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This might sound like another one of those easier said than done things that people around you might say, but it’s actually so important on the day itself! Plan ahead in advance for transportation to and from the UCAT exam centre. If you are taking public transport, keep in mind the possible delays caused and try to adjust for it. Better yet, get your family members to drop you off at the UCAT testing centre. This will reduce your worries and allow you to reach the UCAT centre smoothly. Even though this might sound like a negligible tip, you don’t want to be turning up to the UCAT centre late or frustrated. Once in the UCAT exam centre, listen carefully to instructions, smile and converse with the invigilators. While this will not increase your UCAT score (we wish though), it might ease your nervousness having a light conversation. Some invigilators, like the ones I had, might even sneak you a sweet or two! During your waiting time, go over a mental checklist of UCAT strategies you have in mind and don’t worry about how others will do. Focus on yourself and yourself only. All of these will work to calm you down and clear your mind. This will enable you to perform at your best!
This tip actually comes from one of my invigilators during my exam. During the UCAT, they provide you with earplugs if you need. While it is not compulsory to use them, the UCAT invigilator encouraged me to use them as they would help block out the noise from other candidates. This was definitely the case. As the UCAT is a computer-based exam, the noise of other students tapping and clicking at the keyboard is very audible, especially as the exam room will be very quiet. So if you’re easily distracted, and can’t concentrate with external sounds, it’s advisable to take the UCAT earplugs provided. You never know –you might feel like you need them halfway into the UCAT exam.
As mentioned in a previous blog, not all venues will provide you with earplugs, read the earplugs blog for which venues don’t provide earplugs.
It almost seems like UCAT is setting you up for success, because once again, they provide a noteboard! Not only does this UCAT noteboard come into handy during the UCAT Quantitative Reasoning section as you might come to realize during your practice, it helps to rearrange your thoughts and structure them coherently in the UCAT Abstract Reasoning section. So use it effectively! It’s a good idea to use the UCAT noteboard to note down important/frequently occurring equations that you might use during the UCAT Quantitative Reasoning section. This can help you avoid miscalculation of answers if you remember formulas incorrectly! As you might find during your UCAT practice, you won’t have enough time to revise UCAT questions/working to check whether your formula is correct. Even though it might seem like you know the important formulas by heart, it’s still a good idea to write them down so that you can copy off those formulas when you’re doing UCAT questions. The process will definitely be faster, and more accurate. Prior to the UCAT Abstract Reasoning section, you can note down certain rules that you might tend to miss out on detecting. Keep in mind not to treat those rules as the only rules that would come up in the UCAT Abstract Reasoning section, but rather as a guideline for when you’re absolutely stumped at a question, or for when you’re panicking.
My tips are to check that the marker they provide you (again, their resource!) has sufficient ink, and the ink isn’t looking like it might fade away halfway during the UCAT exam. If it does, request a new one, or a backup marker. Do this prior to the UCAT exam, but don’t panic if you’ve forgotten to check it outside the examination room! Just check it and raise your hand if you require another. If the UCAT marker pen runs out of ink halfway during the test, or anything else goes wrong, do not pause what you are doing, but rather keep on going, and raise your hand. It can take a little while for the test invigilators to come to you. Keep doing other UCAT questions while you wait to maximise your time efficiency!
Although it might be the case that when you’re doing practice tests, you are able to do multiple practice exams in a day, and skip the allocated 1-minute break in between sections and still do fine, do not do this on the exam day. The questions you encounter on the UCAT exam day might be harder or easier depending on what questions you have been doing for practice, therefore you need to allocate yourself time to readjust your mindset after each UCAT section. Remind yourself that a bad performance in one UCAT section will not affect the other section in any way whatsoever. Another way that this break might come in handy would be when you’re panicking between UCAT sections. Use the break to remind yourself of the UCAT strategies you have and calm yourself down.