UCAT scoring system
The scoring system for the UCAT is fairly straightforward with one mark awarded for every correct answer. and no marks are deducted for incorrect answers. As the number of questions varies between the five subtests, making a direct comparison is impossible; therefore, the raw marks are converted into a scaled score that shares a common range between 300 and 900.
The total scaled UCAT score is generated by summing the scaled scores from the first four cognitive subtests, which range from 1200 to 3600. Doing practice tests gives you an idea of what to work on for your areas of development. Set a score goal and work on it by increasing your score in your weakest areas.
How the UCAT scores are used
To help you understand fully how your UCAT is scored and the importance of achieving a high score, here is what is done with your results afterwards.
UCAT percentiles tell you how your score compares to the scores of other candidates. The higher your percentile, the better you performed compared to everyone else. If you’re in the 90th percentile, this means you have done extremely well and scored higher than 90% of other tests taken. On the other hand, if you score anywhere on the 1-50th percentile, it means you have scored less than at least 50% of other candidates.
Once your score has been converted into a percentile, it is then converted into a decile. Each decile represents 10% of the candidates. Similar to the percentile, the higher your score the higher the decile group you’ll be in. The 9th decile is the highest and the first decile is the lowest. You want to be in the highest decile, or as high as possible, to be considered for medical school.
As you can see, your score will be compared to every other candidate’s score so make sure you’re in the top 50% at least. It’s difficult to say what score is needed for medical school as there is no published threshold but you’ll need to aim for a minimum of 2500 to get noticed, and ideally above 2750 to give yourself the best chance of success.
With UCAT, preparation is key
UCAT is designed to test your suitability for medicine and since the competition is tough for places on a medical course, the admission boards can afford to be picky, which is why it is more important now than ever to prepare for your UCAT and achieve a high score. Here are some tips we have to get started with your preparation.
- Complete a mock exam to gauge your starting point.
- Start early, we recommend a minimum of 3-6 months before but some students start even earlier.
- Review your performance and analyse areas for development.
- Address your weaknesses and learn from them.
- Continually do practice tests and question banks and aim for around 50-100 questions per day
- Monitor improvements.
- Get help to give yourself the best score possible- The Future Medic is here to help.
- Keep trying!
Some people think the UCAT is harder than practice tests but that’s not necessarily true as long as you get genuine UCAT practice tests that are a reflection of the real thing. But with the pressure over your shoulders on the day, you may find that actual UCAT harder than the practice tests just because it’s the real thing.
The Future Medic: Achieve more with us
At The Future Medic, we have an experienced and highly qualified team to help you prepare for your UCAT and application process for medical school. We have helped hundreds of students get into their chosen school so with our help you have a better chance of doing that too.
Our UCAT services include the following:
- Online courses
- Personalised one-to-one sessions
- Access to our highly qualified tutors.
So, how is the UCAT scored? It is simple one mark for every right answer and your raw score is then converted into a scaled score. What’s more important thought, is what happens to that data as your score will be compared with all the other candidates, which means you need to score highly to get noticed.
With our help at The Future Medic, we can help you to achieve higher than you thought possible. Contact us today to start your journey.