Have I prepared enough for UCAT? As school assessments begin to pile up and the date of the UCAT exam looms closer, this one question can create great anxiety. As a MedEntry workshop helper, questions like, “when did you start preparing for the UCAT?” and “how much practice did you do every night?” are amongst the most frequent that I receive. With such a high-stakes exam like the UCAT, it can often feel like no amount of preparation is enough. This feeling can become increasingly dominant as the exam approaches, and you may find yourself ‘hitting a wall’ with your UCAT-related study.
In these situations, I would like to offer one piece of advice from my own experience, as someone who achieved 99th percentile in UCAT. Quite simply, it is this – the best UCAT preparation is not about the quantity of hours, but about the variety of questions you attempt. With 100% confidence, I can assure you that there will be questions in the UCAT exam that are entirely unfamiliar or complex. There may be vocabulary that you have not seen before. There will be AR questions that challenge and frustrate you, regardless of your level of preparation. Instead of being scared of this, learn to embrace it. The top UCAT percentiles are reserved for the students that can remain calm under stress and, more importantly, are willing to tackle any challenge.
In your UCAT preparation, make sure to expose yourself to as many different question styles and formats as possible, and take time to really understand the rationale for each answer. In doing so, you can be confident in the knowledge that you have garnered the skills to at least attempt any problem thrown your way in UCAT. For example, become familiar with all types of graphs for QR, and try a variety of drills for AR. To really challenge yourself, try puzzles from resources like Mensa or your local newspaper brainteaser. Although these question types may never appear in the UCAT exam, you gain a more important skill in self-confidence – the reassuring knowledge that you saw an unfamiliar question and dealt with it successfully. For VR and SJT, read texts that explore a variety of opinions and attitudes, so you can become to privy to the nuances of any situation.
In short, the UCAT exam calls for smart preparation. Honing a broad range of skills, and trying to expose yourself to as wide a variety of question styles and formats will give you the basic foundation to flourish in a number of situations in UCAT. And then to combine such smart study tactics with dedicated practice is surely the most winning combination of all!