In the game of UCAT practice, consistency beats brilliance. It is important that we not wait until we have lots of motivation before we start practicing. Good UCAT skills come about in the context of practicing in a more routine and ordinary manner, rather than sporadic bursts of insight. The goal should be gaining meaningful and valuable UCAT skills every time you practice. Expecting anything more may create too much pressure and lead to debilitating blocks and limitations. To be successful at the UCAT, you need to develop UCAT practice as a practice or discipline.
In this sense, UCAT practice is similar to meditation. It is very hard to meditate well if you only do so once in a while. Meditating only when you want to reduce stress may provide some benefits, yet many of the most powerful effects demand daily practice. When you meditate daily, meditation becomes integrated into the core of your life. Over time it becomes both easier and more beneficial. Having a daily meditation practice forces you to be disciplined, consistent, and focused. Over time, you experience new depths, insights, and benefits. If you miss more than a day or two, you come to feel as if something were missing, as if something were not right.
The same is true with UCAT practice. When you are out of practice, the practice drills are daunting. However, when UCAT practice has become a regular part of your life, the problem solving skills tend to flow—if not effortlessly, at least more smoothly. Daily or near-daily UCAT practice can even become like a meditation practice, something that takes you out of yourself, connects you to different parts of your personality, and helps you let go.
When UCAT practice becomes a friend, a daily routine, it loses much of its anxiety-producing qualities. When you do not have to worry whether you will be able to produce because you already are producing on a consistent basis you are free to consider what you want to practice and who you want to become as an achiever. What we are suggesting is that we treat UCAT practice as a life-inspiring practice. This clearly demands an attitude shift for many of us. It is not enough to wish this relationship into existence: it requires practice and work, including work on the psychological and emotional barriers that you identify in yourself. It also can mean learning to view UCAT practice as a vehicle for becoming more fully who you are. For some, this may be an extreme and unhelpful goal. For those of you who do not wish to see UCAT practice in this almost spiritual perspective, at the very least you nevertheless will need to develop consistent UCAT practice.
Developing rituals is a valuable way to create regular UCAT practice. Rituals mark the end of one period or event and the beginning of another. Developing rituals around UCAT says, “Now I move from this past activity to UCAT practice, which is all I will do with this time.” This book-marking of time will help you view your UCAT time as something special, and signals that other activities can wait until you are done with your UCAT practice.
An accomplished writer once said about developing rituals:
"Whereas I sometimes write at the college or in cafés during the day, I do my best writing at home, late at night. I like to write in my leather easy chair. It has a good large footrest and two wide stuffed armrests. On each armrest I can place four or five articles. My laptop fits easily into my lap and my arms rest comfortably by my side. Before I sit down to work, I brew myself a cup of green tea. I sit in my chair and drink about half a cup, savouring the gentle tastes and aromas. Almost ritualistically, I remind myself how lucky I am to be able to have this time to write and enjoy my tea. I remind myself that my goal is to write either one page or for half an hour, and anything beyond that is pure gravy."
We strongly encourage you to develop your own UCAT practice ritual, one that helps you to see UCAT as an enjoyable and enriching activity. Try to incorporate objects and experiences that you enjoy into your UCAT practice.