The UK Clinical Aptitude Test (UKCAT) is a test that is beginning to be used in the selection process by a consortium of UK university Medical and Dental Schools. It is run by the UKCAT Consortium in partnership with Pearson VUE. It was first introduced in 2006, and will remain in test mode for some years beyond this date.

The test is designed to give information on the candidates' mental abilities, as well as attitudes and possible professional behaviour. The test is expected to start helping universities make more informed choices between medical and dental applicants in the years to come, once the test has been fully validated.


The UKCAT is designed to be a test of aptitude and attitude, not academic achievement. The latter is already demonstrated by GCSEs, A-Levels, Scottish Highers or undergraduate degrees. It attempts to assess a certain range of mental abilities and behavioural attributes identified as useful. These mental abilities include critical thinking as well as logical reasoning and inference.

For candidates sitting the examination in summer 2008, the UKCAT consists of five subtests:

* Verbal reasoning - assesses candidates' ability to think logically about written information and arrive at a reasoned conclusion.
* Quantitative reasoning - assesses candidates' ability to solve numerical problems.
* Abstract reasoning - assesses candidates' ability to infer relationships from information by convergent and divergent thinking.
* Decision Analysis - assesses candidates' ability to deal with various forms of information to infer relationships, to make informed judgements, and to decide on an appropriate response.
* Non-cognitive Analysis - identifies aspects of each candidate's personality and character in order to determine their suitability for a career in medicine or dentistry.

The entire test is delivered by computer. Candidates are able to use a calculator provided on the computer for simple arithmetical operations and a white board for taking notes.

Including warm-up time (time allocated to reading the instructions) the test is delivered in two hours. Each of the subtests is in a multiple choice format and is separately timed.

Content and preparation

There is no curriculum content as the test is designed to probe innate skills. These include basic arithmetic, reading and writing ability, along with character, and personal and social attitudes.

Past papers are not available. There are however specimen questions on the [ UKCAT] website. All candidates are urged to read this attentively. However the UKCAT Consortium specifies"The UKCAT does not contain any curriculum or science content; nor can it be revised for". So "Preparation is not necessary, desirable or advantageous". Indeed the Consortium says that for the 2007 edition it has placed questions such that it can cross check whether candidates are replying honestly or are giving prepared answers.

The clear advice from the UKCAT Consortium on not to worry about preparation however has not prevented a few commercial companies from imagining what might be the content of the UKCAT. So the 2006 introduction saw some attempts to launch fee-paying courses for UKCAT candidates.

Usefulness and controversies

The UKCAT Consortium specifies"Every university uses the UKCAT result as part of a well-rounded admissions policy in which several other factors also carry considerable weight."That said, the universities in at least several instances (University of Leeds, Newcastle University) have indicated that for now, UKCAT will play a very small role in selection, until it has been properly validated. In particular, several universities (University of East Anglia, University of Sheffield) have indicated that they are waiting until 2009 in order to correlate the results of third year medical exams with the UKCAT scores of the first cohort to have undertaken the test in 2006.

The usefulness of non-cognitive tests remains hotly disputed; see for example the [ BMJ] or the [ SBMJ] . The use of such tests in the USA SAT, GRE and so on for university selection has for a long time been very controversial. As a result, they are often used to discriminate just between borderline candidates.

Participating universities

For 2009 entry, the UKCAT must be taken by all applicants applying to study medicine or dentistry at the following university Medical and Dental Schools:

*University of Aberdeen
*Brighton and Sussex Medical School
*Cardiff University
*University of Dundee
*Durham University
*University of East Anglia
*University of Edinburgh
*University of Glasgow
*Hull York Medical School
*Keele University
*King's College London
*University of Leeds - not for Dentistry Undergraduates
*University of Leicester
*University of Manchester
*Newcastle University
*University of Nottingham
*University of Oxford Graduate Entry Medical Degree
*Peninsula Medical School
*Queen Mary, University of London
*University of Sheffield
*University of Southampton
*University of St Andrews
*St George's, University of London
*Queen's University Belfast
*University of Warwick Graduate Entry Medical Degree

ee also

*BMAT - the Biomedical Admissions Test. This is similar to the UKCAT, and is required as part of the applications process to Oxford, Cambridge, UCL and Imperial College medical schools.

External links

* [ Official website of UKCAT]

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