The UK Clinical Aptitude Test (UKCAT) is a computer-based aptitude test for those who are
interested in pursuing a career in medicine in the UK. The test was developed to help admissions
officers determine whether you, the candidate, have what it takes to succeed in the field of
medicine. Over a period of one and a half hours, your reasoning abilities will be put to the test in
four key areas – verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, abstract reasoning, and decision analysis.
Each section of the test is scored on a scale from 300 to 900 points. Here is a quick breakdown of the
What is it: This section assesses your ability to comprehend written text and draw conclusions from
it. You will be given passages to read and four multiple choice questions to answer for each passage.
Why does it matter: During your career, you will often be required to use your verbal reasoning
skills to process information and arrive at the correct conclusions in a number of situations, such as
during your consultations with patients.
What is it: It shows the admissions officers how good you are with numbers. You will be presented
with numerical information in the form of tables, charts, graphs, etc. and problems that will test
your ability to interpret and compute that information.
Why does it matter: The field of medicine is scientific in nature. Any professional in the field of
science will tell you that without a strong foundation in mathematics, you won’t go far in the
What is it: It’s all about convergent and divergent thinking. This section tests your ability to come up
with possible solutions to a problem and converge on a solution that works.
Why does it matter: At times, you may have to perform a “differential diagnosis” (If you have ever
watched the show ‘House’, you will know exactly what I’m talking about) – given a set of symptoms,
you will need to come up with possible diagnoses and test each one for the best fit before treating
What is it: It tests your ability to make decisions in situations when not all the information is given or
when the information is not of the highest quality.
Why does it matter: As a doctor, you may be presented with incomplete medical histories of
patients, or information written in unfamiliar formats, and you will have to do your best to make
decisions based on that information.
At this point, you may be wondering how one prepares for such a test. The best way to do well is to
approach the test strategically. Because it is so time-intensive, you need to find ways to save time.
Develop a time-management strategy that works for you. This will come with practice. Focus on your
weaknesses and familiarize yourself with the question types that give you the most trouble. Doing so
will allow you to spot recurring patterns among those questions, so that you can develop ways to
tackle them efficiently and find short-cuts to answers, saving you a lot of time. If you make time-
management a priority in your preparation, you’ll be well on your way to getting at least an average
of 650 out of 900 points, which is enough to please the admissions officers at most universities.