Our guide to one of the most important exams in medical entry

Over the last couple of years, more and more highly qualified students are applying to medical school. As a result, the UK Clinical Aptitude Test is used by many medical schools to give a better indication of the applicants who seem more likely to become good clinicians. The UKCAT is a psychometric test – a test that attempts to objectively measure aspects of your mental ability or personality. Psychometric tests are used not only for medical/dental entry, but by employers in a diverse range of industries; it allows for a direct comparison between different candidates.

The UKCAT tests a wide range of skills, reflected in the main four subtests: quantitative reasoning, verbal reasoning, abstract reasoning and situational judgement. For 2016, they’ve taken out Decision Analysis and instead have a trial section called ‘Decision Making’. Don’t worry too much about this section because it doesn’t contribute to your score.

Keep in mind, unlike the BMAT and the exams you’ve done at school, you don’t need much prior knowledge – this isn’t a content-based exam. Instead, the UKCAT will require the test-taker to have robust numerical skills, an ability to evaluate and scrutinize written information, skills in pattern identification, and a capability to make decisions in situations of uncertainty. In effect, the primary aim of the UKCAT is to measure underlying talent, and not the differing quality of education applicants receive. At the same time, don’t be swayed by thinking this is an IQ test you can’t prepare for – you can prepare for the UKCAT, but you’ll need to prepare differently: a stronger emphasis should be placed on practice and strategy, not revision.

At Doctor Project, we’ve included a bunch of articles on how to prepare for the UKCAT (although not a comprehensive guide), written by instructors from our popular 6med UKCAT Crash Course (we offer a full bursary for anyone who can’t afford the course). Start preparing early and get together a plan as soon as you know when you’re going to take it.