Difference Between UCAT And UMAT
In 2019, universities in Australia and New Zealand adopted the UCAT (University Clinical Aptitude Test) in place of the UMAT (Undergraduate Medicine and Health Sciences Admission Test) for admissions to undergraduate medicine, dentistry and clinical science courses at selected universities.
This change reflected a new collaboration between the UMAT Consortium of universities in Australia/New Zealand and the UKCAT Consortium in the UK. Universities accepting UCAT scores as part of their admissions process are now referred to as UCAT ANZ consortium universities.
While the UMAT was a written examination with 3 sections all combined into 1 paper, the UCAT is computer-based exam and has 5 individual sections. The table below shows the differences between the sections on the two exams.
Other Key Differences
- Duration: The allocated time for the UCAT is 2 hours while the UMAT allowed for 3 hours of testing time.
- Content: The UCAT is significantly more content heavy, making it unrealistic to complete all of the questions thoroughly in the given time.
- Flexibility: You will have the option of sitting the UCAT on a number of dates throughout July.
- Delivery: The UCAT is a 2-hour computer-based test. Candidates will sit the test at Pearson VUE test centres located in Australia.
The Decision-Making section of the (UCAT) examines your critical reasoning and problem-solving skills. It incorporates charts/tables/graphs, summarised arguments, or statistical information and requires you to make the most logical rational decision based on the information provided. While some questions are multiple choice with only one correct answer, others will give 5 options where you will need to select one or more (yes/no). There are 29 questions with 31 minutes testing time.
Fraser’s Key Point (FKP) for this section: Get comfortable making tough calls. This section is all about testing your capacity to decide between a variety of difficult decisions to settle on the one you think most appropriate.
The Verbal Reasoning section (UCAT) is similar to ‘Understanding People’ (section 2 UMAT), where a text extract is presented with the questions requiring you to make certain inferences and empathetic conclusions based off the information in the passage. There are 44 questions required to be answered in 21 minutes.
FKP: Make sure that you are comfortable digesting slabs of text quickly and always trust your gut instinct on answers. If you second-guess yourself, you will lose precious time from attempting other questions. It is very unlikely you’ll finish this section, so choosing wisely which questions you spend your time on is a necessity.
The Quantitative Reasoning section focuses on numerical problem solving where you will need to work out the answer (likely with the use of keyboard shortcuts) from information given in an assortment of tables, graphs or charts. There are 36 questions with 25 minutes testing time.
FKP: Remember to brush up on your basic numeracy and arithmetic so that you’re able to do the required calculations as quickly as possible. Even though it seems like there are too many questions for the timeframe, with enough practice and a strong maths skillset, it is possible to complete.
The Abstract Reasoning section (UCAT) is similar to the Non-verbal Reasoning section of the UMAT (section 3) where you are given various types of questions involving categorisation and comprehension of abstract shapes and patterns.
You may be required to select the right shape to fill a space, or ’s or select a pattern that is out of place. The goal here is to test your ability to differentiate the significant information from the distractions. There are 50 questions in only 12 minutes testing time.
FKP: This section generally requires extensive practice and preparation, as the types of patterns and trends within the questions become more obvious once you’ve seen them a few times. To tackle the high volume of questions in this section, the best approach is to prioritise the questions types that you are best at.
Finally, the Situational Judgement section assesses your ability to make difficult decisions and react appropriately within varying and challenging circumstances. It is a measure of your capacity for quick thinking under pressure in real world scenarios.
Sometimes it will ask what you would do or how you would behave, other times what you noticed in scenario, or sometimes your perspective is on an issue (given that they will provide you with 4 possible perspectives). There are 66 questions in 26 minutes testing time.
FKP: These types of questions are employed very heavily across all forms of medical school selection due to their real-world-applicable nature. You don’t need to have prior medical knowledge, but you do need to have a sense of empathy. Show them through your answers that you are a person with integrity and resilience, who values collaboration and compassion. Read fast and do your best because this section is almost the longest section (time: question ratio) and arguably the hardest.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why Have These Changes Been Implemented?
- The move to a computer-based test ensures a more efficient and secure testing process
- A wider choice of dates and location allows candidates to have increased flexibility in sitting the test.
- The UCAT has been used to select students for admission to medicine and dentistry courses at the majority of UK universities since 2006
- The UCAT is designed to test a series of skills which are key to a student’s success in the university program and later, the clinic.
How Many Times Can I Sit The UCAT?
You can sit the UCAT as many times as you like. You are only permitted to sit the test once a year and scores will last for that year only.
How Is The UCAT Scored?
Due to the unprecedented nature of the UCAT in Australia, there is currently not any localised data on the previous scores of Australian students available. As a result, the only figures we are able to benchmark against are the UK national averages.
How Will This Impact My Applications?
The now digitalised UCAT makes your UCAT scores immediately available to you after you sit the exam. This means you can strategically apply to medical schools in Australia and New Zealand, with your UCAT score in mind. UCAT scores are automatically sent to the relevant universities in early November.
How Should I Prepare?
To ensure you are fully prepared for the UCAT, you should ensure you have prepared for each of the five subsections individually. To maximise your potential for success, you’ll need to identify your weaknesses and focus heavily on addressing them. To do this, it is recommended that you seek out individualised support from a UCAT specialist. There is a vast range of test preparation materials online- we recommend that you start with our free course.
The Biggest Mistake Students Make When Preparing
On the day the UMAT switched to the UCAT, there were a number of providers who simply retitled their existing resources without repurposing them.
This was highly problematic because although the test had fundamentally changed, the preparation materials and resources remained the same. This is why if you are choosing a UCAT tutor, it is crucial that you ensure that the resources and teaching methodology is specific to the new UCAT curriculum.
Furthermore, students that did well in the UMAT are not immediately qualified to tutor other students in preparing for the UCAT. At Fraser’s, we have had professionals, medical students and doctors study the UCAT material and develop their teaching styles in a way which is fully tailored to the new test structure.