How to prepare for the UCAT

The University Clinical Aptitude test or UCAT (formerly UKCAT) is the standard test for entry into Medical School in the UK. The test is primarily designed to evaluate a candidate's suitability for studying medicine by assessing varying applicable skills. It is NOT a test of academic ability. For perhaps this reason, some historically high-achieving students have struggled with the UCAT exam. The exam is arguably the most important a doctor will ever take in their career. Therefore, we at Medistudents have created a quick guide in order to help you succeed in your UCAT preparation.

The following is a shortened version of our UCAT Preparation article.

There are six steps to follow in order to prepare effectively.

  1. Lay the groundwork. To ensure you are in the best possible position, you need to know precisely when you will take your exam and how you will prepare for it. Make sure you are aware of the deadlines for registering, booking and completing the UCAT.
  2. Get acquainted as early as you can with the UCAT online test system. The UCAT website has an excellent tour that will help you become more familiar with how the UCAT consortium wants prospective students to answer their questions.
  3. Understand what is required. The actual test consists of five subtests. Our complete guide goes into more detail about the exact nature of each subtest, but they are:
    • Verbal reasoning – The ability to interpret passages of text and draw specific conclusions from information presented.
    • Decision making – Problem-solving skills and your ability to make decisions within complex situations.
    • Quantitative reasoning – The ability to apply mathematical skills in order to solve problems.
    • Abstract reasoning – The ability to identify patterns and their relationships.
    • Situational Judgement – The capacity to understand real-world situations and to respond appropriately.
  4. Make a study plan. Outline when and what you will study during each session, doing this will ensure that you not only plan an adequate amount of time to revise but that your sessions will be productive. The best candidates devote between 25 and 30 hours to the UCAT exam, so it's well worth planning the time in advance.
  5. Start revising. The most useful resources for supporting your UCAT preparations are UCAT practice questions and UCAT practice tests. UCAT practice questions are useful during the early stages of your UCAT preparations, as they allow you to become familiar with the five subtests. UCAT Practice tests require you to complete each of the five subtests within the given time and help you develop good exam technique for the UCAT by mimicking the exam experience.
  6. Reflect on your revision and identify where you may need to improve. The practice questions are essential as they will allow you to explore how you can improve your answers and identify parts you find challenging. The practice tests are crucial in improving your speed and knowing when to prioritise questions and when to move on. Reviewing your technique is vital in order to overcome any weaknesses you may have.

Overall, the more experience you gain with the UCAT exam, the more confident you will feel on exam day. For more information, please read our UCAT Practice blog.


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