What is the UKCAT?

The United Kingdom Clinical Aptitude Test (UKCAT) is one of the two entrance exams for medical schools in the UK. It is used by all the Scottish medical schools although they all differ in how they use your score. The other is the BMAT, Biomedical Admission Test, which is used by the following schools: Oxford, Cambridge, Brighton and Sussex Medical School, Imperial College London, Lancaster, Leeds and UCL. You only need to sit the BMAT if you are applying to one of those schools.

Which medical schools in Scotland require the UKCAT?

All 5 medical schools in Scotland require the UKCAT so you are going to have to sit it if you are planning on applying to medicine in Scotland.

More information on the UKCAT

KEY RESOURCE: UKCAT Official Guide 2015

The UKCAT website has a link to an excellent guide with 100 Free Practice Questions available on their website. The Guide provides the key testing dates along with all other information that you require.

The test costs money and the fees vary depending on when you sit the test (ranging between £65 and £80). Fortunately there are bursaries available to help you with the cost of the test – more info on the UKCAT website.

Our views on the UKCAT and how to prepare for it

The UKCAT will be different to many of the other tests you have sat so far. There is some evidence which suggests that your UKCAT score will reflect how well you do at medical school but the reality is that you are able to increase your UKCAT score through practice.

Everyone applying to medicine is doing pretty well so Medical Schools need some way of separating out the people they are going to give offers.  Unfortunately, this does mean that you will need to sit the exam and make sure you do well in it because it will affect your application.

There is no score which guarantees you a place and the ranges change year on year so it can be hard to predict how well you need you need to do.

There is plenty of advice regarding the content of the UKCAT available in the UKCAT Official guide. In terms of when to actually sit the exam it is up to you but I would recommend that you do the exam as early as you can – sit it latest by the end of August. Come September, you will need to focus on your school work. Having said that, you need to make sure you have done all the preparation you can

The best way to prepare is to practice. Practice questions over and over again until you develop your own system of working through the different forms of questions. You should do the practice tests timed and in exam conditions to get a feeling for what you’ll have to do on the day. Make sure you’re rested and that you know how to get to the test center.

Frankly, some of the questions are strange and you need to familiarise yourself with them to give yourself the best chance. It is inevitable that you will find some sections more difficult than others but  aim to get the highest overall score . You can do terribly on the Verbal Reasoning section but still do very well on the UKCAT overall if you do reasonably well on the other sections.

Official Resources to help prepare

KEY RESOURCE: UKCAT Candidate Preparation Toolkit

The UKCAT website offers a comprehensive set of resources to help you prepare for the UKCAT with at least 300 free questions (100 are available on the Official Guide and 200 are available online through their online test platform). It is important that you get used to the format of the test through this website – you might prefer keeping this resource till late in your practice because it will be most representative of the real test since it has been made by the developers of the test.
More information is available here.

· UKCAT Official Guide

· Practice tests

This is the youtube playlist from the official UKCAT channel. It takes you through most of what you need to know about the test.

Other resources to help

You can find various books that claim to help you prepare for the UKCAT. They are often expensive and are not necessary but if you do want to by one I recommend “Get Into Medical School – 600 UKCAT Practice Questions”. This was an extremely useful book because it offers an extremely simple approach to solving the questions and also offers 600 practice questions – do them all and you will be well prepared for that UKCAT.

You may choose to attend various courses to help you with the preparation. Pathways to the Professions run a UKCAT workshop for Edinburgh and Lothians pupils so sign up to them if you haven’t already.

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