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The UKCAT test is changing

Students wishing to apply for medicine at university will be required to undertake an aptitude test to help the university make an informed decision about offering applicants a place at medical school. It helps to ensure that the candidates offered places on medical and dental programmes have not only the right intellectual ability but also the appropriate attitudes and professional behaviours required to be successful in the career. The UKCAT is one of these aptitude tests (another being the BMAT).

The UKCAT is required by medical schools at universities including Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Kings College London, Keele, Newcastle and the Norwich Medical School at University of East Anglia.

Candidates are required to sit the UKCAT by 5 October 2016 if they are intending to apply for entry in 2017 (or deferred entry in 2018). There is a charge to sit this test however bursaries are available for eligible applicants so it is worth checking this webpage – www.ukcat.ac.uk/ registration/bursaries/

For 2016 there will be a change to the UKCAT format. The test is still made up of 5 sub-tests but for 2016 a new ‘Decision Making’ sub-test will be piloted to replace the previous ‘Decision Analysis’ sub-test. The change is being made because it was felt that the old sub-test did not sufficiently discriminate between candidates and therefore the change will ensure a more robust aptitude test. For more information see: www.ukcat.ac.uk/about- the-test/test-format/

Because 2016 is a pilot year, the scores for the new Decision Making sub-test will not be reported in the overall scores.  This means that candidates in 2016, and the universities they apply to, will receive a total cognitive score which is the sum of the three remaining cognitive sections (Verbal Reasoning / Quantitative Reasoning / Abstract Reasoning). The score without the Decision Making sub-test will therefore range from 900 to 2700 (instead of 1200 to 3600).  Candidates, and the universities they apply to, will also receive a separate score for the Situational Judgement sub-Test.

This change will only affect results for 2016 candidates (2017 entry). From the following year, once the pilot has been successfully completed, the score for this sub-test will be reinstated. Medical schools who set UKCAT score thresholds will therefore be reviewing the minimum score they ask for and it is advised that applicants check university webpages for entry qualifications before they choose their four medical schools and one non-medical school options on UCAS.

Applicants are not advised to apply to medical schools where they have not met the minimum aptitude test threshold score. The Norwich Medical School at University of East Anglia does not set a UKCAT minimum score and will continue to select their applicants for interview based on a combination of prior academic achievement (GCSE and A level or equivalent grades and predicted grades), UKCAT performance and personal statement.

Remember that although many people say you cannot revise for the aptitude test, candidates can prepare themselves. Practicing the online tests will increase familiarity with the types of questions asked and will improve the speed and accuracy of reading the questions which is likely to improve overall performance. Candidates are advised to look at the preparation toolkit available on the UKCAT website and are encouraged to schedule in time for practice in the evening, weekends or during the school holidays.

Posted by Patricia Harris on Thu, 9 Feb 2017



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A graduate of Edinburgh Napier University, Patricia undertook her PhD research in the area of stress and retention of students within higher education. Patricia is currently the Outreach Academic Fellow for the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at the University of East Anglia. This role involves raising the profile of healthcare careers and increasing the aspirations of university study within groups of students who typically have lower participation. University can be stressful and Patricia works with the Faculty to equip students with the skills they need to be stress resilient. Patricia is also involved in evaluating attrition and improving retention.

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