The Situational Judgement Test (SJT) is one part of the UCAT, a test you’ll need to take if you’re considering applying for medical school. The UCAT is a test like no other that you’ll have taken before as it doesn’t test knowledge, but the skills and attributes considered important to be successful in the medical profession.
In this article, you will learn the details of what the UCAT entails, including the Situational Judgement part of the test and how to prepare.
Before you learn about the Situational Judgement part of the test, it’s a good idea to make yourself familiar with the overall format of the UCAT and what each part tests. The UCAT is split into 5 subtests that are scored and timed individually.
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 by many.
In this subtest, you will be presented with various scenarios and asked to make decisions based on the information presented. 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 55 questions and 13 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.
Situational Judgement Test (SJT)
The Situational Judgement Test (SJT) is unique. It stands apart from the other academic sections of the UCAT as it tests your emotional intelligence and it is considered by many the most challenging part of the test.
The questions are a little daunting at first, but there are some fundamentals to getting ready for this section. UCAT preparation is key to your success and getting a good UCAT score so that you have a better chance of getting noticed by the universities you’re applying for. Below, we give you some top tips on how to prepare for the SJT part of the UCAT.
Do your research
You may or may not have heard of the GMC (General Medical Council), well they’re a professional body that regulates the whole medical profession and one of the most prominent areas that they are continuously looking for high standards of professionalism across the medical industry.
The Situational Judgement Test is very much about professionalism and your ability to make sound judgements as a medical professional. To prepare yourself for this part of the test, do your research and regularly read new publications on good medical practice to get you thinking like a doctor.
Practise makes perfect
Make sure you begin practising for the UCAT months in advance, not only for the Situational Judgement part of the test but the every section. For the SJT part particularly, get familiar with the format.
Many of the questions in this section ask you to rank situations according to how appropriate the action is to the scenario. You could be asked to rank the options from more appropriate to least, to organise them into appropriate and not appropriate or it could be as simple of reading the situation and deciding which course of action to take between two or more options.
These questions are unusual compared to questions you will have taken for your GCSE’s or A-Levels so make sure you answer lots of UCAT practice questions paying particular attention to this subsection. You’ll need to answer a good number of questions per day consistently. Some students answer 50 a day, others answer 100 a day, it all depends on your starting point and how early you begin your preparation. What score is needed for medicine? Make sure you have a score in mind and aim towards that score for the UCAT exam and aim high to make your score stand out from others.
Know the industry
The SJT is testing your suitability for a career in medicine so make sure you know the medical profession as much as possible before doing the test. The world of medicine is deeply grounded in ethics, so it isn’t all about knowing all about medicine and being able to list symptoms of a particular illness. For example, you will need to know about the confidentiality code between a doctor and their patients so if the test asks you to break confidentiality you will need to decide if is it appropriate to do so.
You will need to know all about the 4 pillars of medical ethics.
- Autonomy – the duty to respect a patient’s right to self-determination
- Beneficence – the well-being of the patient is a doctor’s top priority
- Non-Maleficence – the duty to avoid harm to the patient, if possible
- Justice – the duty to treat all patients with equity and equality
Timing is everything
Not only do you need to practise the types of questions you will get as part of the SJT but you need to make sure you are answering the whole subsection in the time given. For this part, you will need to answer 69 questions in 26 minutes which averages out at 22 seconds per question. The strict timings for each question are intentional as you will need to make rational yet quick decisions in the medical profession.
The more you practise, the more confident you will become with this section, therefore, the faster you will be at answering the questions. But it’s not as simple as continuously working your way through mountains of similar questions and hope that on the day you’ll get something similar.
You’ll need to pick up some testing tips such as, if you have a multiple-choice question, even if you don’t know, make sure you choose one as you will still have a chance at getting the answer right even if you don’t know- never leave a question blank. Also, don’t spend unnecessary time re-reading questions that you don’t know the answer to. It’s far better to read a question once and if you know the question is going to take you longer to answer then leave it and come back to it at the end.
You don’t need to do all the work alone. At The Future Medic, we want you to succeed and we’re here to help.
Ace the UCAT and book an appointment with one of The Future Medic’s tutors who are experts in the medical school application and UCAT process. Boost your score, get personalised 1-1 lessons, and be fully supported along the way by qualified and experienced doctors.
The average score on the UCAT test is around 607 and with The Future Medic’s help, our students have an overall average score of around 743, giving them a more likely chance of getting noticed by their chosen universities. With more than 30,000 more students 2023 applying to medical school than in previous years, preparation is more important than ever.
More reasons to get a UCAT tutor
- The competition is greater and tougher, so it is getting harder and harder to get accepted onto a place to study a medical degree.
- 30,000 more students are applying to medical school than in previous years, meaning there is only a 1 in 10 chance of getting accepted into the most popular universities.
- Having an excellent UCAT score makes your application stand out.
- Many universities use UCAT scores as the basis of their decision to shortlist applicants for interviews.
So now you know all about the SJT part of the UCAT, the only thing left to do is begin your preparation, contact us at The Future Medic to get the support you need and read related articles from us to find out more: