The UKCAT Test

The UKCAT is a skills test designed to assess the abilities and behavioural aptitudes identified as desirable for those applying to medical or dental school.   It seeks to determine aptitudes rather than assess knowledge and measures a wide range of skills, grouped under four headings.  These are:

  • Verbal reasoning 
  • Quantitative reasoning 
  • Abstract reasoning 
  • Decision Analysis 
Each section involves a great many questions designed to provide a basic psychological assessment of candidates’ aptitudes, must be completed under timed conditions via a computer screen.   A new addition in 2012 is the Situational Judgement Test, which looks to assess behavioural  aptitudes and skills of an interpersonal nature.  The SJT will not contribute to the overall score and marks will not be communicated to medical or dental schools.  

A total of two and a half hours is available for the test.  

The sections of the test, cumulatively, are a test of skills, not talents as such and skills can be learned and improved.   The skills most emphasised are of:  

  • Problem-solving
  • Lateral thinking 
  • Judgement
  • Language 
  • Data analysis      
There are few ‘right’ answers or meaningful things to say about this last aspect of the test. Personality test questions can not be got ‘right’ as such. Rather, they simply indicate to university departments what sort of person is applying, and how that person might fit with the ‘mix’ of students and outcomes—some surgical, some general, some academic—that medical schools want to put together.