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5 Tips to Score in the Top UCAT Decile

Advice & Insight From UCAT Specialists

1. Do the UCAT Practice Tests on the UCAT website

On the website practice.ukcat.ac.uk, there are three practice tests available (A, B and C); for each practice test, there are UCAT, UCATSEN (Special Education Needs) and un-timed versions present. These tests are the best examples of what you will experience on the day of the exam, therefore familiarising yourself with the style, pace and content is essential. I would suggest doing these practice exams later on in the revision process – for example, during the 1-2 weeks before the exam – but not too close to the exam date, as the mark you obtain may throw you off or alternatively demotivate you if the mark is particularly high. The reason why it is important to do the practice tests belatedly is because once you are more aware of the style of questions for each section and how to tackle them, you can then apply your revision to an actual exam scenario. For this reason, it is also important to do these practice tests in exam conditions, without notes or a handheld calculator, or any distractions that you would not experience on the day.

2. Give yourself at least 2 months of preparation

Although the UCAT is not a content heavy exam, the types of questions you will face are very different to any other exam taken by the typical medical applicant. The Abstract Reasoning and Decision Making sections in particular have questions that are designed to test the way you think, as opposed to actually evaluating the knowledge that you have. Therefore, to ensure that you are prepared for the test, it is important to regularly do practice questions for at least 2 months before the exam date. This does not necessarily mean you should practice every day – as this may instead result in you depleting your revision resources – but instead could be 2-4 times a week, or just enough to ensure you are confident in answering the questions with your desired exam techniques. It is important to cater your revision to your own personal preferences. With regards to obtaining practice questions, there are many online and handwritten resources available. A popular book used by many medical applicants is the ‘Get Into Medical School – 1250 UKCAT Practice Questions’, which provides an array of questions from each of the 5 sections. It must be noted, however, that these questions are often more difficult than those in the actual exam, and it may not be possible to get through all of them. Other books include the Kaplan ‘Score Higher on the UCAT’, and ‘The Ultimate UKCAT Guide’. Online resources include the BlackStone Tutors website where you can obtain free practice questions. 
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3. Think logistically during the exam (triaging is key)

If given a sufficient amount of time, students would be able to complete the UCAT exam with relative ease. However, the difficulty is completing as many of the questions in the time period given. In the exam, you are able to ‘flag’ questions and go back to them once you reach the end of the section. A key tactic is to triage, or prioritise questions that you are confident in. As you go through the questions, complete the ones that you are sure you have answered correctly, and ‘flag’ those you are less confident in. Once you reach the end of the section, you can then go back and look over the flagged questions with the remaining time left. This is an effective strategy to ensure you answer as many questions correctly as possible, whilst also not running out of time, and can be applied to all sections. 

4. Practice with timed conditions

When revising with the online tests or practice questions, it is vital to do them under timed conditions. The timings for each section are as follows:
  • Section 1 (Verbal Reasoning) = 44 questions in 21 minutes
  • Section 2 (Decision Making) = 29 questions in 31 minutes
  • Section 3 (Quantitative Reasoning) = 36 questions in 24 minutes
  • Section 4 (Abstract Reasoning) = 55 questions in 13 minutes
  • Section 5 (Situational Judgement) = 69 questions in 26 minutes
The more you practice the questions under a time pressure, the easier it will become to complete them as fast as possible, preparing you effectively for the exam.

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5. If possible, try and attend a UCAT specific teaching course

This tip is not essential, as many of these courses can be relatively expensive and ultimately the above statements should be more than enough, however if you are keen to get that extra bit of revision in, there are courses available that provide UCAT teaching. Examples of specific courses include those run by Blackstone Tutors. These normally day-long teaching sessions involve going through particular techniques for each section, and practising questions under the timed conditions with a tutor. They are often intense and thus can be extremely useful, but it must be emphasised that prolonged revision alongside them is key. Participating in these courses should not be your sole source of revision – doing the practice questions frequently throughout the revision period is immensely important and potentially the most effective revision method. 
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5 Tips to Score in the Top UCAT Decile

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