Yes! Even high achieving students can stumble in the UCAT.
Some students with perfect year 12 scores (99.95) have missed out on a place in medicine and related courses due to their low UCAT scores. In some cases, your UCAT score is more important than your year 12 score in securing a university place in Medicine or the health sciences.
Research shows training can significantly improve UCAT score by familiarising you with the types of questions that will be asked and developing strategies to tackle them.
An all-too-common fallacy about preparing for UCAT is that all you need to do is 'familiarise' yourself with the test by doing some practice questions. That's like saying the way to become a great basketball player is to familiarise yourself with a basketball court and practice taking a few shots.
You might be familiar with the quote by Benjamin Franklin: "by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail". These words definitely ring true for the three-hour, gruelling marathon that is the UCAT.
"Kids take prep courses to ace tests that are supposed to measure inborn aptitude," (page 100, Time Magazine, December 20, 2004).
The UCAT is a skills based test: you cannot ‘cram’ information the night before. You have to overlearn the strategies to solve UCAT style problems so that thinking becomes automatic and fast.
So start preparing now!
You may find opinions expressed on forums and by some organisations that UCAT preparation may not help. They are mainly from:
Research and other evidence overwhelmingly backs our claim that UCAT preparation helps:
1. Feedback statistics show that 99.1% of our customers would recommend MedEntry’s services to their friends. Here at MedEntry UCAT Prep, we are result orientated.
2. A 2011 survey of a random sample of students who have been through our full training program showed that 92% were offered interviews, and 88% were offered places in one or more medical schools.
3. Research on students re-sitting UCAT has shown that UCAT Preparation results in an average improvement of about 35 percentile points in UCAT results.
4. An AMSA (Australian Medical Students' Association) survey in 2008 found that most students found preparation helpful.
5. Evaluation by an independent statutory organisation, RDWA, carried out every year, has shown that students found MedEntry courses extremely useful. You are welcome to look at these at our business premises.
6. There have been many published research papers which indicate that the reason for better performance of certain groups is due to such groups participating in preparation courses, such as that offered by MedEntry (eg BMC Medical Education, 2013, 13:155).
7. The oft quoted 'research' published in some journals claiming UCAT Preparation may not help is done by those who are funded by test administrators and they don't declare this conflict of interest, which is unethical. An organisation which does not have such conflict of interest, Irish Universities Association (http://www.iua.ie/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/HPAT-report-July2012.pdf) found that coached students did significantly better in the test.
8. Emeritus Professor Max Kamien (Australian Doctor 26 July 2012): "If you are going to play in a tennis tournament, attend an interview or sit an exam, it is obvious that you will do better if you know the rules of the 'game' and have had practise in applying them. To test the obvious requires a much more sophisticated approach than statistical correlations or an opinion based questionnaire."
9. If preparation does not work/help, the organisations which offer UCAT coaching services would cease to exist. As a practicing doctor pointed out: "If test preparation does not work and is not effective, UCAT courses such as MedEntry would cease to exist. The fact that an increasing number of students undertake the MedEntry UCAT Course is in itself evidence that it is beneficial and works."
10. MedEntry UCAT Prep will also significantly improve your school / university score for several reasons: it will enhance your motivation to study; hone your thinking skills and it will make you a more efficient and effective learner which is invaluable for high school, university and throughout your life. It is a fact that each year, most students who obtain perfect ATAR Score have done the MedEntry course. MedEntry UCAT Prep also helps with two sections of GAMSAT. We don't coach to the test; we teach to the constructs.
11. Aptitude tests (such as the UCAT) rely on the fact that the candidates do not prepare, so testers actively discourage the candidates from preparing. They do this by propagating various myths such as: preparation does not help; it will be a waste of resources; preparation may hinder your performance; coached students may misapply simplistic rules etc. Accredited testers know that such organisations go to great lengths to place fear in the candidates to ensure they do not prepare, precisely because preparation works! If it is really true that you can't prepare for the test, universities should have no objection to UCAT preparation (rather than actively discouraging students from preparing).
12, In fact, all psychological tests and experiments involve deception (eg placebo). All national and international professional organisations in psychology (eg. Australian /American /British Psychological Societies) approve of deception in psychological experiments and tests.
13. The government also feels "rural students got a raw deal as most coaching and training centres were in cities". It is one of the reasons given for much lower entry standards into Medicine for rural students and quotas for them (ie., they don’t have access to UCAT Prep which city students have: Deans of UQ, Adelaide Med Schools). It is also claimed that coaching ‘compromises’ the validity of the test. The issue of equity is also raised i.e. UCAT coaching benefits those who are able to afford it. These three claims again imply that UCAT Prep helps.
14. ACER’s stance is the pre-neuroplastic paradigm, ie., the brain is hard wired, the brain’s anatomy is fixed and unchangeable, the brain’s function can’t be altered etc. It is also a contradiction for ACER to run a conference on ‘Neuroplasticity of the Brain’ (5-6 August 2013) while claiming UCAT training may not help: many ACER staff at the Conference agreed as much! The ‘real’ reason as an ACER staff pointed out, is the concern about test ‘security’. That is, they are worried about the ‘leakage’, and difficulty of creating new questions (there are only a certain number of strategies to solve such questions). The more you know about the test, the harder their job becomes in creating the test questions!
From the above Conference Proceedings:
- p. 12: “Brain change translates into measurable change on standardised test measures; it is not just due to practice effect”, ie coaching increases actual cognitive ability (Barbara Arrowsmith Young).
- p. 118 “Practice testing improves learning: more and longer is better. Repeated testing improves test performance more than further teaching. Students overestimate the durability of memory and underestimate the benefits of practice. Benefit of practice is greater for harder tests.” (O Lipp, S Develle).
15. Rob Urstein, of Global Innovation Programs at Stanford Graduate School of Business, found a powerful way to help students from socially and economically disadvantaged backgrounds succeed academically (published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2016). The students who were exposed to the idea that intelligence, rather than being a fixed trait, is something that grows over time and can be developed with effort, were much more likely to be successful. This concept, also known as having the ‘Growth Mindset’ has been popularised by Carol Dwerk. ACER, which claims ‘to support every learner’ is doing a disservice to low SES students by promoting the opposite myth: the fixed mindset.
16. Research presented by K Lochner and A Preuss at the 9th ITC Conference in San Sebastian, Spain in 2014, also showed that (p 251): 'performance in cognitive tests can be improved significantly' and 'Training caused a significant upward trend in performance'.
17. There are also several published articles providing evidence that MedEntry UCAT preparation will significantly improve your score. They are under the ‘News’ section in the “Resources” tab on the website.
Some further points to consider:
1. Any rational decision making should be based on decision making theory (Probability x Benefit). However, “humans are terrible at dealing with probabilities” (p68 ‘This will make you smarter’ by J Brockman).
2. What is important in UCAT is not the percentage of questions you get right, but your percentile ranking. If you only use the UCAT practice tests, you will never know your percentile ranking (how you are performing in relation to other students), your strengths and weaknesses.
Because most students who prepare for UCAT do MedEntry and most students who get into Medical schools do MedEntry, you will be able to compare your performance with the best students in Australasia. You will also be able to interact with the best students on MedEntry Forums, during the workshop etc. When you do MedEntry, you can be confident that you are learning with the best students in Australasia.
3. The simple fact is: If you do not undertake quality UCAT Prep with reputable organisation with proven track record (MedEntry), you will be disadvantaged because those who are competing with you for the limited medical school places are getting this advantage.
Please also read the information under ‘About Us'.
When you purchase the MedEntry UCAT package, you will get numerous resources for your use. You will also get additional recommended reading in the MedEntry UCAT workshops. This is definitely much more than you need, if you use it properly. How to efficiently and effectively use these resources is also discussed in the MedEntry UCAT workshops.
MedEntry constantly updates and adds new and relevant materials to the LMS so that you get the best quality resources. Most students do not use all of the materials on the LMS. Most do only the practice exams: remember there are many more resources on the LMS. Therefore, if you have used all the resources on the LMS, you can be assured that you have plateaued in terms of your UCAT skills required to ace the test. In the highly unlikely event that you have managed to complete all the resources in the way suggested in the workshop, we can recommend additional readings for you.
We also recommend that you obtain the ACER's three practice exams that you can buy when you register for UCAT.
Apart from these, we do not recommend any other courses or programs. We suggest that you do not waste your time and money on other UCAT programs because you will not end up using them since they are not relevant, too easy, outdated, contradictory, confusing, not good quality or you don't have time. Virtually all of our past students who bought another course (as well as MedEntry) regretted doing so for several reasons. There are also many scam websites spruiking UCAT products. They are likely to mislead you.
Virtually all medical school lectures at all universities are now ‘Online’, so there is no need to attend the classes every week and only a small minority do!
We encourage you to attend a 2-day MedEntry UCAT Preparation Workshop even if you have to travel a long distance. Many students from other cities, interstate, and overseas, travel to attend our UCAT workshops because there are several benefits of attending. Our students come from all over the globe, from over 45 countries including Singapore, Hong Kong, South Africa, Dubai, UK, Canada etc.
But don't just take our word for it, check out the hundreds of glowing Google and Facebook reviews of our workshops posted by our happy and successful students. We have more and higher ratings than every university in Australia! MedEntry Sydney, Melbourne and Ireland offices have over 1000 reviews at a star rating of about 4.8+, far exceeding that of any university. Most often heard feedback: 'The best lecture I have ever attended'.
Three of the main benefits of the MedEntry 2 day workshop are:
The study guides on the online LMS (Learning Management System) do provide detailed approaches to different UCAT question types, but it is always more effective to be taught this information than simply to read it yourself – after all, according to the psychiatrist William Glasser, we learn 10% of what we read, but 50% of what we see and hear!
The UCAT workshop highlights what kind of approaches to questions are the most important, and what types of UCAT questions are the most common. This allows you to make the most of all the resources provided by MedEntry, and perform as well as possible on the UCAT. In evaluations, MedEntry students say that they either did not use the resources on the LMS, or did not know how to efficiently and effectively use them, until they attended a MedEntry UCAT Preparation Workshop.
Additionally, some inside knowledge and information that is not available elsewhere is provided at the UCAT workshop. You will also find that many of the skills that you learn at the UCAT workshop are transferrable, and useful for school and university study.
Attending a MedEntry UCAT Preparation Workshop provides motivation to perform well on the UCAT, as it can make the whole UCAT process feel clearer and more real.
You will also meet fellow students with similar interests and passions. This is a fantastic opportunity for developing your thinking and forming new friendships and study groups, as well as a great source of motivation.
Additionally, you will hear from current medical students about how they used MedEntry to obtain excellent scores on the UCAT, as well as what to expect from studying at university. It is an invaluable opportunity to first-hand tips from people who have gone through it all before, and to be able to ask any burning questions you might have about the UCAT or university!
At the UCAT workshop you will be given the opportunity to sit a trial UCAT exam, based on which you will receive predicted UCAT scores. This is immensely helpful for a number of reasons:
- You will have a much better idea of what to expect from the experience of sitting the actual UCAT exam.
- You will be able to see how your scores compare to fellow MedEntry students, and how they are predicted to compare to those of everyone taking the exam.
- You will be able to determine your strengths and weaknesses; on what sections you need to focus the most, how to plan your UCAT preparation, and how to plan your approach in the UCAT itself. Remember that wherever you are at is just a starting point; it’s incredible what it’s possible to achieve with practice – and MedEntry provides all the resources to allow you to practice in the most effective way possible!
Further benefits of the MedEntry UCAT 2-day workshop include:
Attending a MedEntry UCAT Preparation Workshop is an invaluable opportunity that will allow you to achieve your best score possible on the UCAT.
Yes! Interviews are a crucial aspect of the selection process for entry into health science courses. In some universities, interviews are weighted at more than 50% of the total selection criteria. Most people focus on their ATAR scores, study for the UCAT but do not prepare for the interview.
However, knowledge of the types of questions asked, coaching on interview technique and enhanced communication skills can dramatically improve your performance. You should not go into an interview unprepared or not having an understanding of what you will be asked.
Personality tests (such as the interviews) rely on the fact that the candidates do not prepare, so interviewers actively discourage the candidates from preparing. They do this by propagating various myths such as: preparation does not help; there are some questions in the interview which are designed to detect if you try to second guess; preparation may work against you etc. Accredited testers know that such organisations go to great lengths to place fear in the candidates to ensure they do not prepare, precisely because preparation works! If it is really true that you can't prepare for interviews, universities should have no objection to interview preparation (rather than actively discouraging students from preparing). Even if there is evidence that the answers come across is rehearsed, interviewers have to give you the benefit of the doubt (assume you are smart/motivated to prepare and think about the issues).
"A difficult task postponed, becomes an impossible task later."
The graduate medicine entry route requires that you complete a degree first before applying for Medicine. This means studying hard for an additional 3 or 4 years (and paying the fees), to maintain high grades with no guarantee of getting into Medicine. So you will have exams for at least 7 years: three years of first degree and 4 years of condensed medical degree. Undergrad medicine, for eg at Monash, is far less stressful because in the first year they ease you in, and in final year you are working as an unpaid intern (so no exams).
You also need to sit a test called the GAMSAT, which is a six hour test (compare this with UCAT which is a three hour test) as well as doing well in the interview. The preparation courses for GAMSAT are also far more expensive, in the range of $1500 plus.
The GAMSAT has been described by most people as ‘the most horrible thing I've ever had to do in my life’. Do not make the mistake of thinking that if you do a Biomedicine or Biosciences degree, you will automatically be offered a place in Medicine, as some universities misleadingly make you believe. If you miss out on a place in Medicine, you may end up with a degree that is not useful for your future, and a waste of several years of your life.
The median age of students entering graduate medical programs in Australia is 25.4 years. By that age, you would have completed your medical degree and probably working as a Registrar in your chosen specialty if you choose the Year 12 entry (UCAT) route. Imagine entering medical school at 25 via graduate entry, then trying to study for the specialist training exams in your early thirties with a family to care for!
Further, when you apply through the graduate entry pathway, you can only apply to one university (with only three preferences) and you will be interviewed only by one university. The universities have colluded to make it this way, so that it is less work for them and easier for them to select students (although it imposes harsh restrictions on aspiring doctors).
Some people think universities are education oriented organisations, but in reality they are massive businesses with annual income of each university around a billion dollars - they earn about $30,000 per year of study at university for each student they enrol (about $10,000 from you, and the rest from the government, which evetually comes from your taxes). This means that the longer you study at university, the better it is for them. This is the reason why some universities are moving towards graduate-entry medical programs. It is to increase universities' income, not because it is good for you! Furthermore, universities are prohibited from charging full fee for undergraduate medicine, but they can charge full fee for graduate medicine!
With the higher debts of graduate entry and the uncertainty of whether you will get into medicine, universities will be laughing all the way to the Bank, but you will end up in the classic wheel of borrowing to pay for a degree to get a job to pay off what you borrowed (if you don't get into medicine).
Some people feel that they want to go to so-called "prestigious" universities (eg. Sydney University) which offer only graduate medicine. However, unlike other disciplines such as law, in medicine it does not matter which university you graduate from.
Perhaps 15 years ago, when GAMSAT was new, it was easier than UCAT but now most medical students who sat both tests claim GAMSAT is harder. GAMSAT is getting much harder for several reasons (eg many professionals wanting to change careers, the 'late bloomers', many school leavers putting off the hard work and the difficult decision).
Another important reason: It has been well documented that there is a general decline in psychometric test performance as a person advances in age. For eg, see "Socio-economic predictors of performance in the UCAT": Puddey and Mercer, BMC Medical education, 2013, 13:155. This shows that performance of candidates sitting UCAT between 16 years and 45 years consistently drops with age. So you are far better off sitting the test as early as possible (in year 12).