The Complete Guide to UCAT Top Tips

You want to get into Medical School and you know the UCAT is a hurdle that stands in your way. We've put together the Top Tips for UCAT to make your life easier and prepare for the test better!

Looking for UCAT guidance?

You want to get into Medical School and you know the UCAT is a hurdle that stands in your way.  Unfortunately, it is a real test that requires hard work and practice

Fortunately, we’ve put together the Top Tips for UCAT to make your life easier and prepare for the test better!

By following our tips and advice you will boost your chances of getting a higher UCAT score and feel confident and satisfied that you are approaching this exam in the most proactive and effective way.

Let’s dive right in!

How These Tips Can Help

A high UCAT score is critical if aiming to succeed in the medicine selection process. By following our tips and advice you will not only boost your chances of getting a higher UCAT score but will be able to feel more confident with your approach to the exam!

What is the Structure and Format of the UCAT?

The UCAT consists of five different subtests which are all assessed consecutively as part of a computer-based test. The test will last two hours in total.

Each subtest has a different number of questions, each question is worth one mark in total except in the Decision Making subtest. Decision Making questions may be worth two marks when multiple statements are correct, partially correct answers are then awarded one mark.

The sum of your results in Verbal Reasoning, Decision Making, Quantitative Reasoning and Abstract Reasoning represents your total UCAT score. Each of these cognitive subtests uses a scale score range of between 300-900. The total scale score range is between 1,200 and 3,600

The Situational Judgement test consists of 69 questions and is separately scored. Each student’s performance will be ranked within one of four bands, starting from Band 1 (highest to Band 4 (lowest) in the Situational Judgement test. This test may be weighted differently as part of the selection process.

UCAT Revision Preparation Tips

The UCAT exam may differ from other tests you have done in the past. It is likely that when being assessed in school you have been required to apply your knowledge to questions, naturally having a good understanding of a topic through studying can improve your results. It is a commonly believed preconception that a person’s intelligence, which is being assessed within the UCAT cannot change.

Most students find that throughout the weeks they spend preparing for the UCAT, their scores increase – so why is this? Success in the UCAT is not only dependent upon your intelligence but your technique and practice. Practice allows you to become familiar with the types and structure of questions within the UCAT.

1). When should I begin my preparation?

On average the majority of students begin preparation at the beginning of Year 12, fewer students commence preparations in April or later in Year 12.

2). How much time should I give to preparation?

Information sourced by the UCAT company found that on average the most successful students spend between 25-30 hours preparing for the exam.

Remember: revising and practising for the UCAT for this number of hours will not guarantee you an excellent score and practising the UCAT is subject to diminishing returns. Your revision needs to be focused and effective. Each person is different; how quickly they adapt to this new examination process will vary.

3). How long should I spend preparing each day?

Your UCAT preparation shouldn’t overload you with stress and take up all of your time. Aim to revise for around one hour consistently each day. You may decide to do a couple of questions from each subtest or focus more on areas of weakness. As your test date approaches, you are likely to want to designate a larger proportion of your time to preparation.

UCAT Exam Practice Tips

Begin your preparation by ensuring you fully understand what the exam entails and become familiar with the format and functions of the test.

Guide yourself through each subtest ensuring you have an understanding of the question types and format. Note the strategies for how to tackle different types of questions.

Begin using question banks to become familiar with subsection questions before processing onto mock tests.

1). Utilise Resources

It can be difficult to know which resources to rely on and use. Resources come in different formats; during your period of preparation, you may use books, websites or take part in tutoring/courses. When deciding which resources to use you want to consider how many questions they have available. Are the questions in the same format as they will appear in the exam? 

As well as physically practising questions there are a number of websites and YouTube videos that provide tips and advice on how to tackle subsections you are finding difficult. 

2). Mimic the conditions of the UCAT

Practice tests should be sat on a desktop computer, when doing mock tests you are aiming to develop a number of skills. These may include learning and implementing strategies to save valuable seconds and adapt to the pressurised nature of the test. This may be using keyboard shortcuts or the calculator only when required.

3). Turn your Areas of Weakness into Strengths

When studying medicine, it is integral students are insightful into their learning and are aware of which study skills and ways of practise/learning works for them. When beginning your UCAT preparation be open-minded to different preparation strategies. It is perfectly alright if you experiment with different ways of preparing for the exam, provided you leave enough time to implement an effective practice strategy.

After each study session, you want to reflect on your performance. Go through each question and try to understand the explanations. Make note of which question types you are getting wrong. Think about the amount of time you spent on the question and whether or not you used a strategic approach. It is unlikely that you will complete all the questions in a mock, but the questions you left unanswered shouldn’t go to waste! Go back and give them a go!

UCAT Specific Subsection Tips

Verbal Reasoning Preparation

Decision Making Preparation

Abstract Reasoning Preparation

Quantitative Reasoning Preparation

Situational Judgment Preparation

You should start to get familiar with the UK Good Medical Practice guidelines. These provide guidelines on professional and ethical behaviour. Many of the topics and themes that Situational Judgement questions address will be covered in this document.

 

You can find out more about the Situational Judgment subtest here.

UCAT Timing Tips

Part of the challenge of the UCAT test is the highly time-pressured nature of the test.

1). Take Educated Guesses and Pick Out Key Information

For Quantitative Reasoning questions, use rough estimates rather than working precisely. Also, do a sense check – is your answer logical?

Work by the process of elimination, ensure you are increasing the probability of guessing the correct answer.

Identify key information from passages and questions.

2). Don’t get Bogged Down with One Question

Learn how long you should spend on each question. In the moment it can be difficult to maintain awareness about how long questions have taken you- keep an eye on the clock.

Are you a high academic achiever and persistent individual? It can be particularly frustrating when you can’t determine an answer. Avoid being stubborn – If you are really stuck just take a guess and move on.

Using the flag tool is also very advantageous. There will be some questions where you feel you are closer to determining the answer than other questions. Use the flag function to prioritise which questions to return to if time permits.

3). Calculator and Number Tabs

 You do not want to waste time loading and using the calculator unless truly required. Part of your preparation should involve brushing up on your mental maths and arithmetic skills. We advise learning shortcuts such as multiplication and divisibility tricks and tips.

UCAT Exam Day And Final Words

Ensure you know where your test centre is and the time of your test. Arrive in plenty of time and make sure you have the correct ID. It can be useful to consider who you may want to travel to the test centre with and the reliability of your mode of transport.

 

A lot is resting on your UCAT score and the pressure to perform well can feel overwhelming. Try to stay calm and remember everything that you’ve learnt from your preparation – good luck, we believe in you!

There’s plenty more to learn about the UCAT!

We have tons of useful articles available for you on our free UCAT Resources page! Some of our top guide include:

Are you looking for even more UCAT support? 6med is here to help!

The 6med UCAT Bundle provides you with everything that’ll you’ll need to prepare for the exam, no matter what stage of prep you’re at!

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Just leave your email in the box and you’ll receive weekly updates and the best tips for your medical application!