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UCAT Preparation During Coronavirus - Tip 1: Optimise Your Study Environment


A lot has changed over the past few weeks. You have transitioned from living a normal life, attending school and seeing your friends to a very different world – the world of remote learning and social isolation. We understand that this is a difficult and uncertain time for you, during an already challenging year.

In this series of blogs, we will describe how to prepare for UCAT effectively during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The principles outlined in this blog are also useful for your school and university study. The first tip to prepare for UCAT effectively is to:

Optimise your study environment

Before coronavirus, you may have studied at school, at a local library or even a café. You might have found these places useful for your UCAT preparation due to the environment, access to technology or the fact that they were quieter than home! Now, it is not safe or possible to use these locations. You will therefore need to create an effective UCAT study environment for yourself at home.

Ensure your UCAT preparation workspace has the following features:

Comfortable and ergonomic

Ensure you have a comfortable chair which supports your back, and that your table and computer are at the right height. Your forearms and thighs should be level and parallel with each other. Your wrists should not be bent when typing.

The room should have good lighting. The lighting should be at least as bright as your computer screen to avoid eye strain. If you can, try to open windows for some fresh air. Ensure the temperature of your room is comfortable.

Ensure that you have anything else you need, such as stationery, devices and notes neatly arranged and within easy access.

Also consider including some personal touches, such as photographs of your friends or family. Your aim is to create a workspace which is inviting. You should feel good about entering the room and sitting down for a study session. You’ll be spending lots of time in your study space, so do everything you can to make it appealing!

Free from distractions

Without a regular routine of attending school, it is easy to fall into the trap of procrastination, particularly in a world full of digital distractions. Identify your commonest time-wasting habits and avoid them.

Turn off your phone while you are preparing for UCAT. Also ensure that you shut down any tempting websites such as social media, gaming or online shopping, so you are not distracted during your study. If you feel like you might not have the self-discipline to do this, there are many website blockers available.

Ask your family to respect your study space, and not interrupt you unless necessary. Share your study timetable with them, so they know when you are ‘at school’ and must not be disturbed.

If noise is impossible to avoid due to family members such as siblings, pets or television, try investing in a good pair of earphones. You could also put on some low volume ‘white noise’ to block out distractions.

Appropriate equipment available

To effectively prepare for UCAT, simulation of the UCAT test environment is important. In the live UCAT, you will have the following equipment available to you:

  • A desktop computer
  • A keyboard with a numberpad
  • A mouse
  • A noteboard and pen

Ideally, you should have this equipment in your workspace to simulate the UCAT, so when you sit the live UCAT, it will just feel like any other practice exam.

If you are attending a MedEntry UCAT Workshop, you will receive a simulation noteboard and marker pen.

If you normally use a laptop and tablet, and do not have access to a separate keyboard, numberpad or mouse, consider purchasing one that you can plug into your device. Some students have only ever used a trackpad, and find using a mouse to be an unfamiliar experience! Furthermore, effective use of the numberpad is an important strategy for UCAT Quantitative Reasoning in particular.

If you consider the advice in this blog, you should feel confident that you are ready to prepare for UCAT effectively during coronavirus. In our next blog, we will cover tip 2, which is to create a routine and UCAT study plan.

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