4 Common Mistakes to Avoid when Preparing for the UCAT

common mistakes to avoid ucat feature image

Niel Bohr,  Danish Physicist and Nobel prize winner in 1922 once said that ‘An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made, in a narrow field”. I took the exam THREE times before scoring in the top 10%. In this article we will discuss 4 common mistakes I made when preparing for the exam.

The UCAT was one of the most challenging things I’ve ever had to overcome. I failed to get an offer for medical school twice before finally succeeding on my third attempt. Part of my success was due to the fact that I was able to improve my UCAT score average and score in the 90th percentile on my third try. Like many students that apply to Medicine, I got caught up in the prospect of applying that I wasn’t as thorough as I could have been with my preparation for the exam. Here are 4 of the most common mistakes made by many candidates when preparing for the  UCAT, avoid them!

1.Not Thoroughly Investigating The UCAT

If you are planning to apply to medical or dental school, researching into the UCAT is a crucial step. Is it a requirement for you? If it is, how does your ideal choice assess it? Is there a cut-off mark or do they look at the individual score of each subtest? or use a point-based system? Most candidates only look into the entry requirements of their choices, the format of the exam and deadlines. That’s not enough! you need to be fully informed about how it is assessed, call the admission office if you have to! You need to know how your choices use the UCAT to assess candidates and have a rough idea on the score you need to  be invited for an interview. A lot of the time, universities state that they do not have a minimum requirement. However, you must figure how how they use it to shortlist applicants.

2. Attempting the Official Practice tests & Questions Too late

I remember when I first took the UCAT, I attempted the official practice tests the last few days leading to the test because I thought it would give me an idea on what I’ll likely score in the live test. Unfortunately, I didn’t perform as well as I hoped and it was too late to do anything about it. Attempt the UCAT practice tests as early as possible! It will help you identify your weakest areas and you can plan accordingly to improve it.

3. Not Having a Strategy for Each Subtest

It is common practice to attempt questions and learn from the ones you get wrong. However, this approach only familiarises you with the exam, it doesn’t improve your score significantly. I highly recommend to identify the exact reason you struggle with a particular subtest, look into the question-types you get wrong and the precise skill set that needs improvement. There is usually a pattern. I recommend to have an attack plan for each subtest based on your shortcomings in the exam. 

4. Not setting a minimum target Score

Setting a benchmark score during practice is a great way to assess performance. This target score should be based on what you need to be invited to an interview for your ideal choices. 

For more UCAT tips check out the rest of the blog and join our free UCAT Study Group. You can opt-in for our UCAT Virtual Tutor – 30-day Study plan designed to get you from zero to scoring in the top percentile within 30-days. For in-depth exam strategies and actionable techniques grab our new UCAT Study Guide, includes 200+ exam strategies and techniques for each subtest.