UCAT Basics and Top Tips

UCAT basics

The UCAT, formerly known as the UKCAT is an ‘entrance examination’ to medical school, dental school and veterinary medicine and is the most commonly used examination in the United Kingdom for these mentioned courses.

Medicine, dentistry and veterinary medicine courses use your score from this examination to decide who to interview or to whom they should give their places.

With this in mind, here are some basic facts and then, some hints and tips for approaching your UCAT exam

1. The UCAT has five sections: Verbal Reasoning, Quantitive Reasoning, Decision Making, Abtract Reasoning and Situational Judgement. The first four of these sections are scored out of 900. The latter section is given a ‘band’ based on how everyone else did on the test

2. You can book your UCAT from 1st July. The last testing date is 1st October

3. The Universities will receive your score automatically. The deadline to apply to medicine, dentistry and veterinary medicine is 15th October

4. The average score for the first four sections of the the UCAT is around 620. The most common band to fall into for the Situational Judgement section is Band 2 (the second highest out of four bands)

5. You typically sit the UCAT in a test centre at a computer. You are given an on screen calculator (difficult to use! – check out our page on approaching the quantitive reasoning section for more on this!). You are also allowed a physical whiteboard for working out.

6. In 2020, due to the pandemic, UCAT will allow candidates to sit the exam in their own home. They are allowed a whiteboard for working out too

7. There is a cost of £75 for booking the test. Candidates from more disadvantaged backgrounds can apply for a bursary here

8. You will receive your score for the first four sections as soon as you finish your UCAT. You will receive your score for the situational judgement section a few months afterwards, as this is calculated based on how everybody else did on this section too

9. You can only take the UCAT once a year. If you do not gain a place in medicine, dentistry or veterinary medicine that year, you will have to sit the UCAT score again – it does not carry over to the next year

10. If you are applying to universities which use the BMAT as well, you have to sit this as well as the UCAT

11. Over 700 is considered an excellent score. This is top decile most years


1. Use the mocks on the UCAT website – but not too early! Get used to the questions first so you don’t waste the valuable insight you will gain from doing the mock questions in a properly timed environment

2. Learn which areas are your weakest before sitting the official exam. Use a book or website to practise questions before sitting the mocks

3 Read all of the FAQs and information on the UCAT website, particularly the new information about changes to the exam during the pandemic

4. Make sure you drink plenty of water and get a good breakfast on the day of the UCAT

5. Do not overuse your calculator – this wastes time. Read more about this here

6. Do not leave any questions unanswered – the UCAT is not negatively marked. If you are spending too long on a question, flag, guess and move on

7. Learn how long you should spend on questions in each of the section. For more about time markers in each section, you can read our article here

8. Learn which types of questions you are weakest at so you know when to skip them if you are running out of time

9. Attend a good UCAT course run by doctors who are also professional tutors. These tend to give you techniques others don’t know to make your score stand out. Check out our courses here

10. Remember that if you don’t do so well, you can always apply to medical schools, dental schools or veterinary schools which do not use the UCAT as much in their admissions process, or typically have not had a very high UCAT cut off in the past

Want to ace your UCAT? Join us for one of our UCAT courses, developed and run by qualified doctors who are expert UCAT tutors.

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