Student Advice


By Ben Maples  · Nov 29th 2021

Those looking to study a medical-based degree may be required to sit one of two exams, one is the BMAT, the other is the UCAT.


As more and more universities look to try and take on the best students for their medical-based degree courses, Aptitude Tests have become more and more common.

Many universities have been looking into the idea of taking on more rigorous application processes and the UCAT is an application test that fits into that mould perfectly.

UCAT registration

What is the UCAT?

The University Clinical Aptitude Test, more commonly referred to as the UCAT, is a test that was launched in 2006 for universities that were looking to offer university admission tests for those looking to study a medical-based degree or a dentistry degree.

The UCAT was developed by universities in the UK, New Zealand and in Australia and was previously known as the UKCAT until the latter two countries adopted it for their own medical and dental programmes. The UCAT is similar to the BMAT, which operates in the same way, though with some slight differences.

The UCAT has five different sections in it which test the aptitude of the candidates. The five sections of the UCAT are:

  • Section 1 - Verbal Reasoning: This is a Verbal Reasoning Test which assesses the candidate’s ability to think logically about written information. This is a twenty-two-minute section and has eleven passages of text to read and forty-four questions to answer.
  • Section 2 - Decision Making: This assesses your ability to apply logic when coming to a conclusion and evaluating arguments. You are allocated thirty-two-minutes for this section, with twenty-nine questions that are related to assorted text, charts, tables, graphs and diagrams.
  • Section 3 - Quantitative Reasoning: This assesses your ability to solve numerical problems and equations. This is a twenty-five-minute section and you are given thirty-six questions to answer that are also related to assorted text, charts, tables, graphs and diagrams.
  • Section 4 - Abstract Reasoning: This assesses the candidate’s ability to establish the relationship from information provided, requiring you to use convergent and divergent thinking processes. You are allocated fourteen minutes for this section (making it the shortest section on the test) with fifty-five questions to answer that are related to various sets of shapes.
  • Section 5 - Situational Judgement: This is a situational judgement test that measures your response to situations in the world of medical ethics. This section is twenty-seven-minutes long and has sixty-nine questions to answer that are associated with twenty-two different scenarios.

The test is taken via an online portal. Much like the BMAT, you are not allowed to have any external materials in the exam. However, unlike the BMAT, there is a basic calculator function that is left enabled on the computer you are taking the exam on for the second and third sections and a whiteboard and pen for note-taking purposes.

The UCAT test lasts for two hours, though it can sometimes be extended to two-and-a-half hours in certain circumstances. Every section is multiple choice. It is possible to prepare for the test by using a number of UCAT practice test online as well.

How is the UCAT scored?

The UCAT is scored out of 3,600. Each of the above sections will be graded between 300 and 900 and the scores are eventually added together to give the student their overall UCAT score.

However, the situational judgement section of the test is scored differently. Instead of receiving a flat number score for your performance, you will instead be put into a UCAT scoring band between one and four. One is the highest possible band to be placed in and four is the lowest.

Which universities use the UCAT?

UCAT conversion table

Universities constantly chop and change their admissions policy and it is possible that more universities will adopt it or that other universities may drop it from their admissions criteria.

For now, the current universities that are known to require the UCAT as part of their admissions policy are:

There are universities and schools in Australia and New Zealand who also require the UCAT to be completed before students can study there, however, it is not as large a selection as UK universities. Many of the above universities are medical schools that operate independently of the university.

Decision Making UCAT

What are the funding options for the UCAT?

There is a UCAT bursary scheme that operates for students that are in need of funding aid. Students hoping to receive the UCAT bursary scheme will need to complete an online bursary application form.

You will need to upload any evidence you need to inform your application otherwise your application cannot and will not be processed.

Assuming your application is successful, you will receive a bursary voucher code, which can be entered at the point of booking your test.

In order to apply for the UCAT bursary, students will need to meet one of the criteria below and provide evidence of their eligibility:

Aids Evidence Needed
Asylum Support Official awarded letter.
EU State Benefit If you or a parent or guardian receive means-tested benefits from another EU state, then please provide an awarding letter from the relevant government agency. You will need a translation into English as well as the original copy.
Free School Meals A letter from your school or college confirming you receive free school meals.
Income Support, Job Seeker’s Allowance (JSA) or Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) If you or a parent or guardian receive one of these benefits, then you will need to provide an awarding letter from the UK Jobcentre Plus.
Learner Support (or equivalent) An awarding letter for this or next academic year.
Student Finance Grant or Maintenance Loan (or equivalent) An awarding letter for this or next academic year.
Universal Credit If you or a parent or guardian receive Universal Credit, then you must provide your most recent statement. The proof must show the name of the claimant and address, the date, and the take-home pay.
Working or Child Tax Credit If you or a parent or guardian receive tax credits, then you must provide an awarding letter. You must be named on the letter and the household income must be less than £35,000.
16-19 Bursary (England) or Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) (Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland) Awarding letter. Other evidence will not be accepted.

You should also note that when applying for the UCAT, you will not be able to use your child benefit letters, council tax letters, housing association letters or a P60 as contributing evidence when applying for the UCAT bursary.

UCAT Abstract Reasoning

How much does it cost to study the UCAT?

The cost of the UCAT changes all the time, as the timing of the test can impact how much you are required to pay. There are also additional costs for students that are studying outside the EU as well.

These are the costs:

Dates Cost
Tests taken between 1st July and 31st August £55
Tests taken between 1st September and 6th October £80
Tests taken outside the EU £115

These are the costs of the UCAT in Australia and New Zealand:

Country Price
Australia $299
New Zealand $299
Concessions (only in Australia) $199

For the UK, Australia and New Zealand, the prices can always change and are also dependent on inflation, how many people apply and more.

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