UCAT Basics

What is the UCAT?

UCAT = University Clinical Aptitude Test

The UCAT is an aptitude test designed to test clinical skills that medical professionals and students are expected to have – however it’s probably unlike any test you’ve sat before. 

There is no prescribed content or background knowledge, BUT don’t be fooled – that does not mean you don’t need to study and prepare for it. However, this does mean that a different type of preparation is required. The UCAT is a delicate balance between timing and skills – any strategy that you can learn to help you maximise this balance will give you an edge. 

Studying for the UCAT
Subtest No. of Questions Time Allocated
Verbal Reasoning
44 questions
21 minutes
29 questions
31 minutes
Quantitative Reasoning
36 questions
24 minutes
Abstract Reasoning
55 questions
13 minutes
Situational Judgement
69 questions
26 minutes

Breakdown of the UCAT

There are 5 different subtests/sections in the UCAT, each with a unique number and type of questions, and a unique time. Although the entire test is 2 hours long, you can only spend the allocated time on each subtest (eg. even if you have 5 minutes to spare in Verbal Reasoning, you cannot transfer that time to the next section. Similarly, you cannot skip or go back to a section once you have completed it and moved on to the next one). 

Each section has a 1 minute introduction with instructions, which can give you a breather (that’s why the times in the table only add up to 115 minutes, for those of you keen-eyed to pick up). 


What do I need to do to sit the UCAT?

First you need to set up an account with Pearson VUE, the organisation which runs the UCAT, and register a date to sit the test. Note that in order to book a test, it will cost a fee. Click here to register for the UCAT!

On the test day itself, you should arrive early and prepared to take the test (both mentally and physically). This involves a good nights rest and even travelling the route to the test center prior to familiarise yourself. You don’t want any last minute stresses to interfere with your test. Additional important requirements for taking your test can be found here.

We only have generalised key dates for the UCAT as they can vary slightly from year-to-year, so check out the official UCAT website’s dates for the year here.

Key Dates

  • Early March: Registration opens (Get in early to choose your desired date and location – it’s first in best dressed)
  • Mid-late May: Registration closes
  • Throughout July: Testing process (they cycle different tests randomly for everyone to prevent cheating)
  • Late August/Early September: Scores and Percentiles are released

Universities that DO use the UCAT:

  • Monash University (VIC)
  • The University of Adelaide (SA)
  • Flinders University (SA)
  • Curtin University (WA)
  • The University of Western Australia (WA)
  • The University of Newcastle/New England (NSW)
  • The University of New South Wales (NSW)
  • Western Sydney University (NSW)
  • University of Queensland (QLD)
  • University of Tasmania (TAS)

Universities that DON'T use the UCAT:

  • University of Sydney* (NSW)
  • Griffith University (QLD)
  • James Cook University (QLD)
  • Bond University (QLD)

*Only accepts students with ATARs of 99.95

UCAT Scoring

How is the UCAT scored?

Each subtest has a raw score for the number of correct questions (eg. 32/44 for Verbal Reasoning), however you only receive a scaled score from 300-900.

Your UCAT score is the total of all of these scaled scores added up, EXCEPT Situational Judgement – therefore you will receive a UCAT score from 1200 to 3600. Situational Judgement is still given a scaled score from 300 to 900 like the other sections, but is not counted in the overall score, and is instead separate.

Your scoresheet might look like the sample image included here (which would not be a very good score). You can also visit the official UCAT website for more information. Ultimately, your total score will be ranked (excluding Situational Judgement) and you will receive a percentile.

UCAT Results:

Your UCAT score will be sent privately to you soon after you complete the test (often on the same day), so you don’t have to wait anxiously for very long. The percentiles, however, will take longer to calculate and usually are released months after the testing period (usually around September).

You can see average scores and percentiles for the UCAT from 2019 onwards, as well as a percentile calculator for the previous UCAT test, on the official UCAT website (click here).

It is important to note that because the difficulty of the UCAT can vary from year-to-year, the percentiles are better indicates of performance than the raw scores. Referring to the percentile comparisons for the UCAT scores from 2019 and 2020 below, we can infer that the 2019 UCAT test was more difficult than the 2020 UCAT test.

2019 Percentiles 2020 Percentiles
3100+ = 99th percentile
3230+ 99th percentile
3000 = 96th percentile
3000 = 93rd percentile
2900 = 93rd percentile
2900 = 89th percentile
2800 = 88th percentile
2800 = 82nd percentile

What is a good UCAT score?

This is a very hard question to answer, especially because it differs between years based on how easy or difficult the test was that particular year, and also depending on what scores each university is looking for.

Generally, anything above 90th percentile would be enough to get an interview offer at most universities within your state/territory (provided you have a competitive ATAR as well).

To be very competitive for a spot and potentially receive interstate interview offers, you should aim for a score in the 95th percentile or above. Generally this correlates to a raw score of around 3000+, but this can vary from year to year as well. 


Tips for the UCAT and Interview

General Tips for the UCAT

The UCAT is a test of speed and efficiency more than knowledge – you don’t need to get 100% to do well, nobody will. It is a test of your ability to prioritise and triage questions. If you average about 80% in each section, you are well on track to getting a high 90s percentile.

What do we mean by triaging and prioritising questions? You should focus on getting the easy marks that are quick to do, without making careless mistakes. Questions that soak up your time can ultimately prove to be your undoing in a particular section. Skipping and/or returning to these hard and longer questions is a key strategy for triaging and prioritising what you do and when.

Should I prepare for the UCAT?

Although the UCAT is a clinical aptitude test, it is highly unlikely that you will be able to get a very high score (competitive enough for medical entry) without significant preparation. The official UCAT website has limited preparation materials, however, here at In2Med, we offer comprehensive and detailed UCAT preparation courses. These online courses are filled with unique strategies and techniques that have been tried and tested by us and our students, and we have curated a large bank of 5,000+ practice questions and mocks exams for you to use to help you prepare for the UCAT.