The final section of the UCAT is the Situational Judgement Test. This is where you're given a series of ethical scenarios, and asked to rate or rank the appropriateness and importance of different responses.
According to the UCAT Consortium, the SJT section of the UCAT “Measures your capacity to understand real world situations and to identify critical factors and appropriate behaviour in dealing with them.” Essentially, this section looks at how you would think as a doctor and medical student and how this in turn affects the decisions you may make.
For the SJT section, you have 26 minutes to answer 66 questions that are related to a particular scenario. Each scenario can have up to 6 questions associated with it. This allows for around 23 seconds per question. Time pressure is reduced in this section but it is still important to keep track of time. Some questions may require less time than this while others may require more.
This section should not be taken lightly as even though it is not scored number wise, it is banded.
Bands are essentially a method used to categories how well you have responded to the scenarios you have been asked about. According to the UCAT, the bands means the following:
A lot of universities will take your band into consideration with many refusing applications with those who have a band 4. Ideally, it is best to score a band 1 or 2 to maximise your chances of getting into medical school. Since this is the last section you may be tired so take a moment in the instruction time to regain your focus for that last push.
Without further ado, let's look at how to score in the top 2 bands in the SJT section!
Some questions will ask you to rate the appropriateness of a situation, some will ask you to rate the importance of a situation.
Both of these types will provide a scenario before hand. Some of these will have either two or four answer options while others will ask you to pick the most and least out of three options.
As a general rule of thumb, when approaching appropriateness questions, I like to ask myself a quick question:
Do the positives outweigh the negatives?
If yes, I'd automatically be leaning towards A & B over C & D, and vice versa.
Now, to differentiate between A & B, I'd ask myself:
Are there any negative consequences at all?
If no, I'd choose A. If yes (but overall it's positive remember!), I'd choose B.
Similarly, to differentiate between C & D, I ask myself:
Are there any positives at all?
If yes, I'd choose C. If no, I'd choose D.
This process really helped me simplify the problem, especially when it felt overwhelming. From reading the GMC guidelines and over time, with practice, you'll get a good sense of what makes something a 'positive' and what makes something a 'negative. Once you've got this down, you can easily categorise your answers into A, B, C or D.
Generally speaking, options that are very appropriate include ones that are:
Importance questions can sometimes be a little difficult to get your head around.
A good approach to these questions is to remember these key points:
If you are someone who has scored a band 4, please do not panic. Whilst some universities will outright reject students with a band 4 score, others do not look at the SJT at all may still consider your application. Some universities do not normally look at SJT scores unless they are differentiating between 2 very similar candidates. So if you've scored a band 4, it's important to do your research into which universities will offer the best chance of acceptance. This resource by the medic portal outlines how much emphasis different universities places on the SJT.
It also worth noting that you can sit the BMAT to expand your options. This test happens after the UCAT, so if you don't perform well, there's still time to sign up and prepare for the BMAT to give you the chance of getting into universities that do not consider the UCAT at all.
Read the GMC good medical practice: https://www.gmc-uk.org/ethical-guidance/ethical-guidance-for-doctors/good-medical-practice
This guide is crucial in helping you understand the legal and ethical codes of conduct a doctor must abide by. In turn, it will allow you to understand the capabilities of a doctor in the situational judgment questions.
We have a bundle of FREE fantastic resources on Medmentor to help you prepare for your UCAT. Have a look under the UCAT section of our superhub.
Finally, make sure you do the practice tests on the official UCAT website to give you a good idea of what the test will be like on the day!
Author: Iqra Ali & Dr Latifa Haque
Editor: Dr Latifa Haque