MCAT

MCAT vs UCAT: A side-by-side comparison to help you choose

Updated on: Jul 17, 2023
MCAT vs UCAT: A side-by-side comparison to help you choose
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The MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) and UCAT (University Clinical Aptitude Test) are two different standardised tests that are often required for admission to medical schools in different parts of the world.

Whilst they both assess critical thinking and problem-solving abilities, they are designed to test different aspects of a student's potential as a medical student.

In this article, we will provide a side-by-side comparison of the two tests to help you choose which one to take.

MCAT vs UCAT: Key differences

Conducting BodyAssociation of American Medical Colleges (AAMC)Pearson VUE
PurposeAdmission to medical schools in the US and some international institutionsAdmission to medical and dental programs in the UK
Test FormatComputer-basedComputer-based
SectionsBiological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems, Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems, Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior, Critical Analysis and Reasoning SkillsVerbal Reasoning, Decision Making, Quantitative Reasoning, Abstract Reasoning, Situational Judgment Test
RecognitionWidely recognized for medical school admissions in the US and some international institutionsAccepted by medical and dental schools in the UK
Scoring SystemEach section scored on a scale from 118 to 132, with a total score ranging from 472 to 528Each section scored on a scale from 300 to 900, with a total score ranging from 1200 to 3600
FeesVaries by country and testing centreVaries by country and testing centre
Geographic FocusPrimarily United States and some international institutionsPrimarily United Kingdom
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MCAT vs UCAT

While both the MCAT and UCAT serve the purpose of assessing students for medical and health-related courses, they differ in various aspects.

1. Conducting bodies

The MCAT is developed and administered by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), a nonprofit organisation that represents medical schools in the United States and Canada. The AAMC is also responsible for the development and administration of other medical-related exams, such as the Medical College Admission Test-Canada (MCAT-Canada) and the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS).

On the other hand, the UCAT is developed and administered by the UK Clinical Aptitude Test Consortium (UKCAT), a partnership of universities and professional organisations in the United Kingdom. The UKCAT Consortium was formed in 2006 to create a common test for admissions to medical and dental schools in the United Kingdom.

Also read: MCAT score you need to get into medical school

2. Purpose

The primary purpose of the MCAT is to assess the critical thinking, problem-solving, and knowledge of scientific concepts and principles of prospective medical students. The test is designed to evaluate a student's readiness for medical school and is used as one of the factors in the admissions process by medical schools in the United States, Canada, and Australia.

The primary purpose of the UCAT is to assess the cognitive abilities, personal attributes, and behavioural competencies of prospective medical and dental students. The test is designed to evaluate a student's potential to succeed in medical or dental school and is used as one of the factors in the admissions process by medical and dental schools in the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand.

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3. Test format

The MCAT consists of four sections that assess different aspects of a student's knowledge and skills related to medical education. 

These sections are…

  1. Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems
  2. Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills
  3. Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems
  4. Psychological, Social and Biological Foundations of Behavior

Each section of the MCAT is timed and consists of multiple-choice questions that test the student's ability to apply scientific concepts and principles to real-world scenarios. 

The total testing time for the MCAT is approximately 7.5 hours, including breaks and tutorials.

In contrast, the UCAT consists of five sections that assess different aspects of a student's cognitive abilities, personal attributes, and behavioural competencies. 

These sections are…

  1. Verbal Reasoning
  2. Decision Making
  3. Quantitative Reasoning
  4. Abstract Reasoning
  5. Situational Judgement

Each section of the UCAT is also timed and consists of multiple-choice questions that test the student's ability to think critically, solve problems, and make decisions in real-world situations. The total testing time for the UCAT is approximately 2 hours, including breaks and tutorials.

Also Read: MCAT Exam Pattern and Syllabus

4. Recognition

The MCAT is primarily recognized by medical and health-related schools in the United States, Canada, and Australia. In the United States, the MCAT is accepted by all accredited medical schools and is a required component of the admissions process for most schools. In Canada, the MCAT is accepted by all medical schools and is a required component of the admissions process for some schools. In Australia, the MCAT is recognized by some medical schools and is used as one of the factors in the admissions process for these schools.

The UCAT is primarily recognized by medical and health-related schools in the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand. In the United Kingdom, the UCAT is accepted by all medical and dental schools and is a required component of the admissions process for most schools. In Australia and New Zealand, the UCAT is recognized by some medical schools and is used as one of the factors in the admissions process for these schools.

5. Scoring system

The MCAT uses a numerical scoring system ranging from 472 to 528, with a median score of 500. Each section of the test is scored on a scale from 118 to 132, with a maximum total score of 528. The scores are based on the number of correct answers and are scaled to account for differences in difficulty across test administrations. The MCAT provides percentile ranks that indicate the percentage of students who scored below the individual's score.

The UCAT uses a score range of 300 to 900 for each section of the test, with a maximum total score of 3600. The scores are based on the number of correct answers and are not scaled to account for differences in difficulty across test administrations. The UCAT provides band scores that indicate the student's level of performance in each section of the test. The band scores range from 1 to 4, with 4 being the highest level of performance.

Also Read: MCAT Score Guide

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6. Fees

The MCAT registration fee is $320 for test-takers in the United States and Canada, while the fee for test-takers outside of the United States and Canada varies by location.

The UCAT registration fee is £75 for test-takers in the United Kingdom and £120 for test-takers outside of the United Kingdom.

Also read: MCAT VS NEET: Which one is easier?

MCAT vs UCAT: Which one to choose?

Choosing between the MCAT and UCAT depends on your goals and career aspirations. The MCAT is required for admission to medical schools in the United States, while the UCAT is required for admission to medical and dental schools in the United Kingdom and some other European countries.

If you are interested in pursuing a career in medicine or dentistry in the United States, you will need to take the MCAT. However, if you are interested in pursuing a career in medicine or dentistry in the United Kingdom or Europe, you will need to take the UCAT.

Ultimately, the choice between the MCAT and UCAT depends on your career aspirations and the specific medical or dental schools you are interested in attending.

Conclusion

MCAT and UCAT are two standardised tests that are used to assess the knowledge and skills of individuals interested in pursuing careers in the medical or dental fields. The MCAT is required for admission to medical schools in the United States, while the UCAT is required for admission to medical and dental schools in the United Kingdom and some other European countries.

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Frequently asked questions

What is the MCAT?

The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is a standardised test used for admission to medical schools in the United States. The test is designed to evaluate a student's ability to think critically and solve problems in the context of medicine and healthcare.

What is the UCAT?

The University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT) is a standardised test used for admission to medical and dental schools in the United Kingdom and some other European countries. The test is designed to evaluate a student's cognitive abilities and personal attributes that are considered essential for success in healthcare professions.

Can I take the MCAT and UCAT online?

No, both tests are currently administered in person at designated test centres. The tests are proctored and require students to follow specific testing rules and procedures.

How long is the MCAT?

The MCAT is approximately 7.5 hours long, including breaks. There are scheduled breaks during the test, including a 10-minute break after the second section and a 30-minute break after the third section.

How much does the UCAT cost?

The UCAT registration fee is £75 for test-takers in the United Kingdom and £120 for test-takers outside of the United Kingdom.

Is the GRE harder than the MCAT?

The GRE and MCAT are different exams designed for different purposes. The difficulty of each exam can vary depending on an individual's strengths and preparation. Comparing their difficulty is subjective and can vary from person to person.

How hard is the MCAT?

The difficulty of the MCAT can vary from individual to individual, as it depends on factors such as prior knowledge, study habits, and test-taking skills.

Is the UCAT harder than the MCAT?

The UCAT and MCAT are distinct exams used for different purposes, with the UCAT being primarily used for admission to medical and dental programs in the UK. Comparing their difficulty is subjective and can vary depending on an individual's strengths and preparation.

Do UK medical schools accept MCAT?

Some UK medical schools accept the MCAT as an alternative to the UCAT for international applicants. However, the acceptance of the MCAT may vary among different institutions, so it is important to research the specific requirements of the medical schools you are interested in.

How hard is MCAT compared to NEET?

The MCAT and NEET are entrance exams used for medical school admissions in different countries (MCAT in the US and NEET in India). Comparing their difficulty is subjective, as they have different formats and focus on different aspects of medical knowledge and skills.

Is it better to do UCAT or BMAT?

The choice between UCAT and BMAT depends on the specific requirements of the universities and programs you are applying to. Some institutions prefer UCAT, while others prefer BMAT. It is recommended to research the requirements of your target universities to determine which exam would be more suitable for your application.

Can I study medicine in the UK without UCAT?

The UCAT is a common requirement for admission to medical programs in the UK. However, some universities may consider alternative exams or assessment methods. It is essential to check the specific requirements of the universities you are interested in to see if there are any alternative options available.

When to take the MCAT?

It is recommended to take the MCAT when you have completed the necessary prerequisite coursework and have had sufficient time to prepare. Most students take the exam during their junior or senior year of undergraduate studies or during a gap year before applying to medical school.

Who requires MCAT or UCAT?

The MCAT is primarily required for admission to medical schools in the United States and some international institutions, while the UCAT is predominantly used by medical and dental schools in the United Kingdom.

What does MCAT stand for?

MCAT stands for Medical College Admission Test. It is a standardised exam designed to assess the skills and knowledge necessary for success in medical school.

How many questions are in each section of the MCAT?

The MCAT is divided into four sections: Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems (59 questions), Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills (53 questions), Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems (59 questions), and Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior (59 questions).

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