Updated: Sep 27, 2020
By Salyha Mughal
As you may have figured, the UCAT Consortium have made some changes to everyone’s favourite exam, considering the recent implications of Covid-19. And no, I’m sorry to break it to you, but they’ve not been cancelled. So for now pack your summer plans away, because UCAT is still on the table. It just might be a much more familiar table now.
To avoid wasting your valuable revision time trawling though multiple websites, I’ve collated and simplified all the most current updates from official sources, so keep reading for everything you need to know about 2020 testing.
1. UCAT can be sat either at home or online
So as of two weeks ago, the smarts at Pearson VUE (who are responsible for the exam software) have designed an online version of the UCAT via their online service OnVUE. This is to alleviate the pressure on test centres which will either be closed, or won't have the capacity for the same number of candidates as usual, while enforcing social distancing rules.
So, you now have an option to either head to your local Pearson VUE Test Centre or sit the UCAT online, as long as you have the appropriate facilities at home (and good WiFi).
The home exam system is super simple, you’ll just have to follow these steps:
1) Book your test well in advance via UCAS and create an account with OnVUE.
2) On test day, be ready 30 mins before your appointment for check-in (if you are late you may not be able to sit the test).
3) Prepare your workspace and log-in to your account.
4) Run the exam to start the check-in process and an automatic system check will begin.
5) Verify your ID (they’ll use some cool Stark-like face mapping tech to make sure you’re the same person). If you’re under-18, a parent/guardian, with ID, also needs to be present during the online check-in.
6) Send photos of your surroundings to prove you are in appropriate test conditions, which are checked by your greeter (the people who check you in).
7) You may have to undergo an “enhanced check-in” with further checks of your environment, clothing etc.
8) You will join a queue (usually within 15 mins) to be connected to the next available proctor who will check your equipment.
9) Then the test will begin, and you sit it as normal.
10) Results will be available 24 hours after the test.
2. Your work space
If you decide to sit the test at home or in a private area, it must fit the following criteria:
Have a closed door
Free from disruptions
No one else can be present or enter the room
All posters or items on walls with text on them will be inspected
Desk must be free of any items or equipment, except what is permitted.
3. Preventing cheating online
During the exam, you’ll be monitored through your webcam and microphone, via the online proctor software (basically an online exam invigilator). You won’t be able to run any other program, while the exam is running and if you have any questions or issues, you can speak to the proctor via an on-screen chat option and they can contact you the same way. Footage of suspected cheating sessions will be reviewed by the UCAT Office and if found guilty, the normal consequences will apply.
You can check your laptop/computer will be appropriate for the exam by running Pearson VUE’s OnVUE system compatibility check.
Some additional rules include:
- Headphone/ear plugs are not allowed in the online exam
- Whiteboards are allowed (see below)
- No watches worn or in sight
- Only items on the Pearson VUE Comfort Aid List (such as medications/medical devices) are allowed.
Understandably, not everyone will be able to sit the exam at home, which is why the opportunity to attend a test centre is still available.
4. Whiteboards are now allowed!
Today, the UCAT Consortium released a new update stating that if doing the exam at home, you are allowed to use 130x50cm, plain, erasable whiteboard, and in test centres candidates will have access to note-boards and pens which is GREAT news (those of you familiar with the on-screen scratch-pad know what I mean)!!
You are also permitted 2 whiteboard pens and 1 eraser, all of which you would supply yourself. No other stationary/papers/tablets/boards etc are allowed.
5. Registration is later than usual
Registration for the exam usually opens in May, with tests starting in July. However this will be delayed about a month for 2020 tests. Please see timetable below for details of important dates and add them to your calendar!
It is highly recommended by the UCAT Consortium, to take your test early because if any issues occur you may need to reschedule your test for a later date.
Registration and booking opens from the 1st July until 17th September, with the test window open from 3rd August to 1st October. Also bear in mind, the UCAS deadline remains the same-15th October.
6. UCATSEN and access arrangements are still available (kinda)
Extra time will still be available, but other special arrangements (such as being permitted to leave the room) will only be for test-centre exams. Updates are still to be confirmed for 2020 testing, so keep checking UCAT website for further details for changes.
7. Test fees are as usual
You can still apply for the UCAT bursary to cover fees, if you need to. There is no difference in fees for either exam – both are £75* in the UK/EU or £125 if outside of the EU) and payable at booking time.
*prices are subject to change, double check on the UCAT website
8. There is no change in exam content
The test will remain the same, meaning both online and test centre exams will be the expected 2-hour test with 5 sections: verbal reasoning, decision making, quantitative reasoning, abstract reasoning and situational judgement. More information about what each of these involve is available on the UCAT website.
Have a read of our article UCAT Exam Tips for details and some great advice!
The on-screen calculator, on-screen scratch pad and keyboard shortcuts are expected to work as normal. It is recommended you familiarise yourself with these early on when practicing, in order to make the most of them to saver every vital second in the exam.
That’s all there is to the updated UCAT system, best of luck!
Be sure to check for updates here and via UCAT’s official social media:
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