UKCAT – UK Clinical Aptitude Test is a 2 hour computerised test. It consists of five sections;
- Verbal Reasoning
- Decision Making
- Quantitative Reasoning
- Abstract Reasoning
- Situational Judgement
Unlike the BMAT, the UKCAT does not test you on any science curricular but focuses on cognitive competence required in the medical profession. UKCAT in my opinion should be easier than the BMAT, however having done the BMAT previously and revised for the UKCAT, I much prefer the BMAT because one of it’s section questions you on your knowledge whilst UKCAT questions for the most part test you on how you think and make judgements. Although both forms of tests assess your critical thinking. There are more undergraduate universities that require the UKCAT for medicine than there are graduate.
The core objective of this subtest is to examine your ability to gather information from the passage presented and draw out specific conclusions from the text. From this section, there are 11 passages presented. For each passage there are 4 questions asked. This can be in the forms; True/False/Can’t Tell or Free text. The time allowed for this section is 22 minutes. According to the UKCAT website, the reason for this section is that doctors and dentists must acquire verbal reasoning skills that can be used to understand complex concepts which can then be relayed to patients in a straightforward and clear manner. They should also be able to apply new medical findings to their practice as well as review it’s validity. Fair enough. Here’s an example;
Decision making is a new subtest as of 2016. It has replaced ‘Decision Analysis’. The main difference between them is the format of the question asked. In decision analysis a code is given, you are then asked a number of questions using the code, using logic and decision analysis the code can be translated into a sentence but you have to select the best translated sentence out of a number of competent answers. On the other hand, for the decision making subtest you are given text/charts/tables/graphs/diagrams accompanied with information. You are required to asses how valid the suggested answers are and hence select the most valid answer or place ‘yes’ or ‘no’ responses to each of the 5 statements given. There are 29 items given and 32 minutes allowed. Performance in this section is not counted into your overall UKCAT score neither is it sent to your medical school of choice. However, you are encouraged to take the subtest seriously as it contributes to evaluation of the subtest and selection process for future medical and dental students. There are 4 components to this section; deductive reasoning – where you deduce which of the conclusive statements is reflective of the opening statement, evaluating arguments – a text or question is provided and the best argument is chosen, statistical reasoning – conclusions are made based on data provided, and lastly figural reasoning – conclusions made are based on sequences presented.
GCSE maths knowledge and problem solving skills are needed for this section. There are 9 scenarios each with 4 questions hence the total number of questions asked is 36. The time allowed for this section is 25 minutes. In relation to clinical practice, this subtest is required as a doctor is constantly presented with data such as patients’ charts or drug calculations that have to be made in accordance to the patients weight, height, age etc. An online-screen calculator is provided however it is advised to carry out simple arithmetic calculations in your head to save time.
Absolutely hate this section – I see no point in this one. In this section you are required to determine the correct set of shapes amongst incorrect sets posed to be distracting. There are 55 items/questions with each question associated with sets of shapes. You are given a total time of 14 minutes. Out of the 55 questions asked, there are 4 core types that can be identified. For the first type you are given two sets – Set A and Set B within each set there are 5 boxes each with a number of shapes that may differ in terms of colour, pattern, and shape. You would then have to choose if the test shape asked in the question belonged to Set A, Set B, or neither. The second type you are presented with a series of boxes each with a number of shape that may follow a particular pattern. You are then required to choose the next box consisting of shapes that follows next in the sequence. For the third, you are given a statement that relates to two sets of shapes – where are change in one set causes a change in the next set, thus using the same principle, a set is given and you must apply the same change in order to determine what the new set would look like. The new set is then chosen from 4 options given. The last type requires you to identify which set of the 4 options given belongs to Set A or Set B. Here are the examples given for each type from the UKCAT website;
This section is used to test your perception on issues you may come across in everyday life or in a medical setting and how you would approach it. There are two forms of questions asked. First being able to determine how appreciate a response is relating to the scenario given. This could be; ‘very appropriate, appropriate but not ideal, inappropriate but not awful, and very inappropriate’. The second format questions you on how important an action is in relation to the scenario given. So you’ve got a scenario, a statement is made – which states response to the scenario. You will have to judge how important that response is to the scenario, is it ‘very important, important, of minor importance, or not at all important’ and so forth. This sections asses your judgement solely and hence does not require prior medical knowledge. There are 20 scenarios given and for each scenario 2-5 questions. Thus you have a total of 69 questions in this section and a total time of 27 minutes. Sweet.
In terms of scoring, raw scores are converted to scale scores that range from 300-900 for each subtest. The total scale score is then calculated by adding the scale scores for all subtests which can now range from 900-2700 opposed to 1200-3600 as there are now 4 subtest that contribute to the total instead of 5 as of 2016. Details are given on the UKCAT website on how to compare scores obtained to those used by the University. The situational judgment section is scored differently, where full marks are awarded when the correct response is chosen and partial marks are given when the response chosen is close to the correct response. The scores given are expressed in bands. From band 1 to band 4 with band 1 being the highest and 4 being the lowest. Here’s an explanation of the bands again from UKCAT;
I think that’s about it. I know a lot you would know the UKCAT format but I just wanted to give a quick outline of the test as I have plenty of spare time. I got all this information from the UKCAT website as well as the Medic Portal – which is an extremely useful site where you can find all you need to know about the UKCAT,BMAT, and GAMSAT. They also have questions banks and courses as well as personal statement advice, reading list etc. I’m finding it really useful so check it out. Other sites that I’ve used for revision in the past is Medify – more question banks and Ace Medicine .Kaplan looks good too.
If I come across anymore useful websites I’ll make sure to list them here.
James 2:26 ‘For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.’