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Introducing the (University Clinical Aptitude Test) UCAT

Rebecca Dowbiggin
June 26th 2024

What is the UCAT?

The University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT) is an admissions test, used by many UK universities as part of their shortlisting process for medicine and dentistry.

Why do universities use the UCAT?

The UCAT helps university admissions teams to differentiate between educationally high-performing candidates; it is used in conjunction with other selection measures, such as educational attainment, personal statements, references and interviews.

The UCAT is often the one measure that universities have for all applicants. Additionally, research has shown that the UCAT has some capacity to predict candidates’ aptitude for the course; scores have also been shown to demonstrate incremental validity above and beyond that provided by prior educational attainment, with scores on verbal reasoning having the strongest relationship with undergraduate academic achievement (Paton et al., 2022).

Don’t some universities use the BMAT?

Until very recently, the two main assessments used for entry into UK medical schools were the UCAT and the BioMedical Admissions Test (BMAT). However, the BMAT has been discontinued for students applying in 2024 for 2025 entry onwards and, as such, medical schools that previously used the BMAT as part of their admissions process (Brighton and Sussex, Cambridge Imperial College London, Lancaster, Leeds, Oxford) will now be using the UCAT.

What is the format of the UCAT?

The UCAT is a computer-based test, which lasts two hours; the test is sat under timed conditions and is composed of multiple-choice questions. The UCAT consists of five, separately timed sections, each assessing a different proficiency:

  • ‍Verbal Reasoning - critically evaluating written material
  • Decision Making - making appropriate judgements when presented with complex information
  • Quantitative Reasoning - assessing and evaluating numerical information
  • Abstract Reasoning - using both convergent and divergent thinking styles
  • Situational Judgement Test – identifying critical factors and appropriate behaviours in approaching real-world situations

Do I need to take the UCAT this year, in 2024?

You are required to sit the UCAT 2024 if you are applying for entry in 2025 (or deferred entry in 2026) to a relevant course at a UCAT Consortium University.

When and how do I register for and book the test?

The 2024 UCAT test can be booked from today, the 18th of June 2024.

You can book your test after registering for a UCAT Account; booking must be made successfully in advance of the 19th of September (12 noon BST); importantly, claims of mitigating circumstances or technical errors affecting your ability to book by the deadline will not be accepted.

When do I sit the UCAT?

In 2024, the UCAT test will be held between the 8th of July and the 26th of September.

When will I receive the results of my test?

UCAT results are issued on the day of your test. Since universities publish how they use the UCAT in their selection process and often provide minimum requirements, this allows you to make an informed decision about where to apply.

How should I prepare for the UCAT?

We strongly recommend that you prepare for the test and allow plenty of time; a month being the absolute minimum, with eight weeks being the recommended minimum. Spreading out your preparation and doing 30-minutes to an hour per day in the months running up to the test is much more efficient than last minute cramming. There are many materials available to help you, including those on the UCAT website; research has suggested that students who prepare effectively for the UCAT using official study materials fare better in the test (Lambe et al., 2012).

Although the UCAT might sound daunting, if approached in the right way, the process of preparing for the test can be enjoyable! We will be releasing some ‘helpful hints’ articles in the coming weeks, so please do check back with us.

If you still feel that you need help preparing for the UCAT or require support with regards any aspect of the admissions process, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. At William Clarence, we are experts in how to apply for medical and dentistry degrees in the UK. Our knowledge and depth of experience with medical applications enables us to ensure that you benefit from the very best advice and support at every step of the application process.


Rebecca Dowbiggin graduated with Distinction from the University of Oxford (MSc Educational Assessment); she continues to develop her pedagogical practice and align her approach to university admissions assessments with the latest in educational research. When working with students, Rebecca looks to develop constructs assessed in many admissions tests, namely students’ cognitive skills and capabilities, eductive ability and their cross-curricular knowledge, skills and understanding. Rebecca very much enjoys supporting students preparing to apply for undergraduate and graduate medicine, dentistry and biomedicine, and specifically for the UCAT, GAMSAT and the BMSAT (Biomedical Sciences, Oxford; new for 2025 entry).

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