Despite a lot of effort, I only managed to score 2,140 and Band 2 in Situational Judgement when I first did the UCAT. I knew this was a pretty low UCAT score and it would be almost impossible to get invited to interview for Graduate Entry Medicine, let alone get offered a place at Medical School.
Aside from my UCAT score, I had relevant work experience, a strong Personal Statement, references from Doctors and nurses – so I thought I would go ahead and apply for Medical School anyway. But by December, I found myself with four rejections and all of them were because of my low UCAT score.
I will never forget the disappointment and frustration that I felt. When submitting my applications, I thought that my experience working in the NHS might outweigh my low UCAT score. I also felt sure that I deserved a place at Medical School.
But after the negative responses, I realised how competitive Medicine is – especially for Graduate Entry – and how important your UCAT score really is.
The first few months after my rejections were really hard. Many of my colleagues asked me how it was all going, and I had to tell them that I wasn’t successful.
But everybody was supportive and told me that no matter how frustrated I felt, it wasn’t the end of the world. I was still capable of succeeding if I really wanted it.
I realised that I didn’t approach my UCAT preparation well enough, and I was really stressed during all of my practice and on test day.
I was trying to do everything at the same time: UCAT test prep, work, ward rounds with Doctors, and more. That was probably the biggest mistake I made. I didn’t give myself time to rest and do things that would help me clear my mind or boost my confidence. I wasn’t even sleeping or eating properly!
Of course, this lifestyle made me exhausted and I stopped paying attention to my UCAT prep. I wasn’t checking my mistakes, and I mistakenly thought that I didn’t need to keep studying for it.
Another mistake I made was that I started my prep without any UCAT course teaching. I tried to learn all of the theory by myself from UCAT books. Then, I only started doing practice questions on a computer around a month before test day. This was a mistake because paper-based exams are completely different, and I really needed more time to get used to the experience of taking the test on a computer.
After completing an online UCAT course, I’ve already seen a massive improvement in my understanding of both test strategy and scores.
The course taught me strategies to apply to each section, which immediately boosted my confidence and lowered my stress levels. I finally understand how I should approach Verbal Reasoning questions, how I should deal with syllogisms, probabilities and puzzles in Decision Making, what techniques I should follow in Abstract Reasoning, etc.
Another change I made was cutting my work hours, so that I would have more time to prepare for the test.
I’m also trying to pay more attention to my wellbeing. I decided to take one whole day a week to work out or go for a walk outside when the weather is nice. I sleep more, and I’m reading more books for fun. I find that after a day off, I always perform better and I’m more focused on my UCAT preparation.
I make sure I always eat before my prep, stay hydrated, and stop studying when I feel tired or unable to focus. Through this process, I now understand that quality is much more important than quantity when it comes to preparing for the UCAT.
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