Hey guys, welcome back to another post! I thought that it would be good to start a mini-series on the University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT), previously the UKCAT. When I sat it, the name was still the UKCAT (my year was acutally the last year before the name change). I had no idea it was brewing at that point. So, I have been finding it hard to get used to. But if you are new to the medical application process, the name UCAT will definitely just come naturally to you, Even as I’m writing this post, I’m still not sure which one to call it. But for the sake of correctness, I think I’ll stick to UCAT. This post is all about my UCAT test day experience, I remember it like it was just yesterday. I remember all the feelings, the chain of events, and even my entire outfit. This post is all about my UCAT test day experience, I remember it like it was just yesterday. I remember all the feelings, the chain of events, and even my entire outfit.
Travelling to my UCAT exam
My test was in the afternoon around 12 pm. I chose this time because I knew that my alertness is optimal around midday. On the morning off, I travelled on the tram and arrived in the area 45 minutes early. I decided to head to Greggs across the road to pass by the time. I did my UCAT in Croydon. If you didn’t know you take the UCAT in the same test centre where people take their driving theory tests. But, if you know Croydon you will know that the road structure is… complex. At least that is my opinion of it; if there is not a tram coming down the middle of the road, there are multiple lanes of cars coming at you faster.
When I came out of Greggs, I found myself utterly lost. I had never been down the road the test centre was on before and couldn’t find it. Fortunately, I did end up arriving at the test centre on time. Relief!
I filled in all the forms, put my things in the locker and headed over to the room. Outside they do a complete check like the pat-down at airport security. This is to make sure you’re not bringing in anything other than the locker key, your ID, and the note-taking material they provide into the room. They even looked behind my ears even though I had a bun in my hair (told you I remembered my whole outfit).
I chose the seat I thought was best, in hindsight I probably should have chosen one further away from the door. I put on the earplugs and headphones they provide you to block out the noise. It was important that I took some time before pressing start to fully prepare myself. This included me organising my desk space with my whiteboard and pen ready to jot down workings out and notes. After all of that, I began. Verbal reasoning is the first section of the UCAT and my one word to describe it was STRESS. I was very nervous, and the limited time was not very helpful. The UCAT is very fast pace and my nerves were getting the best of me. But as the test went on it got better and I felt more relaxed.
The test was very similar to what I practised using Medify, so from that, I already knew my strengths and weaknesses. The layout and style of the questions were almost identical. The Situational Judgement Test (SJT) was my best section, it was just like the practises I did prior to the real exam. I think I enjoyed it the most because it’s based more on your character rather than anything else. How you react in certain situations instead of using actual brainpower like in all the other sections
the results are in…
The results were in, they get printed out just like that. Verbal reasoning was the first result that my gaze went to asit was at the top. And it was the most disappointing for me. The rest was actually pretty good and were quite consistent with each other, around 650-700 each. Which do you want first, the good news or the bad news? I wish someone asked me that before I looked at my results, LOL.
It’s unfortunate that they bundle your results into one so if you do badly in one or two of the sections it will affect your total score. In my case, verbal reasoning was the bad egg that dragged my score down. Although this wasn’t really a shock to me, as I mentioned before it was the first section of the test. Even in my practices, I always found it the hardest section due to the limited time you have to complete it. Ultimately, I averaged around 635. You actually need to work this out yourself as only your total score is written on the sheet.
UCAT Experience Reflections…
I was aiming for a score of 650 based on previous year’s results. But I learnt that you can’t control everything, and things do change. For example, the exam for that year may have been harder. I say this because, my score wouldn’t have been considered a ‘good score’ in previous cohorts. Only to find out later when they released the test statistics that my score was above average for my year. I also achieved a band 1 in SJT (band 1= highest, band 4= lowest).
So that was the overview of my UCAT experience. Overall, I think if I were to do my exam over. I would do many things differently, but I will cover this in-depth in another post. It didn’t go exactly how I would have liked but I came to find that it really wasn’t the end of the world. The UCAT is a key component in the entry to medicine process but it also important to remember that it isn’t the most pivotal part.