If your child is in year 10, they are probably the most academically stressed that they have been in their life so far. In year 10, they have to start deciding on a career pathway that they are interested in, choose subjects required to enter a suitable university that can support their interests, and undertake extra-curricular opportunities that could elevate their chances of success in their chosen career. Your year 10 child needs to manage the above aspects whilst maintaining a high performance in their high school assessments.
This article should help to provide some idea of where you child is in their education if they are charting a path towards medical school. We hope that with this general information that you, as a parent, can help to support your child through their journey.
Medicine, in particular, is and continues to be a highly competitive educational degree and career-pathway that only a few manage to achieve. Therefore it is important that from the initial stages, you are able to help your child to gain access to the right resources, and most importantly, credible information to perform at their best.
In order to best support your child, you ought to be accustomed to the various challenges that your child could face down the lane. And it starts with familiarizing yourself with the mandatory psychometric evaluation, UCAT, a significant prerequisite adopted by most undergraduate medical schools in Australia.
What Is The UCAT?
The UCAT stands for the ‘University Clinical Aptitude Test’. As the name suggests, it is an aptitude exam that measures a student’s critical thinking and time management skills over academic knowledge. To prepare for the UCAT, your child’s mindset needs to become flexible and interpretive in nature to tackle the complexities of the test and stay away from merely rote-learning information as they may be required to do in their highschool subjects.
The UCAT exam is delivered in a digital format and officially has one testing window per annum. So basically, your child can undertake the UCAT within a predefined timeline, which usually occurs between July - August every year.
Once you begin exploring the UCAT in-depth, you will realise that the UCAT is a time-scarce exam and your child needs to improve their speed and accuracy during the early stages of preparation. To give you a gist of the UCAT format, there are 225 multiple-choice questions in total that are spread across 5 UCAT subsections with an overall strapped duration of 1 hour 55 mins.
The following diagrams can be beneficial to understand the different UCAT subsections and their constituents:
How Important Is The UCAT?
If you read our article on how the UCAT assesses an individuals’ ability to become a doctor, you will observe that each UCAT subsection is designed to select those students who have well-developed critical thinking and effective time management skills, which are important aspects of medical practice.
It may seem quite overwhelming to put your child through a gruelling test that plays a significant role in their dream career in medicine. However, on the flip side, UCAT is a skill-based assessment that can be mastered with consistent practise sessions similar to preparing for a high school test. Therefore, equating the UCAT to your child’s high school exams can reduce the pressure on your child and help them approach the UCAT with a fresh mind to perform well on test day.
In addition, we recommend that you reassure your child that performing poorly in the UCAT does not mean it is the end of their dream. They can always register and undertake the GAMSAT to pursue medicine and dentistry at a postgraduate level of study.
UCAT Score And University Requirements
How Will Medical Schools Consider My Child’s UCAT Score?
There are, however, medical schools that do not consider the UCAT score and may rely on additional criteria, such as a personalised assessment in combination with your child’s ATAR to rank them for an interview.
The first four subtests’ score is used as a secondary differentiator. Whereas the SJT score is a tertiary differentiator to the aggregate score.
Charles Darwin University
10% of the UCAT score is used in the selection process.
University of Tasmania
There is no mention of the UCAT percentage taken into account. However, a high UCAT score is preferred.
University of Auckland
The final selection process will be calculated based on:
GPA of four courses (60%)
UCAT score (15%)
MMI interview (25%)
University of Otago
A high score across the 5 UCAT subsections is taken into consideration alongside the weighted academic score (ATAR).
Based on the table above, it is evident that there is a predetermined percentage allocated to the UCAT score, hence, our experienced UCAT tutors often advise students to first understand the university requirements before creating a study plan. Being in the know for the university’s eligibility criteria can provide a more systematic direction to their UCAT preparation and also help strike a balance with their high school studies.
How To Balance UCAT Preparation With High School Exams?
The UCAT demands a unique preparation strategy that can only be obtained through attempting multiple practice tests and mock exams. Here’s a simple analogy to strengthen your understanding of the UCAT:
Think of the mindset you need while solving a Rubix cube. It basically requires you to be good at improvisation and technique, which is exactly how the UCAT works.
Strategy Weekend Course
Before your child begins their UCAT preparation, it is important to understand the UCAT and the skills it demands. By doing so, it becomes easier to devise a study plan that accommodates their high school subjects. However, considering how tedious the UCAT research could be, we have introduced the Strategy weekend course. This course is one-of-a-kind and the ideal starter pack to give you all the fundamental details of the UCAT.
The UCAT strategy weekend course occurs three full days to cover all of the fundamental details about the UCAT. Your child will be put into small interactive groups and will have some of Australia’s best UCAT tutors answering all their questions about the UCAT. Furthermore, your child will learn all there is to know about the UCAT and its different sections, and on the final day your child will get a personalised report on their performance based on a diagnostic exam alongside a private consultation with one of our senior tutors. This tutor will help your child develop their study plan as well.
This course also comes with additional perks such as access to over 2000 UCAT practice questions and a multitude of mocks and mini-mocks to help improve your child’s understanding of their strengths and weaknesses. The Fraser’s Strategy Weekend is a great way to get started with your child’s UCAT study.
Once you sign up for our strategy weekend course program, you also get to witness Fraser's outlook on undertaking the UCAT and our iterative learning process, which produces a dynamic and engaging learning experience for our students. Hence, this course is an excellent way for you and your child to understand our values before committing to our comprehensive course packages.
UCAT Parents Webinar
As crucial as it is for your child to understand the UCAT domain, it is equally important for you, as a parent, to comprehend it as well. On this basis, you can also suggest approaches that could boost their chances of success and reassure them that they are not alone in this stressful journey.
As said earlier, medicine is a competitive field requiring individuals who can keep their calm under pressure and demonstrate higher-order thinking abilities. Both can be challenging to achieve if not for a strong support system.
Therefore, to know all the brass tacks of the UCAT, we have introduced a UCAT parents webinar solely meant to inform parents about the UCAT space and provide a broad overview of ways to support your child. This webinar is free of charge and is a great way for you to gauge the value you and your child will receive out of Fraser’s UCAT.
Consult A Private UCAT Tutor
At Fraser’s, we have a team of UCAT experts who hold a long-standing reputation of educational excellence, including in the UCAT space. Our students additionally benefit from our UCAT tutors personalised feedback that has significantly altered their approach to the exam. Our senior tutors don’t just pave the way to build strategies for success in the UCAT but also provide tips that cater to your child’s ability to manage their other course loads for highschool exams.
We offer a free 30-minute consultation with one of our tutors so that your child can understand how we teach and if the learning method fits well for your child. Introductory consults are beneficial particularly if your child is aware of their limitations within the UCAT but are unable to deduce a practical approach that can improve their chances of success in the test. Our tutors can then provide a cohesive plan to help your child build a highly targeted study plan across individual UCAT sections without limiting your child’s high school studies.
Our private tutors are available at flexible durations, meaning you can organize a one-on-one session that fits into your schedule, and may choose between an online or in-person classes.
Regardless, your child should begin preparation for the UCAT whilst allocating suitable time to work on their ATAR subjects as well. It could be beneficial to start their UCAT preparation during their summer break of year 11 considering the UCAT testing window. Over the summer your child will need to devote a few hours a week to diligently work through UCAT practice questions to develop their reasoning skills. That way they are ahead by the time that they need to simultaneously learn content-rich high school subjects.
Where To Next?
We hope this article was useful and highlighted essential information about the UCAT exam.
Alternatively, if you wish to gain more information about the UCAT, read our article on, ‘What is the UCAT?’
We also have tons of additional information about the UCAT subsections: