We reached out to past candidates that took the UCAT to get their thoughts on the test and give their insight into how to prepare for the exam. Today’s Q&A session is with Zaynah (@Zaynah.Studies on Instagram), she offers amazing advice and insight into how she prepared for the exam to achieve an overall score of 2710.
Zaynah is a 19-year-old dental student in her first year at Barts and the London, School of Dentistry.
What year did you take the UCAT?
I sat the UCAT (or UKCAT as I knew it) in 2017, so 2 years ago.
What was your overall UCAT score?
Total score: 2710 (average score: 677.5)
Situational Judgement: Band 1
Verbal Reasoning: 650
Decision Making: 730
Quantitive Reasoning: 720
Abstract Reasoning: 610
What was your strongest subtest, and what advice would you give to prepare?
My strongest subtest was Decision Making. I always found DM easy so I didn’t spend much time preparing for it – you’ll find that you’re naturally better at some sections than others, so if you know that you find a certain subtest super easy it’s probably best to focus your attention elsewhere and bring your overall average score up.
What was your weakest subtest, and what advice would you give to prepare?
Abstract Reasoning was my worst score by far, which was unsurprising because I avoided practising it! I hated AR from the very beginning and found revising it a chore, so I spent a minimal amount of time on it, and it ended up dragging down my overall average. My advice would be to force yourself to do a handful of questions a day for your weakest subtest, even if it seems impossible because over time you’ll start improving at it through exposure to more questions. Don’t be disheartened if your mock score for a subtest comes out low because you can always improve it! Also, see if you can find some tips and tricks on how to tackle the questions.
What resources did you use to prepare for the test?
I used Medify (1-month subscription), The Medic Portal, the Get Into Medical School 1250 UKCAT Practice Questions book and the UCAT website.
How did you go about preparing for the UCAT?
To get a background idea of how the UCAT works and what each subtest consists of, I read through the introduction and the start of each section of the book. After doing sets of questions for each subtest for a week, I jumped straight into a full Medify mock test; this helped me identify at an early stage which sections I was good at and which ones I needed to work on. I then continued to do questions, targeting my weaker areas without neglecting the stronger ones either. Closer to my exam date, I was mostly doing mock tests, particularly the ones from the UCAT website itself.
How long did you prepare for the test?
I started preparing approximately 4 weeks before the test. At first, I only spent up to an hour a day on UCAT prep; this then increased to 3-4 hours a day a couple of weeks later once I realised that the test was fast approaching and I’d been a bit lax with my time! Overall I spent around 30 hours preparing.
From a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being ‘really easy’ and 10 being ‘very hard’ How did you find the UCAT?
I’d say a 6. I found the Quantitative Reasoning and Situational Judgement subtests a bit easier than expected and Decision Making went smoothly. However, I found the Verbal Reasoning questions in the actual test much harder than I had during my prep and I ended up with a lower score in that subtest than I’d anticipated, which was frustrating.
In hindsight, anything you wish you had done differently during Revision?
I regretted neglecting Abstract Reasoning so I definitely wish I’d spent more time on it as a higher overall average score would have made me less stressed about my application. I also could have used the book a bit more as I heard from other people that it helped them a lot, but I didn’t really make full use of the questions.
What key advice would you give future candidates taking the exam?
Strategy is key for the UCAT. The flagging feature exists for a reason, so use it! I came across a good tip which I used myself during my test: when you’ve got 10 minutes left for a section, go through the rest of the questions you have left and put down random answers and flag all of them, then go through all of your flagged questions and answer them properly. This ensures that you’ve put an answer of some kind down for everything; never leave a question blank because they’re all multiple choice, so there’s a good chance you could guess the correct answer.
How many interviews did you get for Dentistry?
I received all 4 of my interviews (at Barts, Kings, Cardiff and Birmingham).
For more specific advice, where can readers reach you?
Questions regarding the UCAT, Dentistry or anything else, please feel free to DM me on my Instagram.