How to Conquer The Situational Judgment Test on UCAT

How to Conquer The Situational Judgment Test on UCAT

The common statements about the Situational Judgement section of the UCAT are “I can’ t seem to finish on time!” or “whenever I’ve found an answer, I realise I’ve spent far too long already.” 

This is more or less the same issues with the other subtests that have passages associated with them. And the SJT is a pretty big test where you have only 26 minutes to answer 68 items!

Let’s get into the details of how to attack and conquer this subtest!

How to Conquer SJT


    • 26 minutes to answer 68 items so it’s quite quick.
    • You have roughly 30 seconds to read each scenario and 10-15 seconds to answer each question.
    • Scored from band 1 to 4. Band 1 is the best.
    • 21 scenarios each accompanied by 2-6 items
    • Drawn from real-life clinical and teaching experiences and situations
    • The only section which requires true revision and memorisation ahead of test day –  read up on principles of medical professionalism

Question types

  • Type 1 

Type 1, also known as “Appropriateness questions” forms just over half of the items in the SJT subtest. It essentially assesses whether someone’s response to a scenario is appropriate, inappropriate, ideal, or not ideal etc. 

  • Type 2

Type 2, also known as “Importance questions” forms just under half the items of the subtest. You must decide whether factors are important or not when deciding how to respond to a scenario.

Both of these question types have 4 answer options that remain constant for each question type. With enough practice, band 2 and band 1 are easily achievable.


Read the scenario first – to understand the conflicting scenario properly, you must read it thoroughly first. This allows you to look for a specific answer or keyword and also avoid skipping vital information.

Choose a side -Always have confidence to pick a side.  Many students fall into the trap of always going for the middle-ground options but the majority of answers is usually on one side or the other. 

    • A and D are correct around 70% of the time, therefore, choosing a side is the best strategy most of the time. 
    • There are partial marks and no one knows how they work, however it is likely that if you chose the correct side, you will receive partial marks. 
    • If the negative consequence is severe, choose D, else choose C.
    • If the positive consequence is 100% patient-centred, and preserves public trust in the profession choose A, else choose B.

Good Medical Practice

The GMC released a document 7 years ago called the Good Medical Practice Framework. This document essentially outlined what it means to be a good doctor.

SJT questions are loosely based around this framework, so we will summarise the key point of the document.

1) Doctors and medical students must not do anything to undermine public confidence and trust in the profession.

 They must act promptly in situations where public confidence in the profession is at risk.

This includes lying about results, holding back information to protect themselves, calling out a colleague in front of a patient, and giving advice without being well informed themselves.

All these things may harm public perception of the profession and may lead to a decreased quality of care for the patient.

2) Doctors AND medical students must never act or imply they have knowledge or expertise beyond their actual level of knowledge and experience.

This ties into the previous rule because if a medical student gives incorrect advice to a patient and that patient is negatively affected, the whole profession will be tarnished in the eyes of that patient. 

Even more importantly, giving incorrect advice can do harm to a patient depending on the advice that was given. This is the opposite of your role because patients are at the centre of care, and should always benefit from the advice given, not suffer from it.

3) Doctors and medical students should seek advice from a colleague or supervisor if they are unsure of the best course of action.

Seeking advice is almost always going to be a positive and appropriate action. The only way it will be inappropriate is if you were seeking advice with a much higher authority than necessary, or seeking advice right in front of the patient. 

4) Doctors and medical students should seek local solutions to problems that arise wherever possible and practicable.

Never go straight to the director of the hospital first. This seems obvious but it has to be said. IF you have a falling out with a colleague or a fellow student, try and sort it out at that level first before escalating. If you had a falling out with your siblings, you wouldn’t just take them to court immediately! The same applies to the medical field.

Leave the higher authorities and resources for the people that need them, and only go to them when you have exhausted your local options and it is absolutely necessary.

If it involves a criminal case, then that is obviously a reason to go to the authorities. If someone is stealing medication, you might not need to go straight to the authorities until you get more information from people locally available.


These are just some extra pieces of information to help you understand the various expectations of a newly qualified doctor.


  • Caring for the patient is your first concern
  • Work within and recognise limits of competence
  • Keep your knowledge up to date


  • Take immediate action if you think patient safety, dignity or comfort is compromised
  • Promote the health of patients 


  • Treat patients as individuals with respect and dignity
  • Work with them and listen to their concerns
  • Make sure they understand the information you give them
  • Support patients in allowing them to care for themselves

Maintaining trust

  • Act with integrity, open and honest
  • Never discriminate unfairly against patients or colleagues
  • Never abuse patients trust in the profession
  • You are personally accountable for your professional practice so you must be prepared to justify your decisions


Ruth is a patient with long-term heart problems and a very high body mass index (BMI). Isaiah is a first-year medical student who asks Ruth to spend 30 minutes talking to him about her medical histories as practice for his upcoming exams. While discussing her family history of high cholesterol and blood pressure issues during the interview, Ruth makes several harsh comments about a junior doctor on the ward, who is rather overweight.
How appropriate is the following response by Isaiah in this situation?

Ask the doctor supervising his work on the ward what he should have done at their next meeting

Hopefully, you’ve now got a good grasp of the principles you must remember in order to get a good SJT score. One question isn’t however going to do it! Continue practising questions on our totally free question bank! I update it every so often while I work on a full test interface for you guys! Happy practising!

Do you want some extra UCAT tips?

Get a list of 20 secret UCAT tips used by the best students to improve their scores on test day!


  1. Deborah

    You are amazing, Josh!!!! I was wondering if you have any advice for abstract reasoning

    • UCAT_admin

      thanks so much! appreciate you using the site! Abstract reasoning is the tricky one that some people struggle to revise for but surprisingly most people will score in mid to high 600s.

      Doing as many questions as possible is my biggest advice. Medify has the best AR question bank in my opinion. Focus on type 1/4 as this is the majority of question types you will see. You will start seeing patterns crop up the more questions you encounter. In the exam, don’t panic if you cant see a pattern, go with your gut and just move on. Try not to skip too many as they add up.

      You’ll be fine as long as you remain calm and check for all the common sequences ie number of items, positioning, intersections, lines of symmetry, colour, sides, relative position etc.

      Have a quick look at the abstract reasoning page for more detailed tips if you haven’t already.

      All the best, Deborah!

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