Miss Giulia Bankov • April 11, 2019
Giulia is a graduate medical student at the University of Glasgow. She previously studied Neuroscience at King's College London and completed her Cognitive Neurobiology and Clinical Neurophysiology degree at the University of Amsterdam
The UCAT is a widely required exam for prospective medical students in the UK, Italy, Poland, Australia and New Zealand... and even the Caribbean. It is a multiple-choice test composed of 5 subsections which aim to evaluate your capacity to understand real-world situations.
For example, the Abstract Reasoning subtest assesses your ability to recognise patterns from an unfamiliar set of information, which is an important skill for a doctor to develop, while the Situational Judgement Test (SJT) asks you to identify critical factors and appropriate behaviour in an ethical situation and decide what the best course of action is.
As such, the UCAT doesn’t cover any theory that you need to study for, but there are still techniques and strategies you can develop to make sure you get an excellent UCAT score. We have compiled our best tips for you, so if you are after that coveted 900 score, continue reading this UCAT guide!
Find the best UCAT resources for you
There are many resources out there offering UCAT preparation and it is important to figure out what your preferred method of learning is. There is no point in throwing hundreds of pounds on every single UCAT course or book there is, but picking the one or two best resources for you and truly engaging with them is what can make the difference between a good score and a great score.
So have a think - do you like to read through general concepts from a book and then apply them yourself in practice? Are you a visual learner and do you enjoy creative explanations involving a lot of multimedia? Or are you a one-on-one student who retains information best by being taught? There is no right or wrong answer and what works well for one doesn’t necessarily work as well for another, so it’s up to you to identify your learning strengths and use them to your advantage.
At theMSAG we offer a wide range of UCAT preparation opportunities, from our UCAT Courses to our UCAT Tutoring, so whatever your preferred style of learning is, be sure to check them out!
Get familiar with common traps and learn to avoid them
Of course, it is important to familiarise yourself with the format of the exam, and if you master the techniques and strategies required to answer each question accurately, that’s half the battle won. However, the UCAT is as much about accuracy as it is about speed. Time is of the essence in the exam and it can often try and trap you with time-consuming and mind-boggling calculations, where there might be a much faster and simpler shortcut for you to reach the same answer.
So make sure you are not only comfortable with techniques of what to do in the exam but that you are also aware of common mistakes and what not to do. Being able to spot these traps from afar and avoid them will save you a huge amount of time and will make the difference you want in acing the UCAT.
Practice, practice, practice
And if I haven’t stressed that enough - make sure you get plenty of practice! Once you have gotten those core principles and strategies for acing the UCAT down, the next most important step is putting them into practice. The more you attempt similar question-types, like the ones you expect to be tested on, the more comfortable you will be when you come across them on the day of the test.
Practice is the key to perfecting any skill and the UCAT is no exception. The best way to do this is to attempt the official UCAT practice tests
provided by the UCAT Consortium and give our upcoming question bank a try too!
Additional tips on how to ace the UCAT
Sit the UCAT exam before school starts
UCAT exam dates are offered well into the autumn but it is a much better idea to take the exam before the summer’s over. Whether you’re in year 12 or in university, not only will your other academic commitments start piling up once September comes around, but with the UCAS deadline for medical schools being October 15, there will be so many other parts of your application that you will need to finalise, that leaving sitting the UCAT until the very end will just add further stress to the situation. So do yourself a favour and sit the exam before that mayhem starts.
Take a practice test in real exam conditions
The UCAT is unlike any other exam you might have taken so far and this unfamiliarity can be stressful for some students. For that reason, it is a good idea to try and recreate the conditions as closely as you can, so that you arrive at the test centre prepared and comfortable with what’s about to be given to you.
Try to take at least one full UCAT practice test before the actual exam, where you closely follow the time constraints, isolate any external distractors and work through the subsections of the exam as if you are sitting the real thing. The official practice tests are a good resource for this, as they are offered online in the same platform like the one that is used for the real exam, so you will have the chance to get a feel of what sitting the UCAT really feels like.
I hope these tips on how to get a 900 in UCAT has been helpful to you. Don’t forget that if you have any questions you can send us an email at hello@theMSAG.com