If you wish to study medicine in 2021, you will need to sit UCAT in 2020. UCAT is a very different test to what you are used to sitting in school or university. There is no defined curriculum, and your teachers will not be pushing you to study for UCAT or creating deadlines for you. However, UCAT is a very important test, and it can be as important or more important than your high school scores in determining whether you will obtain entry into medicine.
A common question regarding UCAT is: When should I start my preparation? The answer is simple: as soon as possible!
UCAT is an aptitude test which assesses your generic skills, not your knowledge. While knowledge can be ‘crammed’, skills need to be developed over time. Preparing for UCAT can be likened to learning how to ride a bicycle. You cannot learn how to ride a bicycle overnight; it is a skill that needs to be developed over weeks or months. Similarly, for UCAT, it is far more effective to do a little bit of practice regularly over a longer period of time, rather than trying to cram all your preparation into the last few days before UCAT test day.
The UCAT Consortium recommends that you start preparing 6 weeks in advance of UCAT. However, it is important to realise that the UCAT Consortium has a vested interest in making this recommendation. They want all students who sit UCAT to be on a ‘level playing field’. However, research into norm based tests such as UCAT which test ‘fluid intelligence’ shows that those who start preparation earlier will be at a significant advantage.
In the book Outliers Malcolm Gladwell argues that you can become an expert at anything with 10,000 hours of practice. We are certainly not advocating spending 10,000 hours preparing for UCAT, but what this means is that you excel at any skill (including answering UCAT questions) with sufficient practice.
However, if you haven’t done much preparation and UCAT is rapidly approaching, don’t panic! There is certainly still time to prepare for UCAT. If you use your time effectively and efficiently, you can make enormous gains in your UCAT performance.
So, what are you waiting for? Get started with UCAT quality preparation now!
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