Nutrition is Important for UCAT Test Day
3 weeks ago by Chris
Napoleon Bonaparte once famously said “an army marches on its stomach”, and that is as relevant for UCAT as it was for the French Armies that Bonaparte commanded. Those who are about to participate in an important event, be it sports or social, make sure that they eat right to perform at their best. Making sure you put the right things into your body in the lead up to UCAT is vital to making sure that you perform well on the day of the test. I’m sure you are well aware of what a quality diet involves, so in this post I’ll serve up a couple of key nutritional tips for the immediate lead up to UCAT test day.
The Evening Before UCAT
For some people, stress can make them lose their appetite. Others overeat to help them deal with stressful situations. It is important to both avoid under- and over-eating prior to UCAT. The night before UCAT, it is important to make sure that you have a filling, balanced and wholesome meal, preferably one with a reasonable amount of lean protein, healthy fats and quality carbohydrates to provide energy for the UCAT the following day. It is also a good idea to have this meal fairly early in the night, so that your body can digest the food more easily and to ensure that you have a great night’s sleep.
The Morning Of UCAT
A moderately sized meal is very important to have on the day of the UCAT (either breakfast or lunch depending on the time you are sitting the UCAT). It is important not to have a huge meal, as this will possibly result in you feeling a little sluggish during the UCAT. Your meal should consist of low GI foods. For example, for breakfast, muesli and fruit, or multigrain toast and eggs are both great options. Remember it may be several hours between this meal and the end of UCAT, once you factor in travel and registration time. The meal will need to sustain you for that period. Avoid sugary foods as these can give an initial rush of energy, but which will be followed by fatigue when your blood sugar levels crash. Avoid too much caffeine as it is a diuretic, which means it might lead to you needing to use the bathroom during the UCAT exam.
Directly before the UCAT test
UCAT is a marathon, not a sprint, and I found it best to have something directly before I went into the test to ensure that I didn’t get hungry by the end of the UCAT, especially given it is a 2 and a half hour test requiring extreme concentration (which burns calories). I personally had a banana, and something similar in size to this is probably best. You could also choose healthy snacks such as a granola bar, dried fruits, avocados or yoghurt. Foods rich in protein, such as nuts, can boost your energy and mental alertness. Your aim should be to eat enough to keep you going throughout the exam, but not so much that you’re feeling too full at the starting line!
It is also important to ensure you are well hydrated. Drink a lot of water the night before the UCAT, but make sure you don’t have too much just before your UCAT test appointment to ensure that you don’t need to take a bathroom break during the UCAT.
Having a healthy diet is important when you study and take exams such as UCAT. However, while nutrition will play a key role in your UCAT exam, it is important to note that it is only one piece of the puzzle and it is certainly not a substitute for UCAT practice, which is the most important factor in performing well on UCAT test day. So, make sure you utilise all the UCAT preparation tools MedEntry places at your disposal!
Best of luck in your UCAT preparation!
Written by a past MedEntry student who scored 99th percentile in UCAT and is now studying medicine.