The following is an excerpt from the Ace the UCAT Course e-book 2020, newly updated to take the 22 June 2020 announcement by the UCAT Consortium into account.
In 2020, students taking the UCAT to apply to UK universities will have a choice between sitting the exam at home or at a test centre.
There are 5 main factors to consider when making this decision: COVID-19, equipment, comfort with being watched through a webcam, disturbances, and internet connection.
The most important factor is COVID-19.
If certain characteristics or health issues make you particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 and you are trying to minimise contact with other people, then taking the exam at home would be advisable.
If you are living in a country where test centres will not be open for the UCAT due to government regulations, then you will have no choice but to take the exam at home.
If you are happy on health grounds to travel to the test centre and current government regulations will allow this, then you must consider further factors in your decision between taking the exam at home and taking the exam at a test centre.
In terms of equipment, the keyboard numpad which is present on desktop keyboards but not on most laptop keyboards will offer you an advantage when using the on-screen calculator, and a mouse will make you faster at moving the cursor and clicking compared to a laptop track pad.
If you do not have a desktop or cannot connect a mouse and external keyboard to your laptop, and are happy on health grounds to travel to the test centre, then you should take the exam at the test centre so that you can benefit from the mouse and numpad.
If you are confident that you have:
1) Somewhere quiet in your home where you will be able to take the test without disturbance,
2) a stable internet connection and
3) a desktop or laptop with an external keyboard and mouse, that passes the UCAT system test (https://home.pearsonvue.com/ucat/onvue)
4) And are comfortable being watched through your webcam,
then you should plan to take the test at home. This is because you are likely to feel less nervous and more comfortable if you take the exam at home.
If you do not think that you will have somewhere quiet at home where you can take the exam, are not confident in your internet connection, or are uncomfortable with being watched through your webcam, then you should take the exam at a test centre to ensure that you can focus better, without the worries of disturbances, internet connection problems or being watched too closely. However, it is advisable to still have a backup plan ready that allows you to take the exam at home, in case future changes in government guidelines prevent you from taking the exam at a test centre.
If you cannot travel to the test centre (so you have to take the exam at home) and do not have a desktop that passes the UCAT system test (https://home.pearsonvue.com/ucat/onvue), you should purchase a mouse and external keyboard to connect to your laptop.
Keyboard and Mouse:
Certain access arrangements may require that you take the exam at a test centre. You can find more details on this at www.ucat.ac.uk.