After months of studying intensively for the UCAT, with lack of time dedicated to yourself or having fun, the UCAT day is finally here where it comes down to how you best demonstrate the knowledge and skills you have gained in your UCAT preparation!
The ‘UCAT day’ might sound scary and like a ‘Judgement Day’, but in reality, it is just another test that will get you a step closer to your dream career in medicine. It is important that you see it as only a test and not the only determining factor of your future goals. Remember, if worse comes to worse you can sit the GAMSAT and do medicine through the postgraduate route.
Having said that, preparing for the UCAT would have been challenging and tiresome, without any doubt. Your months of cramming intellectual concepts and developing cognitive skills are put under a 2-hour computerised evaluation. It is totally acceptable and in fact, normal, to feel anxious and jittery the night before and the day of the UCAT.
Most of you might be wondering, ‘What should I do on the day of my UCAT?’ Well, if the thought is adding on to your existing stress-level, we believe this article can help you calm those UCAT nerves to clearly demonstrate the skills in the test you have worked so hard to build.
1. Compile Relevant Documents The Night Before
As important as it is to focus on optimising your performance for a high UCAT score, it is equally important to file all your relevant documents that you need to produce on the UCAT day. To begin with, accumulate necessary documents the night before the UCAT at the very latest.
In doing so, you should maintain a file so all your documents are together in an organised manner. The file should include the following documents:
- Add a valid photo identification so you can confirm your identity ‘on the day’, this is essential to ensure no other person besides yourself is sitting the test.
- A printed confirmation email from Pearson VUE to double confirm that you are eligible to sit the exam.
- Double check the exact address of the UCAT test centre so you don’t end up in the wrong location, or worse, miss your test!
We also suggest that you arrive early to the test centre keeping in mind any unforeseen traffic that could delay your travel. Additionally, reaching the venue early will give you time to navigate through the test building, getting to know where the restrooms and your test room are without being rushed.
Figure out your mode of transport beforehand. By following these steps, you can handover the relevant documents to the invigilator and will have extra time on hand to collect your thoughts and perform well in hard UCAT questions.
2. A Good Meal Is Equal To Higher Productivity
One of the most important aspects of a good UCAT exam experience is maintaining your mental capacity as you respond to different question themes. To manage burnout, you need to have sufficient energy inflow, which can only be achieved if your diet on the day is enriched with energy rich foods.
Pack fruits like banana or apple and muesli bars as alternatives to junk food, because oily chips can slow your brain and tamper with your concentration. Also, be sure to have a healthy breakfast, like a bowl of cereal or scrambled eggs as they are good sources of protein to keep you stimulated during the exam.
Once you reach the test centre, you could also take a short walk to a nearby cafe for a quick latte or cap, however, don’t be tempted to drink large amounts of caffeine, because you do not want to spend all your time on bathroom breaks when you have an important test to finish!
3. Learn More About ‘On The Day’ Of UCAT
On the UCAT test day, you may notice that all students are NOT taken into the test room at once, instead occurring at a staggered pace. This basically means that students will be invited into the test room at different times and some may have to wait longer for their names to be announced.
Do not panic when this happens, just remember that the test time starts when you begin the test and not when you reach the test centre. This also does not imply that you come as you please because arriving early is still considered beneficial to avoid any last minute mishaps. Also, there is no way to predict the order at which your name will be announced.
On the day of the test, patience is needed because you may have to wait for a prolonged amount of time to be let into the test centre. It is also worthwhile to watch videos of previous UCAT test sitters and their experience to know situations that you may encounter.
On the occasion that you do have to wait longer, do not sit idly, rather try to relax your mind, do a quick recap of the UCAT tips you created during preparation and take a quick bathroom break!
4. Carry Your Own Or Use The Provided Earplugs
Now that you are aware of the way things function on the UCAT test day, you need to acknowledge the uncertainty with regards to the time you will commence the actual exam.
Considering the alternating times at which students begin their exam, most UCAT tutors recommend that you carry good quality ear plugs or use the pair provided at the test centre to block out distractions or disturbances, like keyboard clicking or other students walking in and out of the test room.
If you have serious trouble concentrating on the exam with external distractions, we recommend that you use your own ear plugs to optimise your performance. One cannot predict the circumstances ‘on the day’, so the more prepared you are, the chances of things not going your way is minimised, leaving you to concentrate without any interruption.
5. Get Your Beauty Sleep To Improve Active Focus
The UCAT test day is an important part of your life, so the night before will be a more stressful and an anxious time for you. However, you need to forgo the mentality that it is a do-or-die situation. Remember it is not the end of the world if you make mistakes and definitely not the only measurement of your abilities and aptitude to study medicine.
The UCAT exam experience is part of a learning curve, and you can always retake the exam, (up to 7 times) or choose the GAMSAT to do postgraduate medicine.
But having said that, on your UCAT test day, having a solid 8-hour sleep can keep your energy levels high, which will improve your active focus during the UCAT test. There is no point obsessing over how your UCAT exam might go and whether or not you will achieve a high score, if you are not well rested it will interfere with your state of mind and tamper with your concentration.
Try to listen to soothing music or read a book the night before the UCAT. Basically undertake activities that are relaxing and can offer some peace of mind.
In conclusion, you cannot control the UCAT exam experience, however, you could incorporate some of these different strategies to optimise your performance so you go unfazed on test day!