I did around six weeks of UCAT preparation before sitting the test at the end of the summer holidays and I think this was a good approach.
It gave me the chance to do practice UCAT questions and mocks, while leaving enough time for me to relax during the summer holidays and revise some of my A level content. Starting earlier will help alleviate stress and help you to get a much higher score than you would if you cram revised for a few days.
It’s easy to want to do questions from the topics you are good at – but this won’t help improve your scores. Do a mock UCAT paper at the very start of your preparation to help you identify the areas that you are struggling with in terms of subsections.
As you move along, try to identify the specific areas you are struggling with. For example, I struggled with drawing conclusions questions in verbal reasoning. Once you’ve identified your weakest areas, focus on doing questions from these sections. This will help you to develop strategies to tackle these difficult questions and will help to improve your score.
On the surface, it looks like verbal reasoning will be the easiest section as most people think it looks similar to comprehension questions that you will have done at school – but it’s the section people usually score lowest in! It’s important not to neglect revision for this section – so make sure you use practice verbal reasoning questions.
This is an extremely time-pressured section, which means you need to practice speed reading. I did this by trying to speed read newspaper articles and summarise what I read but there are also apps that can help improve your reading speed. Ensure you read the question carefully as the wording can be quite subtle and you don’t want to misinterpret the question. Also, remember not to bring in any of your own outside knowledge of the subject matter as you should only be using the information provided in the passages to answer the questions.
You’ve heard the saying a million times before, but I can honestly say that practice does make perfect, particularly when it comes to the UCAT. My main source of questions was the UCAT official website as these are most representative of the questions you will face on test day. On the website, you can find mock papers as well as questions for each subsection.
I also attended a Medic Portal UCAT course, which I think helped to improve my score as I learnt strategies to help me tackle some of the more difficult question types. As I did more practice questions, I saw my scores increasing and I achieved a high score on test day. Doing practice questions and mock papers helped to make me more comfortable with each of the subsections and ultimately helped improve my score.
Although I scored highly, I think I could have benefited from doing some things differently. I wish that I had saved some more mock papers to do at the end. This would have helped me to be more test-ready as I found that I was having to do single practice questions in the last week rather than full mock papers. I would recommend saving two mock tests to do on the final week, so you can keep the momentum of taking a full test.
I also recommend not finding out the scores of your friends or other people on the internet before taking your exam as it can make you feel quite anxious. I remember looking on an online forum and seeing people achieving these incredibly high UCAT scores and panicking because I felt that I wouldn’t be able to achieve those scores. Don’t compare yourself to others and instead focus on achieving the best score you possibly can, because at the end of the day all you can ask for is that you try your hardest.
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