As well as your A-Level results, if you want to get into the majority of medical schools then you will need to sit another exam as well. This is the UKCAT, or the UK Clinical Aptitude Test. the UKCAT may be in a format that you're not necessarily very familiar with, because it's a two hour exam, that you sit on the computer, so unlike the handwritten ones that you're doing for your A-Levels.

There are five different sections to it, and each section is very strictly timed. You don't get the chance to spend as much time reading and answering the questions as you want. It will automatically move on from one section to the next section when the time runs out.

You're going to start with Verbal Reasoning, this has 44 questions to answer in 21 minutes, a lot of questions there in not a lot of time. There are going to be 11 different blocks of text, 11 different scenarios, situations, that are going to appear, you're going to need to read that and then answering four multiple choice questions on each set. It's either going to be ‘True’, ‘False’, ‘Can't tell’ or it's going to be finishing off the end of a sentence, picking which of the options matches the sentence best. This is really time pressured because you have a lot of reading to do, a lot of comprehending to do and then a lot of questions to pick the right one from in only 21 minutes.

The Decision Making section is 31 minutes to answer 29 questions. Again, these are going to be multiple choice and it's more things like logic, more puzzles going on, working out which of the statements is correct or finding the best argument to match a situation.

Quantitative Reasoning gives you 24 minutes to answer 36 questions. And these are going to be maths questions but not always purely maths based, there's going to be logic and puzzle solving in there as well.

Abstract Reasoning is a very short section, with a large number of questions in there, you have 13 minutes to answer 55 questions. It's going to be things like which section does this shape fit into, which shape comes next. So you can't spend a lot of time thinking about time, you can't spend a lot of time reasoning about things, because you don't have a lot of time in this section.

And then lastly, the Situational Judgment Test. You have 26 minutes to answer 69 questions about what you would do in a situation. You're given a hypothetical situation where something has occurred and then you have to decide what your response would be, what would be the most appropriate and what would be the least appropriate thing that you would do in this situation.

None of the content that is going to come up is based on your A-Levels, there is no science or maths in there, it is all about reasoning, it is all about logic, it is about what you would do and how you think about situations. It is unlikely you will have come across anything like this before in school.

It is possible to prepare for this test before you sit it, there are lots of free questions available on the internet, there are lots of books and there are lots of courses that you have to pay quite a lot to go on.

The UKCAT test is sat online at specific test centres which are located all around the UK, and all around the world. You can book them from May until September. The first test is taken in July, the last test is early October, you have a couple of weeks after the last test date to get you a UCAS application in.

You cannot do this test within school, it has to be done at a registered test centre. Depending on where you sit the test or how early you sit the test, it's going to cost you between £65 and £115 to do this, there is a bursary scheme available and students who are eligible for free school meals or are in a few other situations can apply for this bursary, so that they don't have to pay to sit the test.

One of the great things about the UKCAT is that you get your results straight away, you can then take your results and compare them with what the universities are looking for, how much the universities take the UKCAT into account when they're doing admissions. So if you got a high score, fantastic, but if your score's slightly on the lower side then avoid the universities that say that the UKCAT is really important, or you need a really high score in the UKCAT, and you can adjust your applications accordingly. You're going to have two weeks after the last test date before your UCAS form needs to be in. Each section's raw results are scaled and last year the mean result was 2540, they are then going be sorted into deciles, or groups of 10%, so that you'll that if you're in the top 10% or if you're in the bottom 10%, and more importantly, the university will know whether you're in the top 10% or the bottom 10%.

There is no negative marking on this, so it is definitely worth putting an answer down for every single question.

Each section is going to be scaled to between 300 and 900 marks, so the Verbal Reasoning, the 44 questions are going to be scaled so that you get a score in between 300 and 900. The Decision Making, 29 questions are scaled so you get a score for Decision Making between 300 and 900. Quantitative Reasoning, 36 questions scaled, so you get another score between 300 and 900. And then the 55 questions for Abstract Reasoning will again be scaled between 300 and 900. The total score you will get out at the end will be between 1200 and 3600.

The situational judgment test, the last section, is going to be banded into four sections, band one saying that all of your responses were appropriate and you were doing the right things, band four saying that you weren't doing the right things, you weren't doing appropriate things in that situation. Not all of the universities take the situational judgment test into account.

You can only sit this once per year, and your test results are only valid for a year. Now unfortunately, you don't really get a choice about whether you have to sit the UKCAT because it is a requirement for university, so you have to do this, but it isn't like any other exam you've sat before so it is definitely worth trying to do as much preparation as you can.

Universities that require the UKCAT; 

University of Aberdeen

Aston University

University of Bristol

University of Birmingham

Cardiff University 

University of Dundee 

University of Exeter

University of Edinburgh

University of East Anglia UEA

University of Glasgow

Hull York Medical School

King's College London

University of London

Keele University

University of Leicester

University of Liverpool

The University of Manchester

University of Newcastle

University of Nottingham

Plymouth University

Queen Mary University of London

Queen's University Belfast

University of Southampton

University of St Andrews

St George's, University of London 

UKCAT Bursaries

A range of students will qualify for a bursary to cover the cost of sitting the UKCAT. You’ll need to provide evidence and you can apply via the UKCAT booking website. You can apply if you have received Free School Meals; a 16 to 19 Bursary; Education Maintenance Allowance; Further Education Discretionary Learner Support; the full rate Maintenance Grant from Student Finance; the full rate Young Students’ or Independent Students’ Bursary; Income Support; Job Seeker's Allowance; Employment and Support Allowance or Universal Credit. Or are from a family in receipt of Child Tax Credit; Income Support; Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance; Income-based Employment and Support Allowance; Universal Credit or Asylum Support.

Universities that rely heaving on the UKCAT; Some medical schools will look heavily at the UKCAT score before they decide to invite you for interview. The following school have in the past relied heavily on UKCAT scores. Aberdeen; Bart’s; Dundee; Edinburgh; Exeter; Glasgow; King’s College, London; Leicester; Manchester; Newcastle; Nottingham; Sheffield; Southampton; St Andrews;

University that don’t rely as much on the UKCAT; A few schools use other data in combination with the UKCAT to decide if to invite you for interview or not, some still have a minimum for the UKCAT scores. Birmingham; Buckinghamshire; Bristol; Cardiff; Hull York; Keele; Liverpool; Plymouth; Queens Belfast; St George; UEA;