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9 common UCAT mistakes to avoid

9 common UCAT mistakes to avoid

10 common UCAT mistakes to avoid
10 common UCAT mistakes to avoid
Holly Melvin
4th Year Medical Student at The University of Manchester, Instagram account: @that.girl.medic
July 2, 2021

Holly Melvin
4th Year Medical Student at The University of Manchester

July 2, 2021

This article will cover 9 common UCAT mistakes to avoid during your preparation and during the actual exam itself. Some of them may surprise you, and some may seem obvious to you. Either way, it’s best to be prepared and make sure you are not making one of these common mistakes!

You can also have a look at our other UCAT blogs such as UCAT Preparation Guide 2021 and UCAT – Everything you need to know in 2021.

9 common UCAT mistakes

  • Thinking you can’t prepare for the UCAT
  • Arranging the UCAT for straight after your exams in school
  • Not taking UCAT preparation seriously 
  • Wasting time revising for sections you’re already confident in
  • Forgetting to practice the situational judgement section
  • Comparing yourself to others 
  • Not reading the question properly
  • Rushing through one section to reach another faster 
  • Spending too long on certain questions  

Thinking you can’t prepare for the UCAT

I know I have already mentioned this in several of my other articles covering the UCAT. Please never think that you can’t prepare for the UCAT and that it just assesses natural/raw ability!!!!

It is a common misconception that the UCAT test can’t be revised for, but this is simply not the case. With practice, your score can improve significantly. 

In my case, I improved from my first practice score to my final ‘real’ score by over 700 points. By practising past papers and questions, particularly focussing on areas you may be struggling with, you can become much more familiar with the exam format and the kinds of questions the examiners like to ask and the kind of answers they want. 

So much in the UCAT is just about pattern recognition, which can be practised and learnt.

Arranging the UCAT for straight after your exams in school

Make sure that your UCAT exam date doesn’t clash with any of your end of year exams or any holidays. This is really important if you want to be able to prepare properly and do the best that you can in your UCAT exam. 

You need to be able to fit in enough revision time in the run-up to the exam for this.

Not taking UCAT preparation seriously 

Although this may seem similar to the first mistake, it is slightly different. Don’t be mistaken in thinking that just because you do well in your school exams, receive good grades, and may even be top of your class, you will automatically do well in the UCAT. 

All the UCAT candidates will be high performing students, so you have to prepare if you want to do well and better than them.

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Wasting time revising for sections you’re already confident in

This is a really easy trap to fall into, especially when you’re having to revise for an exam that you are unfamiliar with, with no teacher to help guide your revision and learning. 

Whilst it may well be comforting to revise a section you are excelling in (for example quantitative reasoning if you like maths), practicing this section won’t secure you any more points the more times you practice. Although it’s tough, you need to push yourself out of your comfort zone. Focus on practising questions and concentrate your revision on the sections you find toughest (for example, verbal reasoning if English isn’t your strong point). 

Forgetting to practice the situational judgement section

The Situational judgement section of the UCAT can easily be forgotten. Especially as it is graded differently and given a separate mark on your final UCAT score sheet you receive after your exam. 

However, it is really really important in influencing universities decisions on which candidates to accept for an interview and which ones to reject. If you do not score at least Band 2 on your situational judgement, you are very unlikely to receive interview offers. 

As I mentioned earlier, a lot of the UCAT is just about pattern recognition, and this is especially true for the situational judgement section of the exam. For many of these questions, if you’ve practised them enough, they will feel really familiar in the exam, and you will already know how the examiners want you to answer them before you’ve even read the answers!

Comparing yourself to others

Although this can be really easy to do. Especially if you know or are friends with people who are also applying for medicine, try your best to not compare yourself to others when revising for the UCAT. 

Everyone’s revision styles, tactics, strengths and weaknesses will be different. As long as you feel like you are working your hardest and planning your revision strategically, you’re doing the best to get the best mark that you can, and that’s all that matters.

Not reading the question properly

This is something you must be really used to hearing from your teachers at school, but they keep telling you about it because it turns out they’re right! 

Especially because the UCAT is such a time-pressured exam, it can be really easy to just skim through the question straight to the answers. Don’t do this!!! 

It only takes you a few more seconds to read through the question, and this is time well spent. Often you may already know what the answer should be before you even have to read through the options – saving you time in the long term.

Rushing through one section to reach another faster

This is another misconception people have when preparing for / undertaking the UCAT exam. Unfortunately, not using up all the time on one section does NOT mean that that time saved is transferred over to another section. So approach each section separately, and don’t be afraid of using all the exam time up if you need to.

Spending too long on certain questions

As I have mentioned before, the UCAT is a very time-pressured exam. Don’t allow yourself to become stuck on a question for too long. If the answer is not immediately obvious to you, there a few steps you should take. 

First of all, choose one option (choose the same every time for every question you don’t know) and then flag the question. If you have time, you can come back to it at the end of that section and finally move on to the next question!

All of these common UCAT mistakes we just talked about are very easy to avoid if you are aware of them. Please keep them in mind when preparing and sitting your exam. Good luck 🙂

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