How To Prepare For The UCAT in 4 Weeks
Advice & Insight From UCAT Specialists
Week One: Learning Key Techniques
When starting to prepare for the UCAT, it is important to understand and practice the key techniques that can help you in the exam. The UCAT is different to other exams taken both at school and university – rather than test knowledge, it requires you to be able to quickly analyse and summarise data, whilst also testing your problem-solving abilities. During the first week of your revision, you should start doing practice questions, using the following methods:
- Verbal Reasoning = the passages in this section are often long, therefore rather than read through the entire text before answering the question, it can be more time effective to select key words from the question, and identify them in the passage. This enables you to focus on the area of the text containing the information required for the question.
- Decision Making = when faced with a ‘conclusion’ question, identifying key words in the statement, and then determining whether they are mentioned in the text, can be useful. Often the conclusion will be implicitly stated in the passage, or paraphrased in the statement.
- Quantitative Reasoning = although an online calculator and whiteboard are provided to do calculations, using mental maths can be quicker and easier, thus it is important to practice your mental arithmetic as much as possible. Furthermore, if complicated numbers are given, rounding them up or down can make the calculations more straightforward. These questions test your use of percentages, ratios and fractions, unit conversions, speed, distance and time, and areas and volumes, so ensure that you are confident in utilising these skills.
- Abstract Reasoning = what is important in Abstract Reasoning questions is to identify the defining features of the shapes in Sets A and B, and also those that make up the series or sequences of shapes. The features that could be used to separate the shapes between different groups include the size, colour, location within the box, type and number of shapes. Therefore, when analysing the sets, look out for differences in these characteristics. Once you have labelled a particular set by the features of its shapes, it will then be easier to determine whether the shape in question fits one of the sets, or instead does not belong to either of them.
- Situational Judgement = when preparing for these questions, understanding the principles and values of medical professionals is important, and can help to guide your answer. This includes the four pillars of medical ethics – autonomy, justice, non-maleficence and beneficence – as well as patient dignity and respect.
When doing practice questions, rather than thinking about timing or completing the questions correctly, focus on using the above techniques. This will ensure you get used to using them, and answering the question types, preparing you for the next stage of the revision process.
Weeks Two and Three: Practice Questions
This stage is where the bulk of your revision should take place. During week two, spend your time completing practice questions (e.g. using the official UCAT Practice Questions), under timed and exam conditions. For example, if practicing Verbal Reasoning questions, give yourself 44 questions to complete in 21 minutes. Revising under exam conditions also includes using an online calculator, scratchpad and whiteboard. During this stage, you should focus on adapting to completing the questions as quickly and accurately as possible. At the end of week two, try and complete a full UCAT practice test. This will highlight areas that you may need to work on, focussing your revision in preparation for week three.
In week three, place an emphasis on your weaker sections. For example, if you are finding you are struggling with the Abstract Reasoning section, dedicate a day to completing practice questions from this section.
Week Four: Practice Tests
Week four is the final hurdle in terms of your UCAT preparation, where you should focus on completing the remainder of the practice tests from the UCAT website (https://www.ucat.ac.uk/ucat/practice-tests/). These tests mimic the actual exam, and are thus imperative and must be completed. There are four practice tests available, which would ideally all be completed during the revision period; therefore, it may be wise to do one a day. This would leave four days to further determine which areas you may be struggling, and target them accordingly. When doing the practice tests, be sure to calculate your final mark for each section using the score conversions – this not only allows you to determine where your strengths and weaknesses lie, but will also show your progress.
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