How to save time with the UCAT Calculator (updated)

ucat calculator

A simple on-screen calculator will be made available to use in the Quantitative Reasoning (QR) and Decision Making (DM) subtests. I strongly advise you practice using it when preparing for the both subtests.

The UCAT Calculator looks like this (click here for simulator):

ucat calculator

Percentage: Use this function for calculating percentages

Divide: Use this function for division of one number by the other.

Multiply: Use this function for multiplication of two numbers

Subtract: Use this function for subtraction of one number by the other.

Add: Use this function to add two numbers together.

Equals: Use this button to get a result of a function (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and so on). The equals sign is also useful for getting around the calculator’s order of operations.

Decimal Point: Use this button to delineate decimals, like 3.45 or 2.3.

Square Root: Use this button to take the square root of a number. You must first enter in the number you want to take the square root of, then click then “root” sign

Positive/Negative: Use this button to toggle back and forth between positive or negative for a number.

Memory Recall/Clear: Has two function -To recall a stored answer, hit MRC. You can do this to begin a calculation (e.g. MRC – 8) or at the end of a calculation (e.g. 86 ÷ MRC). Second function is to clear the stored answer by pressing M- then MRC, you’ll know it was successful when the “M” disappears from the lefthand side of the display.

Memory Minus: Use this to store the negative of an answer for later use in calculations. An “M” will appear to the lefthand side of the display to show that answer’s been stored.

Memory Sum: Use this to store an answer for later use in calculations, hit “M+”. An “M” will appear to the lefthand side of the display to show that an answer’s been stored.

On/Clear: Use this to switch on calculator, clear the display screen or cancel a whole equation, For example, let’s say you wanted to divide 161 by 4, but accidentally put in “5” instead of 4, ON/Clear would get rid of the  entire operation so you would have to  retype in “161 ÷ 4”.

Tips for using the onscreen UCAT calculator

  • Don’t rely too heavily on calculator balance with mental math: Don’t use the UCAT calculator for simple math that would be quicker to solve mentally. Not only is it simpler to solve things like (4 x 8) or (2400/3) without going through the calculator, but it also cuts down on key strokes thus reduces the likelihood of you making a mistake.
  • Use the Computer Keyboard When Possible: Use the keyboard of the computer, rather than clicking each number/function, to save time. You should be able to use numbers on the keyboard enter in numbers to the calculator (although you may not be able to use the num pad).Similarly, you may be able to use other common shortcuts like *, -, /, +, =, and the return/enter key instead of having to click the functions on the calculator individually (and go back and forth between keyboard and mouse). The one limitation is that you can’t use the backspace, delete, or C on the keyboard to clear the calculator display.
  • Be Careful of Order of Operations: Keep order of operations straight by using  the equal sign. If all else fails, you can solve for one part of an equation at a time, write what that answer is on the white board provided in the exam, solve for the next part, write that down, and so on. But using the “equals” function speeds up the process tremendously.

For worked through examples grab your copy of the UCAT Study Guide.

Save time with the Onscreen Calculator

Let’s look at some common scenarios where you can use the UCAT calculator to save time:

Using calculator for multi-step percentage problems:

The percentage function is great for calculating percentages for problems where you have multiple steps.

Example: The population of Venezuelan refugees has risen in neighbouring countries due to the economic crisis in Venezuela. The refugee population in country A is 43% higher than the refugee population in Country B. The population of refugees in country C  is 50% of that in Country B. If number of refugees in country C is 127,000, what is the population of Venezuelan refugees in Country A?


This problem can be solved with 11 keystrokes…

example 1 keystrokes

Answer on display screen: 363.219999

Using calculator for Compound interest (or exponential problems)

The memory recall function is great for solving exponential problems like compound interest. The trick is to store the multiplier (e.g interest rate) in the memory.

Example: Amy bought a one bedroom  flat in London for £93,450. In the three years that followed it’s value appreciates by 8%. How much is the flat worth after three years?


example 2 keystrokes

Answer on display screen: 117720.086  

For more UCAT tips check out the rest of the blog and join our free UCAT Study Group. You can opt-in for our UCAT Virtual Tutor – 30-day Study plan designed to get you from zero to scoring in the top percentile within 30-days. For more in-depth exam strategies and actionable techniques grab our new UCAT Study Guide, includes 200+ exam strategies and techniques for each subtest.