If you’re hoping to go to medical school next year then you should already be thinking about taking the UCAT exam. If you haven’t already started preparing for you, now is a good time to start because the test is designed to be challenging, so getting in as much practice as possible before the real thing is paramount to your success.
Many candidates wonder about the decision making portion of the exam, what it entails, how long it is and how to do well in this section. At The Future Medic, we are experts in helping students just like you get into medical school and that all started with preparing you for the UCAT exam so you can score as highly as possible and get noticed by your chosen medical school.
Preparing for the UCAT
The UCAT is like no other test you will have taken before because it doesn’t necessarily measure knowledge, particularly scientific knowledge, but it tests the skills and attributes needed to do well in the medical field, such as being able to make sound decisions under pressure. To take the UCAT, you will need to book it, pay the cost of the test online and you will need to take the exam the year before you’re due to start medical school.
The UCAT exam is likely going to be the most challenging exam you have taken so far. It will be very different from your A Levels or GCSEs, so you’ll need to revise well in advance to give yourself the best chance of scoring high enough to get through to the next stage of the application process.
UCAT preparation can be challenging, but knowing how long you should revise for each day or how many questions you do per day will depend on how early you started to prepare for the test and what your starting point is. The first thing you should do is take a practice UCAT test to familiarise yourself with the format and the difficulty and investigate your strengths and weaknesses. Getting help from professionals like The Future Medic will increase your chances of doing well on the test.
UCAT exam sub-tests
The UCAT exam is meant to be challenging, which is why serious preparation is needed to get a good score. Don’t be surprised if the first time you take a practice UCAT test, you can’t finish all of the questions in the allotted time or if your score is low. This is to be expected as the test contains a lot of questions and only a short time to complete them.
To score highly on the UCAT test, good preparation is needed and that includes having a sound understanding of the test formal, including the timings and the sub-sections. The UCAT format is relatively straightforward as 5 individual tests make up the overall test. Each section has a different number of questions to answer and different timings.
- Verbal Reasoning assesses your ability to critically evaluate information presented in a written form. There are 44 questions and you have 21 minutes to answer them.
- Decision Making assesses your ability to make sound decisions and judgements using complex information. There are 29 questions and you have 31 minutes to answer them.
- Quantitative Reasoning assesses your ability to critically evaluate information presented in a numerical form. There are 36 questions and you have 25 minutes to answer them.
- Abstract Reasoning assesses your use of convergent and divergent thinking to infer relationships from information. There are 50 questions to answer and you have 12 minutes to answer them.
- Situational Judgement measures your capacity to understand real-world situations and to identify critical factors and appropriate behaviour in dealing with them. There are 69 questions and you have 26 minutes to answer them.
If you don’t finish the number of questions within a given section in the allotted time, you won’t be able to go back to that section. Once the time is up on one of the sub-tests, you will be moved on to the next.
The exam is designed to put you under pressure and to test the attributes needed to be successful in the medical world. The UCAT exam will put you under strain and test how well you do under the time and pressure.
The decision making portion of the test requires candidates to use logic and reasoning to solve contextual problems and make decisions. You will need to solve questions that relate to visual data or corresponding text. It is considered one of the most time-pressured parts of the UCAT because you will need to answer 29 questions in only 31 minutes, which is just over 1 minute per question.
This part of the test is designed to see how well you can solve problems and make decisions with the information presented to you in the shortest amount of time. To prepare for this part of the test, you will need to be able to process information quickly and think logically by drawing to the most reasonable conclusion.
Getting a UCAT score that will get you noticed
In order to get yourself noticed amongst the thousands of other students applying this year, you’ll need to get a good UCAT score and to do that, you’ll need to know how the UCAT is scored and what happens with those scores afterwards. Most universities consider the UCAT as a heavy part of their decision in whether to invite a candidate to interview or not, so getting a high UCAT score is one of the best things you can do to increase your chances of achieving your goal.
For each right answer on the UCAT test, you will be given one mark. Those scores are then converted into a scaled score for each section which will be between 300-600. Make sure you take a practice test at the beginning to assess where you are and calculate your overall score.
The UCAT is made up of five sub-sections but the overall number of questions is 228, therefore, there are 228 marks up for grabs, but the UCAT is out of 3600 once the scores are converted into scaled scores.
What is a good UCAT score?
If you’re wondering what UCAT score you need to study medicine, there is no baseline score needed to study but you should aim to get into the top 20% of scores, or the 80th percentile, when the scores are accumulated and compared. A score of above 2760 is usually enough to get the attention of medical school admission boards.
The Future Medic: how we can help
We understand that starting UCAT preparation can be daunting, and it’s difficult to know where to start. Even after taking your first practice exam, it can be challenging to analyse your score and track your progress. But there is a solution because, at The Future Medic, we have qualified and experienced UCAT tutors to help you succeed.
We recommend that you start revising at least 3 months before you intend to take the UCAT exam, but some students choose to start earlier. The earlier you start preparing the better, particularly if you want to achieve the top 20% of scores. As soon as you want to begin UCAT preparation, contact us to arrange your UCAT tutoring session for a personalised 1:1 service.
To give yourself the best chance of success, you’ll need to practice for the UCAT regularly, assess your strengths and weaknesses and work on the areas where you are scoring lower to boost your UCAT score, and that is where we can help.
How long is the decision making in the UCAT exam?
The decision making portion of the UCAT exam is just 31 minutes and you will have 29 questions to answer. The questions will require you to interpret written information as well as visual data and think logically to form a conclusion and make a decision on the best course of action. You don’t have much time per question so it’s important that you learn to process information quickly. To get help with the decision making sub-test of the exam, get in touch with The Future Medic.