UCAT Calculator: 6 Tips for Using the UCAT Calculator

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James Gibbons

Senior Writer

I know what you’re thinking, the UCAT Calculator is such a pain isn’t it? I found it a real challenge to get used to when I was revising for the UCAT so I’ve written a few tips to help you succeed in the 2022 UCAT ANZ.

UCAT Calculator Tips Infographic

1. Get familiar with the UCAT calculator

One of the key ways to both maximise your UCAT performance and your practise for the test, is to become familiar with using the on-screen UCAT calculator. The calculator may be required in both the quantitative reasoning and decision making parts of the test.

The UCAT calculator, while being a very useful tool, is slow to operate and does not have all of the functions of a scientific calculator. For these reasons it is crucial that you take the time familiarise yourself with it so that it does not take you by surprise on test day.

The easiest way to do this is to use UCAT official website. You can access the calculator from the official practice tests and use this when doing your own practice. Alternatively, the basic calculator on many smartphones is a good substitute too. It’s important not to rely too much on a hand-held scientific calculator as many of the functions these have won’t be available to you on test day.

You will also become familiar with the short cuts and using the keyboards and mouse to operate it. Together this will allow you to work quickly and accurately through the questions, allowing for you to get the best score possible.

UCAT Calculator
Practice using the UCAT Calculator

2. Learn the Shortcuts

To speed up using the UCAT calculator there are a number of keyboard shortcuts that are worth learning. These will help you to open the calculator and to move through the questions more efficiently. Although they may only save you a couple of seconds per question, this can add up to make quite a large difference over the course of the whole test.

Num LockBefore using keyboard
Alt + FFlag the question
Alt + PPrevious question
Control + COpen the calculator

Essential UCAT Calculator Shortcuts
Alt + SGo to Review Screen
Alt + EEnd Review
Alt + VReview Flagged Questions
Alt + A Review of Every Question
Alt + IReview of Incomplete Questions

Additional Shortcuts

3. Know when not to use it

Just as important as knowing how to use the UCAT calculator, is knowing when not to use it. A lot of the calculations you will be required to do are possible using just mental maths alone. If you can build up your mental arithmetic skills and trust yourself to use them over the calculator you can save time overall.

So, if you can do part (or all) of a calculation using your own mental maths this will again save you valuable seconds that may be otherwise wasted inputting the values into the calculator.

4. Brush up your Mental Maths

In the run up to the test it is also worth taking some time to brush up on your mental maths. Learning up to your 20 times table could prove to be incredibly helpful on test day as once again, knowing that 15 x 17 is 255 could save you ten seconds of time not having to input it into the calculator.

Mental Maths
Learn your Mental Maths

5. Know your Powers

One of the short comings of the onscreen calculator is that it does not have a squared, cubed or power function button. You’ve probably become accustomed to the easy power functions of a scientific calculator. One of the most common topics in the Quantitative Reasoning section is tax and interest questions, which can be difficult without power functions. To tackle this, it is useful to know your square numbers, again up to 20. Or if you are required to work out the cube of a number or more, then it is useful to use the memory functions.

Maths Powers

6. Use the Memory Functions

To use the memory function of the UCAT calculator, press the M+ button to add the number on the screen to the calculator’s memory. And then the MRC button to recall this number. In the case of doing powers this is particular useful.

So, for 17.85 you would type 17.8 and press the M+ button. Then type 17.8 x MRC x MRC x MRC x MRC to get the answer. Again, this is a function of the UCAT calculator that requires a little practice to get used to.

Memory on UCAT Calculator
Memory on UCAT Calculator

Bonus: Get used to the number pad

During practice, we recommend getting used to the number pad on the right. Once you’re used to it, its a much faster typing method. If you’re practicing on a laptop, it might be worth getting a separate keyboard or heading to your local library to practice using this.

UCAT Calculator

Let’s do some practice!

First thing you need to do is open the UCAT calculator which you can do by clicking here

UCAT Calculator

Question 1:

Calculate 17.8 to the power of 5

  1. Type 1.035
  2. Press M+
  3. Click x then MRC then x then MRC then x then MRC then x then MRC

Question 2:

Melons cost £1.20 each. Apples cost 54p each. What is the price of buying 14 melons and 22 apples?

  1. Calculate 1.20 x 14 = 16.8
  2. Click M+
  3. Calculate 0.54 x 22 = 11.88
  4. Press + and then M+

Final Note

I hope you found those tips useful! If maths is a weakness of yours and you want some extensive preparation, take a look at our online 1-1 tutoring and learn from UCAT experts who have scored in the top 10% themselves.

Try UCAT Tutoring today:
UCAT Tutoring

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GeorgeMedic Mind Tutor

11 May 2020

Really great article!

XhengMedic Mind Tutor

11 May 2020

Hi there, thanks for the tips they’re really helpful – When do you recommend using the calculator, as I find it really hard to use


OllieMedic Mind Tutor

11 May 2020

Hi there, I’m on your 1-1 tutoring program, we use the calculator in the lessons and it’s really useful! Do you have any other advice?

AnonymousMedic Mind Tutor

11 May 2020

Amazing content keep it up guys