You have from the beginning of July to the beginning of October to take your UCAT – so think about when you actually have time to prepare for it.
If you know when you go back to sixth form you’ll be busy with coursework and other projects, consider doing your UCAT in the summer holidays so you’re not worrying about combining it with school.
If you know you have a family holiday in July, don’t plan to do your UCAT a few days after you get home – you won’t want to be revising on holiday and you won’t want it hanging over your head either!
If you’re the sort of person that spends all of their summer holidays out with friends and aren’t willing to give up the small amount of sunshine we may have, perhaps consider doing your UCAT once you’ve gone back to school.
Thinking about when to plan your UCAT with respect to when you’re going to be applying for universities is also important.
It might be that you’re uncertain of what sort of score you’ll get in the UCAT, and that’s likely to influence which universities you choose to apply for, so doing your UCAT earlier rather than later may be better to give you enough time to plan your application.
Remember you may want your summer to involve a job, work experience or other projects, and that may mean you don’t have the time you want to dedicate to revision.
This is why it’s important to establish just how much time you think you’ll need for preparation, and schedule this around the plans you already have.
Want to see all registration and test dates for UCAT? Visit our UCAT guide.
2. Have a look at the style of UCAT questions
The UCAT website has plenty of revision materials and practice tests and there are plenty of courses, books and websites that can show you the sorts of questions to expect.
Have a good look and spend some time working on them before you make any decisions – only once you’ve spent some time doing a few questions can you accurately gauge how long it’ll take you to get comfortable with them.
The UCAT Consortium suggests around 21-30 hours of revision – whilst the questions are not as difficult as A-Level tests, they’re also in a format most are unfamiliar with.
Some sections will contain questions that are entirely new to you, so whilst the actual skills might be right up your alley, the wording or choices might throw you, and being aware of this before you even start revising allows you to allocate your time properly.
Studies suggest that those that take the UCAT earlier on in the test season do better. If you book earlier, you can rearrange the test as you need depending on whether you feel prepared enough or not.
If you’ve done the test, you don’t have to worry about your score any more as you can’t change it – so once everyone starts talking about the score they want and the revision they’ve done, you can sit back, comfortable in the knowledge your score is set and you’ve picked the universities most suited to that score.
Dates closer to the end of the testing season tend to get booked quickly, so don’t leave it too late. And don’t forget that if you have a slot at the end of the season and don’t feel prepared, you might not be able to rearrange the test – so it might be easier to have it earlier in the season so that you can rearrange if necessary.
If you are worried about your AS results being suitable for medical school, consider putting off your test until after results day. You don’t want to have a test, only to realise applying this year might not be in your best interest and you’ve wasted your money.
If you’re semi-confident, mid-summer is probably best to get maximum revision time and a good summer break, and if you’ve been revising since April and are entirely prepped, the earlier the better so you can focus on the rest of your summer and application!
When should you sit the exam? How long is your score valid for? If you have questions about the test, visit our UCAT FAQs page.
4. Get your revision materials
If you know you work best from a book but haven’t got access to one yet, don’t book a test for a time in a few weeks – you want enough time to get comfortable with the revision material as well as the content.
You might want extra time to try a variety of revision strategies, whether that’s practice tests, questions in a book or going through questions on the website in exam conditions, so make sure you leave enough time to familiarise yourself with the revision techniques that work best for you.
Want to know more about the UKCAT to UCAT switch? Read more on our UKCAT to UCAT page.