Help! I got a poor UCAT Score for my last Mock Exam – What should I do?
7 months ago by Chris
There will be a time in everybody’s UCAT preparation journey where scores may fluctuate or decrease.
A single bad performance in a UCAT mock exam should not discourage you, but instead be a call to action. If you achieve a poor UCAT percentile or score, ask yourself, “How can I change my UCAT preparation so that this won’t happen in the live UCAT?”
This blog outlines 7 tips for dealing with a poor UCAT percentile or score in a mock exam.
1. Identify weaknesses and work on them
Everybody completing the UCAT will have certain weaknesses and strengths. For me, this was the UCAT verbal reasoning section, but because I identified this weakness early on, and worked to improve it, UCAT verbal reasoning became one of my strengths. This does not mean that I didn’t work on the other UCAT sections, I just slightly increased the amount of time I spent on practicing UCAT verbal reasoning, and accordingly decreased the time I spent on the other UCAT sections. Keep in mind, your weaknesses and strengths will likely change as you progress in your training, so you may need to modify how much time you will spend on each UCAT section.
2. Retry incorrectly answered UCAT questions
Retrying incorrectly answered UCAT questions using MedEntry’s retry feature, and not just reviewing them, will improve your chances at being able to answer similar UCAT questions in the future. Simply reviewing a UCAT question is not always enough, as knowing the theory behind completing a UCAT question and actually putting it into practice are two vastly different things, especially under timed conditions. When retrying UCAT questions, don’t just mindlessly go through the motions, but actively focus on using what you have just learnt to answer the UCAT question quickly and correctly.
3. Retry UCAT questions you answered correctly
Don’t just retry UCAT questions you answered incorrectly! There is so much that you can gain from also retrying correctly answered UCAT questions. Making sure you are consistent in your performance requires you to be able to continually hone your skills and each UCAT section, and just because you got a UCAT question right does not necessarily mean that you have used the best method. When going through UCAT questions, flag them if you spent too long to get to the right answer and see if there’s a better way that you could have approached it. Once again, you want to actively think about how you can improve your technique in answering UCAT questions rather than just retrying for the sake of it.
4. Try the UCAT skills trainers
The UCAT is a skills-based exam, as opposed to traditional content-based exams. As such, using the MedEntry skills trainers to help hone your UCAT skills may be just what you need to perform consistently well. I would recommend doing some work on the UCAT skills trainers before completing UCAT questions or before UCAT mock exams. This is somewhat of a ‘warmup’ for your brain and encourages you to actively focus on your technique and get you into the groove of UCAT. The UCAT skills trainers significantly improved my ability to perform consistently. They were more of a short, fun activity than anything, and allowed me to practice important UCAT skills in whatever spare time I had. When commuting to and from school, I found that the skills trainers were an easy way to engage in UCAT practice and improve my scores.
5. Refine your UCAT timing
Slight variations in timing across different exams can contribute to a lower scores. There are many reasons as to why this may occur, such as harder overall difficulty, or harder UCAT questions being placed near the start of the UCAT exam which may cause some people to spend extra time on initial UCAT questions, leaving less time for UCAT questions towards the end of the exam. It is extremely important to remember that no single question in the UCAT is worth more than the next, and prioritising answering easier UCAT questions correctly, as opposed to spending more time on difficult questions, can help to boost your score.
At the end of the day, skipping a UCAT question/question set which may be extremely time-consuming, and having the time to correctly complete an easier UCAT question set will help to maximise your marks. Consistency in timing is vital to consistent UCAT scores. Spending even an extra minute on a difficult UCAT question can cause you to not have enough time to complete multiple questions later in the UCAT subtest. This is especially applicable in UCAT Abstract Reasoning. Knowing when to skip UCAT questions is vital to consistent time-management.
6. Create a plan for improvement
Planning is crucial for success. The MedEntry UCAT calendar function is something I found extremely useful for planning. It functions just like a normal e-calendar, but it also allows you to drag different UCAT resources to be completed on each day. For example, UCAT learning modules, QBank attempts, UCAT subtest mocks, or even skills trainers, can be dragged and allocated onto particular days.
If you notice that your score in a certain UCAT subtest may be worse than others, you can allocate more of that specific subtest’s resources on your UCAT calendar. At the same time, make sure you also add in any personal events or commitments you may have so that you can more easily visualize when you have spare time. As a side note, keep track of what your UCAT goals are, and check them off as you achieve them!
7. Keep up your motivation! Keep preparing for UCAT!
Don’t be discouraged by a poor UCAT score. A poor UCAT score, especially when your other scores are good, does not mean that your preparation is useless, or has regressed. Rather, a single circumstance such as a bad night’s sleep may have caused you to perform worse than usual. View this as an experience that you can learn from. Ask yourself, is there anything I could have done better in the lead up to the UCAT mock exam? How can I make a change so that this won’t happen in the live UCAT?
Everyone gets a poor UCAT score from time to time. Some people give up, but it is important to reflect, make changes and persist in order to see improvements in your performance. Keep at it and you will get there! Good luck!