1. Master the UCAT Learning Curve
The UCAT is a test unlike anything you have ever sat before. UCAT Verbal Reasoning is loosely connected to traditional reading comprehension texts and UCAT Quantitative Reasoning is mathematics-based, but both the style and time pressure is truly unique. Furthermore, it is highly unlikely that you will have ever encountered formal testing in the areas of UCAT Decision Making, UCAT Abstract Reasoning and UCAT Situational Judgement.
Naturally, it will take an adjustment period to learn how to answer all the many different types of UCAT questions, recognising how long you have to answer each UCAT question and learning the patterns that appear in the UCAT examination. The longer you give yourself to account for this learning curve, the earlier and better your adjustment will be. Furthermore, once you have accommodated for this learning cure, the efficiency of your UCAT study increases greatly, so it is to your advantage to get over this hurdle early. Once done, you can really focus on becoming a UCAT genius.
2. Gain Greater UCAT Exposure
The fact that UCAT is an aggregate of hundreds of questions means that certain themes, ideas, answers and response strategies are going to repeat themselves. For particular subtests such as UCAT Abstract Reasoning and UCAT Situational Judgement, these patterns are particularly obvious, while they can be a bit more obscure for the others. A major advantage of starting sooner, rather than later, is that you will have a much greater exposure to these UCAT question patterns.
The more UCAT questions you answer, the more understanding you will have and the more likely you will see a question in the UCAT exam that looks familiar. There really is no better feeling than finding a question in the actual UCAT exam that you recognise. What’s more, it is a HUGE advantage to see something you know; you are more likely to understand how to answer the UCAT question, and it will make you so much more confident and comfortable. It really is the ideal situation.
So, start your UCAT preparation now because the more exposure you have, the better you will perform in the UCAT exam.
3. Practice Makes Perfect
Every minute you invest in UCAT preparation will better your performance in the UCAT exam (except if you cram, of course!). The old adage ‘practice makes perfect’ stands very true and should serve as a reminder that you will benefit from as much UCAT practice as you can get. Unfortunately, the questions in the UCAT examination can be extremely difficult and so the more time you have to understand the ins and outs of the UCAT exam, the better.
The more time you have to develop UCAT strategies, discern patterns, gain familiarity, or in summary, PRACTICE, the more prepared you will be, come UCAT exam day. Start your UCAT preparation now; the more practice the better, and remember that you are not simply working towards a high UCAT score, but the vocation of medicine.
4. Gain Psychological Benefits
There is an inherent psychological benefit when it comes to spending more time on UCAT preparation. Whilst you may initially dismiss this as insignificant, my advice is not to do so. When you spend more time on something you become more comfortable with it. The more comfortable you are with something, the less likely you are to become stressed, worried or anxiety stricken when put under pressure. Now the pressure of an intense two hour UCAT examination, that can determine whether or not you make it into undergraduate medicine, is not to be taken lightly. I vividly remember how stressed I was on UCAT exam day, worrying about my future as a doctor and trying not to let the nerves impact my performance.
For example, compare the stress and psychological disadvantage that plagues a student who has done very little UCAT preparation, starting only weeks before the UCAT exam, to a student who has studied for two years, answered every UCAT question on MedEntry’s online platform twice and is supremely comfortable with answering UCAT questions. However, the amount of UCAT study you do or have time to do is clearly not binary, nor am I suggesting it is. It is on a scale with one end involving a great amount of work and UCAT preparedness and the other not. All I know is which end I’d rather be on.
So, think ahead about the potential stress you will be feeling on UCAT exam day and realise that starting your UCAT preparation now will help to alleviate some of it.
5. Manage Your Time Better
If you are beginning your UCAT preparation in your final year of high school, you will already understand how busy this year will be. Countless assessments creeping up on you and never enough time to prioritise them all. You promise yourself that you won’t cram but you inevitably do and the stress that is put on you is enormous. In choosing to sit the UCAT, you are actively adding more work to an already great load. The best thing you can do is put steps into place to mitigate stress and manage your time effectively.
The earlier you start your UCAT preparation, the more you can spread it out between now and your UCAT exam. This will reduce its intrusion into your daily studies and increase the comfort and enjoyment of your daily life greatly. If you only start studying in the weeks before the UCAT exam, you will have lost an enormous amount of control. Who is to predict what else you may have on during those weeks? You may have a crucial English assessment, or your best friend’s party that you can’t possibly miss or your soccer team’s grand final. Fate tends to play cruel tricks on us in these circumstances and I can almost guarantee that if you leave your UCAT preparation to the last minute, you will find that you have more work than ever which needs completion, and not enough time to satisfactorily complete a fraction of it.
So, start your UCAT preparation now and take control of your time management, I promise that it will leave you better off in the long run.