UKCAT For Dummies (UK Edition)
Successful application to Medicine or Dentistry university courses in the UK often depends on a good score in the United Kingdom Clinical Aptitude Test (UKCAT). It’s a fairly new exam that measures your innate talent for coping with the kinds of material that you’ll learn during training. Keep this information handy to assist with your preparation for this exam.
Getting to Know the UKCAT
The United Kingdom Clinical Aptitude Test (UKCAT) is a psychometric test used by universities to assess the ability of their applicants. The universities want to know that you can
Interpret written material
Cope with basic maths
Spot patterns quickly
Use complex information to make challenging decisions.
These are all skills that doctors and dentists have to put into practice every day of their working lives. The UKCAT doesn’t expect you to be able to do all those things already, but it does try to check that you’ll have the ability to learn how to do them when the time comes.
Familiarising Yourself with the Four Subtests of the UKCAT
The UKCAT is a computer-administered exam lasting just over an hour and a half, consisting of four parts. Fortunately, as with every test theoretically meant to check natural aptitude, the truth is that your test score improves as you become familiar with the style of questions you’ll face. Here’s an outline of the four types of subtest:
The Verbal Reasoning Subtest consists of 11 passages of prose. These are followed by four statements referring to each passage. Your task is to read each passage, think carefully about the information presented and use it to determine whether each statement is ‘True’, or ‘False’, or whether you ‘Can’t Tell’.
Verbal Reasoning tests your powers of comprehension and requires you to make decisions about what you’ve read. It also requires you to base you decision solely on the information provided in the passage.
The Quantitative Reasoning Subtest consists of nine numerical presentations. Each presentation is followed by four questions based on content found within the presentation. Over the subtest, a total of 36 questions need to be answered within 23 minutes.
Quantitative Reasoning tests your mathematical capability. The testers want to see that you can carry out simple mathematical operations, that you understand proportions, percentages and ratios, that you know what different kinds of average are, and are comfortable with fractions and decimals. Beyond that, they also need to be sure you can move from one measurement system to another and can cope with basic equations.
In The Abstract Reasoning Subtest you’re presented with two sets of shapes, one labelled Set A and the other Set B. The shapes in Set A all have something in common about their patterns. So do the shapes in Set B. However, the two sets are not related to each other. For each pair of Sets, you are then shown 5 Test Shapes and your task is to decide whether each Test Shape belongs to Set A, or Set B, or Neither.
The Abstract Reasoning part of the test includes 13 set pairs, with 5 test items each, for a total of 65 questions in just 16 minutes. That means you have to work very fast, especially since it’s rare to notice the pattern similarity within each Set instantly.
In The Decision Analysis Subtest you’re presented with a scenario consisting of 26 questions. You have 32 minutes to complete the subtest.
Each scenario in the Decision Analysis part of the test typically involves a brief paragraph of prose, followed by the presentation of some data within a table or other similar format. The data can be used to create codes upon which the questions are based. Unlike the other subtests, Decision Analysis questions have four or five response options, and more than one answer may be correct.