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HOW TO USE HOLIDAYS TO IMPROVE IN UCAT

With the year coming to a close, many students use the holidays to finally relax after a long year of hard work. For those sitting the UCAT next year, the road ahead can look especially challenging and instil feelings of anxiety. However, after taking a long-deserved rest, the holidays can actually be used efficiently and effectively to get ahead in the UCAT and obtain the score you need to get into your dream medicine course. With the UCAT exam fast approaching in July, students often use the holidays as an opportunity to start practicing full length exams under timed conditions. Enormous...
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WHY IS UCAT SO HARD?

UCAT is probably the hardest test 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. 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 Why?  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...
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UCAT Countdown: Musings from an experienced tutor

This impending UCAT test day is without a doubt one of the most terrifying – yet unusual days of the year. Throughout the past seven years, I have uttered the phrase “The UCAT is a game” innumerous times, and now, on the brink of becoming an actual doctor (finally!) and exiting the world of UCAT, I thought I’d pass on my suggestions for this game.    Suggestion 1: Your mood is your top priority. The UCAT is designed in such a way that your mood greatly impacts your performance. Why? Because it’s an exam of emotions, of empathy and of understanding....
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Week before the UCAT

While being academically prepared is extremely important for UCAT, it is also useful to know what to expect when at your school, among those who are sitting UCAT in the week leading up to the test. 1. The Downplayer – This is a student who will consistently talk about how they have not done any practice for the UCAT, keep reinforcing that they’re going to fail and claim to have never done a single drill on MedEntry. While they may not directly demoralise you, their negative comments and thoughts about the UCAT can be particularly distracting, especially since you want to...
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WHAT TO DO IF YOU COME ACROSS SOMETHING UNEXPECTED IN THE UCAT

Life isn’t the only thing full of surprises. The upcoming UCAT exam could hold a range of new, never-before-seen questions and it is important to know how to deal with these in an exam situation.  When the test begins, start doing the questions you’re confident with and leave these “new” questions behind for now. There is a high probability that many of the new questions are actually in fact trial questions set by UCAT ANZ and may not be worth any marks at all. Hence, there’s no point panicking or wasting too much time on questions that may not be worth...
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PREPARE FOR UCAT: PREPARE FOR A MARATHON

Many students who have scored th p99ercentile in the UCAT have said that preparing for UCAT is like preparing for a marathon. There are many similarities: they both require significant motivation, consistent practice over a period of time and a clear head under pressure. Not to mention that for many people both a marathon and the UCAT are the hardest challenges they have faced so far in their lifetime. So what can we learn from marathon runners that will help us prepare for the UCAT? Step 1: Develop muscle In the UCAT you will have a limited amount of time to...
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How to deal with those UCAT Nerves (Part 2 – On the day)

For some people sitting UCAT, those nerves may not hit until the day of or the night before UCAT. We get butterflies in the stomach and perhaps even the need to vomit. These feelings are natural and can even help us to do better. But, for those of us who have difficulty handling the nerves, there are a few simple things to do to minimise them. Make sure you have everything that you need in advance A few days before the UCAT, read through the instructions from Pearson Vue and make sure that you have everything you need. Make sure you...
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How to deal with those UCAT Nerves (Part 1 – In the lead up)

Most people find sitting the UCAT a nerve racking, stressful experience, but that does not mean you should allow those nerves to get the best of you.  There are some simple ways to help you get through this period and come out feeling great about your chances.  Take some of the pressure off of yourself.  If you’re anything like me, you expect a lot from yourself and that can result in a large amount of unnecessary pressure. That pressure can prove to be your undoing, but there are simple ways in which to take some of that pressure off. Remember that...
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Is this my only shot at getting into Medicine?

Many students sit the UCAT for the first time thinking that they must to do well in UCAT because it is the only way for them to be accepted into their dream uni degree, medicine. This is untrue! This thinking places an enormous amount of unnecessary pressure on students. The reality is there are numerous ways to be accepted into medicine, although they are not necessarily the ideal pathways. Sitting UCAT, getting a good ATAR and smashing an interview may be the easiest and quickest way to get into medicine, but it is not the only one. Other options to be...
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Improving your reading for UCAT

With the exception of the Abstract Reasoning component, UCAT is primarily comprised of written – rather than pictorial – questions. Thus, it stands to reason that your UCAT preparation should include improving your reading skills. With that in mind, here are some of the many strategies you can use to develop your reading efficiency for UCAT.  Firstly, you must ensure that you read every single component of the stimulus, particularly for VR and SJT. A past UCAT stimulus, for example, described a middle-aged man. This information was included in the introductory stem of the stimulus, but nowhere else. Many test-takers did...
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Set your mind on your mindset

Preparation is key for any exam, and UCAT preparation is no different. But we’ve all had that horrible experience when the nerves hit, and all that preparation is thrown out the window because your brain is more interested in stressing itself out than answering the exam questions. But you can, of course, prepare for that too. 1. Practice Since I’m supposed to be telling you what to do when it feels like preparation isn’t working, you might not expect a synonym for “preparation” to be the top tip. But it is, so hear me out. Nothing is as reassuring as the safety...
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PROBLEM SOLVING APPROACHES in UCAT

There are many different approaches to problem-solving that have been established in psychology. Firstly, there’s the Thorndike paradigm, which involves blind trial and error1. More purposeful approaches are the Gestalt approach, and the cognitive approach. The Gestalt approach involves solving problems as a whole2. You see the problem, you see what you have, and then you try to see how everything fits together. If the question is routine, it’s very easy to figure it out. If it isn’t, well, sometimes you gain insight, but sometimes you come up with an idea based on what you’ve encountered before and you get so...
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WHAT MAKES A WINNING UCAT MINDSET?

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...
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How to Prepare for the UCAT in Year 11

So you’re in Year 11 and thinking about pursuing a career in medicine. You’ve got great grades as well as the people skills to become a doctor, so there should be no problem getting in. Then you find out about the UCAT. You hear that it is a major obstruction to your journey, and only a select few are able to succeed in it. You hear about all the people who have done poorly despite studying so hard. You may even hear about the people who passed that didn’t do much work. It’s very easy to fall into the hysteria of...
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Improving your UCAT skills in VR, DM and QR

Rather than assessing your knowledge, the UCAT is an exam which isolates certain deductive skills that will be important in work as a doctor and requires you to apply them in various scenarios. Therefore, if you wish to succeed in the UCAT, you will need to nurture these skills, sharpen them and know exactly when to use them. If your eager mind has begun this uphill climb towards UCAT success and if you have thoroughly scoured the LMS and still seek ways to better your logical reasoning, this guide will show you how. Logical Reasoning & Problem Solving questions in the...
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Planning time for UCAT preparation

A very common question asked by aspiring medical students is “How do you balance your school work and UCAT practice?” Given that the UCAT can be equally or even more important as the ATAR in the medical school selection process, it is crucial that students devote sufficient time in preparing for the UCAT, without neglecting their year 12 studies. The key to finding this balance is planning your time. Many students attempt to fit in UCAT study in their ‘spare time’, which is hard to find in year 12. It is more productive to set aside blocks of time which are...
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Applying mid-way through your degree

So you find yourself starting the first year of your degree. Your wounds from not getting accepted straight out of high school are still fresh but you know that medicine is the career for you. Graduation from your current degree is still years away so what can you do to try get in till then? Don’t worry, there’s still hope for you. With most Bachelor’s degrees being three years, you will be sitting the UCAT in either your first or second year of university. Let’s be honest, you are not particularly wanted by medical schools. At this point you are the...
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Resilience and UCAT

To be mentally tough is to resist the urge to give up in the face of failure, to maintain focus and determination in pursuit of your UCAT goals, and to emerge from adversity even stronger than before. Everyone can benefit from strengthening their resilience skills.  Mental toughness comes from thinking like an optimist. People who don’t give up have a habit of interpreting setbacks as temporary, local and changeable. When in the face of adversity, try to say to yourself, “It’s going away quickly; it’s just this one situation, and I can do something about it.” Analyze your beliefs and emotions...
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The Dangers of Stereotype threat

Stereotype threat can affect the way students perform in the UCAT.  Some students are vulnerable to “stereotype threat.” This is being aware the group they belong to is often stereotyped as intellectually inferior. The fear of confirming the stereotype by doing poorly on a test actually creates an anxiety. It is this anxiety that poorly affects their performance on a test, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.  Consider this study conducted at Stanford:  A group of undergraduates — some athletes and some not — was given a test made up of questions from the Graduate Record Examination (G.R.E.), the admissions test for graduate...
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Motivation: without carrots or sticks

Are you having a hard time motivating yourself to study for the UCAT? The tools we often reach for when we need to get ourselves moving are carrots (rewarding ourselves once a tough job is done) or sticks (depriving ourselves of something we want if we fail to do it). These are "extrinsic rewards". But such extrinsic rewards and punishments are not as effective as intrinsic ones. Intrinsic rewards come from your own person - you believe that if you do a certain thing, it will make you a better, more knowledgable person.  Here, six ways to find the intrinsic interest in studying for the...
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