13 UCAT Keyboard Shortcuts That Will Boost Your Score

Updated on: December 10, 2023
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Written By Dr Ollie

Every article is fact-checked by a medical professional. However, inaccuracies may still persist.

UCAT keyboard shortcuts are a brilliant way to save time, increase your accuracy and ultimately achieve a higher score on the UCAT.

Although it may not feel like much, saving a few seconds with each shortcut really adds up over an entire UCAT exam.

Once you’ve learnt them, you’ll be able to fly through the exam without wasting time moving and clicking the mouse.

Here are the 13 keyboard shortcuts that allowed me to achieve an average section score of over 800 when I sat the UCAT:

Keyboard ShortcutAction
Alt + CBrings up the calculator
BackspaceClears the calculator
+ , – , * , /Addition, subtraction, multiplication, division
Alt + NNext question
Alt + PPrevious question
Alt + FFlags the current question
Letter KeySelects a designated answer
Alt + AReview all questions
Alt + VReview flagged questions
Alt + IReview incomplete questions
Alt + SReturn to review screen
Alt +EEnd review

Why UCAT Keyboard Shortcuts Are So Important

The UCAT is an insanely time pressured exam.

The individual questions themselves aren’t always that difficult- given enough time, you’d very likely be able to figure out every Abstract Reasoning relationship for example.

However, it’s the extreme time pressure that the UCAT sections put on you that makes the exam such a challenge.

This is exactly why UCAT keyboard shortcuts, that carve out a few seconds in the section each time you use them, are so important.

You may not feel like moving and clicking the mouse is really that slow, but trust me when I say using the keyboard is much quicker.

There is a bit of a learning curve, switching over from clicking buttons and numbers to using keystrokes, but once you’ve got the shortcuts committed to memory you’ll be able to blast through the exam with complete efficiency.

UCAT Calculator Shortcuts

Keyboard ShortcutAction
Alt + CBrings up the calculator
BackspaceClears the calculator
+ , – , * , /Addition, subtraction, multiplication, division

Some of the most important shortcuts in the whole exam relate to the UCAT calculator.

This is because they’re often some of the most used.

In a single Quantitative Reasoning question, you may have to carry out 5-10 separate equations.

Each one requiring you to enter numbers and operations into the calculator.

The first shortcut is that to bring up the calculator: Alt + C.

UCAT keyboard shortcut for bringing up the calculator

This saves you from having to navigate to the calculator button each time you need it.

The same shortcut, Alt + C, also closes the calculator once you’re done with it.

Once you’ve got it up, you can start entering numbers using the Numpad.

Don’t forget: Hit Num Lock on the keyboard to activate the Numpad. Otherwise, none of the numbers will work!

There’s nothing worse than typing in an equation only to realise none of your keystrokes have registered!

Now that you’ve entered some digits, you can also use shortcuts to avoid having to click on the operation keys.

Instead of clicking on add, minus, times or divide, you can use the shortcuts: + , – , * , /

UCAT keyboard shortcuts for the operation keys

So if you wanted to calculate 5×18, you could use the keyboard to type: 5*18

If you wanted to do 170รท5, it would simply be: 170/5

Once you’ve entered your equation, hit enter to calculate.

UCAT keyboard shortcut for equals

By using enter, you save yourself from having to click ‘equals’ on the onscreen calculator.

By using all the above shortcuts, you can operate the calculator entirely with the keyboard for the majority of things you’ll need to do in the UCAT.

If you make a mistake when entering numbers or operations, hit backspace.

UCAT keyboard shortcut for ON/C

Backspace is the same as clicking the ON/CLEAR button on a calculator.

It resets your input so you can start again.

Once you’re finished with the calculator, Alt + C will minimise it again.

UCAT Navigation Shortcuts

Keyboard ShortcutAction
Alt + NNext question
Alt + PPrevious question

In a UCAT exam with 225 questions, there’s one button that you’re going to hit at least 225 times.

The ‘Next’ button.

If you use a keyboard shortcut that saves you just a single second each time you use it, that’s nearly 4 extra minutes you’ll have to answer more questions.

The shortcut for moving on to the next question is: Alt + N

UCAT keyboard shortcut for next question

Get into the habit of using Alt + N as soon as you’ve hit an answer rather than moving the mouse all the way to the bottom right of the screen.

If you need to go back, the shortcut for previous question is very similar: Alt + P

UCAT keyboard shortcut for previous question

Using these two shortcuts you can flit through the exam, picking off easy marks and navigating to exactly where you want to be.

Again, it’s something that you really wouldn’t think adds up to much, but imagine how many extra marks you could get with an extra 4 minutes in some of the more time-pressured sections.

UCAT Keyboard Shortcuts To Flag Or Select Answers

Keyboard ShortcutAction
Alt + FFlags the current question
Letter KeySelects a designated answer

Effective use of flagging is one of the key techniques that will set an average UCAT candidate apart from an excellent one.

Instead of getting bogged down in a tricky question, after a set amount of time an excellent candidate will flag the question and move on.

If you’ve got time at the end of the section, you can then come back to these more confusing, flagged questions.

The shortcut to flag a question is: Alt + F

UCAT keyboard shortcut for flagging questions

You can even use shortcuts for selecting answers in the exam.

Depending on the platform you’re using to prepare for the UCAT, the shortcut for selecting an answer will either be just Alt + letter key or just: Letter key

For the example here, to select answer A, you could just hit the letter A.

UCAT keyboard shortcut for selecting answers

To select ‘Neither’ as an option, it would be the letter C.

There sadly aren’t any shortcuts for the drag-and-drop type questions, but for any of the standard multiple-choice ones you can use this method.

UCAT Keyboard Shortcuts To Review Questions

Keyboard ShortcutAction
Alt + AReview all questions
Alt + VReview flagged questions
Alt + IReview incomplete questions
Alt + SReturn to review screen
Alt + EEnd review

The final set of shortcuts I’m going to look at are those for reviewing questions.

You won’t use these shortcuts nearly as frequently as the others on the list, but they can still be handy to have in your back pocket.

UCAT keyboard shortcuts for reviewing questions

They can be used to quickly and efficiently review all the questions in a section, only your flagged questions, or only incomplete questions.

Alt + S will return you to the review screen and Alt + E will end your review and so finish the exam.

I’d recommend for each UCAT section, you go through as quickly as possible flagging and moving on from any question that seems to be taking too long.

If you manage to get to the end of the section with some time to spare, I’d then go back through reviewing all the flagged questions that I hadn’t had enough time for.

Just remember to put a guess down for every question you move on from in case you don’t have time to come back at the end!

Do Keyboard Shortcuts Work In The UCAT?

All the keyboard shortcuts do work in the real UCAT.

However, the test prep system you’re using will determine what shortcuts are active.

For example, if you’re using Medify, all the UCAT shortcuts from the actual exam should be replicated in their practice questions.

Everything described in the article above should work both in your mock exams and in the real test.

There may be other practice programs that don’t as accurately replicate the real UCAT’s shortcuts.

This means in your mock exams shortcuts that you try to use may not work even though they would do in the real exam.

What Keyboard Is Used For The UCAT?

The keyboard you’ll use for your UCAT will be provided by the test centre where you sit the exam.

If you’ve done your driving theory test, they’re generally very similar venues.

They normally have full-size computer keyboards, the type you might find at your school library.

Library computers which are ideal for UCAT preparation

An important point to note is that these keyboards normally have a separate Numpad, unlike the keyboards used for laptops.

Ideally then, you should aim to practice with a similar keyboard to get used to the number positions for lightning-fast typing speeds on the day.

If you don’t have one lying about, you could probably very easily pick one up from a charity shop or eBay to plug into your laptop for when you’re doing UCAT prep.

UCAT Shortcuts For Mac

If you are preparing for you UCAT using a Mac, you just need to bear in mind that for your exam you will be using a Windows computer.

Apart from this, the keyboard shortcuts for the UCAT on Mac are pretty much identical to those for Windows, except you just use ‘Option’ instead of ‘Alt.’

However, again the exact details of how the input translates to your onscreen prep will depend on what practice website you’re using.

Some may need you to press ‘Option’ and ‘Control’ or even just ‘Option.’

Have a play about and you’ll soon figure out how your particular prep website has configured their controls.

If you’re sitting the real exam online, and not in a test centre, here’s what the UCAT Consortium themselves say:

Shortcut key combinations in the OnVUE UCAT may differ for candidates using a Mac. Depending on your device/keyboard you may need to press additional keys together with the letter to get the shortcut to work (e.g. control + option + N = Next). We recommend you check these in the short sample exam as part of the System Test. If you find shortcut keys do not work, use your mouse or touchpad to navigate through the test.

I have heard some horror stories about UCAT shortcuts just not working at all for Mac users, so if at all possible I’d aim the take the exam on a Windows computer with an external keyboard.

What To Do If The Shortcuts Aren’t Working

If you’re preparing for the UCAT online and find that some or all of your keyboard shortcuts aren’t working, there could be a number of different reasons behind this.

It could be:

  • The browser you’re using to access the prep website
  • The device you’re using e.g. tablet or phone
  • The operating system on your device e.g. Windows vs. Mac

Have a bit of a play and see if you can figure out what is causing them to not function.

If you’re really stuck, it could always be worth reaching out to support from the preparation website you’re using to see if they can figure it out.

Final Thoughts

Effective use of keyboard shortcuts in your UCAT exam really can give your score a massive boost.

By being able to subconsciously press the right keys to bring up the calculator, move you onto the next question or review your flagged questions, you’ll really start to pull away from other candidates who waste precious seconds clicking through the options.

The key for your preparation is to just replicate test day as accurately as possible.

If you’re using a laptop, try and find an external keyboard and mouse to use for when you’re practicing.

Get used to the UCAT keyboard shortcuts and soon enough it will feel unnatural to use anything else.

About the author
After studying medicine at the University of Leicester, Dr Ollie now works as a junior doctor in London. His interests include medical education and expedition medicine, as well as having a strong belief in the importance of widening access to medicine.