It was definitely no easy feat going from an average score of 2,464 to 2,940 in the UCAT – but plenty of practice helped me get there!
When I was studying for my degree, I knew that I wanted to apply for Graduate Entry Medicine. So I chose to start preparing for the UCAT during my degree and had a go at sitting the test years before it actually counted, seeing this as a practice run. It really helped me to improve my score as it allowed me to see what the test was like, figure out what I did wrong, and improve on it for next time.
Although practice is beneficial, I also learned that there comes a time when more practice does not automatically equal a higher score. After a while, you can get tired of practising so much – so it’s important to keep it sustainable and avoid burning out.
My advice is to book your test date for when you think you will do best, and remember that you can move it around if there are other slots available. I booked my test for two months from when I started my UCAT prep.
I can definitely say that using keyboard shortcuts made a massive difference to my score! The amount of time it saves is so worth it.
Spending some time practising keyboard shortcuts before the test will really pay off – you can try it with the official UCAT questions, or with a UCAT Question Bank. My score in Quantitative Reasoning went from the high 600s to 890 by practising with keyboard shortcuts like this.
Familiarising yourself with some UCAT calculator tips is also a good idea.
Try not to spend all of your time practising the stuff you know you’re already good at. Even though it might give you a little confidence boost when you’re practising, it isn’t really helping you to improve in the long run.
I worked out the parts of the UCAT where I was weaker (for me it was Verbal Reasoning and Abstract Reasoning) and tried to spend the majority of my time working on these harder questions.
For Verbal Reasoning, I found that my weakness was not that I was reading the text too slowly, but that I was not reading the text properly and was therefore missing information. Although I was used to reading lots of thriller fiction books in one week, I found that reading non-fictional extracts was a very different ball game. To get better at this subtest, I read random paragraphs of Wikipedia articles which had especially dull content – then I would try to summarise them quickly and accurately to see if I had understood the content correctly.
I used a whole range of practice materials, but the ones that really helped me to score 2,940 and get my place at Medical School were The Medic Portal’s UCAT Course tips and strategies, combined with lots of free UCAT practice questions. The official UCAT website also has plenty of practice tests and questions.
Make sure you take your personal preferences into account when booking your UCAT test. If you’re a night owl, you might not do so well in the 9am slot. And if you’re an early bird, you might not perform at your best at 2pm. Think about how you feel concentrating at school and when revising, and choose a time when you think you will tackle the exam best.
The day before, you should get into exam mode and try to stay calm. I stopped practising at about 4pm the day before my test. I watched some TV, had a nice dinner and got an early night. I also made sure I had everything ready for the next day.
To sum up, these are the key ways you can improve your UCAT score:
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