The months leading up to the UCAT are inevitably stressful because of all of the things that you have to manage, from focusing on UCAT study to juggling other commitments with school and extracurriculars. We want to reassure you that the stress you’re experiencing is manageable, but will require some consideration on your part to keep your mind working to it’s best, not just during your UCAT preparation but on the test day to achieve a competitive UCAT score!
UCAT Preparation: Tips And Tricks To Reinforce Your Study
1. Set Realistic Goals For Yourself
There are many challenging aspects to the UCAT. Some of you might find that racing against time is the most challenging aspect, while others could struggle at demonstrating the right skillset across each section.
Nevertheless, attempting to study extremely hard every day for an assessment like the UCAT is unrealistic. Instead it’s better to set smaller, more achievable goals and focus on achieving your goals on a daily or weekly basis. By achieving goals, you will feel like you are making progress. Having a perception of progress is important to maintaining and building confidence in your UCAT ability.
When we say achievable goals, we imply small daily tasks that can be gradually perfected over time with consistent UCAT study. You could start off by listing out the different parameters that are hindering your progress in the UCAT. Something as simple as ‘Don’t over think the question, in Decision Making, could be an achievable goal. The moral is to keep it simple and improve little by little, giving scope to overall growth in the UCAT.
2. Don’t Give Up On Your Daily Routine
A successful UCAT candidate is not just focused on pulling an all nighter to study harder but gets into the habit of making a clear routine that allows time for both study and appropriate breaks on things that are totally unrelated to UCAT, for example - exercises or a hobby of your choice.
Striking a balance between UCAT study and other commitments, such as extracurricular activities could improve your mental well-being and help you get back to studying with a fresh perspective. In our experience, top UCAT scorers are not studying relentlessly throughout the months while giving up on all other commitments. Instead, such people study consistent hours per week, attempting UCAT questions on a daily basis besides fulfilling other school-related tasks. This practice keeps students motivated to do the best across both these spectrums, i.e., UCAT study and school education, and accommodates time for their extracurriculars as well.
3. Seek Help Early In Your UCAT Prep
There is no way of knowing the future. Whether or not your performance on UCAT test day will be optimal is dependent on numerous factors. However, you can always remain in control of your headspace in the here and now. If you have hit a bump in your preparation, it is important to reach out to UCAT mentors that can help you to correct any bumps along the road in your UCAT journey.
One of the easiest ways to know the fundamentals of the UCAT, and where you are currently sitting, is through our Strategy Weekend Program. Fraser's UCAT strategy weekend lasts for three full days, and for a reasonable cost, you can gain an in-depth explanation of you strengths and weaknesses to create your own UCAT study planner. Furthermore, the strategy weekend program is a great way to unravel our teaching style so you can get to know us before committing to one of our comprehensive courses.
If there are still questions that you have unanswered regarding your UCAT preparation, you can reach out to us at Fraser's, and receive a free consultation with an experienced UCAT mentor for 30-minutes. During the consultation, you can discuss your overall mindset about the UCAT and can gain real insights on how to improve your existing UCAT strategy to excel in the exam.
Tips To Calm Your UCAT Nerves On The Test Day
1. Ensure You Eat A Balanced Diet
One of the factors that can significantly slow you down in any activity has to do with food consumption. In our previous article on ‘Tips to follow on the UCAT test day’ we mentioned the importance of eating a protein and carbohydrate-enriched diet like cereals or eggs or carrying a banana in your backpack as a snack to keep energy inflow constant. However, there is always the issue of excess intake of food, especially in situations where you have to retain focus for 2-hours straight. You need to be mindful of eating just enough, but not too much such that you end up feeling postprandial tiredness.
In our experience, having drinks that make you go to the toilet alot, like coffees and teas should be minimised. These drinks tend to increase the amount of urine made by the kidney, in turn, increasing your toilet breaks, and potentially interrupting your exam flow!
2. Wear Comfortable Clothing
The concept behind wearing comfortable clothes rather than dressing fancily for a time-pressured test like the UCAT is a good thing to keep in mind. Unlike your medical interview, you don’t need to create good impressions as the test is tailored to evaluate your thought process - rather than your clothes choices.
Although it sounds strange, we all have our preferences when it comes to specific clothing that really spotlights our inner potential and makes us more confident. There is also some evidence that wearing clothes that make us feel more confident are the way to go. Ultimately, you want to wear something that primarily makes you feel comfortable, but also reasonably confident on UCAT Test day to perform at your best.
Additionally, besides satisfaction, it is recommended to carry a jacket on your test day as you cannot always predict the temperature at the venue, which could be too hot or too cold due to the air-conditioning in the test centre. Our key recommendation here is to bring layers. Layers allow you to add more when you’re cold and take things off when you’re hot - keeping your temperature as regulated as possible.
3. Learn To Relax During The Exam
Saving the best for the last!
Our final and exclusive tip is about the individual UCAT subsections. If you read our article on ‘How is the UCAT scored?’, you will notice that each section is graded separately, which means if you perform lower in one section, your marks will largely remain unaffected in the next one. The key takeaway here is that you should not obsess about performance in a past section. Instead, approach each independent section with a fresh mindset so you can average out your overall performance.
Another useful tip to reduce stress is to utilise the ‘Reading Time’ component of each section. Reading time is a time to orient yourself to the paper, but also to center and calm your mind about the task at hand. This 1-minute of reading time across each section can be efficiently used to remind yourself of the strategies you have built for different question-types, or even to reassure yourself that you can ace the UCAT as you spent all summer practising a range of mock exams for this moment!
Where To Next?
We hope that you found this article useful and have gained real insights into channelling your stress. From here, we recommend that you check out our Free Resources and Tools available on our website. Alternatively, you can always speak to an experienced UCAT mentor and get all your doubts cleared on spot!
Here are a few articles that can help you on your UCAT journey:
- Common mistakes to avoid in Decision Making
- Common mistakes to avoid in Verbal Reasoning
- UCAT Time Management
- Debunking UCAT Myths
- UCAT Study Planner