It was definitely no easy feat going from 616 to scoring 735, and I know the UCAT is not exactly anyone’s favourite exam! With me being a grad, I have sat the test more times than I had ever wanted to. Here’s how I managed to improve from scoring in the fourth decile, to the top.
During my degree, I sat the UCAT each year, even though I wasn’t using the score. I prepared for each sitting like it was the real thing, and used each one like a ‘practice’ UCAT test. This really helped me improve my score as it allowed me to see what the exam was like, figure out what went wrong and improve on it for next time.
I appreciate the exam is expensive and not everyone has this option, but if you can at least save up (like I did from part-time jobs) to sit it once before the real thing, it will help take some pressure off. Also, not many people know about it, but if you can make use of the UCAT bursary, absolutely do so every time you sit the exam!
There does come a time where more UCAT prep ≠ higher score. I learnt this after scoring the lowest in the year when I prepared the longest. After a while, you get tired of practising so much and you can actually do worse.
My advice is to set the date of your exam at a time when you think you’ll do your best and remember that you might be able to move the date. Make sure you think about the time of your exam, too. If you’re a night owl, you’re not going to do so well with the 9 am slot. And if you’re an early bird, you won’t be at your best at 2 pm. Think about what you’re like at school and when revising.
For me, this was two months from when I started preparing. Once you’ve got the date planned, you should allocate a good chunk of time for prep, set an exam date, smash the exam, and enjoy the rest of your summer!
I can definitely say using keyboard shortcuts made a massive difference to my score! The amount of time this saves is so worth it. Spending a bit of time practising this before the exam will really pay off – make sure you try it on UCAT questions. Learning UCAT calculator tips helped my score in quantitative reasoning go from the high 600s to 890.
This is taught in the UCAT Course, alongside secret strategies for every section of the test.
It is so easy to spend time practising the stuff you know, and I’m guilty of this too. Even though it gives you a little confidence boost when you are practising, in the long run, this isn’t helping you get better.
For VR, my weakness was not that I was reading the text slowly, but that I was not reading the text properly and was missing information. I’m used to reading lots of thriller fiction books in one week but reading non-fictional extracts is a whole different ball game! To get better at this, I read random paragraphs of Wikipedia articles which had especially uninteresting content then I would try to summarise them quickly and accurately to see if I got the gist right.
I used a whole range of practice materials over the years but the ones that really helped me score 2,940 and get my place at medical school was using the Medic Portal tips combined with a whole lot of practice using UCAT Question Banks.
I made sure that I got into exam mode. I didn’t practice anything after about 4pm the day before my exam. I watched some shows I enjoyed on Netflix, had a nice dinner and got an early night. I also made sure I had everything ready for the next day.
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