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The UCAT – A Test of Endurance


The UCAT is so commonly viewed as a test of intelligence and aptitude, that we forget how crucial it is to improve our mental endurance for this exam. In fact, the endurance required for the UCAT is much greater than that required for any end of year school exam. Not only is the UCAT as long as or longer than any school exam (2 hours), but the nature of each individual question requires much greater focus. This need for enhanced application to each question is due to our inability to draw upon a year’s worth of content and knowledge, as is done in our school exams.

The ability to cope with this test of endurance is a critical strength that the top UCAT students hold above others.

As such, it is with good reason that UCAT practice exams are so important. A UCAT student cannot derive the same benefits to their mental endurance from 30 minutes of sample practice questions as they can from a 2-hour practice exam.

However, do not be concerned if you reach the one-hour mark of your first practice exam, and desperately need to take a break. This is a good starting point, and from here, you can monitor your improvement. In the early stages, just completing a whole 2-hour exam is an achievement.


So how can I improve my mental endurance?

When studying:

  • Simulate exam conditions for each practice exam
    • Do not allow yourself to go overtime or have extended breaks. These will only trick you into thinking that you are able to complete a full exam under UCAT conditions.
    • You may only be able to complete 80% of the questions in your first exam. However, on the second exam you should aim to improve on this, by completing, for example, 90%. This way, you can assess your improvement.
  • Alter your approach to each exam to see what works best for you
    • If you approach the questions in each subtest sequentially in your first exam, try doing from last or skip hard questions and come back later etc for the other exams.
    • In doing so, you can assess which order allows you to feel the most mentally fresh.
  • Work out how long each section takes you
    • This way, you can know if you can allow yourself a little rest or a toilet break


In the exam:

  • Have a drink bottle
    • Having sips of water can keep you feeling fresh
  • If you are running on time, allow yourself a quick break
    • Go to the toilet. Wash your face. Even stretching your legs will keep freshen your mind, as you prepare to tackle the rest of the exam.
  • Get a good sleep and be refreshed on test day
  • Be organised
    • Organise everything the night before. This way, you aren’t expending your mental energy worrying that you’ve forgotten something.

Past MedEntry Student
Currently studying Medicine at Monash University


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