How to prepare for and succeed in UCAT
5 years ago by Rob
UCAT stands for University Clinical Aptitude Test. Students who are interested in applying for most medical and dentistry courses across Australia and New Zealand in 2020 will need to sit and succeed in UCAT in 2019.
UCAT is the single most important and difficult test that most students will face in their medical career. However, with the right preparation and approach, it is possible to excel in UCAT.
Successful preparation for UCAT involves five key steps:
- Plan your preparation
It is vital that students plan their preparation to make the most of the UCAT resources provided. MedEntry will provide students with comprehensive preparation for UCAT. To ensure that the resources are used effectively and efficiently, it is important to plan. Space out your practice exams regularly. Also schedule working through the guides and practicing on questions from the five subtests.
MedEntry recommends treating UCAT as another subject and allocating your time accordingly – if you are in year 12 you should spend about 10% of your study time on UCAT, and consider increasing this as the UCAT draws closer.
- Familiarise yourself with UCAT-style questions
The first step in preparing for UCAT is to understand the types of questions that you will face. UCAT is not a test of knowledge, it is a test of your generic skills. Therefore, the questions in UCAT will be very different to anything you have been exposed to at school and university.
UCAT is composed of questions drawn from five subtests:
- Verbal Reasoning: Assesses the ability to critically evaluate information presented in a written form.
- Decision Making: Assesses the ability to make sound decisions and judgements using complex information.
- Quantitative Reasoning: Assesses the ability to critically evaluate information presented in a numerical form.
- Abstract Reasoning: Assesses the use of convergent and divergent thinking to infer relationships from information.
- Situational Judgment: Measures the capacity to understand real world situations and to identify critical factors and appropriate behaviour in dealing with them.
- Learn strategies for tackling each type of question
Each type of question requires a certain approach, and there are strategies you can learn to help you answer challenging questions quickly and accurately. There are also many generic test-taking skills that will significantly improve your performance in UCAT.
There are many strategies to learn, which are covered in-depth in both MedEntry’s guides and two day UCAT course.
- Attempt full length practice exams under simulated conditions
Sitting full-length practice exams under simulated conditions is the most effective preparation for UCAT. Doing so will familiarise you with the extreme time pressures that you will face, as well as allowing you to practise concentrating for two hours (something we very rarely do!). It is also important to practice using the computer-based platform that will be used when you sit UCAT.
Full-length exams will also expose you to the various types of questions that you will face in UCAT, and reviewing the solutions will help you understand where you went wrong.
The UCAT Consortium provides three practice exams.
MedEntry will also provide all students with full length practice exams. These exams are meticulously researched to ensure they simulate both the style and difficulty of the real UCAT.
- Identify your weaknesses and work on them
Once you have completed a few full length trial exams, you will start to understand your weaknesses. Identify which type of question you find most difficult, and if possible, which subtype of question you find difficult. All MedEntry students are presented with detailed feedback, including percentile rankings and a breakdown of performance in each type of question. This will help significantly in identifying weaknesses.
You should then work on your weaknesses by learning further strategies (by reading the guides and reviewing solutions in depth) and attempting as many practice questions of this type as possible.
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