The UCAT test (not to be confused with the BMAT) is a mandatory entrance exam for prospective dentistry or medical students. Primarily used in the UK and formerly known as the UKCAT, it has now been instituted for medical schools in Australia and New Zealand as well, making it quite widespread. The University Clinical Aptitude Test uses multiple-choice questions and different types of questions to test your problem solving and your capacity to understand real-world situations. It is comprised of 5 subtests: Abstract Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, Verbal Reasoning, Decision Making and Situational Judgement.
Our UCAT collection will help you focus on the areas you need to improve so you can reliably improve your UCAT score!
• Get individual help from tutor that scored in the top 10th percentile • Matched with tutors that have high scores in sections you want to improve • Detailed progress reports and quantitative data of your performance
How should you prepare for the UCAT? What can you do to ensure you ace it on test day? Here at theMSAG, we have been preparing future medics for their UCAT for several years - here is what we have learnt!
The UCAT is a skill-based, not knowledge-based test
Learning strategies and techniques on a UCAT preparation course is highly recommended
Practice (the right type of practice!) makes perfect
On average, we recommend students begin preparing 2-3 months in advance of their UCAT test date and at least six weeks before they plan on sitting the test. The exact amount of time you need to prepare for the UCAT and how you prepare depends on a variety of factors including,
If you are also sitting the BMAT
If you sat the UCAT last year and are reapplying
If you are applying next year and therefore take it as a practice run
Our UCAT practice test has several questions for each section: Verbal Reasoning, Decision Making, Quantitative Reasoning, Abstract Reasoning and Situational Judgement, adding up to 45 questions in total. The test will take approximately 15-20 minutes to complete. The aim here is to get a baseline of your current understanding and ability. In addition, the test will give you an approximate UCAT score in each section. You can identify your strengths and weaknesses and get an overall feel for what to expect from the test.
If you are sitting the UCAT Anz, let us know to ensure your account provides you with the correct formula for the SJT score.
2. Analyse your practice test results
How did you do? If you are disappointed in your score, do not panic! This is an initial practise test and designed to help you. By starting with this, you can target your weaker areas to boost that score, ready for an outstanding UCAS application. To analyse your results, you want to look at several things.
Which section did you score the lowest in?
Were there sections where you ran out of time before completing all the different questions?
Were there questions that took you a long time (red clock) and that you still got wrong?
Which type of questions did you get wrong within a section? For example, in the quantitative reasoning section, was it percentage questions, timezone questions, speed/distance/time, tax calculations etc.?
The answers to those questions will help you prepare your UCAT revision. While it may be tempting to use our UCAT Question Bank to practice the sections, you enjoy the most (because who doesn’t like to see an excellent high score!), this will not help you get into medical school. Instead, bite the bullet and write up a UCAT preparation plan focusing on your weaker areas by section (VR, AR, etc.) and question type. It’s no use doing endless logic puzzles for Decision Making if really what is bringing your DM score down is the conclusion drawing questions.
3. Write your UCAT Revision Timetable
It’s essential to be as realistic as possible with this - break things down into short 30-minute sections to help motivate you. Factors to consider will include,
Other commitments in the summer
When are you most productive?
How will you know if you are on track? (planning section mocks)
Which questions are you getting correct but are too slow in compared to other applicants? Unlike a school exam, you do not want to focus only where you get things wrong. We argue it is more important to focus on questions where you get things right, but not at the right speed, to optimise your UCAT score.
We recommend concentrating on one or two particular areas until they are improved before moving on. This will ensure that the techniques and strategies you need to nail UCAT 2021 are embedded, and you do not confuse yourself or become unproductive by flitting between different sections or question types.
We know that analysing your results and writing a revision timetable can be difficult. If you need support with this, do not hesitate to get in touch.
4. Attend our UCAT Course Workshop
We may be biased, but our UCAT Course Workshop is the best place to start when it comes to boosting your UCAT score! We, therefore, recommend coming early on in your preparation. Here’s why:
Avoid bad habits
If you just start to wing it and do lots of practice by yourself, you may see some improvement, but you will also create bad habits. This could include always reaching for that calculator in QR rather than improving your mental maths or writing out long solutions on the whiteboard for DM rather than using shorthand.
These habits can then be difficult to break - by coming early, we ensure that you cultivate good UCAT habits, ready to nail the test!
Foundation for self-studying
Coming early means that you already know the strategies and techniques and can begin implementing them in your self-study time
Come back for free
We have seen that students who attend the UCAT course early in their preparation achieve higher results. But some students worry that they will forget or want to participate in a class close to when they sit their UCAT exam. Worry not! At theMSAG, you can come back to the course anytime in the season for free, so if you want a refresher closer to the exam time, no problem!
5. Practice, Practice, Practice
As mentioned, the UCAT is a skill-based, not knowledge-based test. Practice is therefore essential. Here are some tips on how to practice for your self-studying time:
Practice question types and sections you are weaker at
It’s not so fun, but this is how you will improve! You can use our “untimed practice mode” until you feel comfortable applying the essential strategies for various question types.
Move to timed practice relatively soon
The biggest challenge of the UCAT is the time pressure. So if you practice untimed for too long, you will fool yourself about your progress level. So make sure to move to timed practice as soon as possible.
Use the built-in video teaching
Every question we have in our question bank is linked to a few minutes of video looking at the approach for a given question type. So if you are getting a question wrong or a question right too slowly, make sure to pause the practice marathon and take the time to watch the approach again in the “learn” section of our question bank.
Look at the data type and question type, not only the section
On our UCAT Question Bank, you can design practice sessions by both the section and the question or data type. Do not do “random” DM or “random” QR. Through our dashboard, identify which specific question type you are weaker at and select specific practice questions to improve on those areas.
Little and often as well as longer stints of practice
It is better that you do practice little and often rather than none at all
As you get more accustomed to the UCAT, though, we recommend that you start doing more extended practice sets that mirror the actual test. The UCAT abstract reasoning section, for example, has 55 questions in it. You need to build up to this and have the endurance to complete this many questions back to back.
6. UCAT tutoring
Not everyone needs UCAT tutoring, but it is helpful for a good half of all applicants and makes a big difference in their preparation. We always recommend that you start with self-studying to see what score you can get on your own. The tutoring will then be more efficient.
Once you have done a few weeks of self-studying on the question bank, applying the strategies learned at our small group UCAT course, it is then a good time for us to review how you perform. You may have identified areas you want help with by looking at your dashboard on our UCAT platform, or you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. One of our advisers will be happy to look at your practice results to give you some advice on how to focus your preparation.
Our students see a dramatic improvement in just a few sessions. An outside opinion from a tutor can also help you see hard-to-self-identify issues on how you approach questions. We give you honest and reliable feedback alongside experts from the highest-scoring UCAT tutors. The accountability and follow-up go a long way to help your motivation and success in the exam.
7. UCAT Consortium Official practice questions
Many students begin their preparation with the official free UCAT questions available, but our advice is to keep this for the final four weeks of preparation. There is only a short number of questions that are official UCAT, and we believe it is best to tackle them as a way to test yourself once you have already done a fair amount of preparation.
Our question bank has been designed to match the exam-style very closely, but an official question is a real past question, and that is the ideal material to test yourself closer to the exam date. So with a month left, it is a good idea to get through all the official questions available.
8. Official UCAT Mocks
When it comes to accuracy and what to expect in the UCAT test, the official UCAT mocks will be the most reliable. There are four mocks available, and we recommend completing them towards the end of your preparation. However, it is crucial that you complete all four mocks before your UCAT exam and in as close to exam conditions as possible.
You could use the mocks in a few different ways:
Complete one a week in the four weeks leading up to your test
Each week, go back through the mock and focus your preparation on the section and question types you did poorly in
Complete one four weeks before your UCAT test, spend two weeks ironing out your mistakes, then complete the final 3 in the remaining two weeks
If you have a solid idea of your weaknesses already, work hard on those, then complete all four mocks in your final two weeks, one every three days.