Amount of Time To Prepare for Each Subtest ?

amount of time to prepare for each UKCAT subtest

I was asked by a subscriber how much time should be spent preparing for each UKCAT subtest. For a step-by-step guide on preparing for the UKCAT check out the 2018 edition of my UKCAT Study Guide, the 2017 edition was bought my 1-in-7 candidates that took the exam last year. The guide includes a FREE 30-day Study Plan to help with structuring your preparation. However, in this article I will deep dive into the amount of time you need to prepare for each section of the UKCAT. 

The UKCAT is split into 5 sections, namely; verbal reasoning, abstract reasoning, quantitative reasoning, Decision Making and Situational Judgement (STJ). All except STJ are marked out of a total of 900. A common mistake candidates make is that they practice questions with no clear strategy. You need to think of  time as a resource the moment you book the test. Spending equal amount of time preparing for each section  is a BAD idea. what’s worse is not structuring your time at all! it will most likely result in a low or mediocre score as candidates fail identify weakness and assess progress. So how do you figure out the amount of  time to spend preparing for each section of the exam?

“The UKCAT recommends spending around 21-30 hours in preparation for the UKCAT. This is the amount of preparation done by the highest scoring respondents to their surveys.”

Do not get bogged down on the amount of time you need to spend preparing for the exam, what’s more important is the quality of your preparation, with the right approach you could effectively achieve 1 month preparation in 2 weeks if you work smartly.

The first step involves identifying your weakest subtest,  I recommend attempting the official practice questions – the aim of this is to rank the UKCAT in order of difficulty based on your performance.  Once I identified verbal reasoning as my weakest subtest I spent most of the time improving my skill. I spent roughly 25 hours preparing for the verbal reasoning and about 5 hours on Abstract Reasoning, which was my strongest subtest. That is 5 times preparation time on my weakest subtest. The table below shows a full breakdown of my preparation for all 4 subtests.

SubtestStrengthAverage Time Allocated To Prepare (Hours)
Verbal ReasoningWeakest 25
Quantitative Reasoning2nd Weakest 15
*Decision Analysis2nd Strongest 10
Abstract ReasoningStrongest 5

Notice the less amount of preparation on the more confident  subtests. Please note that the Decision Analysis subtest no longer features in the UKCAT test, it has been replaced with the Decision Making Subtest which will not contribute to the overall score for 2016 candidates, universities will not get a score for this subtest – you can refer to the UKCAT website for further details. I would recommend preparing for Decision Maling but making it the least priority.


 If you spend hours working on an area you’re already good at, you may improve your performance from 800 to 850, a 6.25 percent increase but if you spend the same number of hours working on an area you’re not so good at, you may improve your score from 400 to 600, a 50 percent increase.

Take the time to identify your weakest subtest first, it is the most important step.  You can learn the technique I used to identify my weakness and the entire preparation strategy I used in achieving a UKCAT score in the 90th percentile in my ebook for only £2.99.  



About theukcatblog 114 Articles
My name is Michael and I'm a Pharmacology graduate from the University of Manchester, I was able to improve my UK Clinical Aptitude Test (UKCAT) score from 2400 to 2840 in 3 months and get offered a place at Warwick’s graduate-entry medical programme.