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 medical student and YouTuber Magda Nikkii, she offers advice and insight into how she prepared for the exam to achieve an overall score of 2950.
Magda Nikkii is a 1st year medical student at the University of Cambridge. She has a vlog on YouTube where she shares her life as a medical student.
What year did you take the UCAT?
What was your overall UCAT score?
Overall – Overall 2950 (average 737.5)
Verbal reasoning – 610
Decision making – 740
Quantitative reasoning – 850
Abstract reasoning – 750
Situational judgement – Band 1
What was your strongest subtest and what advice would you give to prepare?
I achieved the best score in quantitative reasoning, which was quite surprising to me as I struggled with it a lot in my preparation, but I think the main advice I’d give for preparing for this section is to make sure to do enough practice questions to get used to the format and the speed needed to answer them. In the actual exam, go through and answer the questions you know how to answer first, and if you’re running out of time make educated guesses for the rest. Don’t spend too long on any given question: if you can’t do it, move on!
What was your weakest subtest and what advice would you give to prepare?
My weakest subtest was verbal reasoning. In the exam itself, it was the first section to come up, thus it’s understandable to be quite flustered and not perform at your best. Make sure to try and calm your nerves before the exam begins. Besides this, for verbal reasoning the best preparation in my opinion is to practice reading texts as quickly as possible whilst still understanding what you’ve read – perhaps test yourself by summarising the passage afterwards.
What resources did you use to prepare for the test?
Medify, ISC Medical 1000 UKCAT Practice Questions Book, The Medic Portal
How did you go about preparing for the UCAT?
I just did as much practice as I could fit in during summer, as this is really the only way you can get good at answering these types of questions. I actually pushed my test date further back as I felt I hadn’t done enough practice by the time my original test date came around, so don’t be afraid to do so if you’re not feeling as prepared as you’d like to be! Also, make sure to do as many full-length papers under timed conditions as you can find, as a large challenge of the UCAT is the time pressure of each section.
How long did you prepare for the test?
I did a fair few hours of work towards the test per day for around a month or so, obviously with some days off – don’t burn yourself out, the summer holidays are there as a break from school, so take that break!
From a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being ‘really easy’ and 10 being ‘very hard’ How did you find the UCAT?
I would say with hindsight around a 6 or 7, though at the time I remember it probably being a 9. At the beginning of preparation, it’s not uncommon to feel that there’s no way you’re ever going to do well, as the questions are initially quite difficult since you’re unfamiliar with the format. However, by the time you actually take the test, with enough practice you’re more than prepared to ace it, even if it doesn’t feel that way in the moment. The UCAT really is one of those situations where the amount of work you put in dictates what you get out of it.
In hindsight, anything you wish you had done differently during Revision:
I think I should have started practising questions under timed conditions much earlier that I did, as the questions themselves, after you’ve done enough of them, are quite similar and not inherently too difficult, but the issues come from the short amount of time you’re given to answer them.
What key advice would you give future candidates taking the exam:
Honestly, don’t stress yourself out about it too much, it’s not worth it! Set yourself an achievable target score and steadily work towards it. Be realistic about the time frame you’ve given yourself to prepare for the test and just try to get as much practice done in the time that you have.
Did you enrol on any UCAT course or tuition?
No I didn’t, I prepared for the UCAT by myself with the help of the resources I mentioned.
How many interviews did you get for Medicine?
I got 3 interviews for medicine as I also applied to the University of Edinburgh which doesn’t interview candidates.
For more specific advice where can readers reach you?
My email is firstname.lastname@example.org – I try to reply to as many questions as possible! Also on Twitter and Instagram as @magdanikkii
For more exam advice, check out her latest video on the UCAT: