UCAT Success – The Final Weeks

James ChoiGeneral Advice4 Comments

This was posted for 2015 applicants

We’re nearly into the final month of UCAT testing, with the deadline for the last exam on the 6th of October. For those taking the test in the last few weeks of this UCAT season, a portion of you will have only recently decided to go for medicine upon receiving a set of surprisingly good AS results. Regardless of the reason, if you haven’t booked the test already, we urge you do so now – places will already be limited as it stands. And you will also need to know your UCAT score if you want to make an informed choice of where to apply.

As soon as you know you’re going to take the UCAT (and hopefully your test date too), you must draw up a personalized study plan and stick to it. It’s common and perfectly normal to feel anxious in the lead up to your exam, but you can diminish that apprehension through keeping to a strict routine everyday, where you know that if you keep practicing and applying the right strategies, you’ll go in with a good shot at getting a top score. A sense of control over a situation is absolutely vital for good performance: even if you’re not getting great scores to begin with, trust in the strategy and your study plan; know that if you work smart everyday, you’ll have done your utmost to secure the best score you’ll probably ever get. So if you haven’t already, sit down and detail on a piece of paper how you’re going to beat this exam.

As a rule of thumb, we recommend around two hours of practice a day, preferably in the morning, and without any kind of distraction (you can check social media any other time in the day, just not during UCAT practice). Use our course handbook as an important reference and reminder of all the strategies we taught – most of our strategies are based upon one thing: saving time in order to maximize marks. With that being said, don’t get hung up on individual, hard questions; instead, always practice with a timer so that you drill into your head the overarching strategies that allow you to prioritize the most important questions and skip those which simply pull you back. Moreover, if you know you struggle at particular types of question – percentage changes, for example – then do dedicate some time to ensure you can do it quickly and efficiently by the time you get to your exam. To put it simply, smart practice is where you continually focus on your weaknesses and always review how well you’ve stuck to the strategy, day by day, week by week, until test-day. A common saying is that active learning is always better than passive learning, so apply the same approach to your UCAT.

Finally, alongside maintaining a feeling of control of your situation, ensuring optimal performance on test-day requires a degree of emotional preparation; anxiety and worry never got anybody anywhere. It’s always important to remember that the UCAT isn’t an end in itself – it’s only a means to an end, where the end is getting into medical school. If you happen to get a lower score than expected (which won’t happen), there are always other paths to medical school, and the team at 6med will always be there to offer you advice.

About the Author

James Choi

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I'm a fourth-year medical student at University College London, and co-founder of 6med. I currently head up everything UKCAT-related and have been doing this for over 4 years. Let me know if you have any questions!

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