Are you sitting the UCATSEN (previously UKCATSEN)? On this page we speak to Teddy, who sat the UCATSEN, about her top tips on sitting the exam.
Sitting the UCAT is incredibly daunting but if like me, you sit the UCATSEN (formerly UKCATSEN), this fear can be instantly doubled. I have ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia and dyscalculia – but just because you think differently this doesn’t mean a good score is out of reach!
When I first started my UCAT revision, I was often tearful and very stressed but I made it through using my own methods (combined with techniques from The Medic Portal’s UCAT Course) and in the end I came out with a 763. So let me tell you about my preparation, the real test and tips you can use!
UCATSEN: Start Practising Early
Firstly, start preparation early. I allowed six weeks of preparation time, which meant if I had a day where my brain decided not to work, I could just take the day off – which was majorly important in preventing me from totally losing my mind!
You can contact Consortium and request different screen colours to be activated to help you – for example, I had pink and it was super useful.
UCATSEN: Verbal Reasoning and Dyslexia
The Verbal Reasoning time limit gave me heart palpitations for all six weeks of revision. I remember reading the text and it just not going in. Reading the questions first and trying to find the key words in a block of text with dyslexia is unrealistic (I struggle to read instructions at the best of times).
My advice here is to skim read the whole paragraph only reading the key words of each sentence. I found missing out the connectives really useful to get the gist of what the text was about (hint: they often ask you to pick a statement that best summarises the text!).
Another technique is to read the opening paragraph and then the last one or the summarising line to get a feel for the tone of the text – for example, if it is critical or explanatory.
Guess and flag! I often found a really wordy text about 4 or 5 stems in. This is designed to hold you up. The flag is your new best friend: leave nothing blank and guess each question before moving on, by reading and choosing one that sounds plausible. I found reading just the answers I could often eliminate one of them just guessing (although this isn’t at all guaranteed!).
UCATSEN: Decision Making and Dyslexia
As for Decision Making, practise makes perfect. For the wordy “does the conclusion follow?” questions, go with your gut feeling. I found the more times I read the paragraph the more I questioned the meanings and read the words wrong (a classic dyslexic mistake) and wasted time!
UCATSEN: Quantitative Reasoning, Dyscalculia and Dyslexia
With Quantitative Reasoning, my dyscalculia and dyslexia really proved an issue. The Medic Portal was the closest representation to the real test for me and I found the amount of information was pretty accurate.
Although a lot of questions can be done mentally, don’t be afraid to use the calculator! This was my saving grace for percentage changes and there were a lot of them in my actual exam! Rather than waste time wondering if you need the calculator, become familiar with which style of question you need it for and go for it! Again, if you’re struggling, use the guess and flag function and come back to it.
UCATSEN: Abstract Reasoning and Dyspraxia
My dyspraxia really threw me with Abstract Reasoning. My biggest piece of advice here would be to do as many patterns as you can during your six weeks of prep time; the more patterns you see the more likely you’ll recognise them in the exam.
Write down the patterns you struggle with or get wrong. I kept a wall of post-it notes with different patterns on them! Begin by looking at the simplest box. I found that when I couldn’t spot a pattern immediately it was often an arrangement one, which makes sense with dyspraxia (I’m not saying this is a rule, it just seemed to be the ones I frequently missed!).
This is a really good example of knowing where your weaknesses come in. For someone sitting the UCATSEN, I found so many points were gained by knowing what my weaknesses were and allowing for them.
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