Why is Simulation During your UCAT Preparation so Important?
7 months ago by Chris
Simulating every aspect of the UCAT, regardless of how small it may be, is the best way to prepare yourself for the UCAT test. It is important to simulate the testing conditions, the question timings, the software, and even the stress! By simulating your UCAT preparation you will give yourself the best chance at performing well on UCAT test day.
This blog describes four ways that simulation during your UCAT preparation will help.
1. You will understand how and when to apply UCAT strategies
UCAT is an extremely time-pressured exam. It is important to continually refine your techniques so that you can shave some time off each UCAT question and complete the exam fairly comfortably. Therefore, you will need to learn certain strategies that will help you solve the question in the most time efficient manner. To do this, you need to simulate UCAT test timings when preparing.
I took UCAT mock exams as seriously as I took the official exam. That means I used the same strategies for my mocks as I would for the live UCAT. When using the MedEntry exams, I would complete questions in the fastest way I could under timed conditions. This enabled me to gauge whether or not a particular technique could also be applied to the live UCAT exam. When completing mock UCAT exams, I also made sure to actively think about maximising my marks by skipping questions when needed.
Another strategy I used was to ‘retry’ and ‘review’. I would retry my incorrectly answered UCAT questions in a timed setting and I would then review the questions afterwards in untimed conditions. This allowed me to really break down what I did wrong/right, and how I could improve this in the future. I also tried out new strategies and techniques (which should not be done for the first time in a mock UCAT exam). Remember, everybody is different, and what may work for me may not work for you. However, these strategies are ones that many high achievers in UCAT employ.
2. You will understand the format and layout of the UCAT exam
Using MedEntry’s platform to prepare for the UCAT allows for accurate simulation of the official UCAT exam. Going through UCAT questions found in books or a poorly simulated platform, as opposed to practising on a platform which perfectly simulates the UCAT exam, is harmful for your UCAT preparation. Practising on paper/pencil for UCAT is analogous to practising on a clay court when your tennis competition is on a grass court.
When elite sports people practice, they do it as if it’s the real thing. By practising with pen and paper or a poorly simulated platform, you will miss out on so many aspects of the official UCAT exam. For example, the on-screen UCAT calculator, timer, and keyboard shortcuts, are just three aspects that somebody will likely be unaware of, if they have not completed properly simulated UCAT practice. Candidates who have used the MedEntry platform will have had the chance to familiarise themselves with the exact behaviour of the live UCAT exam, placing them at a significant advantage.
Being able to effectively use keyboard shortcuts, the UCAT calculator, and knowing exactly what to expect from the UCAT on the day will alleviate nerves and provide peace of mind, ultimately allowing candidates to really focus on what’s important: performing their very best.
3. You will understand UCAT timing
If you only do untimed UCAT practice, the time pressure of the UCAT will come as a big shock. With as little as 14 seconds per question in UCAT Abstract Reasoning, familiarising yourself with the time pressure of UCAT by simulating the live exam is essential to your success. This is not to say that untimed UCAT practice is useless, but making sure that you know how much time you have for each UCAT question, how to manage your time, and how to perform under time pressure is extremely important. Untimed UCAT practice should be reserved for situations such as learning each different UCAT question type.
4. You will know when to skip UCAT questions
Practising skipping questions is an essential skill in the UCAT. However, if you don’t practise this in your preparation by simulating UCAT testing conditions, it can be extremely daunting to do so in your official UCAT exam. Skipping questions is something that most applicants will not have done prior to the UCAT, due to the very different format of content-based exams and skills exams. In content-based exams, skipping questions may result in much lower scores, but in the UCAT, strategically skipping questions allows students to ensure they can finish the UCAT exam.
Knowing when to skip questions can make or break your performance, especially in an exam as time-pressured as the UCAT. To put things into perspective, spending an extra minute on a single question set in Abstract Reasoning can potentially cause you to not have enough time to answer another 4 or 5 questions. This could have a significant detrimental impact on your score, and be the difference between receiving an interview offer or not. As such, knowing when to skip UCAT questions, and consistently putting this into practice via simulated practice will undoubtedly translate to a higher score in the live UCAT.