Author: Holly M.
Fourth Year Medical Student
UCAT season is now in full swing, but there are some really big changes in how the exam is taking place this year compared to other years because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The main change being that this year, you can take the UCAT exam in your own home. There are some really strict rules and measures that you have to meet in order to be allowed to take the UCAT at home. It’s really important that you read up and make sure that you can meet these required standards, because if you reach the time of your exam and fail the inspection, you could lose your money and the opportunity to take the exam. For more details on this, you can read another article we have on the UCAT which goes into this in more detail, and I would also strongly advise visiting https://www.ucat.ac.uk and reading through all of their guidance in some detail. We also have tips on preparing for UCAT during a pandemic, how to use the calculator efficiently in the UCAT exam and many more!
This article is mainly focused on how to best use your whiteboard during the exam, which is something you are allowed if you’re taking the test at home, so this article is mainly aimed at those candidates. If you are taking the test in a test centre, then you will not be using a whiteboard but you will be able to use a notepad and pen which are provided by the test centre (so don’t bother bringing your own, as you won’t be allowed to take them in), and also the onscreen scratchpad. Some of the tips from this article will still be relevant to test centre candidates though, so do keep reading! As with all articles, make sure you have a pen and paper ready so that you take down notes about important information and tips you find particularly useful.
How do I know which whiteboard I should buy for my UCAT exam at home?
The first thing to note here is that you do have to buy your own whiteboard. The UCAT consortium is NOT providing whiteboards to home UCAT candidates. The simple answer to this question, is that you have to follow the UCAT consortium guidance on which whiteboard to buy, which is very specific. As I previously mentioned, if you don’t stick to the required standards, you won’t be allowed to take your test in your booked test slot, and this even applies to the size of your whiteboard.
In terms of the specific guidelines outlined by the UCAT consortium, you are allowed one whiteboard, no larger than 30x50 cm, up to 2 dry eraser markers, and 1 dry erase white board eraser. You are not allowed a whiteboard with any grid, background colour or markings, whiteboard spray, or paper towels, again I would check the UCAT website for all of the details.
If I were you, I would buy the white board well in advance of your exam date, so that you can do your practice exams using it, so you get used to what this will feel like. If you do decide to practice using your whiteboard before the exam, I would keep 2 whiteboard markers aside for your UCAT exam, so that they are full and won’t run out during your test. If you are ordering your whiteboard online, double check the delivery date to make sure that it will arrive before your test date!
How can I best make use of my white board during my UCAT exam?
Below are some useful tips about how to best use your white board both during your exam and during your revision. If you are unsure about anything specific relating to the guidelines, contact the UCAT consortium on any of their social media, and make sure to stay up to date with any new information and guidelines they may release. As I previously mentioned, some of these tips will be transferable to test centre candidates.
– Create your own shorthand to use in the exam. This is just a way of condensing words down so that you don’t have to write out the full word and waste time. For example instead of writing ‘with’, you can write ‘w/’. This could work well for all kinds of questions, but especially well for any ideas you have for the verbal reasoning questions and the abstract reasoning.
– Use coloured pens. The guidance isn’t clear in the UCAT consortium guide about whether you can use coloured pens during the actual exam or not, but I would suspect that you can’t. However, you can use coloured pens to your hearts content during your revision, and I would highly recommend it. You can create clearer notes for yourself on your white board, highlighting important information and then take a photo of your notes to save them. It’s also fun to do shorter quizzes on your whiteboard and then go through correct, and re work through answers you got wrong in another colour.
– During the exam, make sure you write your notes out clearly, as small as you can, and not randomly all over the whiteboard – you want to be able to use the space as effectively as possible, so that you don’t have to waste as much time wiping your white board clean between each question.
– During the exam I would also make sure to draw a box around any thoughts or working out you have done for a question you want to go back to, this way you won’t accidentally rub out all of your workings out and have to start again from scratch
– As with everything to do with the UCAT, the best way to get the most out of using the whiteboard is to practice, practice, practice! This way you can find what works best for you, how best you like to write out questions, which short hands you like best and how you like to keep information aside for later. Use your whiteboard to aid your initial UCAT revision, but don’t be scared to do full practice papers using your whiteboard, as this is what is required for you to do well in your exam.