Shadowing a Doctor

October 28, 2013

At one point of time it was decided that A-level grades were just not enough to differentiate between candidates who were at the upper-end of the academic ability scale, when it came to medical school admissions. The UKCAT was launched to enhance objectivity and fairness levels in medical admissions.  

The aim of the UKCAT is to identify academic potential in applicants who hail from less-advantaged educational backgrounds. This allows Universities to choose candidates based on characteristics that are more relevant to the success in the medical profession. The test also judges the academic potential of the applicants in a very objective manner and does not distinguish between those who belong to less-advantaged educational backgrounds.

The UKCAT assesses a number of mental abilities that Medical and dental schools have identified as important. No curriculum content exits as the goal is to examine innate skills. Each sub-test is laid out in a multiple choice format and has a different timing allocation.  

Here are a few tests you will have to go through when you appear for the UKCAT:

  • Verbal reasoning –assesses your ability to critically evaluate written information 
  • Quantitative reasoning –assesses your ability to evaluate numerical information 
  • Decision analysis – assesses your ability to make very sound decisions using complex information
  • Abstract reasoning – assesses your divergent and convergent thinking in inferring relationships from the information provided
  • Situational judgement test – measures your capacity to understand real-world situations and your ability to deal with them 


Pre-medicine students observing surgery at Morogoro Hospital in Tanzania Preparing For The Test 

Typically, the UKCAT tests aptitude and not academic achievement and so there is no official preparatory course material for the test. The best way to prepare yourself is to practice the different kinds of questions that have shown up in the earlier tests through the years. Another good way to prepare for the test is to familiarize yourself with the format of the test papers. This will help you get acquainted with the variety of questions that will be asked and will also help you get acquainted with the time restrictions that will apply. 

The UKCAT website has practice tests that can help you prep. You can also download the official guide from the site. 


Admissions Requirements 

  • Since the UKCAT is the basic entry requirement for medical schools, all students are required to complete the test by the closing date that has been assigned for that particular year’s entry.
  • Students for a deferred entry have to complete the UKCAT the summer of the specific application year. 
  • Those who are reapplying will have to take the UKCAT in the summer of that year of application. 

While medical colleges will consider the UKCAT scores in the selection process for the interview, this is not the only indicator for selection. Your scores will be considered in conjunction with predicted and actual academic achievement. Apart from this, the objective scoring of the information that has been supplied on the UCAS application-form is also taken into consideration. This includes the personal statement as well as the references.