Bigger isn’t Better when it comes to UCAT question banks.

Yeah. It's a bold claim.
But here's the diagnosis to prove it.

Like thousands of students each year searching for UCAT support, you’re probably wondering:

“If I choose a UCAT course with more questions, will it maximise my UCAT score?”

The short answer is absolutely NOT

Some of you may think ‘that’s good enough for me’ (our summary can be found here) but us medics want the evidence, so here’s our Bigger isn’t Better diagnosis for effective UCAT preparation.

Contents Menu:

Click on an icon below to take you through our diagnosis or just read on.

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Let’s begin this diagnosis by taking the history of UCAT preparation.

History taking is an essential component in making a diagnosis. This allows the delivery of high-quality care. We need to look at the history to develop a strong understanding of what the problems are.

Over the last few years, we have seen a rise in the popularity of online UCAT platforms.

Why is this?

There are now over 30 UCAT medical schools in the UK with some placing greater importance on a higher UCAT score like Glasgow Uni. As the majority of medical applicants achieve excellent school grades, the UCAT helps admissions tutors to differentiate between the best of the best, so scoring highly can often mean the difference between getting an offer or not. 

Platforms, like ours, are here to support the next generation of medics to score well on the UCAT and BMAT and receive their dream offer. We remember how amazing it felt when we received our Medicine offers so we strive to help others achieve this too.

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Hi, my name is Ali Abdaal, I am the co-founder of 6med and my friends and I started 6med in 2013 because when we applied for med school, we found that the preparation platforms were wickedly expensive and completely ineffective. When medical applicants from our school started asking us for help with their own applications, we realised we could do something about the lack of UCAT tutelage, and do it properly!

Since 2013, we have supported over 10,000 students with their Medicine applications and we are extremely proud that 93% of the students that have worked with us over the years have got their Medicine offer!

Ali and his brother coded the UCAT Ninja and BMAT Ninja platforms on their kitchen table which have since become a roaring success. Last year, BMAT Ninja was used by 2 in 3 Medicine applicants! Our Ninja platforms have helped students who can’t attend physical courses to prepare effectively and be more confident about their medical school application.

We love that there are lots of options out there for student UCAT support but this unfortunately means that the importance of certain aspects of preparation has become lost and confused. We have noticed a huge shift in student perceptions to believe that the more questions available, the better a platform is. This is far from true which is where our research comes in.

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The next step in a diagnosis is to perform a physical examination. 

Here are the vital signs:

A physical examination is used to examine the general status, check for any issues and keep track of any changes to determine if further tests are needed. We will do this by taking the vital signs of UCAT preparation data.

 The first vital sign we’ll measure is the number of UCAT questions.

Figure 1. shows the average number of questions completed by students in 2020 compared to the questions available in popular question banks.

The Medify question bank has 20,000 UCAT questions and UCAT Ninja has 4,000 UCAT questions. Our data shows that in 2020, 90% of UCAT Ninja students completed up to 900 questions. This means that 90% of students might only complete 4.5% of Medify’s questions and 22.5% of UCAT Ninja’s questions. More importantly, 3,100 UCAT Ninja questions are therefore unanswered by 90% of students and over 19,000 for Medify!

The second vital sign we’ll measure is correct UCAT answers compared to the number of UCAT questions students complete.

Figure 2. shows the correlation between percentage of correct UCAT answers with the number of questions completed using 2020 UCAT Ninja data.

Figure 2. shows that there is a loose correlation between correct answers and the number of questions completed.

As mentioned in the previous vital sign, 90% of students complete up to 900 questions. Figure 2. shows that completing 900 questions would create an increase in correct answers of 6% (58-64%). For a student who is scoring 600 on the UCAT, this would result in a score lift from 600 to 636, which is not significant.

For a student looking to increase their score by 60 points, they would need to go through around 1,500 questions which is a 10% increase from the baseline of 58%.

To receive a high UCAT score of 750, a student would need to increase their correct answers by 25% from the baseline of 58% which would roughly equate to 3,750 questions. 

Therefore, the data shows that the more questions completed leads to a minimal improvement in UCAT score as students have to complete a large number of questions to significantly increase their score. Also, as indicated earlier, up to 90% of students only complete 900 questions which roughly increases a UCAT score by an insignificant 36 points. This means, for UCAT practice, we should be looking more at the quality of preparation over the quantity of questions.

The third vital sign we will measure is how long students actually prepare for the UCAT.

Figure 3. shows the number of days students complete more than 20 questions from 2020 UCAT Ninja data.

The data shows that students tend to prepare for a short amount of time. Data used in Figure 3. reveals the average number of days that students prepare for the UCAT is 3 days, the median is 2 days and the mode is 1 day. Students therefore prepare for only a few days, rather than a few months for the test which is opposite to the advice of preparing early, and often!

The fourth vital sign we will measure is time to prepare and the number of UCAT questions available.

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Figure 4. shows the UCAT key dates with time taken to complete two question banks.

Figure 4. shows the usual timescale for early UCAT preparation with testing dates next to how long it would take to complete the Medify and UCAT Ninja question banks.

Students tend to start preparing for the UCAT once their exams are out of the way at the end of May. This gives applicants around 2 months to prepare for the first UCAT exams. We estimate that students complete an average of 40 questions a day along with learning UCAT techniques and understanding the different sections of the test. 40 questions daily means that students using Medify’s question bank would take 16 months to complete the 20,000 questions (taking a student up to September, by which time you should be starting your first year!). This makes their questions redundant by the end of the UCAT testing period leaving 12 months worth of extra questions that students will not complete. We say redundant because after the UCAT testing period, students need time to prepare for the BMAT, work experience, Personal Statement, interview preparation and general schoolwork. Unless you just fancy doing the UCAT for fun…

Completing 40 questions a day with UCAT Ninja, along with the Training Temple for UCAT technique preparation, takes a student over 3 months to complete all of the questions. This would cover the entire UCAT preparation period between May and July and the majority of the testing period.

As seen in figure 3., on average, students tend to prepare for 3 days which again confirms the point that more questions do not make a better preparation platform as most students won’t see 19,000+ questions on Medify and 3,000+ questions on UCAT Ninja.

Want to see the data for yourself? Obviously, we’ve had to reduce the amount of information here because of boring business reasons, but nevertheless – here it is! Click the button below and go ahead.

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Of course, it would not be a good diagnosis if we did not explore a differential diagnosis.

We need to consider more conditions to arrive at a correct diagnosis. So far, we have looked at Bigger isn’t Better with a UCAT preparation platform, but what other factors are involved in an effective UCAT preparation platform?

Firstly, practice does not make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect. When it came to sitting the UCAT, we found that the importance of gaining a deeper understanding of the different UCAT sections and strategies to answer the questions was often overlooked.

Incidentally, this is one of the reasons we decided to run our Crash Courses!

To be able to effectively answer UCAT questions, you need to have a strong understanding of the principles of how to answer the UCAT questions. This is why we train our students in the UCAT Ninja Training Temple. Students receive detailed revision notes for all sections of the UCAT including strategies and tips to improve their score on the test.

The quality of UCAT questions across all UCAT preparation platforms will differ greatly. Only 0.03% of UCAT Ninja questions were flagged as wrong last year, due to our comprehensive UCAT question writing and quality control. Our UCAT questions stand out because of our extensive quality assurance so you can confidently prepare for the UCAT without the worry of any dodgy questions.

Pricing is also key. You’ll find lots of students on sites like Student Room and Reddit asking:

“Is a UCAT preparation platform worth the money?”

Let’s use the value equation:

When asking if it is worth the money, we need to look at the quality, service and also the features provided over the price of the platform. Remember that the quality, service and features are what will help increase your UCAT score, whatever the price is.

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UCAT Ninja makes preparation as painless as it can be. Ever tried Duolingo and liked it? We have the UCAT equivalent right here. You can expect amazing and engaging features such as:

We know revising for the UCAT doesn’t beat laying on a beach in the sun… but it doesn’t need to be terrible either!

As we mentioned earlier, the key to UCAT success is also teaching techniques to help improve understanding and exam performance. That is why we include guides written by UCAT experts that take you through the best strategies to tackle the different UCAT sections. We don’t expand everything into a million words. We tell you exactly what you need to know in a simple, easy to digest format without the fluff. That’s a 6med promise.

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Formulating and finalising our diagnosis.

As part of our clinical decision-making process, we will use the information gathered from taking the history, physical examinations and the differential diagnosis. It is time to bring everything together to make our final diagnosis for UCAT preparation.

A large number of questions does not make a significant difference to a student’s UCAT score. 90% of students only answer up to 900 questions which increases a UCAT score by an insignificant 36 points. Students need to complete roughly 3,750 questions to achieve a high score of 750, which is a significant number of questions, especially as students complete around 40 questions a day. Therefore, a larger question bank is not effective at increasing your UCAT score. Do not burn out practising a billion questions!

To put this into real context, the large number of questions offered, such as Medify’s 20,000 question bank or MedEntry’s 10,000 questions is redundant because students will likely not utilise anywhere near 50% of the questions available. If 90% of students complete up to 900 questions, that leaves 19,100 Medify questions to never be seen by students. Why pay more for questions that you will never answer?

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If it is not about the number of questions a UCAT preparation platform provides, what makes the platform effective at preparing a student for the test? Practising questions is important to allow students to learn from mistakes, improve time management and avoid any test day surprises. However, to score highly on the UCAT, students need to have a strong understanding of how to answer the questions. We encourage you to practice regularly and then put your learning to the test. Therefore, the teaching provided by an online UCAT platform must be able to support your learning, not just the testing. 

UCAT Ninja is the most affordable platform with 4x as many questions as 90% of students actually complete. The high-quality questions are accompanied by expert guides that teach you all of the best techniques for acing the 5 sections. Our platform is built solely to boost your UCAT score by making the process as fun and engaging as the UCAT can be! The features you’ll experience, such as rewards for your hard work, competitive leaderboards and performance tracking (with the enticingly low price tag) makes UCAT Ninja a true UCAT preparation champion.

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Consultation time, time to share our diagnosis.

It is important to bring everything together in a clear and concise manner, explain our key findings and provide actions for what is next.

We aimed to investigate if Bigger isn’t Better with UCAT preparation. From our research, we can conclude:

From our diagnosis, we can confidently prescribe you our high-value UCAT Ninja platform to boost your UCAT score through the most affordable platform out there. We don’t just focus on practice, we help you to deeply understand the format and techniques required to smash each UCAT section. And our amazing features, such as rewards for your hard work, competitive leaderboards and performance tracking make your preparation process as fun, engaging and painless as UCAT preparation can be. Bigger isn’t Better with UCAT preparation.

Get on top of your UCAT preparation and become a true UCAT Ninja:

Crafted with love by a team of Oxbridge medical students, UCAT Ninja teaches you everything you need to know for the UCAT. You’ll get full access for 12 months so you can work through 4,000 practice questions, fully worked solutions every step of the way, and 4 full mock exams to put your revision into practice.

 

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