The Ultimate UCAT Guide 2023
Learn about what the UCAT is and how Sri achieved a score of 3500
By Sri Bhogadi
North Sydney Boys High School
UCAT is no doubt one of the most stressful obstacle that stands in the way of gaining entry into most Australian medical or dental schools. Owing to the substantial demand for programs like medicine, dentistry, and select health science courses, the required Year 12 scores for admission have surged to exceptional levels. Consequently, universities have been compelled to explore alternative methods of selecting candidates for these programs. The UCAT (University Clinical Aptitude Test) was conceived to gauge qualities highly regarded in health professions, encompassing problem-solving acumen, empathy, and abstract reasoning skills.
Understanding the Significance of UCAT
The UCAT's importance in the admissions process is paramount, often carrying more weight than your Year 12 score in certain situations. It's essential to recognize that even with a flawless ATAR of 99.95, securing a place in a medicine program is not guaranteed at all universities. Some institutions, in fact, prioritize UCAT results over your final year score when determining eligibility for a medicine interview. Regrettably, many students underestimate the significance of UCAT and, in some cases, fail to adequately prepare for it. As a result, they miss out on the opportunity to pursue their dream course.
As a successful UCAT test-taker who achieved a score of 3500 (99th percentile), I personally recommend taking UCAT as seriously as HSC and spending at least 7+ hours a week as a minimum and even more during holidays and closer to the test date.
16 November 2023
North Sydney Boys
Learn how to tackle each question type and familiarise yourself with different styles of questions
Students eager to tackle the UCAT often make the fatal mistake of jumping straight into full mocks which inevitably leads to failure and demoralisation because they haven’t first practised and become familiar with the types of questions and the time pressure of each subsection.
UCAT is composed of five total subtests:
1. Verbal Reasoning
Assesses the ability to critically evaluate information presented in a written form.
2. Decision Making
Assesses the ability to make sound decisions and judgements using complex information.
3. Quantitative Reasoning
Assesses the ability to critically evaluate information presented in a numerical form.
4. Abstract Reasoning
Assesses the use of convergent and divergent thinking to infer relationships from information.
5. Situational Judgment
Measures the capacity to understand real-world situations and to identify critical factors and appropriate behaviour in dealing with them.
Each type of question within every subsection requires a certain strategy and at first, time must be spent mastering each and every question style within subsections under both timed and untimed conditions before attempting full-exam mocks. These strategies are not universal and in my personal experience, not all strategies that were recommended to me were great. Instead, I attempted to gather as much information as possible about different strategies and tried every strategy until I found one that worked best for me.
Recognizing and Addressing Your Weak Points
After you've taken a few full-length trial exams, it becomes evident where your weaknesses lie. Determine the specific question types that pose the most challenges for you, and if feasible, pinpoint any subcategories within those question types that you struggle with. Subsequently, focus your efforts on shoring up these weak areas by acquiring additional strategies through an in-depth exploration of questions and tackling as many practice questions of the identified type as you can.
Weaknesses are inherent to the UCAT. No student has ever gotten a perfect score of 3600 because realistically it is almost impossible to become ‘perfect’ at the UCAT. Therefore, improving weaknesses should more so involve workshopping each skill to allow yourself the best chance possible to perform well on the day of the UCAT which is what matters the most.
So what’s a good UCAT score?
The definition of a 'good UCAT score' is contingent on several factors, including the university to which you're applying, your rural status, and your academic standing (ATAR/GPA). As a generalisation, achieving a percentile rank above 95, equivalent to a score of around 3150, is recognised as a strong UCAT performance and usually meets the requirements for medical interview offers. For dental schools, the requirement is slightly lower, sitting at around 90th percentile ( a score of around 3000).
Moreover, at certain universities, if your academic ranking (GPA/ATAR) is lower, a high UCAT score may be necessary to offset this deficiency, and vice versa. Attaining a high UCAT score not only enhances your chances of admission but also allows you to secure a more competitive rank among the accepted students, offering various advantages. However, this requirement is more lenient for rural students, and it can fluctuate from year to year based on the demand for available slots since the number of positions is fixed.