Coping with UCAT stress and anxiety

Coping with UCAT stress and anxiety

2 years ago by Rob

We all know that sick feeling in the bottom of our stomachs just prior to walking into a big exam; we’re jittery, shaking and generally thinking that we’d rather be anywhere else but here. Nerves can be debilitating in the most terrible way for even the brightest of students. Thus, it is crucially important that your learn to overcome these nerves before the actual day of the UCAT so that you can perform at your peak and ultimately succeed in the UCAT.

How do I know if I’m nervous about the UCAT?

Nervousness is generally marked by or having a feeling of unease or apprehension. It may appear on the day of, or before, the UCAT exam but for many students nerves start to build up much earlier than this and continue to increase more and more as the UCAT exam date approaches. A good indication of how nervous you may feel about the UCAT is your general state of mind prior to the UCAT exam. Do you think about UCAT often, in a negative way? Do you spend a lot of time worrying about UCAT? Have you been preparing and studying effectively for UCAT? The answers to these questions will help you understand your current state of mind.

Aren’t nerves normal? And how nervous is too nervous?

Firstly, it is important to remember that nerves are normal; not even Usain Bolt looked calm and happy on the start-line at the Olympics. Feeling a bit of anxiety will not be harmful to your performance. However, if you’re consistently having trouble sleeping and studying because of UCAT anxiety and nerves, then you need to address these issues. Talk to a friend, teacher or family about how they coped with nerves during their exam times - and remember UCAT study and practice exams are absolutely key to feeling calm and prepared come test day.

How do I prevent myself from becoming overly nervous about the UCAT exam?

UCAT preparation is the most effective way to avoid stress. UCAT practice exams and general UCAT study are better broken up into small, manageable chunks - so try and do a little bit each day. One month out from the UCAT exam you should be doing at least an hour of UCAT questions every day including at least one practice exam per week. Make sure you are working efficiently and effectively under exam conditions.

How can I stay motivated to do full practice exams in one sitting under test conditions?

An idea would be to organize a ‘practice’ UCAT with some of your friends or, if you would prefer, by yourself, at home or your local library. Do a full UCAT exam under complete test conditions in the exact time frame of 2 hours. Do not allow yourself breaks or time to dwell on questions - think of this a dress rehearsal - the more times you do a full UCAT exam, the less scary the real UCAT exam will be when it comes around.

What do I do if I feel like these UCAT nerves have already engulfed me?

If you’re sitting at your desk getting absolutely no study done, then please; break up your routine! Don’t waste time doing nothing. Get up and go for a walk or have a small snack and then start your study again. If you’re still struggling for motivation, read our earlier article “Mind games: motivation for UCAT study”. Remember the work that you put in for the UCAT now will save you having to sit the dreaded GAMSAT in the future. It is critical that you stay positive and put in the best effort that you can! Don’t dwell on negative thoughts and let them drag you down. Thinking like this gets you nowhere! Be confident in your ability to succeed.

For more specific UCAT test tips please see our blog series UCAT test tactics and preparation by the team at MedEntry UCAT preparation.

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