What You Need To Know About UCAT

What You Need To Know About UCAT

What is UCAT?

UCAT stands for University Clinical Aptitude Test. It is used by most universities in the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand to select students for entry into medicine and dentistry.

UCAT is a computer-based test in multiple-choice question format. UCAT is administered by Pearson VUE on behalf of the UCAT Consortium of universities.

How important is UCAT?

UCAT can be very important in determining entry into medicine or dentistry.

UCAT is generally used along with your academic performance and your performance in medical interviews (and sometimes a personal statement) to select students for entry.

How hard is UCAT?

UCAT is a very difficult test. UCAT questions are completely different to those you will have encountered at school or university. UCAT is highly time pressured, and the vast majority of students do not finish the test. UCAT is a test requiring extreme concentration and quick thinking skills.

The good news? It is possible to prepare for and do well in UCAT.

What is the format of UCAT?

UCAT is a 2 hour, computer based test, which is very different to pen and paper exams that you are used to in school and university.

This video shows the key features of the UCAT platform, using MedEntry’s replica UCAT platform, which exactly simulates the live UCAT:

What will it be like sitting UCAT?

If you have ever sat a driver’s licence theory exam, the UCAT environment will be similar. You will be in a room with other candidates, some of whom may be sitting tests other than UCAT. You will be provided with a UCAT computer screen, keyboard and mouse. You can use headphones or earplugs to minimise distractions during UCAT.

You will also have access to a UCAT Noteboard and marker pen so you can make notes during the test.

There is a one minute timed instruction screen between each UCAT subtest. There are no scheduled breaks in UCAT. If you need to go to the bathroom, the UCAT timer will keep ticking!

What are the UCAT sections?

UCAT is composed of five sections, known as UCAT subtests:

  1. Verbal Reasoning: assesses your ability to critically evaluate information presented in a written form and draw logical conclusions
  2. Decision Making: assesses your ability to problem solve and evaluate arguments
  3. Quantitative Reasoning: assesses your ability to use numerical reasoning to draw valid conclusions
  4. Abstract Reasoning: assesses your ability to identify patterns and relationships using non-verbal images
  5. Situational Judgement: assesses your ability to identify critical factors and appropriate behaviour when dealing with real life situations

The first four subtests are known as ‘cognitive subtests’ and Situational Judgement is classed as a ‘non-cognitive’ subtest.

What is the structure of UCAT?

UCAT is composed of 233 questions, to be answered in 120 minutes. This table below displays the timing for each UCAT subtest:

UCAT SubtestQuestionsTest DurationTime Per Question
Verbal Reasoning 44 21 minutes 28 seconds
Decision Making 29 31 minutes 60 seconds
Quantitative Reasoning 36 24 minutes 40 seconds
Abstract Reasoning 55 13 minutes 14 seconds
Situational Judgement 69 26 minutes 22 seconds

As you can see from the above table, UCAT is extremely time pressured, and every year more than 20% of candidates fail to answer every question (that is, they run out of time to even make a random guess!). Therefore, it is vital that you understand and practice the UCAT strategies required to deal with this time pressure, covered in detail in MedEntry UCAT Courses.

View MedEntry Packages

Do I need to sit UCAT?

Most UK medical schools require students to sit and succeed in UCAT. You will need to sit UCAT if you are interested in applying to any of the following courses in the UK:


UCAS Course Code

 The University of Aberdeen

A100, A105, A201

 Anglia Ruskin University Ruskin University


 Aston UniversityAston University


 University of Birmingham

A100, A101, A200

 University of Bristol  

A100, A108, A206, A208

 Cardiff University

A100*, A104*, A200, A204

 University of Dundee

A100, A104, A200, A204

 University of East Anglia

A100, A104  

 Edge Hill University

A100, A110

 University of Edinburgh of Edinburgh


 University of Exeter


 University of Glasgow  of Glasgow 

A100, A200

 Hull York Medical School

A100, A101

 Keele University University

A100*, A104*

 Kent and Medway Medical School


 King’s College London

A100, A101, A102, A202, A205, A206

 University of Leicester

A100, A199

 University of Liverpool

A100*, A200

 University of Manchester 

A104, A106, A204, A206

 University of Newcastle 

A100, A101, A206

 University of Nottingham 

A100, A10L, A108, A18L

 Plymouth University 

A100*, A206*

 Queen Mary University of London 

A100, A101, A110, A120, A200

 Queen's University Belfast

A100, A200*

 University of Sheffield 

A100, A101, A200

 University of Southampton 

A100, A101, A102

 University of St Andrews 

A100, A990

 St George's, University of London 


 University of Sunderland


 University of Warwick 


* Alternative requirements may apply to certain groups of students – see the university website for details.   


 Course or Programme




Medicine graduate entry

Medicine with a gateway year (Hull York, King’s)


Medicine graduate entry (King’s)

Medicine with gateway year (Southampton)


Medicine with gateway year (Dundee, East Anglia)

Medicine with preliminary year (Cardiff, Manchester)


Clinical Medical Science (Aberdeen)


Medicine (Manchester)


Medicine with gateway year (Bristol, Nottingham)


Medicine with gateway year (Edge Hill)

Medicine (Queen Mary – Malta)


Medicine (Nottingham – Lincoln)


Medicine with gateway year (Nottingham – Lincoln)


Medicine with preliminary year (Queen Mary - Malta)


Medicine with gateway year (Leicester)




Dentistry graduate entry


Dentistry graduate entry (King’s)


Dentistry with preliminary year (Cardiff, Manchester)

Dentistry with gateway year (Dundee)

Dentistry for medical graduate (King’s)


Dentistry (King’s)


Dentistry (Bristol, Newcastle, Manchester, Plymouth)

Enhanced Support Dentistry (King’s)


Dentistry with gateway year (Bristol)


North American Medical Programme (St Andrews)

Registration opens in July 2020 for UCAT. Testing will take place between August and October 2020. Therefore, it is important to start preparing early to be ready for the testing that occurs at the start of the new school year. More information is available at: https://www.ucat.ac.uk/ucat/universities/

When is UCAT?

UCAT takes place from early July to early October each year. You choose the time, date and location that you wish to sit UCAT. This video provides advice on how to choose a UCAT testing date:

You can only sit UCAT once per testing cycle. UCAT results are valid for one year.

How do I register to sit UCAT?

To register for UCAT, you should visit the Pearson VUE website. You will need to first create an account with Pearson VUE, and then book your desired testing date, time and location.

Further detailed instructions can be found at: https://www.ucat.ac.uk/ucat/registration-booking

How should I prepare for UCAT?

Successful preparation for UCAT can be summarised in four key steps:

U – Understand UCAT

C – Create a bank of UCAT strategies that work for you

A – Assess your UCAT performance, and target weak areas

T – Train for UCAT by attempting simulated practice exams

MedEntry provides you with all the tools required to effectively prepare for UCAT:

  • Understand: MedEntry’s highly sought after workshops and online UCAT curriculum will cover everything you need to know about UCAT, including inside knowledge about the UCAT testing process. By the end of our program, you too will be a UCAT expert!
  • Create: MedEntry’s workshops, guides and UCAT video instruction cover effective UCAT strategies for tackling each UCAT question type and subtest. This comprehensive program will allow you to easily develop a personalised approach to UCAT that works for you.
  • Assess: MedEntry’s Personalised Adaptive Learning (PAL) technology analyses your responses and provides comprehensive UCAT feedback, allowing you to track your UCAT performance. It offers suggestions on where to focus your future efforts, allowing you to easily target weak areas and prepare for UCAT efficiently.
  • Train: In addition to UCAT subtest mocks and drills, MedEntry provides 20+ full-length UCAT exams, delivered on a platform that exactly simulates the live UCAT. After undergoing MedEntry’s program, the live UCAT will just feel like another MedEntry practice exam!

From our decades of experience, we know that the best way to prepare for UCAT is to do a little bit of practice on a regular basis. That’s why we allow unlimited access to all of our resources right up until the end of the UCAT testing period. And it gets even better: you can access your resources anywhere, anytime, and any place – from your laptop, desktop, phone or tablet (via our exclusive, dedicated UCAT App).

It is important to choose the right UCAT preparation provider. Look for an organisation which is run by leading doctors and academics, has helped tens of thousands of students become doctors, and which has hundreds of independent five star reviews. This video explains why MedEntry is the most trusted UCAT preparation provider:

MedEntry is also running free UCAT information sessions, which cover how to prepare for and succeed in UCAT.

Simulated UCAT Practice

The #1 UCAT Online Platform

Full length exams, subtest mocks and in-depth feedback

Learn More