Posted on

The Top 10 UKCAT Tips


UKCAT Tips what is it and what are you talking about? UKCAT, otherwise known as the Uk Clinical Aptitude Test, is used in the selection process by a consortium of UK university Medical and Dental Schools.

The test helps universities to make more informed choices from amongst the many highly-qualified applicants who apply for their medical and dental degree programmes.

Some people find it a breeze to go through while others find it a real struggle and put a lot of pressure on themselves. This 10 step guide will help those who struggle with the UKCAT on how to prepare yourself for the big test.

Buy the 600 UKCAT Practice Questions book.

The first of our UKCAT Tips is to get this book! It’s the most useful UKCAT resource available on the shelf so far, and it’s especially invaluable when preparing for verbal and abstract reasoning. However, it is very hard in places, especially in the Quantitative reasoning section. When you’re starting out then, do not be put off if you don’t do well. There’s a reason it’s the best-selling book out there, so stick with it. It’ll pay handsomely in the end.

You can purchase the book at Amazon and other major retailers.

Take your exam before school starts.

You can take the UKCAT any time from 1st July to 4th October, but since everyone else is likely to be in a last minute nervous rush (and possible absolute panic), the later slots will likely all be taken up. Our advice is to do it in the Summer Holidays. If you think your AS results might not be suitable for Medical School, wait till after the Results Day. If you’re semi-confident that you’ll be able to apply, then we’d recommend taking the UKCAT in mid-August. This way, you can still enjoy your summer, as well as stopping your UKCAT preparation from clashing with your schoolwork. You get the best of both worlds.

mr bean

Heart Wall Clock
Keep to your study time with the Heart Wall Clock


Allocate time to study.

Experience from other suggest that 2 hours a day of UKCAT preparation, starting three weeks or so before the exam should be enough. Split the two hours between two sections so you don’t get bored in one hour – and alternate sections every day. Another useful sub-tip would be to have breaks between your study sessions. The biggest enemy of anyone preparing for anything is burning out: if anything killing yourself with 2 hours solid work will likely make you lose focus and tire you out. Your ability to apply the skills you’ve learned will be greatly improved on the day if you practise in short focused bursts.




Stick to your study routine.

A really important part of our UKCAT Tips is to stick to your study routine. With regular practice, your skills will only improve. Think of it like training a muscle or practising the instrument. There’s no use being aimless in both when and what you study. Like the previous point, stay focused. Keep a daily log of your weaknesses and prioritise the questions you find hard during your practice.

homer study

Learn to manage your time.

Most of you probably know them by now, but just in case, the section question and time breakdowns are as follows:


Section Items to Answer Question Set Up Time for each section
Verbal Reasoning 44 11 Vignettes: 4 items per vignette 21 minutes
Quantitative Reasoning 36 9 Vignettes: 4 items per vignette 22 minutes
Abstract Reasoning 65 13 Vignettes: 5 items per vignette 13 minutes
Decision Analysis 28 1 Code Set: 28 questions 31 minutes

As you can see, you have to answer more than a question a minute in three of the four sections, so when you practice, keep an alarm at the ready to stop you running over. This should teach you two things: first of all, prioritise – if you can’t do a question, move onto the next, come back to it later if you have time – and second, don’t panic. While time might seem against you, with a clear head you can finish all the sections with time enough to look back over what you’ve done. On the day, you can flag any questions you find difficult, so you can return to them after finishing the rest.

Speed up your mental maths.

You can do this by looking over GCSE material. Inn particular look at fractions, percentages and conversion calculations. These are the most important kinds of data that you’ll be dealing with in Medical School – calculating patient drug dosages is a prime example of how such knowledge is applied – so that explains why the UKCAT assesses it. Seriously, do it. You’ll thank yourself when you get your Quantitative Reasoning score.

Read broadsheet newspapers.

The rest are too mind numbing for intelligent people like you. The Independent, Guardian and Telegraph are your best bets here, but topical magazines like The Spectator and New Scientist are also worthwhile. Naturally, if you’re too attached to your bed or chair, visiting the websites achieves the same end. The aim of reading such material is this: to condense the content you find in articles into single sentence take-home messages. This is a great skill for the Verbal Reasoning section, and generally too. After all, you will be reading scientific papers all the time once you get to Medical School, and the knowledge you gain will definitely help you in your interviews.

Do as many questions as you can.

The 600 UKCAT Practice Questions book will only last you so long, so make the effort to go out and get some more practice questions.

sherlock stress

House MD Oversized Tennis Ball
And if you are too stressed then try the House MD Oversized Tennis Ball

On exam day, don’t stress out!

This is quite obvious, but you’d be surprised – make sure to get to bed early the night before so you aren’t tired out by the time you reach the test centre. A hearty breakfast and lots of water should keep your brain energised. If you’ve taken the time to practice, there’s no reason why you can’t be confident of getting a high mark. Go in there with your head held high and remember our UKCAT Tips.

Don’t worry if you don’t do as well as you’d have liked.

So you have used all the UKCAT tips and still it didn’t work? Nobody wants to be in this position, but in life, you can’t always have it all your own way unfortunately. What you can do is not let it get you down, just keep practising. We know many people who were accepted into medical school the second time round, with higher UKCAT scores to boot. Just remember all those helpful UKCAT tips!