I did around six weeks of UCAT preparation before sitting the test, and I think this was a good approach.
It gave me the chance to do plenty of practice questions and mock exams, while also leaving enough time for me to relax during the summer holidays and revise some of my A-Level content. Starting earlier will alleviate stress and help you to get a much higher score than if you crammed for a few days before your test.
It might be easy to focus on the sections you’re good at – but in the long run, this won’t help you achieve a good overall score.
Try to identify the areas where you’re struggling the most. For example, I struggled with ‘drawing conclusions’ questions in Verbal Reasoning. Once you’ve identified your weaknesses, focus on learning tips and developing strategies to tackle them. This will ultimately help you to improve your score.
On the surface, it might seem like Verbal Reasoning will be the easiest section, because it looks similar to comprehension questions that you may have faced at school. However, it’s the section where people usually score lowest! It’s important that you don’t neglect revision for this section, and make sure you follow Verbal Reasoning tips to avoid common mistakes.
Verbal Reasoning is an extremely time-pressured section, which means you’ll need to practise speed reading. I did this by speed reading newspaper articles and then summarising what I had read. There are also apps which can help improve your reading speed.
Always read the question carefully, as the wording can be quite subtle and you don’t want to misinterpret the question. Also, remember that you shouldn’t bring in any of your own outside knowledge of the subject matter. You should only be using the information provided in the text to answer the questions.
You’ve heard the saying a million times before, but I can honestly say that practice does make perfect when it comes to the UCAT.
Doing a UCAT course taught me useful strategies to tackle the different sections. After that, doing lots of practice questions made me more comfortable with the test and certainly helped to improve my score. As I did more practice, I saw my scores increasing and ultimately managed to achieve a high UCAT score on test day.
Although I scored highly, I still think I could have benefited from doing some things differently.
For example, I wish that I had saved some mock exams to do at the end of my prep. This might have helped me to feel more test-ready, because I found that I was having to do single practice questions in the last week rather than full mocks. I would recommend saving two mock tests for the final week before your test, so you can keep the momentum going.
I also recommend not finding out the scores of your friends or other people online before taking your exam, as it can make you feel quite anxious. I remember checking an online forum where people were discussing their UCAT scores, and it made me worry that I wouldn’t be able to achieve those scores.
Don’t compare yourself to other test-takers and instead focus on achieving the best score you possibly can. At the end of the day, you just need to try your hardest!
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