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UCAT Preparation Guide 2022

UCAT Preparation Guide 2022

UCAT Preparation
UCAT Preparation
Colette Tolley
2nd-year Medical Student at University of Oxford
May 20, 2022

Can I prepare for the UCAT?

The most important thing to know about the UCAT is that you CAN prepare for it. UCAT preparation is one of the most significant parts of your Medicine application journey. It is a common misconception that the UCAT test can’t be revised for, but this is simply not the case, and with practice your score can improve greatly. In my case, I improved from my first practice score to my final ‘real’ score by over 700 points.

If you want to learn how medical students get really high scores on the UCAT, I would recommend an advanced course. Check out the UCAT Crash Course or the UCAT Masterclass. You can do 1000s of practice questions but if you don’t know the strategies and techniques you could miss out on maximising your score.

Another thing you need to do before getting stuck into preparing and revising for the UCAT, is to look at universities you want to go to, so that you have a rough idea of the score you need to get, and how much weight they place on UCAT scores for interview selection – so you know what you need to be aiming for. 

UCAT Preparation Checklist

  • Book your exam date

2 months before your test

  • Get as much free material you can to start your preparation
  • Ask your college mentors for advice
  • Start practising questions at your own pace
  • Identify sections you struggle with the most
  • Book a course to help you with your UCAT preparation

1 month before your test

  • Intensify your UCAT preparation
  • Practice questions under the real UCAT conditions
  • Spend most of your time practising sections you struggle with

What practicalities should I think about?

1) Set a date for the exam and book it! – Make sure that the actual exam date doesn’t clash with end of year exams or any holidays, and also that you’ll be able to fit in enough revision time in the run-up to the exam. Setting a date will give you a fixed target and goal to work towards. To book your exam date, follow this link.

2) At home or a test centre? – In 2022 the UCAT, is going to be delivered in the testing centres

3) Should I pay for online courses to help? – We are a little biased as we have online courses. However, our students do score significantly higher than the national averages, so we think our courses are worth the investment.

4) Be aware that you do need to pay to be able to sit the UCAT – There is a bursary scheme if you need help with this.

5) UCATSEN – Make sure if you need additional support you apply for the correct UCATSEN and submit necessary supporting evidence before you try to sit your exam. Find more about UCATSEN in this article.

Read our article Everything you need to know about the UCAT to find all the practicalities.

UCAT Crash Course

Live and interactive UCAT teaching from expert mentors

UCAT Masterclass

Live online course to help you achieve the top percentiles

How much time should I spend on the UCAT preparation?

Treat UCAT preparation as you would any other revision for a proper school subject. Timetable in specific revision slots at least a month in advance of your exam date, with increased revision frequency closer to the exam date. Hopefully you will know what time of day works for you in terms of revision, and I would advise taking the same approach as you would with revision for school exams.

If you know that procrastination or distractions are a problem for you during revision, it might be worth pre-empting these. Apps which can block certain websites, timed revision sessions and finding a good study environment will all help to improve your UCAT score.

How to prepare for the UCAT?

Start by taking some time to go through the UCAT website so that you get a good understanding of the test structure and how it will be marked.

Practice the UCAT exam conditions

My advice would be to do an initial full exam in exam conditions, having not done any revision, to see where you’re at. Don’t worry if it’s a “bad score”, this is just a starting point you can use to guide your study. If it is clear that you’re already really good in one area, then you know you don’t have to revise this area as much and vice versa.

Don’t avoid sections you struggle with

It is up to you whether you either decide to focus on one type of question at a time until it has sufficiently improved, or if you want to vary your revision and revise different types at the same time. If you’re unsure, you could always start with just revising one type at a time, but if you find you’re becoming too fatigued or distracted then it might be worth mixing it up a bit.

The most important thing is to not avoid the areas you find difficult, as these are the ones you should be focussing on! That will be the most important part of your UCAT preparation.

After this, it is a case of practicing as much as you can. For practicing individual types of questions, you can find lots of question banks. I would recommend using UCATs free online question banks and pairing with a paid course like the UCAT Crash Course or Masterclass. This balance of learning advanced strategies and repetition will be key.

UCAT preparation books

Your school or public library will probably have at least one UCAT Preparation book which I would recommend loaning out, or if not, you can get cheap second hand UCAT books online. The UCAT website itself has full papers which can be done when you feel you have sufficiently revised all the individual parts. I would recommend doing at least one full paper once a week so that you can track your progress and see if there are any areas of weakness.

Be aware that the UCAT used to be called the UKCAT, so some older resources will refer to this, the exam has changed a few times so it’s worth working through newer resources before older ones, but the old ones are still good as the questions and sections of the exam are of a similar style.

Try group revising

If you are part of a group of friends who are all taking it, you could have a weekly check in with each other, or a group chat to see how you’re all doing and discuss any difficult questions you’ve come across and work through them together.

As with any revision, make sure you take regular breaks and don’t overdo it! 

What should I do before/during/after the exam?

The normal advice still applies for the night before an exam, try to get to bed early, eat breakfast, wear comfortable clothing and double check you have everything you need before you leave the house.

During the exam don’t stress, you have more time than you think you do, and you’re well prepared for this! Don’t dwell on a question for too long, if you don’t immediately have an answer then flag it and move on so you can come back to it at the end of the section.
Be aware that time isn’t transferred over from one section to another if you finish it early, so there’s no point trying to rush through one section to get more time on another. The best thing is to just concentrate on the section that you’re on, and worry about the rest later!

If you have time left at the end of a section, I would use that time to check over any flagged questions and take a moment to stretch, take some deep breaths and relax before moving on to the next section.

After the exam, you will get the results straight away and you can check the UCAT website to see how your scores compare to the other candidates’.

To sum it all up, UCAT preparation is essential on your journey to Medicine. Don’t believe anyone who tells you that you can’t prepare for the UCAT.

Good luck! And stay positive, remember practice makes perfect.

SCORE 750+ ON THE UCAT

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