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9th April 2021
Jenita Jona James managed to take her UCAT score from 2,464 to 2,940 – leaping from the fourth decile to the top. Now in her third year of Medicine at Newcastle University, Jenni shares her best tips on how you can also unlock a top score with plenty of practice.

Practice Makes Perfect

It was definitely no easy feat going from an average score of 616 to 735, and I know the UCAT is not exactly anyone’s favourite exam! With me being a grad, I have sat the exam more times than I had ever wanted to.

During my degree, I sat the UCAT years before it actually counted, seeing this as ‘practice’ runs. It really helped me improve my score as it allowed me to see what the exam was like, figure out what went wrong and improve on it for next time.

What I learnt from my years of practice is that there comes a time when more practice ≠ higher score. After a while, you get tired of practising so much – so it’s important to be sustainable and not to burn out.

My advice is to set the date of your exam at a time when you think you will do best and remember that you can move it around if you are lucky enough to find a different exam time – for me, this was two months from when I started my UCAT prep.

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Learn How To Use Keyboard Shortcuts

I can definitely say using keyboard shortcuts made a massive difference to my score! The amount of time this saves is so worth it.

Spending a bit of time practising this before the exam will really pay off – you can try it on the official UCAT questions, or with The Medic Portal’s UCAT Question Bank. My score in quantitative reasoning went from the high 600s to 890 by practising with UCAT questions like this.

Get some UCAT calculator tips here.

Work On Your Weaknesses

It is so easy to spend time practising the stuff you know, and I’m guilty of this too. Even though it gives you a little confidence boost when you are practising, in the long run, this isn’t helping you get better.

I worked out the parts of the UCAT that I was weaker in i.e. verbal reasoning and abstract reasoning, and spent the majority of the time working on these.

For VR, my weakness was not that I was reading the text slowly, but that I was not reading the text properly and was missing information. I am used to reading lots of thriller fiction books in one week but reading non-fictional extracts is a whole different ball game. To get better at this, I read random paragraphs of Wikipedia articles that had especially dull content, then I would try to summarise them quickly and accurately to see if I got the gist right.

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Use A Range Of Resources

I used a whole range of practice materials over the years but the ones that really helped me score 2940 and get my place at medical school was using the Medic Portal tips combined with a whole lot of free UCAT practice UCATquestions. The official UCAT website also has plenty of practice exams and tests.

Get In The Right Mindset

Make sure you take your personal preference into account when booking the time of your exam. If you’re a night owl, you’re not going to do so well with the 9am slot. And if you are an early bird, you won’t be at your best at 2pm. Think about what you are like at school and when revising, and choose the time when you feel the best to tackle the exam.

The day before, you should get into exam mode. I didn’t practice after about 4pm the day before my exam. I watched some shows I enjoyed on Netflix, had a nice dinner and got an early night. I also made sure I had everything ready for the next day.

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