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So you’ve been preparing for UCAT by working through the UCAT guides and attempting UCAT practice questions and exams. Then one day you receive a disappointing UCAT percentile. So what should you do? Is it time to freak out? Is it time to give up on your medical entry dream? No! Read on for three key tips.

1.  Understand what a UCAT percentile means and how they are calculated

Firstly, it is vital that you understand UCAT percentiles, and how they are calculated. Essentially, a percentile compares your performance against other UCAT candidates who have attempted that particular drill, subtest mock or UCAT exam. If you receive a UCAT percentile of 60, it means you have performed better than 60% of UCAT candidates completing that quiz, and 40% of candidates have performed better than you.

Because MedEntry students are among the most able, motivated and prepared of UCAT candidates (for several reasons which are beyond the scope of this blog), it means that a percentile or UCAT score that may seem disappointing will actually convert to a much higher score in the live UCAT.

Furthermore, it is common for UCAT percentiles to drop as you complete later UCAT exams and subtest mocks, as only the most prepared and motivated students complete them. Therefore you are being compared against a much tougher UCAT cohort.

2.  Cultivate resilience and persistence

The most successful people in the world were not always successful. Take Steve Jobs: university drop out, fired tech executive, unsuccessful businessman. And also the person who built Apple and transformed the entire consumer computer and phone industry. Part of the reason for Steve Jobs’ success is that when he failed, he picked himself up and tried again.

So cultivate a resilient and persistent mindset with UCAT. If you obtain a poor UCAT percentile, think of it as an opportunity to improve. Reflect on the UCAT experience. What went wrong? Was it timing, concentration levels, difficulty with a particular UCAT question type? Then create a plan to improve before your next UCAT exam.

UCAT is a skill, and just like any skill, it can be developed and mastered. So instead of falling into a heap, pick yourself up, dust yourself off and keep on practicing UCAT!

3.  Remember, the only score that matters is the one on UCAT test day

It is common for percentiles to fluctuate and differ between UCAT exams or subtest mocks. The variation in your performance in a UCAT exam can be likened to the variation in the number of points that a basketballer scores in a game. Just because Michael Jordan occasionally scored very few points in a game does not mean that he is not a talented basketballer. It is the same with UCAT: a poor percentile in one UCAT exam does not mean you do not have the skills required for UCAT success.

There are a myriad of factors that impact upon your performance in a particular UCAT exam: the quality of your cognition, concentration levels, timing technique – even luck with guessing! Answering just a few UCAT questions incorrectly or correctly can make a big difference to your score.

So instead of languishing about a poor UCAT percentile, focus on what you can do about it – work on your weakest UCAT subtests and question types, thoroughly review solutions, and if possible, join a UCAT study group. And don’t forget to read about psychological tips to boost UCAT performance in the ‘Lead up to UCAT and Test Day’ module on the LMS.

On the day of UCAT, you will be ready for success!

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