I’d recommend starting to prepare for the UCAT about 6 weeks before your test date and trying to stay as organised as possible with this. Not only will you feel more ready when it comes to test day, but it also means you won’t have to cram later on.
If you study a little bit every day and keep on top of it, your UCAT prep will NOT consume your entire summer and you’ll still have time to do other stuff!
When you start your UCAT preparation, you should create a timetable and decide on a time each day when you will try to study for the UCAT. I chose to work on UCAT in the mornings… this way, I knew that once I’d done it, I’d have the rest of the day free!
You might also want to tackle your UCAT prep at the time of day when your actual test will be, so that you can get used to thinking about the UCAT at that time. If you’ve booked your test for early morning, you might choose to prepare in the mornings, and if your test is in the afternoon, maybe prepare in the afternoon.
Another important thing with UCAT prep is to be consistent. If you’re consistent and start early enough, there’s no need for studying to consume your whole day. Dedicating 2-3 hours each day to UCAT prep should be enough if you’re making full use of those hours.
If you’re inconsistent and not willing to do a little bit every day, this means you’ll have to dedicate more time when you do study – and you might end up having to do some cramming closer to your test date.
When you’re preparing for the UCAT, make sure you remove any other distractions. You might want to set your phone to ‘do not disturb’ and you should avoid trying to multi-task, e.g. studying while watching TV. Distractions will only hold you up and increase the time you’ll ultimately have to spend studying.
Dedicate your whole attention to UCAT prep in the hours you’ve set aside for it each day. Then you can reward yourself afterwards by doing whatever you want!
To make your prep as effective as possible, you’ll need to work in a way that suits you and your needs. Many people find it useful to start by reading up on the UCAT and learning some strategies from a UCAT course before attempting any practice questions. Meanwhile, some people prefer to start by taking a practice test or by checking out a question bank, to have a go first before looking into strategies.
If you feel like you’re stagnating in your UCAT prep, don’t be afraid of changing direction to mix things up. You need to make the best use of your time, so there’s no point sticking with a study method that isn’t working for you.
This summer is going to be a busy one for your Medical School application, with UCAT prep and Personal Statement writing to make time for. But remember, if you start preparing early and make it count, you should still have time to enjoy your summer too!
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