What Is UCAT 2024?

Are you thinking of pursuing a career in medicine, dentistry, or veterinary science? Then, you might have heard about the UCAT or the University Clinical Aptitude Test. The UCAT is a standardised test used by universities in the UK, New Zealand & Australia to assess the aptitude and suitability of candidates for undergraduate courses in medicine, dentistry, and veterinary science. 

But what exactly is UCAT 2024, and what do you need to know about it? Let’s find out.

What is UCAT & why is it important?

The UCAT, formerly known as the UKCAT, is an aptitude test used by universities in the UK to assess candidates for medicine and dentistry courses. The test is designed to assess a candidate’s mental abilities and attributes essential for success in the healthcare profession. 

The UCAT is not an IQ test or knowledge-based test to evaluate your knowledge of medicine or dentistry. The test measures five key areas: Verbal Reasoning, Decision Making, Quantitative Reasoning, Abstract Reasoning, and Situational Judgement. 

The test is computer-based and consists of 228 multiple-choice questions, and lasts for two hours. Each section is timed, and you have 120 minutes to complete the entire test.

The UCAT is important as it helps universities make decisions about which candidates to offer places to. Universities evaluate your UCAT score, in addition to your grades, work experience, and Personal Statement, as part of the initial screening process. Candidates with high UCAT scores are more likely to be offered a place in a medicine or dentistry course.

Group of three medical students talking to each other in a hallway
Most aspiring medical students are required to take the UCAT exam for entry to medical school. Image credit: Gustavo Fring

What is the difference between UCAT, UKCAT and UCAT ANZ?

The UCAT was formerly known as the UKCAT (United Kingdom Clinical Aptitude Test) until it was renamed in 2019 to include Australian and New Zealand universities. The UCAT ANZ serves as the equivalent exam in Australia and New Zealand, with identical format, content, duration, and difficulty.

A key distinction is that the UCAT ANZ results are accepted for applications to UK universities, whereas UCAT (UK) results are not accepted by universities in Australia and New Zealand. Therefore, UK residents wishing to apply to Australian or New Zealand universities must take the UCAT ANZ. It is important to note that candidates can only take either the UCAT or UCAT ANZ once per calendar year, and if both are taken in the same year, only the first result will be considered valid.

How is UCAT different from GAMSAT?

The Graduate Medical School Admissions Test (GAMSAT) is another entrance exam used by certain medical courses in the UK, specifically for graduate entry programmes. Unlike the UCAT, which is entirely skills-based, the GAMSAT includes sections that require prerequisite knowledge in sciences and also involves writing an essay.

In contrast, the UCAT is composed solely of multiple-choice questions. Both exams, however, demand a high level of critical thinking and problem-solving abilities.

Which universities require UCAT?

In the UK, the UCAT is used by 28 universities for undergraduate courses in medicine and dentistry, and by one university for veterinary science

In Australia, the UCAT is used by 12 universities for undergraduate courses in medicine and dentistry. It’s important to check with each university to determine their specific requirements and to ensure that you are registering for the correct test.

Student with laptop & notebooks preparing for UCAT 2023
Preparing for the UCAT exam? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! Image credit: energepic.com

How Can You Get Into Medicine Without the UCAT?

Achieving a high UCAT score enhances your chances of getting into medical school, but there are alternative pathways even with a lower UCAT score:

  • Not all medical schools require the UCAT. For instance, the University of Central Lancashire and the University of Buckingham do not mandate any admissions test.
  • You could consider taking a gap year and retaking the UCAT the following year.
  • Consider applying to a medical-related undergraduate course and then get into medicine through the graduate entry route.
  • Explore studying medicine abroad, such as Europe.

When can I take UCAT 2024?

The UCAT test is usually held between July and September. The exact dates for UCAT 2024 are below. 

UCAT UK Registration Key Dates Date/Deadline
Account Registration opens:Bursary and access arrangement applications(UCATSEN) open:14 May – 19 September
UCAT Test booking starts:18 June
UCAT Testing starts:8 July
Access arrangement (UCATSEN) deadline:15 September
UCAT Booking deadline:19 September
UCAT Testing ends:26 September
Bursary deadline:27 September
UCAS application deadline:15 October
Results delivered to universities:Early November
UCAT 2024 registration dates

It’s important to check the UCAT website for updates regarding the test dates & deadlines. 

Also, remember that the UCAT score is only one part of the admissions process. Universities also consider your academic achievements, personal statement, and other factors when making decisions about which candidates to offer places to.

What does the UCAT exam consist of?

The UCAT exam consists of five sections, and each section has a different number of questions, time limit, and marks allocated. The following table is a brief overview of the five sections:

SectionDescriptionTotal QuestionsEst. Time
Verbal Reasoningtests a student’s ability to read and comprehend written information.44 Questions21 minutes
Decision Makingtests a student’s ability to apply logic & reason to reach a conclusion or decision based on given information.29 Questions31 minutes 
Quantitative reasoningtest a student’s ability to interpret & solve numerical or statistical problems.36 Questions25 minutes
Abstract reasoningtest a student’s ability to identify patterns and relationships between shapes and symbols50 Questions12 minutes
Situational judgement test a student’s ability to make effective decisions in different situations.69 Questions26 minutes
UCAT section breakdown

How is the UCAT test scored?

The UCAT is scored based on the number of correct answers given in each subtest. The number of correct answers is then converted into a scaled score, with a range of 300-900 for each subtest. 

The overall score is calculated by adding the scaled scores for each subtest together. The scores are then presented as a percentile rank, which indicates how the candidate performed relative to other UCAT candidates. The percentile rank ranges from 1-99, with a score of 50 being the average.

It is important to practise UCAT past papers for higher test scores. Image credit: pixabay

How do I register for UCAT 2024?

Registration for UCAT 2024 will open in early May and will be available online. You will need to create an account on the UCAT website and provide personal information such as your name, email address, and date of birth. 

The UCAT is held at authorised test centres throughout the UK and Australia. When registering for the test, you’ll be able to select your preferred test date & location

It’s important to check the test centre details before the test day to ensure that you know how to get there and what to expect.

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How do I prepare for the UCAT exam?

Preparation is key when it comes to the UCAT. There are several ways you can prepare for the test, including

  1. Practice tests: UCAT past papers and UCAT practice questions are a great way to familiarise yourself with the exam structure and format and to identify areas where you need to improve. Regular practice is crucial to improve your speed and time management skills. 
  2. UCAT courses: There are several UCAT courses available that can help with UCAT preparation. These courses provide you with strategies and techniques to help you improve your score.
  3. UCAT books: There are several UCAT books available that provide practice questions, techniques, and strategies to help you prepare for the test. Have a look at Medic Mind’s Master the UCAT e-book or in paperback.
  4. Study groups: Joining a study group is a great way to get support and share your experiences with other candidates. Seek help from a UCAT tutor or teacher if you are struggling with any particular section.
  5. Online resources: There are several online resources available, including forums, websites, and blogs, that can provide you with useful information and support.
  6. Time management: Time management is crucial during the UCAT exam. Practise time management techniques during your UCAT preparation, such as skipping difficult questions and coming back to them later when solving UCAT past papers.
Download Free UCAT Questions

    What to Expect On The UCAT Test Day

    On the test day, you’ll need to arrive at the test centre at least 30 minutes before the scheduled start time. You’ll need to bring a valid form of identification, such as a passport or national identity card, as well as your UCAT registration confirmation

    You’ll be provided with a locker to store your personal belongings and will then be directed to your testing station.

    The UCAT is a computer-based test, and you’ll be given instructions on how to use the testing software before the test begins. You’ll have access to a practice test before starting the real test to get familiar with the testing environment. The test is timed, and you’ll need to manage your time carefully to complete all subtests within the given time limits.

    Here are some additional tips to help you achieve the best possible score on the UCAT test day:

    • Read the instructions carefully for each subtest
    • Don’t spend too much time on difficult questions – move on and come back to them later if you have time
    • Don’t guess randomly – use your knowledge and problem-solving skills to eliminate wrong answers and make an informed guess if necessary
    • Stay focused and alert – take breaks if necessary to avoid mental fatigue and stay sharp throughout the test.
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    What is the passing score for UCAT?

    There is no passing score for UCAT. The score you achieve will depend on the individual universities you are applying to and the competition for places.

    Can I reschedule my UCAT exam date?

    Yes, you can reschedule your exam date, subject to availability. However, rescheduling can incur additional fees, so it’s important to check the UCAT website for details.

    Do I need to take the UCAT for all medicine and dentistry courses?

    No, not all universities require the UCAT. Some universities use alternative tests, such as the BMAT (BioMedical Admissions Test), or do not require a test at all. It’s important to check the requirements of the universities you are applying to.

    How long is the UCAT valid?

    The UCAT score is valid for one admissions cycle. This means that if you plan to apply to universities for the 2025 academic year, you’ll need to take the UCAT in the 2024 testing cycle.

    Is the UCAT difficult?

    The difficulty of the UCAT depends on the individual candidate. However, the UCAT is designed to be challenging and to assess a candidate’s mental abilities, attitudes, and professional behaviours. Preparation is key when it comes to the UCAT.

    → Can I sit the test more than once?

    Candidates may only test once in any test cycle. Instances of multiple testing in the same year will be treated as misconduct and all results will be withdrawn. There is no penalty for taking the test again in subsequent years.

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