UCAT Tips On The Day
Advice & Insight From UCAT Specialists
1. Do not do a practice test
There are many books and online resources available to prepare for the UCAT, which can include practice questions and mock exams. As the UCAT is not content based, but instead tests students’ abstract thinking and problem-solving skills, as well as quick data analysis, practice is the most effective revision method for this exam. Repeatedly doing questions not only allows students to get used to the questions and practice their techniques, but also learn how to complete them as quickly as possible. The UCAT website has many practice tests available (https://www.ucat.ac.uk/ucat/practice-tests/), which mimic the style of the actual exam; for example, the online calculator and scratchpad are provided. As these tests are similar to what students will experience on the day, it is essential to complete them prior to the exam.
However, these practice tests should not be completed on the day of the exam. The UCAT is two hours long, and thus requires a significant amount of concentration and mental stamina. Therefore, doing a practice exam beforehand, which is also two hours, could be draining, making one less prepared for the actual test. Furthermore, doing a mock exam on the day could create unnecessary stress, and be disheartening if it does not go particularly well. It may be helpful to do some practice questions on the day, just to recap certain techniques, however it is advisable to not pressure yourself to do this, and focus your revision in the month or so before the exam.
2. Go over your notes
If you have taken notes as part of your revision for the UCAT, it may be helpful to look over these on the day of the exam. Such notes could include techniques and methods that you have learnt in preparation for the test, with examples including:
- Be aware of the time constraints for each section – if you are spending more than the required time on a question, flag it and continue to the next one. At the end of each section, you will be able to review the flagged questions and go back to complete them
- The passages in the Verbal Reasoning section can often be relatively long (i.e. three to five paragraphs), therefore it may not be possible to read the entirety of the text with the time given. If this is the case, look at the key words in the question and try to find them in the passage – this should help to improve time efficiency
- In the Quantitative Reasoning section, try to rely on your mental maths if you can. Furthermore, if particularly long or complicated numbers are used, round up or down as accurately as possible, as this can make calculations much easier and quicker
- Complete all the questions. There is no negative marking, and selecting an option will still provide a 1 in 4, or 1 in 5, chance of your answer being correct
On the day of the UCAT, the key is to not overwhelm yourself with information, but instead remind yourself of and recap fundamental techniques.
3. Double check, and make sure you have everything you need
Although this may seem obvious, make sure you have the correct date, time and location of your exam. The UCAT can be cancelled or rescheduled, with a refund given, however this must be within 24 hours of the appointment time. If the test is missed, the appointment will be considered a ‘no-show’, and a refund will not be provided. It is important that you arrive at least 15 minutes before the appointment time, to complete the check-in process; if you are late, you may be unable to sit the test, and will have to reschedule and pay for a different test slot.
To take the UCAT, you will need to bring photo identification, and a printed or electronic copy of the appointment confirmation email from Pearson VUE. The forms of identification that are permitted are a passport, photo-card driver’s license, EU identity card or Irish passport card, or a government-issued identity card from a non-EU country.
This is probably the most valuable tip. It goes without saying that the UCAT is an incredibly important exam; however, for most medical schools it is not the only factor determining admission. It is important to remember that the interview, if present, and personal statement are equally as essential. Therefore, not doing particularly well in the UCAT is not the end of the world. What is crucial is that you remain calm and ready for the exam, and try your absolute best!
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