When I was preparing for the UCAT it was back in the era of ‘UKCAT’. As a matter of fact, it was the last year before the name changed. It was no doubt a very stressful time for me, fear and anxiety was taking over. But what I learnt is that UCAT preparation is key. I’m yet to come across another medical student that claims the UCAT is easy. So, to make your life easier, it would be a good decision to follow these tips to make sure you’re ready for the challenge.
The first step to take in your preparation is to go back and read my previous post on this series called ‘What is the UCAT?‘. Also, visit the UCAT website to get even more insight. Read their FAQs and preparation plan to get familiar with what the test is all about. But now I am going to get into my top tips for UCAT preparation.
1. Book early
Book your test shortly after registration opens, you can always change it but this gives you a date to be revising towards. Pick a date that you know will be a good time for you, with no holidays or any other prior commitments on the day or shortly before it. Booking an early slot in June/July is beneficial to you because you have the opportunity to change it! I booked my UKCAT for early July and ended up taking it in August. This is because life got in the way quite frankly, however booking early allowed me the flexibility to change my slot.
2. time for Revision
I would suggest 1 hour a day four weeks before your test and gradually increase this as you get closer to your exam date. Definitely work towards the date of your exam to make sure are ready. The time that you need to spend revising ultimately does depend on your needs. Everyone is different, I know people who lightly revised and did just fine and others who needed much more work. You might find that you’re struggling with some sections more than others, and need to spend invest additional time on them.
3. Revision timetable
A revision timetable is a really good resource to keep organised. It can be difficult to ensure you are spending adequate time revising, especially if you’re on your summer holiday. Don’t let other commitments such as work or meeting up with friends leave you with no time left to revise. You’ll be sorry afterwards if you do this! So, plan each day, schedule in 1-3 hours to revise. I would suggest scheduling revision in for every day between now and your revision day. Of course plan in some rest days! This strategy is going to help you so much in making sure you are fully prepared. You don’t want to get to the week before the test and be panicking because you didn’t budget the right about of revision before.
Revision timetable resources that I love:
4. Use medify
I found that the Medify questions were almost exactly like the real thing in terms of the difficulty and style of questioning. This really helps you get used to the layout because it looks identical to the real software. As much as I think the books for UCAT preparation are a great resource, using online revision tools are the most beneficial since the test is online! Medify has mock tests, mini-mock tests and a HUGE question bank. You can take each section in turn and complete questions solely on it which is really good if you’re trying to nail a particular one. If you want to take it that step further you can also consider purchasing the ACE the UCAT e-book which is made to go alongside Medify. The e-book is written by a fellow medical student who did extremely well in their UCAT, read my review of it that is coming out in a couple of days.
5. Avoid burn out
Burn out can be a real thing when revising for any exam. I have found that especially with the UCAT, you can tend to reach a ‘peak’ of some sort. This is when you are at the height of your revision, and after you reach that point, you start to fall off. Your commitment to revision may decrease and you may see your performance in your practise tests start to dip. Ideally, you want to take your UCAT at your ‘peak’. So pace yourself. Take time out to do fun and relaxing things. Your UCAT preparation shouldn’t consume your life!