As part of the preparation strategy in the UCAT Study Guide, you are required to do a lot of analysis. For example, after UCAT practice tests you must analyze your results to help identify weak and strong areas.
However, I do not provide much information on the framework of how analysis must be done.
One framework of analysis is the SWOT Method where you assess UCAT practice tests into the following:
S – Strengths: Describes what subtest, skill or technique you are good at. It can also include learned tips or techniques that work well for you.
W – Weakness: Describes skills, subtests and techniques that are limiting or holding you back from achieving your desired score. However, with a lot of practice you should see an improvement over time
O – Opportunity: Describes areas that with a little bit of work can turn into strengths.
T – Threats: Describe areas that do not improve despite spending a significant amount of time working on them.
When using SWOT analysis, your assessment needs to be objective. Analysis needs to be kept specific by avoiding grey areas. It should be short and simple, and should avoid complexity and over-analysis.
It is usually presented as a square with each of the four areas making up one quadrant. This visual arrangement of the information provides a quick overview of your position. Although all the points under a particular heading may not be of equal importance, there are some insights to be had in seeing how the number of opportunities measures up to the number of threats, and so forth.
Before you set out to do a SWOT analysis, there is some preparation. The first step is to take a stab at setting your targets (have a minimum and ideal score – see Step 1 in the UCAT Study Guide). Also explore average UKCAT scores achieved in the previous year to compare test results (See Step 2 in the UCAT Study Guide). For example, You may put under strength that your average score was above last year results, but a threat may be, for example, ‘despite learning the SCAN method for abstract my practice score was till below target score’.
The SWOT analysis helps outline strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats that you’ve perceived so you can prompt yourself if needed. I recommend doing it regularly after every practice test and set a game plan to improve. Always review the most recent SWOT results before the next mock.
Using the KPIs with the SWOT Method
In Step 6 (Assess) of the preparation strategy I talk about Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and the role they play in assessing progress over time. They are very insightful criterias to consider during every SWOT analysis of practice results. By using KPIs you are able to effectively measure and manage the areas of the exam that needs improvement. Thus, effectively targeting weak areas and improving your skills.
I explain each KPI in the study guide and provide details on how to work out each one. I urge you to get familiar with each concept as early as possible so you can assess practice results effectively. Then using the 80/20 principle (described in step 6 to shortlist techniques that boost performance in the exam.
By combining both SWOT analysis and KPI concepts you will be able to effectively work on weak areas throughout your entire preparation.
Find below an example of SWOT/KPI Analysis of an official practice test completed by a volunteer from the study guide beta test group.