UCAT

Understanding the 2019 UCAT Test Statistics

The rankings

The Summary Test Statistics for the 2019 UCAT have just been released. For students, the most important information contained in this report is the decile ranking. Every student’s score has been ranked; e.g. the 9th decile represents a score at the 90th percentile (i.e. a score in the top 10%).

These are the scores for each decile, as shown in the report:

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To have a good chance of receiving an interview, an ATAR of 99+ and a UCAT score of 2830+ is highly desirable. However, since medical schools use competitive entry, no absolute cut-offs can be given. Some universities require higher scores because of the greater level of competition they experience. For example, UNSW, which receives a very large number of applications, has often required a much higher ATAR and UMAT score in previous years. With this in mind, candidates are advised to apply for multiple universities (even interstate) to maximise their chances of successful medical entry.

A student with a UCAT score of 2700 (8th decile) may also receive an interview, provided their ATAR is high enough. A candidate’s score may also be boosted due to their rural location or disadvantaged circumstances, which means that it is possible for students with a UCAT score lower than 2700 to be offered an interview. In the past, we have seen students with a UMAT score as low as 70th percentile get an interview. (This would translate to a score of 2610 in UCAT.) In the same way, a student with an ATAR slightly below 99 may also receive an interview if their UCAT score is high enough.

As emphasised earlier in this article, entry is competitive, meaning that there are no clear cut-offs or thresholds—they change from year to year. Given that universities typically release a fixed number of interview offers (e.g. to the top 300 students), your chances of getting an interview are almost entirely dependent on how the rest of your cohort performs. Even if some universities may set UCAT thresholds, they generally do so retrospectively, i.e. AFTER examining how the whole cohort performed on the UCAT.

Therefore, to increase your chances of entry, we would encourage you to properly prepare for interviews, as students generally perform very poorly on this assessment. Most candidates underestimate the value of interviews (and hence go in underprepared), and many do not understand how to score highly in them because they don’t realise what the interview is actually assessing. Contrary to popular belief, the interview is not just a ‘chat’: rather than simply being a chance to demonstrate your charisma and eloquence, the purpose of the interview is to assess whether or not you possess specific traits that are highly valued in the medical profession (e.g. empathy, problem-solving skills).

The 5 subtests

The Summary Test Statistics released by the UCAT Office also include a section breakdown. Please note that ‘Total Score’ refers to the sum of the first four subtests. The fifth subtest, Situational Judgement, is not used by every university.

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Some universities may use cut-offs for individual subtests: for example, in the past Monash University required a minimum of 50 for each section of the UMAT. If cut-offs are also applied to the UCAT, students would most likely have to achieve a score higher than the mean for each of the subtests. Universities have not yet released any cut-offs for the UCAT; we’ll keep you posted by making an announcement once they release any information.

What to do now

With the UCAT over, the ATAR and interview are the only remaining assessments for medical school placement. All students realise the importance of ATAR; however, most students tend to undervalue the medical interview. The interview is the final assessment used to separate candidates who already have a good ATAR and UCAT score, making it extremely important. In addition, each minute of the interview is extremely valuable: for universities that weight your interview equal to your ATAR (e.g. Monash, UWA, University of Adelaide, Curtin), a short interview is worth just as much as all of the work you have put into your Year 12 subjects combined. If you are completing four Year 12 subjects and receive an offer for a 20-minute interview, this would mean that 5 minutes of your interview is equal to one whole Year 12 subject!

If your UCAT score is not very high, it is entirely up to you to decide whether or not you will prepare for interviews. We have no way to guarantee that you will or will not get an interview offer – we simply wish to share what we have seen in previous years. However, on the off chance that you receive an interview offer, undertaking thorough preparation and performing strongly in the interview is a great way to make yourself competitive and score a place in medical school. It never hurts to try—there are students every year who are surprised to receive an interview offer—and we encourage you to make the most of every possible opportunity to get into medical school.

Pro Strategy: How to Master Speed & Accuracy

‘How do you effectively prepare for the UCAT?’ is one of the most important questions a student aspiring to enter medical or dental school can ask. For students who will be sitting the test this year – only a matter of weeks away! – it is a critical question to address, as you need to know what effective preparation looks like in order to make the best possible use of the coming weeks and maximise your final UCAT score. For students who will be sitting the test next year or later, it is also essential that you understand the basic mechanics of UCAT preparation to avoid wasting time on ineffective and unhelpful study.

Effective UCAT preparation should achieve two outcomes: accuracy and speed. Without speed, you will struggle to complete more than a handful of the 233 questions on the two-hour test. Without accuracy, you will race through the entire exam and yet fail to actually get any questions right.

In order to achieve both accuracy AND speed, you need to learn the steps for solving questions properly. This way, you’ll be aware of what you’re doing right and wrong as you’re answering questions, and you’ll have the techniques required to tackle and achieve consistent results for any question you could possibly face.

How does accuracy link to speed? 

Since the UCAT is an aptitude test, a helpful way to think about it is to compare it to a maths exam. When studying for a maths exam, if you try to do lots of mock exams BEFORE you actually know how to answer questions, you will simply waste your time and become disheartened because you can’t get the questions right within the time limit. After all, you can’t solve questions at a consistently high level until you first understand the detailed, step-by-step THEORY (the formulas, steps, processes, etc.). Once you understand every step and process involved in the theory, you can then apply it by practising until you slowly develop accuracy. Whenever you get a maths question wrong – which lowers your accuracy and hinders you from developing speed – you can fix your mistake by identifying where you went wrong and rectifying the issue. Once you’ve identified and resolved all of your question-solving issues, you will be able to solve questions very quickly and get them right every time.

To illustrate the importance of accuracy, and the link between accuracy and speed, here’s a general example.

The link between accuracy and speed.

The link between accuracy and speed.

It’s the same for UCAT preparation: once you understand the theory behind solving questions, practise the steps, and refine all of your mistakes, you will have mastered both accuracy and speed.

The need for speed (and accuracy)

In the past, many students were unable to complete the UMAT (the predecessor of the UCAT) within the set time limits. With 134 questions across 3 sections, and only 3 hours to complete them, even the brightest students struggled to finish every question on the test.

The introduction of the UCAT has raised the bar even higher. With 233 questions across 5 sections, and only 2 hours to complete them, students are required to be way more skilled for the UCAT than for the UMAT if they want to achieve a good score and maximise their chances of getting into medical or dental school. When sitting the UCAT, students only have 14-64 seconds to solve each question, as illustrated in the table below.

Time per question for the UCAT.

Time per question for the UCAT.

Given the time constraints, you need to know the process for solving questions much better for the UCAT than the UMAT – you have no time to recover if you make mistakes. As explained above, making mistakes is very time-consuming: by the time you realise your mistake, figure out what went wrong, and finally fix the mistake, you will have already forfeited the time you need to answer two or three other questions! This means that it is crucial for you to work on your accuracy (by learning and practising the theory) in order to develop speed and solve every UCAT question quickly and correctly.

 

In order to maximise your chances of UCAT success, the best way to use the final weeks before the test is to spend them building up your speed and accuracy. Take the time to learn the steps, and then practice them. Figure out why you’re making mistakes, and work on eliminating them.

For more UCAT tips and information, get in touch or visit our Facebook page.

When is the latest I can start on UCAT preparation?

Imagine this for one moment. The UCAT exam is in just one month and you still haven’t started preparation.

While it is easy to dismiss this image or push it to the back of your mind, the reality is that many students constantly push back UCAT preparation to deal with their increasingly frantic Year 12 workload. There will always be another math test, chemistry exam or English essay to prepare for, but all the while July draws ever closer.

With only one month (or less) to prepare for the UCAT, your chances of achieving success are very low. The exam consists of 14 different question types that require time to be learned and mastered, meaning that UCAT preparation becomes a herculean task when left to the last minute.

On average, most students require around 150-200 hours to learn the skills tested by the UCAT and complete several practice exams. Therefore, if you only start on preparation 30 days before the UCAT, completing even 150 hours (the more conservative estimate) would require you to spend around 5 hours per day studying for the UCAT – something that is simply not possible to do consistently over a month given the demands of school tests and assignments.

To illustrate the importance of starting early, the table below calculates the amount of UCAT study that early- or late-starting students will need to complete per day in order to be ready for the exam.

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To be ready in time for the UCAT, the most crucial factor is to start on UCAT preparation during (or before) the summer holidays before Year 12 starts. Dedicating 2-3 hours each day to studying for the UCAT is much more feasible during the holidays, as you don’t need to juggle UCAT preparation with schoolwork. Best of all, if you manage to finish learning most of the UCAT skills and begin developing proficiency during this period, you will only need to spend a short amount of time working on your exam-taking techniques later in the year.

But won’t I forget what I studied if I start on UCAT preparation too early?

Just as schools teach their math curriculum progressively over the course of a whole year instead of cramming it into the final month before exams, UCAT preparation is best done consistently and over an extended period. Learning the methods to solve each question type over a prolonged period of time allows you to grasp the concepts more fully and to retain what you learn. In contrast, rushed and last-minute study leads to weaker performance and poor retention, meaning that you are likely to make mistakes or forget what you studied (as many students realise when they cram for school exams!).

As explained previously, starting earlier also greatly reduces the stress involved in UCAT preparation and allows you to do a far better job then you otherwise would. 150 hours of preparation is the minimum amount of time required to become proficient – so if you start early, you will have months to improve your proficiency and to iron out any exam nerves!

Is it ever too early to start?

No. There is no downside to beginning UCAT preparation earlier: the earlier you start preparing, the better. With more time to perfect your techniques and less accumulated stress, starting early offers enormous benefits in exchange for a small amount of time invested earlier.

In terms of your test-taking techniques, starting UCAT preparation earlier allows you to develop greater speed and accuracy when solving UCAT questions, as you have had more time to review and perfect your approach to each question type. By starting earlier, you will also gain greater confidence and feel less pressured on the test day.

In fact, starting early could mean the difference between outperforming your peers on the UCAT exam and making critical errors during the exam because you have not completed enough practice tests to become accustomed to the pressures of the exam.

How can iCanMed help?

The extended UCAT courses offered by iCanMed help to guide and direct your UCAT preparation. Achieving UCAT success by yourself is extremely difficult, as the UCAT is designed to test a particular set of skills; the best way to master these skills is to learn the necessary techniques via a structured curriculum. What iCanMed has done is create a course that focuses on not only the questions themselves but also the actual methods for solving them, meaning that you are equipped to tackle any UCAT question you may encounter. With in-depth video solutions breaking down and demonstrating the application of UCAT strategies to different questions, our course reduces the inefficiency and uncertainty that students experience when they try to study for the UCAT without help.

In addition, iCanMed provides 24-hour support, meaning that we can help you to construct your UCAT preparation schedule or review your progress with you. This ensures that you are setting realistic, achievable goals for your UCAT study without compromising your school work and other commitments.

Lastly, our three-stage preparation process covers 21 steps to refine your UCAT abilities. This process provides you with a consistent timeline and practical goals to achieve in your UCAT study, and helps you to make progress in your preparation earlier rather than later.

For more UCAT tips and information, keep an eye on our website and Facebook page.

University Selection Criteria

The UCAT will be run for the first time in 2019. How has the introduction of the UCAT changed the entry criteria used by universities for medicine and dentistry courses? To find out, we contacted all of the universities that will be using the UCAT for 2020 admissions. Their final selection criteria are summarised in the table below.

Please note that this information was last updated on July 29th, 2019 and therefore does not reflect changes made after this date.

university selection criteria - v4 - high res.png
 

The selection criteria for international students is provided in the table below.

Please note that this information was last updated on May 16th, 2019 and therefore does not reflect changes made after this date.

university selection criteria - international students - high res.png

For UCAT tips and course advice, get in touch with us via Facebook or email.

iCanMed Free UCAT Lessons

Welcome to our series of free UCAT lessons! It’s great to have you here and we look forward to working towards UCAT success together with you.

Follow along with Ashton, our Head of Learning, as he breaks down questions from each section of the UCAT and teaches the step-by-step techniques for solving them.

Aptitude tests like the UCAT assess your skills and abilities. To master any skill, you need to become familiar with the process it involves, and then practice that skill so you can perform it efficiently and effectively. Therefore, these videos provide a detailed explanation of the techniques that are currently being used by students on our course, and they will help you to develop the skills you need to answer any UCAT question.

**Disclaimer: we don’t expect you to spend this long on each question! It takes time to teach and learn concepts, especially new or complex concepts. These videos are for teaching purposes, so we take extra time to go through the techniques in detail. Once you’ve learned the techniques, you definitely won’t need to spend more than a few minutes on each question.

Practice makes perfect - but you first need to know what you’re practicing, which is why we provide clear and extensive videos to explain the technique for each question type.

Frequently Asked Questions

Published on February 1, 2019:

1.  How many hours of UCAT preparation should I do per week?
The first thing to remember is that the number of hours you put in does not directly correlate to success. What is more important is how you use that time – whether you’re using it to apply the techniques, overcome your weaknesses, and improve your accuracy and speed. These are the things that will help you to succeed. However, this being said, there is still a threshold for the minimum amount of time you would need to be adequately prepared. We would recommend that you spend at least one 3-4-hour slot per week (e.g. one afternoon on the weekend) on UCAT study.


2.  How important are UCAT practice exams? 
In terms of the actual amount of benefit they provide, practice exams are somewhat overrated. For example, if your maths teacher gives you a calculus exam before you’ve even learned calculus, the exam would not be very useful – it would only drain your stamina and decrease your motivation (which is not a very effective way of learning!). Similarly, UCAT practice exams are only useful once you’ve mastered the steps required to solve every question type. Put another way, practice exams should be used at the last step of your preparation, not the first. Save yourself some time and learn the techniques for solving questions first!


3.  Is UCAT the same as UKCAT?
Yes. According to the official UCAT website, “although new to Australia and New Zealand for 2019, the UCAT has been used for over 12 years in the UK under the test name UKCAT”. The contents of the UKCAT “represent the exact content of the UCAT ANZ test” (https://www.ucat.edu.au/ucat-anz/practice-tests/).

Published on February 7, 2019:

4. For students who usually qualify for additional reading time, etc. (e.g. those who have reading disabilities), how does the UCAT accommodate for them (if it does)?
Candidates can apply for extra time by submitting an application for Access Arrangements when registrations open. For more information, refer to https://www.ucat.edu.au/ucat-anz/registration-booking/access-arrangements/.


5. Can Australian candidates use the UCAT to apply to medical schools in the UK that use UKCAT as part of the selection criteria?

Candidates can sit UCAT (ANZ) and apply to UK universities (that accept UCAT UK) with the results. However, candidates cannot sit UCAT (UK) and apply to UCAT (ANZ) universities.


6. There is speculation that the UKCAT is now called UCAT globally (i.e. from this year onwards the name UKCAT does not exist anymore but has been replaced by the name UCAT). Is this true?

UKCAT has been relaunched as UCAT. There is a UCAT (ANZ) test for Australian and New Zealand universities and UCAT (UK) for UK universities.


7. Is there any difference at all between the UCAT (UK) and UCAT (ANZ)? For example, in terms of medical ethics used to solve Section 5 questions, will the UCAT (UK) be based on the UK medical system and the UCAT (ANZ) be based on the Australian system?
The UCAT (UK) and UCAT (ANZ) test contain the same subtests and will not have a specific UK or Australian / New Zealand context; it will be universal.


8. The scaled marks that a student receives is a result of comparing the raw marks of all candidates with each other. In the case of Australian candidates, will they be compared to other Australian and NZ candidates only or pooled with the rest of the world?

The results for UCAT (ANZ) are based on the Australian and New Zealand cohort only.

Published on February 25, 2019:

9. When should I register for the UCAT exam?
We have been informed by the UCAT organisers that as soon as a venue is full, it will not accept any more students. In other words: there is limited seating for the UCAT exam. Therefore, our advice is that you register for the UCAT as soon as possible!


10. When do registrations for the UCAT exam close?

Registrations close on May 17th, 2019. The registration period is relatively short, so avoid leaving it to the last minute.


11. Which UCAT exam date should I register for?

You definitely shouldn’t register for an exam date that is before or during your break, as you would miss out on crucial preparation time. Ideally, you should sit the UCAT as late as possible; in previous years, the UMAT has always been held in the last week of July, so it would be best to select a similar date for the UCAT. However, you should also ask your school about assessment dates to make sure that you won’t have any assignments or tests around the UCAT exam date you’d like to register for.


12. How much does the UCAT exam cost?

It costs AU$298 to sit the UCAT in Australia or New Zealand, and AU$373 to sit the UCAT in other countries. However, candidates sitting the test in Australia may be eligible to apply for the concession rate, which is AU$198.


13. Can I apply for concession?

You are eligible for concession if you hold or are listed as a dependant on a current Health Care Card (HCC) or Pensioner Concession Card (PCC) issued by Centrelink. To apply for concession, you need to submit an online application form before registering for the UCAT exam. The online application form is available here: https://www.ucat.edu.au/ucat-anz/concession-scheme/. Applications for concession close on May 10th, 2019.


14. Can I cancel my UCAT exam?

If you cancel your UCAT exam by May 17th, 2019, you will receive a refund. However, if you cancel your UCAT exam after this date, it will be considered a ‘no-show’ and your payment will not be refunded.


15. Can I reschedule my UCAT exam?

If you reschedule your UCAT exam by May 17th, 2019, you can do so via the online registration system. However, if you would like to reschedule your UCAT exam after this date, you will need to reschedule via phone call. Rescheduling is accepted until 24 hours before your test time (but note that rescheduling will become increasingly difficult as the test date approaches since many venues are likely to be full).

Published on April 1, 2019:

16. What is the minimum mark I need to get into medicine/dentistry?
Since the UCAT is being run for the first time in 2019, thresholds from previous years no longer apply. As such, there is no official ‘minimum mark’ that provides guaranteed entry into a medicine or dentistry course. Furthermore, since medicine and dentistry are highly competitive, instead of trying to achieve a ‘minimum mark’ you should focus on scoring as highly as possible in order to outperform any competition. Thresholds set by universities are generally proportional (e.g. the top 10% of students are accepted), meaning that the 'minimum mark' you need to achieve depends entirely on how the rest of your cohort performs.


17. When is the latest I should start UCAT preparation?

You should start preparing now. The April holidays are a valuable opportunity to spend time on UCAT preparation, allowing you to learn the content without rushing and identify all of the issues you encounter for each question type. By starting on UCAT preparation now, you are setting yourself up to make the most of the next few months and will be able to finalise your UCAT preparation during the July holidays (right before the test).


18. How important is the UCAT compared to my academic results?

For most universities, the UCAT is a major criterion in selecting candidates. In some cases, the UCAT is weighted equal to (or weighted more than) your academic scores, meaning that the two-hour test is just as important for determining medical school entry as your academic results from the entire year! Because of this, it’s important to dedicate time and effort to preparing for the UCAT, as this will maximise your chances of getting into your desired course.

Published on May 1, 2019:

19. When should I start preparing for the UCAT?
You should start as early as possible. The sooner your start on UCAT preparation, the more time you will have to focus on succeeding in your Year 12 studies, the less stress you will experience, and the more speed and accuracy you will be able to develop when answering UCAT questions. For more information, refer to this article.


20. How should I structure my UCAT preparation?

The best way to prepare for the UCAT is by following a simple 3-stage process: learning the details, then carrying out slow and mindful practice, and then doing practice exams.
Stage 1 ('learning the details') takes the average student 15 hours to complete; it involves being taught how to solve each of the 14 question types, as well as creating your own working table that shows you what each question type is like and how to approach it. By providing examples of different questions and writing down how to solve them, this will help you to think critically and provides a great reference for you to work with once you start completing lots of questions. This stage is completed in one sitting during our UCAT Masterclass 1.
Stage 2 ('slow, mindful practice') comprises the majority of preparation - we generally recommend that students spend 150-200 hours in this stage. The purpose of carrying out slow, mindful practice is to build accuracy and improve speed. The method for achieving this is simple: review your working table, attempt a practice question, identify any issues you encountered when attempting the question, and incorporate those issues into your working table. After doing 30 questions of each type in this way, you will not only be very adept at answering questions of every type but will also have a 'master summary' that shows you how to deal with any possible issue that a UCAT question may present.
Stage 3 ('doing mock exams') is the final stage of preparation, and generally only takes 10-20 hours. After completing Stage 2, you should be very fast and accurate when completing questions, and if you make any mistakes you will be able to identify and rectify them immediately.

Published on JUNE 3, 2019:

21. How can I buy more time for UCAT preparation?
If you find that you need more time for UCAT preparation, you can try to reschedule your UCAT exam to a later date. Rescheduling must be done via phone call, and is accepted until 24 hours before your test time. (However, rescheduling is likely to become very difficult once the test date approaches, as many venues and time slots will be full). Contact details for rescheduling are available here.

How do you balance UCAT with school?

When trying to juggle UCAT preparation and schoolwork, many students end up sacrificing one or the other due to poor time management. However, your UCAT and ATAR results are equally important for getting into medical school. What people often don’t realise is that many universities (e.g. UNSW, Monash University) weight the UCAT at 33% of your final ranking, meaning that it is just as important as your ATAR results. So how are you supposed to manage both?

First, you need to understand what the UCAT is.

The UCAT is an aptitude test that assesses candidates’ ability to make evidence-based decisions and apply medical ethics in professional scenarios. Therefore, in order to score well on the UCAT, you need to develop these particular skills (and the steps that comprise these skills) in order to solve questions CORRECTLY and EFFICIENTLY every time. While the UMAT had three sections, contained 134 questions, and spanned 3 hours, the UCAT has five sections, contains 233 questions, and spans only 2 hours – meaning that speed and accuracy are crucial. Therefore, all of your UCAT study should focus on becoming very familiar with the steps for solving questions so that you can improve your accuracy and speed.

 

Second, you need to recognise what makes the ATAR difficult.

No matter what Year 12 system you are following (e.g. VCE, HSC, IB), the main difficulty with ATAR study is always the overwhelming amount of content that Year 12 subjects require students to learn compared to Year 11. This, combined with the advanced nature of exam questions, makes it difficult for students to do well in Year 12 using the study techniques and habits they applied in previous years. So not only do students need to work hard, they also need to constantly improve themselves and their study techniques.

 

So why the struggle?

From our experience helping thousands of students over the last 10 years, we have recognised that the main reason why students struggle to balance the UCAT and ATAR is because they lack awareness about the challenges involved in each test. Put simply, students become so overwhelmed when trying to manage one that they neglect or forget about the other. In order to balance the UCAT and ATAR, students must understand the challenges that each of these tests presents, and then work on preparing themselves for these challenges throughout the following months. The best way to do this is to literally LIST OUT the challenges involved in each test (or each Year 12 subject) – this puts you in a position where you know what to pursue and how much time to allocate for both UCAT and ATAR preparation.

 

It’s also important to be conscious of the test date for UCAT. Unfortunately, many students become complacent and decide to just cram UCAT preparation before the test date, not realising that the UCAT is not crammable. Doing well on the UCAT requires a change in your thinking process and the development of specific skills (including verbal reasoning, decision making, quantitative reasoning, abstract reasoning and situational judgment). These are not things that you can cram – they can only be achieved by regular UCAT preparation throughout the year. So if you know that medicine/dentistry is what you want to do, and you find yourself with some free time, make this into ‘UCAT time’.

 

Balance is a result of control, which is a result of awareness. This means that you need to take charge of your own learning and ask yourself some honest questions about what you want to achieve.

For the ATAR, ask your teachers for sample tests and exams so that you can begin to understand what the questions are like.

For the UCAT, reach out to us and check out our Library for more resources.

What Is The Best Way To Study For The UCAT?

As a professional educator, I've spent the last ten years helping over 600 students gain entrance into medical schools across Australasia. Our strategies for UCAT preparation aim to help students learn the exact skills and knowledge they need to answer any aptitude test question (e.g. UCAT and UMAT) question accurately, systematically and quickly. We had students last year who spent just one week (the week before the UMAT) preparing using our strategies and ended up with the mid-90s (don't recommend you to start that close to the test though!). Although, UCAT is a new for Australia and New Zealand students, it is not a brand new test. We’ve already anticipated the changes and have dissected the UKCAT, the test UCAT is based on. Here are a few points you need to take into account, to sum up how to conduct effective UCAT prep.

 

Step 1: Learn all techniques to solve all question types in the UCAT

‍UCAT assesses the logical reasoning capabilities (and certain attitudes pertaining to ethics and professional behaviours) of the candidate. Logical reasoning is the ability of a person to make decisions based on interpreting observable evidence and not by assumptions. How UCAT assesses this skill is by constructing questions that require the students to logically reason in five primary mannerisms, i.e., verbal reasoning (section 1), decision making (section 2), quantitative reasoning (section 3), abstract reasoning (section 4) and situational judgement (section 5). UCAT wants to see whether you are good at using evidence to make decisions in many different situations for many different purposes.

In summary, UCAT assesses the candidate’s ability to apply a series of process (i.e. skills) to solve a question, much like mathematics. Therefore, the first natural step to drastically improving your chances of answering a UCAT question correctly is by first learning what the skills (i.e. working) looks like and why the skills works the way it does (i.e. rationale).

Instead, the majority of students dive straight into doing a lot of questions before learning the techniques thoroughly. The common belief in the student community is that the more questions attempted during practice, the quicker they will master the questions. However, it is obvious that this method of preparation is in fact flawed as the primary purpose of practice is to apply a learned process in the hopes of identifying weaknesses and fixing them up. In short, there is no chance a student is able to apply skills to solve the question and learn from it when they don’t even know what that skill is. This method of preparation is a contrast to mindful practice and will only waste time, create further confusion and generate self-doubt. By learning techniques foremost, will take away all these issues and achieve an overall smooth learning experience.

Here are a few video examples of how section 1 UCAT questions are be solved. Click on the image to watch the video!

Step 2: Apply the techniques you've just learnt on questions of the same type

If you were to take a look at the questions belonging to same of the major types of questions, you would notice there are still subtle differences in how each question is written or formatted. Despite the fact that the questions may look slightly different, as long as you recognise they belong to the same type, the same technique can still be used to solve them. Therefore, it is crucial for you to apply the newly learned technique to a variety of question under the same question type to gain experience.

A simple example is learning algebra for the first time - the question used to teach you in class will most likely be different to the first one you practice with at home but can be solved with the same technique. So find some questions that are variations of the question you’ve learnt the skills to solve and attempt to apply the same skills to an aesthetically different, but fundamentally identical question.

 

Step 3: After applying your techniques, identify your weak points

After giving a few questions a good crack, you will realise and identify what your weak points are much easier. Examples of weaknesses may include forgetting the correct technique to use when answering the question or could also be that you weren't so good at executing one of the steps in the technique (e.g. interpreting the stimulus). Whatever it may be, step 3 allows you to isolate these issues that influence you the most. It allows you to be in control of your preparation by staying focused on things that are holding you back from achieving top marks.

 

Step 4: Fix up your problems and refine with high-volume practice

This step allows your preparation to fix the urgent matters identified in step 3. A part of the fixing process may require you to return to step 1 to re-learn the techniques or ask questions (feel free to leave questions in the comments below) to find solutions to your problems. After fixing is complete (when you are 100% confident about solving questions belonging to the particular question type), you should move on and do a high-volume of questions of the same type. Only commence high-volume question practice when you have gained and mastered the skills you need to solve a particular question type. When doing high-volume of questions, you can focus on gaining experience by attempting a wider range of questions, rather than worrying about how to even a question correctly. Many students who jump into high-volume question practice, such as doing practice exams, end up limiting their growth very quickly. Gaining experience by solving a variety of similar questions with the same basic technique is very helpful to gain speed, accuracy and consistency. Also if a similar question pops up in the real UCAT, you will know exactly how to tackle it.

If you want to know more about how iCanMed helps with UCAT preparation, click the button below!

A Beginner’s Guide to the UCAT

What is UCAT?

UCAT stands for University Clinical Aptitude Test and is the exam that has replaced UMAT (Undergraduate Medicine and Health Sciences Admissions Test). The UCAT is a required assessment in order to be eligible to enter medicine and dentistry in Universities around Australia and New Zealand.

UCAT is an aptitude test made to identify candidates with desirable mental-skills for a career in medicine and dentistry. These skills are broken into five distinct sections of the exam:

1. Verbal Reasoning

2. Decision Making

3. Quantitative Reasoning

4. Abstract Reasoning

5. Situational Judgement

The UCAT is logical reasoning test based off the UKCAT, which is used in the United Kingdom to test their medicine candidates. It is unlike any other exam a Year 12 students would have experienced before as it is vastly different from knowledge-based assessments like Biology or Chemistry. There are more similarities with other logical reasoning exams like the UMAT and MCAT so some skills are transferable but it is essential to learn exactly how UCAT will test their candidates and identify the exact skills required to do well in the UCAT.

 

What is the test format for UCAT?

The UCAT is a two-hour computer based multiple-choice test. It consists of five separately timed subtests. Once the test has started, time will not pause until either every subtest is finished or the allotted time runs out. Each subtest represents the five different sections and have different amount of questions and time allocated for each section. Students must complete one section first before going onto the next section and the order for the sections remains the same for every student. The order of sections is the same as listed below.

There are 233 questions in total and UCAT has mentioned that it is not expected for candidates to finish the test. The allocated time and questions is:

Section 1: Verbal Reasoning – 44 questions – 21 minutes
Section 2: Decision Making – 29 questions – 31 minutes
Section 3: Quantitative Reasoning – 36 questions – 24 minutes
Section 4: Abstract Reasoning – 55 questions – 13 minutes
Section 5 – Situational Judgement – 69 questions – 26 minutes

There is a one minute “break” before the start of each section which will display instructions. 25% Extra time may be given for candidates with special education needs, disabilities or temporary injuries  and must lodge forms to UCAT to be approved before the exam.

An onscreen calculator is provided on the same screen as the test. For scrap paper, a booklet and pen is provided.

 

How does scoring work for UCAT?

Presently there is no information on the scoring of the UCAT however the content is equivalent to the UKCAT. For the UKCAT, the first four sections are scaled and scored evenly. Each section has its raw marks converted to scaled scores that share a common range from 300 to 900.

The total score is the addition of the individual scores for the first 4 sections - Verbal Reasoning, Decision Making, Quantitative Reasoning and Abstract Reasoning. This gives a total scale score that can range from 1200 to 3600.

The UCAT is a multiple choice exam, with different sections and question types having different number of answer options. There is no negative marking for incorrect answers and performance on one questions does not influence which other questions are presented.

A breakdown of the first four sections and their marking scheme is as follows:

  1. Verbal Reasoning – Each question is worth 1 mark each.

  2. Decision Making – Question with one correct statements are worth 1 mark. Questions with multiple statements are worth 2 marks, 1 mark is awarded for partially correct responses.

  3. Quantitative Reasoning – Each question is worth 1 mark each.

  4. Abstract Reasoning - Each question is worth 1 mark each.

Each section may have different number of marks but are scaled evenly to give a score between 300 to 900. The total score will range between 1200 to 3600.

Section 5 – Situational Judgement is a bit different because it’s not deemed as a “cognitive” test but a test to measure “non-cognitive attributes”. Scoring for this section is taken from your raw score and directly placed into one of four bands with band 1 being the highest and band 4 being the lowest.

 

What score do I need for UCAT?

Medicine will remain as competitive entry so UCAT results will be very similar to the percentile rankings in UMAT. To have a competitive UCAT score, you should rank 90th to 100th Percentile (the top tenth of all candidates sitting the exam).  

There is no data for the UCAT in Australia, but by looking at the UKCAT which is the same test, we can see data for 2017. (Note: raw scores are based off 2017 UKCAT data and are only an estimate from available data)

Section 1 to 4:

Average total score (50th percentile) – 2540 (roughly 56% raw score)
90th Percentile total score – 2860 (roughly 69% raw score)

Section 5:
Band 1 – 31% of total candidates
Band 2 – 42% of total candidates
Band 3 – 19% of total candidates
Band 4 – 8% of total candidates

Previously the UMAT required a 90th percentile to be competitive and it is a good benchmark to aim for the UCAT. This means you need a score of 2860 (roughly 69% raw) and reach Band 1.

Currently, universities have not released their requirements for 2020 intake so there is no information on what exactly is needed for UCAT 2019. We will update the information as soon as it is released.

 

What is involved in each section of UCAT?

UCAT consists of 5 sections, it can be distinguished into two major divisions (which is how they divide the scoring):
Section 1 to 4: Cognitive abilities testing. This involves logical reasoning and critical thinking.
Section 5: Non-cognitive abilities. This is mainly about ethics, morals and interpersonal-skills.

A more detailed analysis of each section will be on our site in the near future. Here is a quick breakdown of the individual sections:

Section 1: Verbal Reasoning

Verbal Reasoning assesses the ability to read and think carefully about information presented in passages and to determine whether specific conclusions can be drawn from information presented. No prior knowledge is required to answer the questions.

21 minutes is given to answer 44 questions. There are 11 passage with 4 questions each. The passage will read like a newspaper or research article.

Questions will have 4 answer options. You are required to choose the most suitable answer and you can only select 1 answer
OR
There will be a statement and you have to choose whether the statement is TRUE, FALSE or CAN’T TELL based on the information from the passage.

Section 2 Decision Making

Decision Making assesses the ability to apply logic to reach a decision or conclusion, evaluate arguments and analyse statistical information. No prior knowledge is required except basic arithmetic (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division of small numbers). An onscreen calculator is provided and may be used.

31 minutes is given to answer 29 questions. All questions are standalone and do not relate to one another. Each question has an individual premise which may be a set of rules, venn diagram or something visual which you need to interpret. This is liken to learning a set of rules to a “game” and being able to answer a question based on the given rules.

Questions will have 4 answer options with only one correct answer and are worth 1 mark each.
OR
There are 5 statements and you have to place YES or NO beside each statement and are worth 2 marks for fully correct responses and 1 mark for partially correct responses.

Section 3: Quantitative Reasoning

Quantitative reasoning assesses the ability to use numerical skills to solve worded problems. The mathematics required is at the “A” level in Year 9 in Australian schools, particularly in the topics of rates and ratios.

24 minutes is given to answer 36 questions. A set of rules for a situation or a visual graph may be used to represent the information. Students need to read the graph and all relevant information correctly and calculate using basic arithmetic (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division) the desired solution. An onscreen calculator is provided.

Most questions will have four questions connected to the same data. Some questions will be standalone and only have one question.

There will be 5 answer options for each questions and you are required to select the best option.

Section 4: Abstract Reasoning

Abstract reasoning assesses your ability to identity patterns amongst abstract shapes where irrelevant and distracting information may lead to incorrect conclusions. You must test, critically evaluate and adapt your process as you are finding the pattern.

13 minutes is given to answer 55 questions. There are 4 different question types in this section.

  1. Type 1 will present you with two sets of shapes labelled “Set A” and “Set B”. There are 6 shapes in each set. You will be given a test shape and asked to decide which set the test shape belongs to.  You will usually be given 5 test shapes for every given sets so 5 questions will use the same data.

  2. Type 2 will present you with a series of shapes and you will be asked to select the next shape in the series.

  3. Type 3 will present 3 images. It will compare the first two images then it will ask you to compare the 3rd image with the answer options in the same way it compared the first two images.

  4. Type 4 is similar to type 1 except you will be given 4 answer options and must select the answer option that belong to a certain set.

 

Section 5: Situational Judgement

Situation Judgement assesses the capacity to understand real world situations and identify critical factors and appropriate behaviours in dealing with them. This is a non-cognitive assessment and deals more with interpersonal skills. No prior medical or procedural knowledge in hospitals is required however since it assesses interpersonal skills, it is required to understand what is appropriate under general settings.

26 minutes is given to answer 69 questions. A scenario will be given and there will be between 2 to 5 questions associated with that scenario.

Questions will ask you to rate the importance or appropriateness of possible actions.
OR
Questions will require you to rate each of the 4 answer options.
OR
Questions will ask you to select the most/least appropriate from 3 answer options.  

 

What should I do to start preparing for UCAT?

It is important to Understand what UCAT truly assesses. An understanding of the five sections is required BEFORE you do any substantial amount of practice. This is like learning concepts in mathematics first instead of just diving and doing endless amounts of final year exams. Your school teach school subjects that way and neither should you learn UCAT that way too.

iCanMed has already dissected the components of UCAT, what it’s assessing, how it’s assessing students and how students should tackle questions and prepare from now until July 2019.

  1. Come for a FREE SEMINAR! We have already held free UCAT seminars in Sydney and Brisbane. We will travel around the NEXT FEW WEEKS to all the major cities to hold free face-to-face workshops in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Auckland and Otago.
    Link: https://www.icanmed.com.au/workshop-dates/

  2. Follow us on facebook. We’ll update you with the latest news about the UCAT and the best ways to prepare for it filled with top professional advice. You can also ask us anything.
    Link: https://www.facebook.com/icanmed/

  3. Take a look at the UCAT website but do take note that registrations are not open yet.
    Link: http://www.ucatofficial.com/ucat-anz/

  4. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Right now your focus should be on exams in university or high school. As long as you’ve followed us on Facebook, come to our free workshops or register for our course, you will have everything you need to succeed in UCAT and get into medicine. Our course will be available starting in October!

Prep Fails:

  1. “Practice makes perfect” (without first learning how to solve the questions)
    DO NOT jump in and do lots of UCAT practice straight away. You need to learn specifically what UCAT is assessing and strategies to tackle each question type. Doing lots of questions without learning the subject first is a very time-consuming, confusing and stressful process. Learn the best ways to succeed in UCAT from us: https://www.facebook.com/icanmed/

  2. “As long as it works, it’s fine”.
    An aptitude test like UCAT has a logical process to solve every question. If you are not sure why something is correct, you may have gotten the answer wrong. Even you select the correct answer (since it’s multiple choice), you may have the wrong reasoning , which will lead you to select wrong answers in the future. You must learn the correct processes and strategies.

  3. Trusting the wrong preparation. Already there is a lot of incorrect information out there given by preparation companies. We have seen students been led in the wrong direction, which actually has an effect of lowering their score. Do not trust other places so easily. Look at our content, it should make perfect step-by-step sense and allow you to see real progress. That’s how UCAT preparation should be.    

 

Important dates to note:

1 March 2019 - Online registration opens at 9am

1 March 2019 – Test booking system opens (fees TBA however there are concession rates).

16 May 2019 – registration closes 5pm AEST

17 May 2019 – Test booking system closes 5pm AEST

1 July 2019 – Testing commences for UCAT

31 July 2019 – Last day of testing for UCAT

You can access your UCAT score immediately after your test.

Early September 2019 – Universities receive your UCAT score

 

I’ve started preparing for UMAT, did I waste my time?

Even though UCAT is a different exam, there are similar aspects to both the exams since they are both aptitude tests.
UMAT Section 1 is still very relevant in the UCAT. You may still use some preparation material from Section 1 as long as it is actually educationally sound.
UMAT Section 2 is not relevant at all and should be discarded from your preparation.
UMAT Section 3 is somewhat relevant but has undergone massive changes. You shouldn’t use UMAT preparation from this section.

 

Subscribe for all the latest and best information to beat the UCAT

The UCAT is new to next year. To keep up to date and have the insight on how to get the best marks in UCAT, make sure you follow or see us.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/icanmed/
Free face-to-face seminars: https://www.icanmed.com.au/workshop-dates/

 

 

No More UMAT, Welcome the New Medicine Entry Exam – UCAT

2018 is the last year the UMAT will be held. From 2019 onwards, medicine and dentistry will require the University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT).

The UCAT is the new admission test used by all the universities in Australia and New Zealand for their medical, dental and clinical science degree programs. This means that medicine and dentistry applicants for the 2020 intake must be advised that they will no longer be required to sit the UMAT but rather the new UCAT.

If you have sat the UMAT this year in July 2018, your score will be valid for applications this year. This was the last UMAT to be held and there will no longer be any more UMAT in the future.

For those applying in 2019 for the 2020 intake, you must register for the UCAT. Registration begins 1 March 2019. Testing takes place throughout July 2019.

Please note that the UCAT will be used for all universities that offer undergraduate entrance to medicine and dentistry. Some postgraduate universities will also use UCAT. Most universities have NOT yet updated their website to reflect this change. Here is a list of all the universities that will use the UCAT:

University of Adelaide
Curtin University
Monash University
The University of Newcastle/University of new England
The university of New South Wales
The University of Queensland
University of Tasmania
University of Western Australia
Western Sydney University
The University of Auckland
University of Otago

What’s the difference?

The UCAT is still going to be an aptitude test except now it is over TWO hours with FIVE sections. It is a computer-based test that cannot be paused for a break once started. The five sections to the test are done consecutively and you’re unable to jump between sections but have to complete them one at a time. There is a time limit for each section. There are some similarities to UMAT with the styles of questions given, however there are also some drastic differences.

For more information on how to begin preparation, check out our Beginner’s Guide to UCAT, which will be posted up shortly.

Why was UMAT replaced with UCAT?

A consortium of Australian and New Zealand universities have been discussing on a way to improve the old UMAT exam. They have recently decided to change it to the UCAT because they have deemed it more reliable in assessing the skills required for medical and dentistry students.

This information was only made public on Monday 24th September 2018 but the relevance of UMAT towards students successfully completing the medical degree has been in question for a few years and extensive research has been done. Take a read here for more detail into the research done:
https://bit.ly/2MZB4oT

What do I do now?

1. Watch out for incorrect information - There is already a lot of misinformation out there about the UCAT from a lot of private preparation providers.

2. Take note of important dates - 1 March 2019 is when registration for UCAT begins. Testing will occur throughout the month of July 2019. More information can be found on the UCAT website: http://www.ucatofficial.com/ucat-anz/

3. Keep up to date with the most accurate information – Our website will always display the latest information.

4. Follow us on Facebook – To be kept in the loop, join us here:  https://www.facebook.com/icanmed/