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Arriving at the UCAT test centre was a vastly different experience to arriving at a normal school exam. There was no congregation of students or any prominent signs explaining where to go.
My UCAT testing centre was in the Melbourne CBD – at a normally busy office building which was completely deserted due to the current COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. Due to building security, I could not use the elevator. After several stressful minutes of walking around (during which time I thought I was at the wrong place), I found a small sign displaying a phone number that I had to ring. A UCAT staff member then came down and took me to the required floor.
This was a rather unfortunate (but likely not uncommon) distraction, particularly with the lack of information about UCAT test locations available online. I therefore strongly recommend arriving early to the UCAT testing venue, and definitely bringing your phone (even though you need to place it in a locker once inside).
Before entering the UCAT test centre, I was required to read the COVID-19 rules, and confirm that I did not live in an area under the current state lockdowns.
Since I was the only UCAT candidate in the registration area, my registration process started immediately. Once again, the process was very different to arriving at a typical exam.
Over a period of about five minutes, I was asked to show my ID, sanitise my hands twice, provide a photograph and electronic signature, place my phone in a locker (after demonstrating that it was switched off), remove my jacket, prove that my pockets were empty, show that I was not wearing a necklace, and “pat myself down”. I was handed a key to my locker, which I kept for the duration of the UCAT exam.
Although rigorous, the process was quiet and calm. Social distancing guidelines were well adhered to and UCAT staff members were wearing gloves, so I felt safe at all times. The UCAT testing centre was very desolate.
Since I was the only UCAT candidate present in the registration area, I was immediately taken into the exam room. In fact, I started about 10 minutes before my scheduled UCAT exam time.
A UCAT supervisor explained that I was being watched on CCTV and that I should put my hand up if I needed anything. If I required use of the bathroom, I would need to re-register at the UCAT test centre, making it a time-consuming task.
I also requested earplugs and tissues, and was provided with a clear plastic bag, so I could dispose of them at the end of the UCAT exam. I strongly recommend asking for these, so you don’t need to waste time during the UCAT exam if you want them later. Note that some UCAT testing centres will require you to bring your own earplugs.
The UCAT exam room itself was heated, making it quite warm, and contained approximately 20 workstations. Initially, only one other person was taking an exam, however 2-3 more arrived during my UCAT exam. You should be aware of potential minor distractions as candidates enter/leave the room, and the UCAT supervisor whispers instructions. Everyone in the room was well separated.
The UCAT exam itself looked very familiar, particularly after using MedEntry’s online platform.
Initially, I was slightly thrown off by completing the rigorous UCAT registration process, and then immediately diving into a 300 word UCAT Verbal Reasoning unit. I definitely recommend taking a moment to acclimatise to the environment before starting the UCAT exam.
The passages in this subtest were lengthy and I definitely felt the time pressure. I am sure that the keyword scanning techniques I practiced on the MedEntry online platform helped, otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to complete every question.
Decision Making was structured exactly how I expected after attempting the MedEntry practice exams. There were lots of logic-related questions!
This was my favourite UCAT subtest, and the one I found the easiest. One thing I did notice was that the UCAT calculator looked (and functioned) quite differently to the official UCAT practice exam calculator. In fact, I believe the calculator on the MedEntry online platform was closer to the one in the UCAT exam.
Whenever possible, I tried to use my arithmetic instead of the UCAT calculator to save time. I also used the UCAT noteboard provided to help answer the questions.
Some of the sets contained very obvious patterns (such as lines of symmetry). My advice is if you have no idea how to handle the first UCAT Abstract Reasoning questions, don’t despair, as there will definitely be some easier questions ahead.
This is the only UCAT subtest where I didn’t struggle with the time limit. Many of the scenarios sounded familiar and quite similar to what I had seen in the MedEntry UCAT practice exams.
After I finished UCAT Situational Judgement, the screen displayed a thank you message, and instructed me to raise my hand for the supervisor.
However, the supervisor walked in immediately, and helped pack up my UCAT noteboard, while I discarded the tissues and earplugs that I took into the room.
Upon exiting the UCAT exam room, I was again asked to provide my identification, and I then retrieved my possessions from my locker.
For another UCAT Candidate’s test experience, check out this blog: https://www.medentry.edu.au/ucat/entry/ucat-anz-2020-my-ucat-test-day-experience