5 Key UCAT tips
9 months ago by Rob
There are a wealth of strategies and techniques that are useful in boosting your UCAT performance. Each UCAT section and question type requires a slightly different approach. Relevant techniques are discussed in detail in the MedEntry UCAT courses.
Here are five important tips that will help you in preparing for and sitting UCAT.
1. Work on your UCAT weaknesses
Each of the five sections in UCAT tests different skills. It is likely that you will find some UCAT subtests easier than others, and that you will have a natural ability or affinity for particular types of UCAT questions.
As early as possible in your UCAT preparation, identify the UCAT subtests that you find most difficult and work on those. Ideally also identify the particular types of questions within each UCAT section that you find difficult, for example, Venn diagram questions in the UCAT Decision Making subtest.
Discover your strengths and weaknesses with MedEntry’s free UCAT practice exam, which provides detailed and diagnostic UCAT feedback. Then work on your weaknesses by practicing on MedEntry’s comprehensive QBank, using our innovative UCAT skills trainers and completing our UCAT subtest mocks.
2. Manage your UCAT timing effectively
About one fifth of candidates fail to answer every question in UCAT. That is, they run out of time to even make a random guess! Therefore, time management skills are essential in UCAT.
The biggest mistake that most students make is to become absorbed in more difficult UCAT questions and spend too long on them, running out of time to answer easier UCAT questions which may appear at the end of the subtest.
It is important to realise that UCAT requires a completely different mindset to standard school and university exams. Perfectionism, which normally leads to success at school and university, can be very harmful in UCAT.
When practicing, it is important to complete UCAT practice exams and subtest mocks under strict timed conditions, to get you used to the conditions that you will face in the live UCAT.
There are also specific strategies that can be learned and practiced to manage your time effectively in UCAT, including skipping or flagging difficult questions and learning ‘shortcut’ techniques.
MedEntry also makes mastering time management easy with our innovative timing trainer.
3. Make educated guesses
In a time pressured exam such as UCAT, making educated guesses is an important strategy. Remember that even those that achieve the highest scores in UCAT each year need to guess some questions!
However, there is a difference between guessing randomly and making an educated guess. There are specific strategies that can be implemented to help you choose the right answer, even when you guess (covered in detail in MedEntry’s UCAT courses).
Work hard to eliminate UCAT options that are incorrect, and then choose between the remaining options. Some UCAT subtests are so time pressured that you will sometimes need to go with your ‘gut instinct’ or what you ‘feel’ is the best answer.
Remember, you will not have time to work out everything perfectly, so making educated guesses is an important strategy to succeed in UCAT.
4. Use the UCAT flag and review functions appropriately
UCAT is a computer-based test. It allows you to ‘flag’ UCAT questions that you find more difficult or are unsure about. Once you come to the end of a UCAT subtest, you can easily review the questions you have flagged or left unanswered. Make sure you are familiar with how to use these functions, as doing so will significantly help with your time management in UCAT.
Conversely, it is important not to over-use the flag function, as you might end up finishing the UCAT subtest with half the questions flagged, and no time to return to them! Flag strategically and sparingly.
Furthermore, it is recommended that you never flag a UCAT question without first making a guess, as you may run out of time to return to it. Remember, the UCAT is an extremely time pressured test!
5. Keep your cool in UCAT
UCAT is a stressful, ‘high stakes’ test. Your performance in this one test has the potential to have a significant influence on your future career. UCAT is also difficult and unlike any test you have ever sat before. This means that most students will find UCAT stressful.
However, too much stress will harm your performance in UCAT. Many students under-estimate the importance of stress management, but has the potential to significantly boost your UCAT score.
There are many stress management strategies that you can utilise, including having a positive mental attitude, taking ‘mini-breaks’ if you feel overwhelmed, and not dwelling on a UCAT subtest if you feel you have done poorly. These are all covered in detail in MedEntry’s UCAT courses.
Best of luck for UCAT!