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UCAT Parents Guide

Does your child plan to study Medicine?

Medicine is a respected and rewarding profession that allows them to pursue a secure, well-compensated career with the potential for lifelong learning and opportunities, whilst making a real difference towards people’s lives. As a result, it is one of the most competitive fields to enter. One of the primary reasons for this is that on top of the rigorous ATAR requirements, medical applicants are required to sit the UCAT ® exam and prepare for daunting medical interviews.

Understandably, the application process can be both bewildering and nerve-wracking for all involved, including the parents. Fortunately, there are many ways that you can provide the necessary support for your child.

  1. Undergraduate Pathway: The UCAT ® Exam
  2. UCAT ® Universities
  3. UCAT ® Scoring
  4. Supporting Your Child Throughout Their Journey into Medicine

Undergraduate Pathway: The UCAT Exam

There are 2 pathways into medicine in Australia - The Undergraduate & Graduate Entry pathways. The UCAT ® exam is purely focused on the Undergraduate pathway. For further details on the Graduate Entry Pathway, refer to our guide here.

The Undergraduate pathway is designed for ‘school leavers’ or students who completed their secondary education in the last 2 years (note that there are some undergraduate medical schools who now offer entry for ‘non-school leavers’ or those who have commenced tertiary study of some kind). This pathway requires the University Clinical Aptitude Test or UCAT ® exam, a standardised computer-based test that is used as a criteria by many Australian universities for entry into undergraduate medical, dental and clinical science degree programmes. The two hour exam is delivered at Pearson VUE test centres and assesses a range of abilities and behaviours that medical schools have identified as important towards practicing medicine and dentistry. The ultimate rationale for the UCAT ® is to identify the best applicants out of the already extremely competitive cohort of medical or dental school candidates.

Whilst the majority of medical schools require a UCAT ® score as a compulsory criteria there are some exceptions. You should always check with the separate university websites for the most up-to-date information on whether or not a specific programme requires UCAT ® scores.

Below is a list of courses that currently require the UCAT ® exam as part of their selection criteria in the 2022 admissions cycle.

UCAT Universities - Australia & New Zealand

Schools Programmes/Courses Application Dates
The University of Adelaide Medicine Dental Surgery Oral Health

SATAC applications open for 2022 on 2 August 2021.

Applications will close 30 September 2021.

Central Queensland University Medical Science (Regional Medical Pathway provisional entry to UQ)

QTAC opens from early August 2021.

Applications close 30 September 2021.

Charles Sturt University Dental Science Medicine Applications via UAC open August and close 30 September.
Curtin University Medicine

Applications via TISC open: 31 May 2021.

Applications close: 30 September 2021.

Flinders University Clinical Sciences / Medicine

SATAC applications open for 2022 on 2 August 2021.

Applications will close 30 September 2021.

Griffith University Dental Health Science

Applications are made via UAC, QTAC or directly to Griffith.

Application deadline: September 23, 2021.

La Trobe University Dental Science Applications are via UAC or VTAC for multiple courses or directly via La Trobe for one course.
Monash University Medicine

Applications via VTAC open on 2 August, 2021.

Applications via VTAC close 30 September, 2021

The University of Newcastle / University of New England Joint Medical Program (JMP) Applications via UAC close 30 September, 2021
The University of New South Wales Medicine Medicine Application Portal Deadline and UAC Applications close on 30 September 2021.
The University of Queensland Medicine (provisional entry pathway) Dental Science

QTAC opens from early August 2021.

Applications close 30 September 2021.

University of Tasmania Medicine

Applications open: 4 August 2021.

Applications close 30 September 2021.

The University of Western Australia Medicine Dental Medicine

Applications via TISC open: 31 May 2021.

Applications close: 30 September 2021.

Western Sydney University Medicine (Joint Medical Program)

Applications via UAC open 1 August.

Applications via UAC close on 30 September.

The University of Auckland Medicine Applications close on 1 October 2021 (domestic applicants and international first year applicants)
University of Otago Medicine Dentistry Closes on 1 May 2021 (Alternative category) and 15 September 2021 (HSFY and Graduate categories). Closes on 15 September 2021.

UCAT Scoring

UCAT ® Exam

(University Clinical Aptitude Test)

  • Cognitive

    • Verbal Reasoning

    • Decision Making

    • Quantitative Reasoning

    • Abstract Reasoning

  • Non-Cognitive

    • Situational Judgement

The UCAT ® exam is composed of 233 multiple choice questions. These questions are divided into five subtests which are each designed to assess different skills. These five subtests follow in a specific order and are described in further detail in the table below:

Section Description
Verbal Reasoning Assesses the ability to critically evaluate information presented in a written form.
Decision Making Assesses the ability to make sound decisions and judgements using complex information.
Quantitative Reasoning Assesses the ability to critically evaluate information presented in a numerical form.
Abstract Reasoning Assesses the use of convergent and divergent thinking to infer relationships from information.
Situational Judgement Measures the capacity to understand real world situations and to identify critical factors and appropriate behaviour in dealing with them

Upon completion of their exam, your child will receive a score for each subtest between 300-900. The scores for the first four subtests are added up to give a score out of 3600 with the score of the situational judgement test being left separate for universities to determine whether or not they will allow the score to contribute towards their application process. Soon after the exam, your child will receive an email about how to access their score.

Note that the results of the UCAT ® exam are only valid for 1 year - They don’t carry over to the next year. In other words, a UCAT ® score in 2021 can only be used to apply for courses commencing in 2022.

Key UCAT Dates

The UCAT ® exam runs across a month-long period, once a year. The dates below reflect the 2021 testing dates for commencement of studies in 2022.

Registrations for the UCAT ® exam open 1 March 2021
Registration Deadline 17 May 2021
Late Registration Deadline 31 May 2021
UCAT ® Testing Commences 1 July 2021
UCAT ® Testing Ends 11 August 2021
Results Delivered to Universities September 2021

Note that a late registration will incur an additional late fee of $85.

UCAT Fees

A summary of the test fees can be found below.

Tests taken in Australia or New Zealand $305
Concession Fee (Australia only) $199
Tests taken Internationally $380
Late booking fee $85 (additional fee)
Refund fee 15% of total test fees deducted

Note that the concession fee is only available to students who:

  • Hold or are listed as dependant on a current, signed Health Care Card (HCC)
  • Hold or are listed as dependant on a current, signed Pensioner Concession Card (PCC)

Note as well that there is a separate time window to apply for the concession fee - For 2021, this was:

  • Concession Scheme opens: 1 February 2021
  • Concession Application deadline: 10 May 2021

Refunds can also be requested by submitting a request before the deadline of 11:59pm AEST on 7 June 2021, with a refund fee of 15% deducted from the refund amount.

Supporting Your Child Throughout Their Journey into Medicine

Understanding the UCAT

In order to properly support students preparing for the UCAT ® exam, it is important to first understand its importance in the medical school applications process. For many universities, the UCAT ® score carries as much weight in your application as your ATAR. To put this into perspective, the total sum of Year 12 examinations and the intense hours of study behind these scores has as much importance as the score from the 2 hour long UCAT ® exam. Even with a phenomenal ATAR or even a star performance at the interview, a poor UCAT ® score could potentially outweigh these achievements.

Provide support

If your child is preparing for the UCAT ® , chances are they’ll be feeling the pressure of having to study for this external exam on top of their high school responsibilities and managing the work experience and interview skills necessary to ace university applications. It is important to remind them to take breaks from their studies and hang out with friends or just relax. Burnout is a significant concern and can result from the extreme stresses of the medical application process. Remember to remind your child to get the necessary sleep, exercise and diet that they need to mitigate their stress. Ultimately, these reminders can make a consequential impact on the improvement of their wellbeing and accomplishments.

Encourage consistent preparation and begin early!

Many students fail to finish the exam at all due to the intense time pressure, needing to complete 2 MCQs every minute. In addition to a high level of concentration and strong cognitive skills, the UCAT ® exam requires exceptional time-management to do well. As such, preparation is key and preparing for the UCAT ® exam requires consistent practice over time and a targeted approach towards identifying strengths and weaknesses.

Consistency and practice will give you the best chance of succeeding on the UCAT ® exam - This is where a study plan is essential. Planning study by month, by week, by day, and often by hour,is typically necessary to ensure that you’re well covered on all the sections of the UCAT ® exam, and allows you to achieve the necessary amount of question-based practice.

Whilst the UCAT ® consortium provides a small pool of questions and tests , their explanations are often short and poorly explained. Practice is essential towards working faster and increasing your accuracy for the UCAT ® exam. GradReady’s MCQ bank provides students with the opportunity to assess themselves and evaluate their weaknesses with our detailed explanations and test-accurate question types.

Further Materials & Resources

Now that you’ve got some background on the UCAT ® Exam, visit some of our other free resources to learn more:

  1. What is the UCAT ® exam?

    An introduction to the UCAT ® exam including which universities require the UCAT ®

  2. UCAT ® Structure

    A breakdown of the UCAT ® Exam, the different sections and what to expect for each one.

  3. How to study for the UCAT ® Exam

    Everything you need to know on how to study for the UCAT ® Exam, including tips for each of the five sections.

  4. UCAT ® Students Guide

    A comprehensive breakdown for students to get them started on their UCAT ® preparation.