Wednesday, 2 July 2014


Okay so I figured that a lot of people will have their UKCAT exam looming and could maybe do with a few tips. So here are a few things I learnt along the way. I should probably say that I have sat the UKCAT twice, once in 2011 and then 2013. The first time I sat it I got an average of 690 (but couldn't apply to med so this went unused). The second time I got an average of 730 :)

First of all, the UKCAT is the main entrance exam for medicine and comprises of four sections with a situational judgement part at the end. This is the link to the official website for registration and practise tests: The test is an online test and you'll most likely do it in the same place you did your driving theory test. Each section is timed and once you run out of time, its straight onto the next section (unfortunately if you finish early, the time doesn't run over for the next section).

Verbal reasoning- 44 questions in 21 minutes.
The best advice I can give for this is to read carefully! Make sure you look at the little details! I always read the questions first BEFORE the actual passage so that I have an idea of what i'm looking for (this is helpful because the texts are very long). This section would be much easier if it was on paper and you were able to underline/highlight but alas that isn't the case so you'll have to do it mentally! Even if you don't quite understand what the passage is talking about read the question, read the passage and read the question again!

Quantitative reasoning- 36 questions in 24 minutes.
This was by far the worst section for me! If you have a maths brain and ace mental maths then no worries, but if not i'm afraid this will seem daunting! My mental maths is pretty dire, but I still managed to score 670 in this section so it is doable! I would advise to use BBC Bitesize maths just to top up any gaps in knowledge you have and practise doing sums in your head. Just do as much maths as you possibly can. In particular make sure you can interpret graphs, tables and charts. Make sure you can work out percentage differences and make sure you can use SIDOT (Speed is distance over time) as this seemed to come up a few times! You will be given a whiteboard and pen to jot some notes but because the time is so tight, the helpfulness of this is limited. The way I thought about this was that its better to get 100% in 70% of the questions, than 40% in 100% of the questions because you've rushed! Take your time and work them out properly. Use estimation to your advantage- sometimes there are some answers which you instantly know are wrong so look at all the answers carefully. In my UKCAT one question only had one answer with the correct units-simples! Once you get to about 5 minutes left don't panic! Use your estimation or common sense to choose the best answer but don't waste time doing long calculations unless you know you can do it! Just breathe.

Abstract reasoning- 55 questions in 13 minutes.
This section is the most strained for time but is the one that I feel you can practise the most for! If you google abstract reasoning , tonnes of results come up, so use google as much as possible! The trick to this section is to have a 'tick list' of what to look for. Mine went something like : number of sides, number of angles, colour, number of each shape, etc. That way if you always work through your list, you won't forget something glaringly obvious. On e you get the hang of this, it will likely be  one of your best sections.

Decision analysis- 28 questions in 31 minutes.
This is the most chilled, and for me, the easiest section. Just string the words together and pick which one is closest to the meaning. I'm quite good at languages so I'm not sure if thats what helped me but I'm  not sure what advice to give for this! If you're stuck between two answers, pick the most literal meaning.

All in all this exam is nowhere near as bad as you expect. Use the practise exams on the official website and use google to your advantage! There are plenty of people out there to help you! I would recommend the 600 question blue book (you'll find it on amazon, however it is slightly out of date now)) but recently noticed a new book by Kaplan which is 1000 questions and came out in May 2014 so is the most up to date! If the new book is anything like the 600 question one, the maths is 100x more difficult than the actual exam so if you cant do it, don't stress, if you can then you'll ace it! If you have any questions feel free to comment but I hope this helped a bit! Good luck :)

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