If your son or daughter is applying to read medicine or dentistry, they may well have to sit the UKCAT examination. We have put together some useful information for parents - we hope you will find this helpful in supporting your child with their application. If you have any specific questions that are not answered here please contact us in the office and we will be pleased to help!
What is the UKCAT?
The UK Clinical Aptitude Test (UKCAT) is an entrance test used by most medical and dental schools in the UK. It was introduced in 2006 and is now used by 14 dental schools and 26 medical schools in the UK.
It's designed in a similar way to intelligence tests in that it is trying to find a candidate's maximum capability and if your son or daughter sat the 11+ you will find that the preparation is very similar.
The UKCAT is not a knowledge-based test, there are no science questions and there are no books to read, nothing to memorise and no essays to write.
What is in the UKCAT test?
The test has five sections:
UKCAT - Verbal reasoning - there are 11 passages of text, each about 200 words long with four questions about each passage. The questions are in two formats, most questions will present a statement and the question asks if, based only on the information given, the statement is true, false or if it is logically impossible to tell. The second format gives 4 statements or answer options to choose from based on the text in the passage.
There are 22 minutes to answer 44 questions.
UKCAT - Decision Making - there are multiple question types, each designed to assess the ability to reach a decision or conclusion, evauluate arguments or analysie information. There are 29 questions to answer in 32 minutes.
UKCAT - Quantitative reasoning - there are nine sets of data usually in the form of a graph or a table. Each of these has four questions based on it. All the questions have the same multiple choice format. A simple on screen calculator is provided and the calculations will only require GCSE level manipulations.
There are 36 questions to answer in 25 minutes.
UKCAT - Abstract reasoning - there are 11 sets of questions. Each set has two groups of shapes that are related in some way (Set A and Set B) and five test shapes, each of which must be categorised as belonging to Set A, Set B or to neither set.
There are 55 questions to answer in 14 minutes.
UKCAT - Situational Judgement Test - There are 21 sets of questions with between 2 and 6 question in each set. A range of scenarios are presented each with a suggested next step, action or decision, candidates are asked to assess the suitability of that action or the importance of a consideration upon which to base that decision.
There are 68 questions to answer in 27 minutes.
Who needs to take the UKCAT?
The test is compulsory for almost everyone who wants to apply for medicine or dentistry to the following universities:
University of Aberdeen
University of Birmingham
University of Bristol
University of Dundee
University of East Anglia
University of Edinburgh
University of Exeter
University of Glasgow
Hull York Medical School
King's College London
University of Leicester
University of Liverpool
University of Manchester
University of Newcastle
University of Nottingham
Queen Mary, University of London
Queen's University Belfast
University of Sheffield
University of Southampton
University of St Andrews
St George's, University of London
University of Warwick
Candidates who apply from overseas or live and study in a country where the test is not administered are exempted from the test. There are also very occasionally exemptions based on medical grounds. If you believe your son or daughter may be exempt, please contact Pearson VUE here.
When should the UKCAT be taken?
The test should be taken in the summer just before submission of the UCAS application. Registration for the UKCAT opens in May and testing slots can be booked from between the first week in July and the first week in October. Please note that the testing deadline for the UKCAT is BEFORE the UCAS submission deadline for Medical and Dental Schools.
It is only possible to sit the UKCAT once each year. Any second attempts are disregarded.
How much does it cost to sit the UKCAT?
The testing period is between the 3rd July 2017 and the 3rd October 2017 and the cost of the test varies according to the date of the test and the location of the test centre as follows.
In the EU before 31st August 2017 £65
In the EU after 31st August £85
Outside the EU £115
Bursaries are available to candidates who are in receipt of one of the following:
16 to 19 Bursary or Educational Maintenance Allowance (EMA)
Discretionary Learner Support (or equivalent FE funding for Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland)
Free School Meals
Student Finance Full Maintenance Grant or Full Special Support Grant (or equivalent HE funding for Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland)
Income Support, Job Seeker's Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance or Universal Credit
An equivalent means tested benefit to one of the above, if they are outside the UK but within the EU
Bursaries are also available to candidates who:
Live with a parent/guardian in receipt of Income Support, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance or Income-based Employment and Support Allowance
Live with a parent/guardian in receipt of Universal Credit if the household income as stated on the award is less than £35k.
Live with a family member in receipt of Child Tax Credit where the candidate is named on the award and the household income as stated on the award is less than £35k
Live with a parent/guardian in receipt of Asylum Support
Candidates need to provide one piece of documentary evidence from the list below to support their application:
As part of our efforts to widen access to the professions, Emedica are happy to offer anyone that qualifies for a UKCAT bursary a 50% discount on our UKCAT revision package. We just ask that you send us a copy of your bursary confirmation email for the UKCAT exam, and we will send you a special 50% discount code.
What can I do to help my child?
Ultimately what every parent wants to know is what can we do to help our children prepare and do well and there are things that you can do.
Before the UKCAT test day
Go over the format of each of the question types with them so that your child knows exactly what to expect on the day.
You can see over 100 sample questions here:
See that they have some practice materials aimed specifically at the UKCAT – there are many books and online resources available.
There are a lot of sources of information and it can be difficult to work out how to take the first steps.
We have a number of articles with tips and techniques on our blog and the following links may be helpful to get started.
The UKCAT consortium produce some practice tests which are very helpful for all candidates.
Many candidates find it helpful to brush up on GCSE maths and the the BBC bitesize website is useful and very accessible.
Encourage them to practice under timed conditions as there is a lot of pressure on time in the UKCAT and improving exam technique can really improve performance.
Help them book their test slot and encourage them to book early especially if the Pearson Vue test centre near you is small – slots tend to become booked up – especially towards the end of the testing period.
Make sure your child knows exactly where the test centre is and how to get there, encourage them to do a dry run of the route and to allow extra time in case of delays on the day – latecomers may not be admitted.
Check that your child has the required photographic ID and that the details they have entered at booking match exactly - the test centre will turn them away if there is any variation.
Encourage them to drink plenty of water from a few days before the test – a two hour on screen test can be dehydrating and they will not be allowed to take food or drink into the test room.
Encourage your child to relax the day before the test and get a good night’s sleep.
On the Day
Make sure your child has eaten something a couple of hours before the test – they may not have much of an appetite if they are nervous but they will need the energy to concentrate.
Make sure your child has their ID documents with them before they leave the house.
Encourage them to be ready early and allow plenty of travel time – if they are worried about being late they may arrive flustered and anxious which may affect their performance.
After the test
Encourage them to take a few days to de-stress – Taking the UKCAT can be a very strenuous experience!
Research university requirements with your child so that they can make the most of their scores.
Encourage them to put the UKCAT behind them and focus on the next step of their application – their UCAS personal statement and grades.