Miss Giulia Bankov • May 08, 2019
Giulia is a graduate medical student at the University of Glasgow. She previously studied Neuroscience at King's College London and completed her Cognitive Neurobiology and Clinical Neurophysiology at the University of Amsterdam
If you are a prospective medical student preparing your application, you will have surely heard about the UCAT, formally known as the UKCAT, by now. This aptitude test is used by the majority of medical schools in the UK and, as of recently, abroad, and consists of five parts -Verbal Reasoning, Decision Making, Quantitative Reasoning, Abstract Reasoning, and Situational Judgement (SJT).
Getting a good UCAT result is one of the requirements, along with a personal statement, your grades and a letter of recommendation, that you will have to submit to be considered to be given an offer for a medical interview. We have prepared below our top 10 UCAT tips to help you ace the exam!
The UCAT is an aptitude test that requires no prior knowledge or studying and reading up for. Having said that, getting familiar with the types of questionsyou will be asked is a good start to your preparation. Knowing what skills you will need to sit the exam in advance will help you decide where your strengths lie and what parts you might want to improve on and start honing early on.
Whether that’s learning by yourself from a textbook, following a course or being tutored individually, everybody has their preferred method of learning that they make the most out of. Be aware of your strengths and how best you study and utilise that as best as you can in your UCAT prep. Whatever your preferred learning method is, theMSAG is there to support you in your journey to acing the exam - check out theMSAG UCAT Courses, Online UCAT Coursesand UCAT Tutoring for more information.
UCAT test dates fill up fast and the later you leave it, the higher the chance that spaces will be filled up and you’d have to compromise on location, potentially travelling further to find a test date still offering spaces. Do yourself a favour and book early to avoid disappointment. That will also help you make a study plan and stick to it, knowing you have a deadline to prepare by.
Whether that’s deciding to spend two weeks per UCAT subsection or taking one practice test per week, or going through 20 practice questions every day, make a plan that works well with your schedule and stick to it. It’s better to start early and plan small goals than trying to cram it all in at once, as that will make it more likely that you will reach your goals and stick to your plan.
The UCAT exam is not only about answering correctly but also about doing so in a speedy manner. Being quick to identify how to go about answering a question, using shortcuts wherever possible and being strategic about not wasting time on very long and convoluted questions is a skill that will go a long way in your successful performance at the UCAT. Work on your time management and always keep in mind that timing is of the essence at this exam and make sure all your practice reflects the amount of time you’ll be given on test day.
On the actual test day, you won’t be given much more than a whiteboard and a simple on-screen calculator. It is actually of utmost importance that you know how to effectively use these tools to maximise your speed and accuracy answering questions. The on-screen calculator can be tricky to use at first, so make sure you are familiar with it and know all shortcuts needed. The use of the whiteboard is pretty straight-forward but make sure you use it sparingly and only in times you really need it.
Remember that the UCAT consists entirely of multiple choice questions and there is no negative marking for incorrect answers. Always try to fit all questions within the time limits, but even if you are left with a few unanswered questions at the end, always guess and fill an answer for each question. You won’t be marked negatively and you might have just scored yourself a few more lucky points.
If you can’t answer a UCAT question or you don’t have enough time to solve a problem, try to use the elimination method to increase your chances of guessing correctly. Are there answers you can definitely exclude as wrong? Are you doubting between two answer choices? Eliminating wrong answers where you can before making a guess greatly increases your chances of answering correctly!
One of the best ways to prepare for test day is to sit a full mock UCAT exam and mimic exam conditions as closely as possible. Isolate any external distractors, keep strict time limits and only use the resources that you will have available on the actual exam. This will help you familiarise yourself with the conditions you’ll be tested under and will make you more comfortable on the day.
The more questions you go through and the more UCAT practice you have under your belt before test day, the better you will become, the more techniques you will pick up along the way and the harder it will be to fool you with trick questions, as you will have already seen and learned from them! So whatever your preparation includes, make sure you put in plenty of practice and you will ace the exam with a fantastic UCAT score.
We hope these UCAT test tips were helpful in your preparation for the exam. Good luck with your UCAT practice and if you have any questions related to studying medicine or the application process, you can send us an email at hello@theMSAG.com.
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