There isn’t a set amount of time you should take to prepare for the UCAT – and the ideal amount of prep time will vary from person to person. However, many students find that 6-8 weeks is a good timeframe, because you won’t be in a rush but you also won’t be studying for such a long time that you stagnate and burn out.
The 2023 UCAT testing period runs from 10th July to 28th September – and booking opens from 10th June. If you start creating your UCAT study plan with a particular test date in mind, this will give you something to work towards and help you stay focused.
You don’t necessarily need to have your test date booked in order to start your prep (particularly if you’re intending to take your test early in the cycle), but a rough idea of when you would like to sit your test would be helpful.
Before choosing your test date, it’s wise to get an idea of what the actual exam is like first by checking out the format and looking at some free practice questions.
Many people start out thinking they’ll be able to spend several hours every day preparing for the UCAT exam – but this is very optimistic and often just isn’t feasible.
When you’re making your UCAT revision timetable, begin by thinking about your normal routine and any other commitments you have during the prep period – then plan your revision around all of this. Don’t make your timetable first and then try to fit it amongst everything else, because you’ll only end up stressed with too much to do!
If you start your exam preparation early enough, an hour or two per day is fine to begin with. After that, you can escalate it to more hours per day if needed in the weeks leading up to your test. The UCAT test is important, but so are your other studies and commitments, so try to be organised and maintain a balance.
When you start preparing for the UCAT, it’s likely that you’ll find some sections of the test more difficult than others. For example, Verbal Reasoning is often the subtest where candidates score the lowest. It can be tempting to spend lots of time on your strongest areas while neglecting the harder sections, but you need to try and avoid doing this!
Once you’ve figured out where your strengths and weaknesses lie, make sure your UCAT exam timetable reflects this. You might want to devote an equal amount of time to each section in your prep, or it might be wise to spend more time focusing on the sections you’re particularly struggling with – especially when it’s getting closer to test day.
Remember that although you might have access to lots of UCAT practice questions (e.g. in a UCAT Question Bank), the number of full mock exams available is limited – so try not to rush through every UCAT practice test early on, because you’ll run out!
Spacing out the mock exams in your timetable will help you to monitor your progress and figure out your strengths and weaknesses at different stages in your prep. You should see an improvement in your UCAT score over time – and with a high UCAT score, you will boost your chances of getting into Medical School.
Once you’ve made your UCAT revision plan, don’t be afraid to change it if you get into your prep and find that the schedule isn’t working for you.
If you find that you learn better in longer or shorter sessions than what you’d originally planned, adapt your timetable to suit you. And don’t be afraid to take some time off every now and then! Your UCAT score won’t improve if you’re feeling burnt out and exhausted.
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