UCAT is probably the single most important and hardest test that you will ever have to sit. Many students, especially those who do not prepare, are shocked by the difficulty of UCAT. Some who do prepare become disillusioned with the process, finding the questions difficult to complete within the time limits. So why is UCAT so hard? And what can you do about it? Read on!
1. UCAT is very different to every other type of test you have sat
School and university exams test your knowledge and your ability to apply that knowledge. UCAT is not a test of knowledge; it is a test of your generic skills. You most likely have never sat a test of generic skills before, so the questions in UCAT will seem unfamiliar and difficult. Furthermore, UCAT is a computer-based test, a format that most students will not be comfortable with.
What can you do?
By exposing yourself over and over to the various types of UCAT questions, they will no longer seem so alien. The more you practice, the more familiar and comfortable you will be with the questions, and the easier UCAT will seem. It is vital that you practice completing UCAT questions on a computer-based platform to accurately simulate the testing experience. All MedEntry UCAT practice questions, drills and exams are made available on this platform.
2. You are put under extreme time pressure in UCAT
The aim of school and university exams is to assess how much you know, therefore you are usually given more than enough time to demonstrate this. You are probably used to finishing your school and university exams with plenty of time left over. The aim of UCAT is very different: the aim of UCAT is to rank your performance against other candidates. Therefore, in UCAT you are intentionally not given enough time to answer all the questions. This can be very stressful for students, especially perfectionists, who are used to answering all questions correctly in school and university exams.
What can you do?
The mere knowledge that you will not have enough time to answer all questions correctly in UCAT is, in itself, comforting. Many, many students have achieved very high scores in UCAT even though they have run out of time in one or more subtests. Understand this, become comfortable with the idea, and tailor your UCAT approach appropriately – by not spending too much time on difficult UCAT questions and making an educated guess when required.
3. You are competing against smart people in UCAT
The type of student who wants to get into medicine is, in general, very smart and motivated. You have probably never had to compete against such a tough cohort before. You are probably used to being top of your class. However, when it comes to UCAT, chances are you won’t be!
What can you do?
The knowledge that you will probably not be the ‘best’ compared to your peers when it comes to UCAT will immediately take the pressure off. You do not need to score 100th percentile in UCAT to get into medicine! Aim high in UCAT, but don’t become disillusioned if you are not receiving very high percentiles in your UCAT practice exams. Also, take advantage of the smart people around you – form a UCAT study group where you can discuss questions, learn from each other and make new friends!
UCAT is hard, but by keeping the above pointers in mind, you can create and maintain a positive, can-do attitude. This will help motivate you to prepare for UCAT, and help with your performance on UCAT test day.