Retaking the UCAT: Essential Information & Advice
Advice & Insight From UCAT Specialists
If you had decided to retake the UCAT exam we assume you are planning on reapplying to medicine. We want to take this opportunity to congratulate you on your dedication to your career aspirations. It shows great resilience and determination to not lose hope and to persist with the application process.
Deciding if to retake the UCAT
Perhaps you clicked on this article because you have scored less highly on the UCAT then hoped. Before you register to re-sit the exam consider if this is the best thing to do in your circumstances. Remember that there is no guarantee that resitting the UCAT next year will result in a higher score. Based on your current UCAT score, do not rule out applying to medicine just yet. There are several universities that do not use the UCAT in their selection process, and some universities have minimal weighting on your score as part of their admissions.
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Eligibility for retaking the UCAT
The great news is there is no penalty for taking the UCAT test again in subsequent years. You can sit the UCAT as many times as you would like provided you meet the eligibility criteria. When registering for the UCAT exam you should use the existing account that your previously used. Be reassured that the universities will not ask about previous sittings of the UCAT exam or request previous scores.
It is important to note that some universities do not accept reapplicants into their medical program. You cannot reapply to Anglia Ruskin or Aston if you have previously applied.
How to improve your UCAT Score
Resitting the UCAT test grants you the perfect opportunity to meaningfully improve aspects of your preparation or test day performance that initially held you back. There are several reasons people may not achieve their desired UCAT score. You need to identify where and what went wrong when you previously sat the UCAT. Using this insight, you can apply a strategic UCAT approach to avoid making the same mistakes.
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Improving UCAT Preparation
Using your previous UCAT experience you can reflect on how adequate your preparation was. Whether you feel your previous years preparation was satisfactory or not there will always be room for improvements. To reflect on your previous preparations, consider both preparation timings and strategy. Medical Students are required to sit many different types of exams throughout their career. The skills needed to reflect on exam preparation effectiveness and approach are transferable when you begin your medical studies. As part of your preparation reflection consider whether your preparations aligned with Blackstone Tutors advice on UCAT preparation. Evidence has shown that successful UCAT students base their UCAT preparations on the following:
- 25-30 hours of preparation
- Using a variety of resources including UCAT official mock tests and other available question banks.
- Practicing under exam conditions with the permitted equipment. Become competent in using keyboard shortcuts.
- Learning time saving strategies and practice under timed conditions.
- Reflecting and returning to questions you got wrong and learning from these.
- Taking a person approach spending more preparation time on your areas of weakness.
- Watching videos and learning about different approaches to subsections to find a useful strategy to use.
- Completing pre-practice revision – brushing up on mental arithmetic for quantitative reasoning and reading the GMC guidelines for doctors and medical students.
As you have sat the exam before you are probably likely to already have an awareness of your areas of strength and weakness’. Consider the scores that you gained for each subsection and use this to inform how much time you dedicate to revising for these. Make sure that throughout your preparations you are insightful as your areas of strength and weakness may change meaning you will have to adapt your preparation approach.
This advice is not fool proof. Luckily, Blackstone Tutors have produced subsection specific advice which you can refer to as part of your preparation and to ensure an effective preparation strategy.
Improving your exam technique and approach on the UCAT test day
Receiving a lower UCAT score can be especially demoralising if you scored significantly lower on the test day compared to scores you gained during the practice mock tests. If this rings true to your circumstances, consider if test day anxiety and stress impacted the previous UCAT score you achieved. Evidence shows that there is a direct correlation between stress and cognition. For those with these circumstances it is important that you reflect on your previous test day. There may have been specific events or parts of the day, which can be modified for next time, that lead to excess stress. When you resit the UCAT make sure you arrive to the test centre with plenty of time, the correct documentation and fuelled ready to sit the test. To overcome nerves, practice specific breathing and mindfulness techniques, using positive affirmations can help you mentally prepare. Although pessimism should be avoided, it may be reassuring the know that you have a backup plan if you do not score as hoped such as registering for the BMAT.