What is the UCAT and do I need to sit it?
What is the UCAT?
The University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT) is an admissions test used by many universities in Australia and New Zealand to rank candidates for entry into their undergraduate medical, dental and clinical science degree programs.
The test provides an opportunity to stand out from other applicants by demonstrating your aptitude for what will be a demanding program of study, and helps universities to select applicants with the most appropriate abilities and professional behaviours required for new doctors and dentists to be successful in their clinical careers.
The UCAT is not the only entry requirement for medicine and dentistry, and each university has its own admissions processes which may include consideration of ATAR and performance in an interview. See below for links to the universities, which include explanations of their admission processes.
What is the structure of the UCAT?
The UCAT is a two hour computer-based test. It consists of five separately timed subtests which each contain a number of questions in multiple-choice format.
The sections of the UCAT and descriptions from the official UCAT website are:
- Verbal Reasoning: Assesses the ability to critically evaluate information presented in a written form. This is comprised of 44 questions, and candidates are allowed 21 minutes*.
- Decision Making: Assesses the ability to make sound decisions and judgements using complex information. This is comprised of 29 questions, and candidates are allowed 31 minutes*.
- Quantitative Reasoning: Assesses the ability to critically evaluate information presented in a numerical form. This is comprised of 36 questions, and candidates are allowed 24 minutes*.
- Abstract Reasoning: Assesses the use of convergent and divergent thinking to infer relationships from information. This is comprised of 55 questions, and candidates are allowed 13 minutes*.
- Situational Judgement: Measures the capacity to understand real world situations and to identify critical factors and appropriate behaviour in dealing with them. This is comprised of 69 questions, and candidates are allowed 26 minutes*.
For an explanation of UCAT scoring, see our blog post UCAT Scoring Explained.
Do I need to sit the UCAT?
The following universities require you to sit the UCAT for entry to their programs:
- The University of Adelaide: Medicine, Dentistry, Oral Health
- Charles Sturt University: Dental Science
- Curtin University: Medicine
- Flinders University: Clinical Sciences/Medicine
- Monash University: Medicine
- The University of Newcastle/University of New England: Joint Medical Program
- The University of New South Wales: Medicine
- The University of Queensland: Medicine (Provisional Entry), Dental Science
- The University of Tasmania: Medicine
- The University of Western Australia: Medicine (Direct Pathway), Dental Medicine (Direct Pathway)
- Western Sydney University: Medicine
- The University of Auckland: Medicine
- The University of Otago: Medicine, Dental Surgery
Universities which offer Undergraduate Medicine without requiring the UCAT are James Cook University, where selection is based on ATAR and application interview, and Bond University, where selection is based on ATAR, Bond Psychometric Test, and interview.
Do I need to prepare for the UCAT?
Although some students may be comfortable sitting the UCAT without any preparation, most will spend some time preparing for the types of questions they may encounter on testing day.
The official UCAT website and app contain a brief selection of practice questions which will give you some idea of what to expect. However, most students will find that they complete the limited set of free practice questions quickly and may be unsure if their approach to the questions is the most efficient.
At MedPrep, we recognise these concerns, which is why we offer classroom-based UCAT classes covering all sections of the test, showing you proven strategies for improving your speed and accuracy. We give you the opportunity to practice these strategies with access to our library of thousands of example UCAT questions from all five sections. Click here to learn more about our options.
I’ve heard some people talking about the UMAT. Is that a different test?
The Undergraduate Medical Admissions Test (UMAT) was replaced by the UCAT in 2019, for university entry in 2020 and beyond. This test had a different structure. Medical and dental students who entered their degree programs in 2019 or earlier would have completed the UMAT exam.
The UCAT consortium states that UCAT replaced UMAT for several reasons, including:
- The inclusion of additional constructs relevant to the admissions process.
- Immediate results generated due to the computer-based nature of the test.
- Greater flexibility in where and when the test takes place, including the availability of several test dates.
Ultimately, the Consortium of Australian School Leaver Entry Universities decided that UCAT was a more suitable test for assessing candidates for entry into medical and dental courses.
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