Despite all my effort, I only managed to score a 2140 and a Band 2 in Situational Judgement last year. This is a pretty low UCAT score and I knew it was almost impossible to get an interview invitation, let alone a place at Medical School.
I had almost everything that Graduate Entry Medicine is asking from the candidates: work experience, very good university grades, references from Doctors and nurses; so I thought I would apply. But by December, I found myself with four out of four unsuccessful applications and all of them because of my low UCAT score.
I will never forget the disappointment and the frustration I felt. Before my Medicine applications, I thought that Schools wouldn’t rely much on my UCAT score because I have experience working in the NHS. I also thought that after everything I’ve been through in the last year (pandemic, stress, panic, fear); 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 unsuccessful applications were really hard. Many of my colleagues asked me how my applications went, and I had to tell them that I wasn’t successful. But what everybody said was that no matter how frustrating it is, it’s not the end of the world; I am still young and more than capable to succeed if I really want it.
I realised that I didn’t approach my UCAT preparation properly, and I was really stressed throughout my whole practice and on the test day.
I was doing everything at the same time: work, UCAT preparation, ward rounds with Doctors, and more. That was probably the biggest mistake I made. I didn’t giving time to myself to rest and do things that could really help me clear my mind or boost my confidence. I wasn’t even sleeping or eating properly.
Of course, this lifestyle made me so exhausted a couple of months before the test day. That meant I stopped paying attention to my preparation: I wasn’t checking my mistakes, and I thought I didn’t need to keep preparing.
Another mistake I made was that I started without any UCAT course teaching. I used UCAT books by myself instead of using a computer. I only started practising UCAT questions on a computer a month before the exam day. This was a mistake because paper-based exams are completely different and I needed more time to get used to the experience of taking the test on a computer.
I’ve already been using the Medic Portal’s online UCAT course, and I’ve already seen a massive improvement both in my understanding of test strategy and final scores.
I finally understand how I should approach the Verbal Reasoning questions, how I should deal with syllogisms, probabilities, and puzzles in Decision Making, what techniques I should follow in Abstract Reasoning, etc.
Doing the course meant I knew how to apply the strategies to each section, which immediately boosted my confidence and lowered my stress level.
I cut my work hours so that I have more time to prepare for the test; even reducing one shift a week can make a big difference.
I’m also trying to focus on my well-being: I decided to take one whole day a week to work out or walk outside when the weather is nice. I sleep more, and I’m reading my favourite book. I find that after a day off, I always perform better and I’m more focused on my preparation.
I also never forget to eat before my prep, to hydrate and to stop studying when I feel tired or unable to focus. Through this process, I understood that quality is much more important than quantity when it comes to the UCAT.
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