Student Advice

What is the UCAT?

Ben Maples  · Dec 5th 2023  · 9 min

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

Many universities have been considering taking on more rigorous application processes. The UCAT is an application test that fits that mould perfectly.

UCAT registration

What is the UCAT?

The University Clinical Aptitude Test is more commonly referred to as the UCAT. It was launched in 2006 for universities to offer an admissions test to those studying a medical-based degree or a dentistry degree.

The UCAT was developed by universities in the UK, New Zealand and in Australia. It 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.

What is the format of the UCAT?

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 has five different sections that test the candidates' aptitude. The five sections of the UCAT are:

Section Test type Description
1 Verbal reasoning This test assesses the candidate’s ability to think logically about written information. This is a 22-minute section and has eleven passages of text to read and 44 questions to answer.
2 Decision-making This assesses your ability to apply logic when coming to a conclusion and evaluating arguments. You are allocated 32 minutes for this section, with 29 questions that are related to assorted text, charts, tables, graphs and diagrams.
3 Quantitative reasoning This assesses your ability to solve numerical problems and equations. This is a 25-minute section, and you are given 36 questions to answer that are also related to assorted text, charts, tables, graphs and diagrams.
4 Abstract reasoning This assesses the candidate’s ability to establish the relationship between the information provided, requiring you to use convergent and divergent thinking processes. You are allocated 14 minutes for this section (making it the shortest section on the test) with 55 questions to answer that are related to various sets of shapes.
5 Situational judgement (SJT) This test measures your response to situations in the world of medical ethics. This section is 27 minutes long and has 69 questions to answer that are associated with 22 different scenarios. You are then placed into specific bands.

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 tests online as well.

What are Situational Judgement Bands?

Your performance in the Situational Judgement Test (SJT) will determine what band you are placed in. These bands carry a tremendous amount of weight for certain universities when applying.

The bands are:

  • UCAT Band 1: You showed similar judgement to the panel of experts in most cases.
  • UCAT Band 2: You showed appropriate judgement frequently.
  • UCAT Band 3: You showed appropriate judgement for some questions but had some fairly big differences from the usual responses for others.
  • UCAT Band 4: Your judgement was very different from the ideal responses in most cases.

Most students finish in Band 2 or 3. Only the UK places students into STJ bands, as other countries just give you a weighted score.

UCAT conversion table

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?

Universities constantly chop and change their admissions policy. It is possible that more universities will adopt it or that other universities may drop it from their admissions criteria, especially since the dissolution of the BMAT.

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

University Notes
Anglia Ruskin University The cut-off score for 2022 was 2,640.
Aston University The UCAT score covers ⅓ of your application process.
Cardiff University No information provided.
Edge Hill University No information provided.
Hull York Medical School You are scored out of 40 for your UCAT and out of 30 for other exams, usually GCSEs. Must finish Band 1-3 for SJT.
Keele University Minimum cut-off score of 2,280.
Kent & Medway Medical School No information available; however, the cut-off score was 2,470 for the 2021-22 academic year. Must be in at least Band 3 for SJT.
King's College Minimum cut-off score of 2,930.
Newcastle University The cut-off score for 2022 was 2,800.
Queen Mary University of London (Barts) The score for the UCAT counts for 50% of your application, with UCAS tariff points accounting for the other 50. The minimum score for 2022 was 2,360.
Queen's University Belfast Your UCAT is scored out of 6, this is then collated with your GCSE results.
St. George's, University of London You generally need 500 in each section. For 2022, the cut-off score was 2,710.
University of Aberdeen For 2023 entry, the average score for students to be invited to a university interview is 2,760 (UK applicants excluding Scotland) and 2,670 (Scottish applicants).
University of Birmingham UCAT is equivalent to 40% of your overall application. The university does not have a minimum cut-off points.
University of Bristol For 2022 entry, the requirement for an invitation to a university interview was 2,870.
University of Dundee No information provided.
University of Edinburgh For 2023 entry, the average score for students to be invited to a university interview is 2,470. Students in Band 4 for Situational Judgement are rejected.
University of Exeter UCAT is equivalent to 25% of your overall application. The university does not have a minimum cut-off points.
University of Glasgow For 2022 entry, the lowest score needed to earn a university interview was 2,870 for UK applicants (excluding Scotland) and 2,640 for Scottish applicants.
University of Leicester UCAT accounts for 50% of your application.
University of Liverpool For entry into the 2021/22 academic year, students needed to achieve a minimum of 2,620.
University of Manchester Students needed to achieve a minimum of 2,750 in 2022-23. Must finish in Band ½ for SJT.
University of Nottingham Points are assigned for your score. Verbal Reasoning is assigned double points.
University of Plymouth The UCAT is considered alongside your A Levels and GCSEs. The cut-off score was 2,610 for 2022 entry.
University of Sheffield A minimum of 2,850 was needed for the 2022/23 academic year.
University of Southampton Your UCAT score will determine if you receive an invite to a Selection Day. Candidates are then selected from there.
University of St. Andrews You must rank in the top 500 of students to be shortlisted for a university interview. The minimum score is usually 2,400 in previous years.
University of Sunderland Must be in the top 8 deciles and in at least Band 3 for SJT to be considered.
University of Warwick (graduate entry) Students are invited to the university’s Selection Centre. For 2022 entry, the minimum UCAT score for invitation was 2,660.

These scores are based on the most recent information. Most of these will be for 2022 entry, but 2023 entry scores are expected to be released in due course. Not all universities will reveal their scores, however.

There are universities and schools in Australia and New Zealand who also require the UCAT to be completed. 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 who 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. This 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 dated within the last 12 months.
Free school meals A letter (form 2022 or 2023) from your school or college confirming you receive free school meals.
Income support, jobseeker’s allowance (JSA) or employment and support allowance (ESA) If you or a parent or guardian receive one of these benefits, you must provide an awarding letter from the UK Jobcentre Plus dated 2023.
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 (within the last three months). The proof must show the name of the claimant and address, the date, and the take-home pay.
Working or child tax credit An award letter from 2022/23 or 2023/24, with address visible on it.
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 cannot 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 regularly, as the timing of the test can impact how much you are required to pay. There are also additional costs for students who are studying outside the EU as well.

Currently, the costs are:

Dates Cost
Tests taken in the UK £70
Tests taken in other countries £115

The prices can always change for the UK, Australia and New Zealand. These prices may change depending on inflation, how many people apply and more.

How hard is the UCAT?

This depends on you and your view of the test. Generally, most students have said that they find the UCAT somewhat challenging, owing mainly to the vast number of questions that are asked.

You can still prepare for the UCAT. It is possible to prepare by revising using past papers on the UCAT website.

Can I re-sit the UCAT?

It is possible to retake the UCAT. You can re-sit the UCAT as many times as you like, although you are only able to retake it once per year.

You will need to go through the same application process as before. Likewise, you will need to re-pay any of the fees you paid last time.

What is a good score in the UCAT?

This depends on where you are applying and how many people have sat the exam. Anything above 2,880 is largely considered to be the best score for a student, but this is in the top 10% of scores, so don’t beat yourself up if you don’t get there.

Check what the university you are applying for requires. Some universities may require individual scores, while others may consider scores for specific sections.

undergraduate Uni's