Top UCAT tips and tricks in 2022
- Start Early
- Be Organized
- Ask Others
- Practice, Practice, Practice
- Time Management
- Don’t waste your time on questions you can’t answer
- Stay calm
- Gut instinct
- Practice reading
The first major UCAT tip I would give is to start early. I can’t stress this enough, as it certainly helped me. This doesn’t need to be excessive, obviously.
Speaking from experience, I waited to get my AS level results first before beginning my preparations for the UCAT. This ensured I was totally focused on the task ahead, with reasonable expectations and I wasn’t wasting my time. I recommend preparing for 4-5 weeks for the test. Also, book your UCAT exam date as soon as possible. You can do so here, and you can find more information on booking a test here.
Make a plan and try and stick to it. Consider making a revision timetable when preparing for the UCAT. It can be as simple as 30-60 minutes a day, focusing on a different section each day. This ensures you’re adequately prepared for all of the sections.
During your preparations, you may also find that you excel in some sections but perhaps struggle with others. Take this into account when preparing, and consider spending more time on the sections you don’t feel as confident in. This will help you in the long run, i.e., on the day of the test.
This is invaluable. Get talking to students in your year group and those in the year above, or even medical students.
This is a good way to get insight on the UCAT and how best to prepare. If you are in the fortunate position to have others in your year group applying for Medicine, talk to them. They’re likely feeling exactly the same as you.
Form a study group and go through practice questions together if that helps you. This is a personal preference, but I definitely recommend going for it if group study works for you.
Practice, Practice, Practice
This is on top of my UCAT tips list. It is possible to access free UCAT questions on the web, or alternatively, you can buy a UCAT question book from eBay/Amazon etc. Consider asking at your school/college if they have any books that you could borrow.
When I did the UCAT, I used the book “Get into Medical School: 1250 UKCAT Practice Questions”. I found this pretty useful, but don’t feel inclined to buy one. There are many free question banks now available online, which is super handy.
The UCAT has also developed an app that contains random quizzes and question banks. I recommend doing a few practice tests close to the time of your test. This will allow you to practice under exam conditions. It also allows you to identify areas for improvement.
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I have to be honest; this was the most difficult part of the test for me. However, if you work through the questions at a consistent pace, you will be absolutely fine.
Don’t spend a long time on each individual question, as this will waste time. Don’t feel disheartened if you don’t manage to complete all the questions.
Time management also applies before the test. Look into where your test will take place, work out transport to the venue and BE ON TIME. There’s nothing worse than running late on an important day.
Easier said than done, right?
When you arrive at the test centre, take a few minutes to get mentally ready. This is different for everyone, of course. I usually take a few deep breaths and take comfort in the fact that I’ve adequately prepared, so all that’s left to do is to give it your best shot!
If you find it helpful, bring a family member or friend with you to help keep you calm. They obviously can’t sit the test with you, but I found it useful to have my mum walk to the test centre with me.
Don’t waste your time on questions you can’t asnwer
If there is a question that you are unsure of the answer for, flag it during the test. This allows you to come back to it at the end of the section for review.
If things don’t go to plan in these sections, there are plenty of other sections to pick up marks on.
Approach the questions calmly and confidently. Time management is key here; keep an eye on the clock to ensure you don’t run out of time. If you are cutting it fine for time, use your remaining time to make educated guesses to ensure you don’t leave any blanks.
Section-specific UCAT tips
I also recommend going with your gut instinct, as it is often the correct choice. Especially when it comes to Abstract Reasoning.
An approach that worked for me was to look at the different shapes to see if there was a pattern. It’s also a good idea to count the number of shapes as this may actually be the pattern. Look out for reflected shapes and assess for symmetry and positioning of shapes. If you struggle with this section, it’s a good idea to do more practice questions in this area, and it will soon click.
Unless you read at super speed, it is unlikely you’ll be able to read all the paragraphs in the Verbal Reasoning section in full anyway. So, give yourself the best chance of completing the questions by reading different articles as a part of your UCAT preparation.
Try newspapers or non-fiction articles, which should improve your reading speed.
Practice as much as you can before the test. Don’t worry too much, move quickly through the questions and keep your cool. You can do this!
Some of these UCAT tips may seem obvious to you. However, make sure you check them off during your UCAT preparation to make sure you give yourself the best chance possible.
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