How to Start UCAT Prep

Words: Thomas Thorne


Starting little and often

One of the most important things for starting UCAT revision is to not leave it too late. Starting early, practicing little and often will help you consolidate the rules and methods you have learnt for answering questions. Doing say 30 minutes each day and building this up toward your exam date allows your brain time off to process how you answered the questions whereas starting late and practicing the whole day every day does not.

Though people often bring up speed as being the main concern when approaching the UCAT, to start it is far more important to have an understanding of the methods used to tackle each subtest. Focus on your methods first to ground yourself, then improve the speed which should hopefully come more naturally.

Practicing in a group is good when starting so methods can be shared. It allows you different methods to consider how to answer questions, particularly for abstract and quantitative reasoning. When progressing with your revision, practicing alone is often better as it simulates real-exam conditions more.

UCAT app

As with the above point, downloading this free app is great for revising little and often. It allows one to focus on a specific subset such as verbal reasoning or to have a random quiz and more accurately represent the exam itself with a timing feature built in. There are between four and six individual tests within each subset with between seven and 12 questions in each quiz. This represent a large number of questions so is a great free resource that should not be overlooked! Moreover, it also includes 34 SGT practice questions.

UCAT website

This offers full tests which I used closer to my exam date but also subtests which can be better to use after finishing practice for a subtest. Both the subtests and full tests here more accurately simulate the exam environment and so because for this reason I recommend using these resources closer to the exam date. Before this, focusing on questions and methods themselves is more conducive to your learning than understanding how the exam will be laid out.

ISC Medical book

A great practice book is the ISC Medical 1250 UKCAT practice questions which is available for £15 from Amazon. I used the older 1000 question book as the 1250 book didn’t exist when I took my UCAT. Both the older 600 and 1000 books are good, though the 1250 book simply has more questions to practice! These questions are designed to represent the different exam questions (for example types 1 through 4 of abstract reasoning) and the book offers a situational judgement test (SGT) section. The ISC book is also useful as it offers explanations in the answers section, which can be compared to your own methods in order to improve your time-efficiency.

Courses and other

I think it’s really important to note that one does not have to pay for resources in order to obtain a good UCAT score - I personally know many Birmingham medics who scored fantastically, without paying anything! Attending courses costing several hundreds of pounds do not guarantee the best results and I am of the opinion that a long period of interval practice benefits far more than an intensive day of questions as such courses dictate. As such, We Are Medics does NOT endorse any type of course - online or in person.

It is also worth utilising free resources and free trials from websites offering resources. I didn’t do this but am aware that one-month free trials for certain websites are regularly offered. Starting these a month before your exam may offer you a different resource through which to approach questions, and as before: practice makes perfect.

Summary points

· Start early with little and often

· Practice with friends if this works for you, but alone closer to your exam

· Download the UCAT app

· Practice from the UCAT website closer to your exam date

· You don’t have to pay for intensive courses in order to do well in the UCAT

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