The UCAT (University Clinical Abilities Test) is made up of 5 subtests to assess different aspects of your cognitive abilities. These consist of verbal reasoning, decision making, quantitative reasoning, abstract reasoning, and situational judgement. UCAT practice tests will then become much more productive when you know the answer to “What is the UCAT made up of?”. Having an understanding of why different skills are being tested and how they relate to medicine is key to staying motivated and appreciating the underlying driver behind the questions.

A thorough analysis of how you performed on each practice test (e.g. how much time you spent per question and should you have skipped some questions) is essential but don’t forget your ultimate job is to “find the questions you can get right quickly” and some hard word and hard choices will have to be made on your road to success.

The UCAT is a bit confusing so I’ve summarised the main points in the table below so whenever you need a complete breakdown just visit this page !

What are the 5 sections of the UCAT?

UCAT SubtestNo. of QuestionsTime (minutes)Time (seconds)Time Per QuestionsComment
Verbal Reasoning4421 minutes1260 seconds28.63 secondsLow scoring test
Decision Making2931 minutes1860 seconds64.14 secondsLogic focused
Quantitative Reasoning3624 minutes1440 seconds40 secondsQuick mathematics
Abstract Reasoning5513 minutes780 seconds14.18 secondsCrazy pattern finding
Situational Judgement6926 minutes1560 seconds22.61 secondsApplied common sense
Breakdown of UCAT Tests
Chess Set indicating the intelligence and problem solving skills required to be a doctor - You need to always ask yourself "What is the UCAT Testing?"

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What skills are being tested in the UCAT?

Ultimately it’s impossible to know you will last the length of the course and become a doctor but medical schools have worked out how to improve their chances of finding those students who are most likely to great doctors. From high A-Level grades to UCAT scores and interviews it a long and perilous journey and not for the fainthearted. The UCAT is a key hurdle and explicitly assess your abilities in skills which are directly relevant to medicince:

  • Verbal Reasoning – required for reading research papers, medical textbooks, prescriptions, histories etc..
  • Decision Making – measures the students ability to make logical reasons based on the information given.
  • Quantitative Reasoning – you need to be quick with numbers – from body weight, prescriptions and anesthesia dosages – an area where large number of preventable incidents occur.
  • Abstract Reasoning – being able to work with missing bits of information and think without the full picture – patients don’t always have or remember their histories.
  • Situational Judgement – do you know what behaviours and the correct decision both medically and ethically are and do you know how to apply these.

What is the UCAT Verbal Reasoning test?

Doctors and dentists need to understand complex information quickly and be able to communicate clearly with patients. Communication is one of the key attributes of a good medical practitioner. Being able to read, understand, and critically analyse written material (e.g. academic research, patient history) draw a conclusion on the information’s validity and come to a conclusion and create an action plan are key skills.

What is the UCAT Decision Making test?

Doctors and dentists are constantly making decisions which taking into consideration a plethora of factors – from medications, symptoms, feelings, impact etc… The decisions made will have a direct impact on the health of patients and are often taken in a time pressured environment. Taking these types of complex decisions requires the ability evaluate, assess, manage risk and deal with uncertainty.

What is the UCAT Quantitative Reasoning test?

Being able to quickly process numbers is a key skill doctors require. Drug calculations need to be accurate and use calculations based on weight, age, etc.. In a pediatric setting these skills are even more essential. Clinical research also requires the use of complex statistics and the ability to understand, critique and use results is essential.

What is the UCAT Abstract Reasoning test?

Doctors need to recognise patterns and linkages between symptoms and the results of diagnostic tests (e.g. radiology, blood tests etc.. ) in order to come to the best diagnosis. Being able to appreciate the reliability ad relative importance of this information help doctors to be able to reach conclusions and formulate their next steps. Reading and writing research also requires the ability to see patterns presented in a variety of forms and an essential skills to help generate future hypotheses.

What is the UCAT Situational Judgement test?

The character of medical students and future doctors needs to assessed to understand how an individual will behave or react in a real world situations. Integrity, teamworking, resilience, adaptability, moral and ethical standards are also aspects of what it takes to be a good doctor.

Check out the official UCAT breakdown here.

Make sure also read the UCAT Overview.

Have you finished the UCAT and now have interview offers? Get some interview practice – click here.