Should I do a UCAT preparation course?
3 years ago by Rob
You wouldn’t run a race without a coach.
You wouldn’t sit your final exams without a teacher.
So why would you sit the UCAT without having done some preparation first?
Isn’t the UCAT an aptitude test, so what’s the point in preparing?
The UCAT may be an ‘aptitude’ test, but there can be no doubt that having seen UCAT style questions before, and understanding how to answer them, will increase your chances of succeeding in the UCAT. While practice may not always make perfect, practice does increase your ability to perform in the UCAT exam because you can hone those thinking skills required to answer UCAT questions. Further, there is some evidence to suggest that in abstract reasoning section of the UCAT, repetition and practice can substantially increase this UCAT subtest score.
In addition, with abolition of mid-year exams in some states, the UCAT exam will undoubtedly become more competitive as students are able focus more of their energy on succeeding in the UCAT. Previously, students may have neglected to prepare for the UCAT exam or chosen not to do a UCAT preparation course simply because of the lack of time available in their final year of high-school. Now, however, with VTAC nullifying mid-year exams – which were mostly subjects that prospective medical students would be taking such as chemistry, biology, psychology etc.- students are able to spend more time preparing for the UCAT. This means that UCAT preparation is absolutely essential for you to remain competitive among the top end of UCAT candidates.
What if I’m failing UCAT practice papers: Is there any point in me doing a UCAT preparation course?
If you were failing a subject at school this year, you wouldn’t just let it go: You would get a tutor and do everything possible to try and improve your marks. Studying for the UCAT is exactly the same. The last thing you would want to happen would be to miss out on your preferred medical course because you performed poorly on the UCAT due to lack of preparation. There are numerous students who have obtained outstanding ATAR scores of 99.5 and even perfect scores of 99.95, and have missed out on medical places because of their performance on the UCAT. Others may miss out on the UCAT score they need to obtain an interview by only one percentile- perhaps, a percentile that could have been gained by doing a UCAT preparation course.
But all the UCAT preparation courses I’m seeing are really expensive..
Yes it’s true: The best UCAT preparation courses aren’t free and that’s because these courses have been thoroughly prepared by highly experienced industry professionals. They are designed specifically to help you succeed in the UCAT and achieve the UCAT score that you need to gain entry into medicine or your chosen health science course. Remember that the average annual income for a full-time Australian GP is $200,000 or more, and the earnings of a specialist will obliviously far exceed this. Thus, relatively speaking, the cost of a UCAT preparation course is minor compared to your own potential earnings as a medical professional.
In addition, doing a UCAT preparation course will also give you peace of mind that you have done everything possible in your power to gain entry into medicine. The worst case scenario when UCAT results are released, is that you only just miss out on your preferred course, knowing you could have done more UCAT preparation. Paying for a UCAT course, thereby increasing your chances of doing well in the UCAT, will far outweigh not doing a UCAT course, not succeeding in the UCAT and having to enter medicine by the graduate entry medicine pathway.
Can’t I just find free UCAT resources on the internet?
Yes, there are a limited number of free UCAT practice exams and other free UCAT resources available on the internet including on this website. However, if you want UCAT advice that is far more comprehensive, specific, up-to-date and with real-time feedback you will need to pay for some kind of UCAT preparation package.
So which UCAT course is best?
The very first step has to be to watch the two hour UCAT Bootcamp on MedEntry website under 'Free Resources'
You can also talk to others who have sat the UCAT. The UCAT preparation course you choose needs to be up-to-date, thorough and reflect any recent changes in the UCAT. You might find that there is a reluctance among students to admit doing UCAT preparation courses due to the negative connotations that can come with using UCAT tutors to gain an advantage over other students. Therefore, don’t be surprised if you can’t find anyone to talk to about UCAT preparation courses as many students will deny having used them. It is important to remember too that how students will view the usefulness of UCAT courses is highly subjective and many will base their opinion of a UCAT preparation course on their UCAT results. Thus, you would do well to gain the opinion of several such students if at all possible. However, the reality is, not doing any UCAT preparation will make it virtually impossible for you to succeed in the UCAT. You need to thoroughly utilise all of the UCAT resources available to you by studying regularly and effectively and thus succeed in the UCAT.
Perhaps one thing that can be said is make sure you choose a preparation company that specialises in UCAT tutoring and UCAT preparation. The UCAT is a very specific style of test and thus any preparation you do needs to reflect this and needs to be run by medical professionals who understand the strenuous requirements of the UCAT and medical and health science courses. See 'About Us' on the MedEntry website.
So what if I don’t do well on the UCAT I can get into medicine other ways..
Actually, there is no way you can gain entry into undergraduate medicine in Australia with a Commonwealth Supported Place (CSP) without having sat the UCAT first. The only way to gain entry into undergraduate medicine in Australia with a very poor UCAT score would be to attend JCU (which has heavy preference for rural students) or private university such as Bond University. Bond offers only full fee places starting at around $100,000 p/a – and this is assuming you pass their individual selection processes and criteria, and, does not include the cost of other expenses such as textbooks, accommodation etc. If you are unable to gain entry into undergraduate medicine, you will be forced to take the longer and non-guaranteed graduate medicine entry pathway. For a more detailed discussion of this, please see our articles comparing UCAT and GAMSAT, Monash and Melbourne, and, USyd and UNSW.
The bottom line on UCAT and UCAT preparation courses:
The UCAT, like your medical interview (MMI), and your ATAR score is just another hurdle requirement that you need to overcome in order to gain entry into medicine. You really should do everything in your power to succeed in the UCAT. The last thing that you want would be to miss out on your place in your chosen undergraduate medical course, knowing you should have, and could have, done more to prepare.