Planning Time for UCAT Preparation
8 months ago by Chris
A very common question asked by aspiring medical students is “How do you balance your school work and UCAT practice?” Given that the UCAT can be equally or even more important than ATAR in the medical school selection process, it is crucial that students devote sufficient time in preparing for the UCAT, without neglecting their year 12 studies.
Dedicated time or spare time?
The key to finding this balance is planning your time. Many students attempt to fit in UCAT study in their ‘spare time’, which is hard to find in year 12. It is more productive to set aside blocks of time which are specifically devoted to UCAT. Doing this will help you focus on one task, be more efficient, and avoid neglecting UCAT. Monthly or yearly planners can be helpful to visualise how you plan large blocks of time.
This blog will detail one method of planning time for UCAT preparation, using MedEntry’s resources on the online learning platform. It can be likened to an analogy of putting the big rocks into a jar first, and then pouring in the sand after to get the most into the jar. The big rocks are your UCAT practice exams, and the sand is QBank practice and subtest mocks.
The larger stones: add the exams
Decide how many UCAT practice exams you would like to complete. Spread these out in the time between when you start your UCAT preparation, and roughly 1-2 weeks before the day of your UCAT testing date. One way of doing so would be to increase the frequency of the exams you complete as you approach the live UCAT. Remember also that you will have more time during the holidays, without the stress of internal assessments at school.
It will take two hours to complete each exam, as well as several hours to review the exam – do not underestimate this part of the process, as it is very important to helping you improve. Therefore, it may be more convenient to plan time for full UCAT practice exams on weekends.
Keep in mind that study plans should be flexible. Other commitments will arise, and it is important to accommodate them. If you miss a UCAT practice exam, ensure that you catch up before the next.
The sand: add subtest mocks and QBank practice
Subtest Mocks and question banks (as well as UCAT skills trainers) can be accessed when you have smaller intervals of spare time. They are especially useful to target problem areas in your UCAT practice. For example, when you are doing UCAT practice exams, you may notice specific UCAT question types which you find particularly difficult, and you can use the QBank to work on these. Furthermore, in the days leading up to the live UCAT, short UCAT practice sessions can be less stressful and taxing than full length UCAT practice exams.
Individualise your plan
Ultimately, the required amount of time for UCAT practice will vary for each student. In addition, it is rare that a student will feel 100% prepared for UCAT or will be able to answer every question on the UCAT exam, no matter how prepared they are. People who achieve the highest UCAT scores usually do not answer every UCAT question correctly. However, time management and planning will increase your likelihood of committing to UCAT practice, enabling you to approach the exam well equipped and with confidence.
This is one method of planning time for UCAT preparation. However, which ever way you choose, remember that it is crucial to devote sufficient time in preparing for the UCAT, without neglecting your year 12 studies.