4 min read

Miss Giulia Bankov • May 31, 2019 

Giulia is a graduate medical student at the University of Glasgow. She previously studied Neuroscience at King's College London and completed her Cognitive Neurobiology and Clinical Neurophysiology at the University of Amsterdam

The University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT) is the most widely accepted medical school entrance exam across universities not only in Australia and New Zealand, but abroad as well. 

For those of you who are currently applying to or thinking of applying to medicine, chances are that you might have to sit the UCAT, depending on the universities you are interested in applying for and as such, a good knowledge of the structure and content of the exam will be of great value for the start of a successful preparation. Continue reading below for a full breakdown of the UCAT exam and what will be expected of you when you sit it. 


The UCAT is a two-hour-long computer-based test that aims to evaluate a wide set of abilities that you will be expected to practice in medical or dental school. The test consists of five separate stations, each with a different number of questions and lasting a different amount of time. These sections are, in order of appearance in the test, Verbal Reasoning (VR), Decision Making (DM), Quantitative Reasoning (QR), Abstract Reasoning (AR), and Situational Judgement Test (SJT). Each of the subsections tests a different set of abilities, each relevant to your successful career as a medical student and later on, a physician.
For example, in the VR section of the UCAT test, you will be given unknown passages of text to read and comprehend, which is something that you will get used to doing both during your time in medical school and later on, on the wards, as well. The QR will test basic math skills which are essential and expected of everyone going into medicine, as you will be making simple but crucial calculations regarding patient’s vital measurements, drug doses and many other aspects daily. The AR subsection tests your ability to notice patterns in a set of unknown values or information, which once again, while abstractly done, is a useful skill for every doctor to have when examining a patient with new and sometimes unknown set of symptoms. The DM and SJT subsections both aim to test your capacity to understand real world situations and assess your behaviour in dealing with the information presented. You will be expected to identify critical factors and appropriate behaviour in a certain situation and to identify what the best course of action is.
Please have a read at the table below detailing each section of the test, together with the amount of time allocated to it and the number of questions each of them tests.
UCAT Section Number of questions Time (minutes)
Verbal Reasoning 44  21
Decision Making 29 31
Quantitative Reasoning 36 24
Abstract Reasoning 55 13
Situation Judgement 69 26
You will also have a minute at the start of each section to read the instructions and prepare for the section. For those who are entitled to special access arrangements, the time may vary, and so you should consult with the UCAT Consortium for more details. Remember that once you start the test, you cannot pause it and the whole test needs to be taken in one sitting. 

The UCAT format

The exam is in a multiple choice format and there is no negative marking. Therefore, while attempting to answer as many questions as possible and learning to work efficiently within the timeframe provided is encouraged and provides the best chance at performing successfully at the UCAT, should you struggle with a question or start running out of time, you can and should still guess the remaining questions, putting an answer down for every single question. As there is no negative marking for incorrect answers, your best bet at scoring as highly as possible at the UCAT is to leave no questions unanswered. If you had to guess, however, make sure you made educated guesses and used smart strategies to answer questions you are unsure of. For more tips on how to perform well at the UCAT, make sure you check out our blog post How to get 900 in UCAT.

UCAT registration

Once you decide that you want to sit the UCAT and have identified the universities which require this exam, the first step will be to register for a test date and location of your preference and begin your preparation. To do this, you will need to create a personal account with the Pearson Vue Center and register. Once you have done this, you will be ready to begin your preparation. UCAT practice tests are amongst the most helpful resources you can get in your successful preparation, as you will be able to mimic real exam conditions and try your hand at practicing the actual question types that will come up on test day. For more information, check out our comprehensive UCAT course, which offers a huge variety of tips and strategies for the UCAT, together with plenty of practice questions.

We hope this information regarding the UCAT structure and content was useful to you. All the best in your preparation and if you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to contact us at hello@theMSAG.com.

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