If you are a fresh test-sitter, our UCAT strategy weekend event will be a great place to kickstart your foundations of the UCAT. However, if you are re-sitting the UCAT, this piece is dedicated to help you achieve a good UCAT score in the upcoming academic cycle!
Can You Resit the UCAT?
The simple answer is, yes, you can resit the UCAT. In fact, you can retake the UCAT multiple times on your medical application journey.
Unlike the GAMSAT, which offers two testing windows each year with two year validity on scores, the UCAT only has one testing window with a score validity of only one year. What this means is that you will have to sit the UCAT each year that you wish to apply for undergraduate medicine.
H2: Why is the UCAT Difficult for Year 12 Students?
For a fresh school leaver, who is not familiar with other exam formats besides high school, the UCAT can certainly be a BIG surprise. This is a common reason why some students are not able to secure a high UCAT score in their first sitting, as students juggle the stressors of being a teenager, Year 12 exams, and prep for the UCAT.
To understand UCAT difficulty, you first need to recognise that your high school studies are more inclined towards testing academic knowledge, whereas the UCAT is a measure of skills that are deemed important for the medical field.
While the UCAT is difficult for year 12’s because of the types of examinations that they have been engaged with for the past several years, the UCAT is a difficult exam for anyone at any point in their academic career.
For this reason, a bad UCAT score should not be thought of as the only determinant of your medical potential. In fact, UCAT is ONE of the prerequisites required at some undergraduate medical schools, as others such, as Bond and JCU, completely overlook the UCAT score all together during their admissions.
Tips to Retake the UCAT Exam
The UCAT, as you probably are beginning to realise, is psychometric in nature; quite the opposite of what your high school exams demand. A psychometric evaluation focuses on your demonstration of cognitive skills and accuracy rather than prior academic knowledge.
If you were unsuccessful in your first UCAT sitting and did not meet your preferenced medical school’s threshold score, then it is important that you reflect upon the aspects that lead to a poor performance.
We have compiled a few options to help you succeed below:
Take a Gap Year to Understand the UCAT Content
Many students have recognised the UCAT as a time-strapped exam, mainly because of its unique question-styles. There are 225 questions that you are required to answer within a 2-hour time limit. The computerised UCAT exam has been sub categorised into five sections:
Each section has set varying expectations from you, and one should not foolishly assume that there is a universal approach that works for all types of UCAT questions. Furthermore, a lack of foundational knowledge about the UCAT can have adverse effects on your final score, as you are not well-aware of what needs to go into your preparation.
To make the most of each sitting, we believe a gap year can actually be flipped into a productive year, allowing you to reflect on your previous sitting and jump back with a fresh perspective. Also, a gap year can be beneficial to your mental well-being as you can spend some good time with family and friends, and potentially get in some travel if COVID doesn’t get in the way! With a good mental presence you will be likely to progress better in your UCAT study.
Furthermore, we recommend that you conduct some fairly deep research to truly understand the contents of the UCAT. There are many online resources and past student experiences that exclusively highlight good UCAT study sources, and practice tests you need to attempt for optimal preparation.
For example, if your approach to solving currency conversion questions in Quantitative Reasoning heavily relied on rote-learning formulas, try to be more time-efficient in your new approach. Instead of memorising multiple formulas, you can use the magic triangle, as shown in the image below to remember one visual that can help you with any conversion-related questions.
Currency rate = Money after exchange / Money before exchange
Attempt Mock Exams With a Purpose
The only way you can succeed in the UCAT is if you dedicate ample amount of time to attempt practice questions and mock exams. As they say, practice makes perfect, which is definitely true in the case of UCAT.
Remember, you are new to this exam format. Before your UCAT exam, you need to be thinking about the following:
That you understand the skills that you must demonstrate
That you are consistent with your preparation
That you have a sense of direction to your UCAT study.
In attempting multiple mock exams and practice tests, you are getting the experience of the real UCAT exam and how to be efficient while using the keyboard. However, your preparation is of least value if you blindly attempt questions without being strategic in your preparation.
Our experienced UCAT tutors are proactive in developing personalised strategies to tackle the UCAT without settling for a generic approach that does not work for some students.
At Fraser’s UCAT, our courses place the mock exams at the right intervals for you to first understand the UCAT fundamentals before attempting them. It is baseless if you randomly attempt a practice test without fully comprehending the UCAT theories. Therefore, when it comes to preparing for the UCAT again, attempt these mock exams and critically evaluate your approaches each time to come up with better strategies for the next mock.
Be Prepared to Work Under the UCAT Time Pressure
This point has been reiterated in many of our previous articles, so we’ll just say it one last time. The UCAT is a highly pressured exam and there is no denying that.
In our years of mentoring students in their UCAT study, we have noticed that time management skills are fairly difficult to attune and demand consistent practice before the real UCAT exam. Therefore, your main goal, when re-preparing for the UCAT, should be to target and finish practice questions under timed conditions.
Another way to tackle the time pressure element in the UCAT is to familiarise yourself with ‘Flagging’. An efficient solving technique, particularly used in the UCAT to set aside difficult questions for later and solve lower yield questions at first so you don’t invest all your thinking and creativity over a single question.
Note that questions can be flagged in the real UCAT by using the Alt + F’ function.
If you are not accustomed to the method of flagging, we recommend you to deploy it in your practice tests to be able to replicate it on the UCAT test day. Furthermore, another great way to manage time efficiently is through the use of keyboard shortcuts. Although keyboard shortcuts are not favoured by everyone, it is a good strategy that can help you save some time and review flagged questions before concluding the test.
Becoming efficient with the use of keyboard shortcuts only occurs with ample practice. If you are in need of the best simulation practice for the UCAT, or want more information, why not book a free consultation with one of our mentors!