UCAT 2020. Forget covid. I think for us aspiring medics this has certainly been the topic of the week. Before you read any further, if you’re applying to medicine in October, have you signed up for the UCAT yet? If not, please go and do it right now. I literally booked mine 1 hour after booking opened and places were already very limited. It was really surprising!
I think there are so many questions surrounding the UCAT this year, starting with the obvious: where should we take it? Literally right up until I booked my test, I was adamant I was doing it at home. Living with a clinically extremely vulnerable person made this option feel way less stressful. Going outside seems a little scary right now so as you can imagine sitting in a test centre seemed incredibly daunting, social distancing or no social distancing. I even bought a whiteboard. I was that committed. But when I went to check my laptop things fell apart. Long story short, it didn’t like the tech very much and I didn’t like the thought of everything going wrong and me being able to do nothing about it. So in the end I took a complete U-turn and am now sitting my test at a test centre an hour away. (The closest ones on the dates I wanted had already sold out- please make sure you have booked your test!)
The next big question is when do I sit the UCAT. I can’t give you an answer to this but the general consensus seems to be to do it before September. We don’t need any more added stress in our lives. UCAT themselves favour the idea of sitting the test as early as possible but I guess that depends on how prepared you are. If you haven’t started your prep yet, I would say this isn’t going to be the smartest option. The good news is that you can postpone the test if you don’t feel prepared enough but, so places aren’t wasted, it’s more considerate not to do this or to at least only do it once or twice. I know that it feels better to get a test over and done with although it’s reassuring to know that if I’m really not prepared in time, all isn’t lost. Personally I have decided to take mine near the end of August, which gives me most of summer to prepare. It’s recommended that you leave 4-6 weeks to prepare but the sooner you start preparing the better.
So I guess the most important question is how do we prepare. I’d like to point out that the UCAT isn’t an IQ test, but an aptitude test so revision and practice really does help. There are plenty of free and paid resources out there to help with prep. (If you check out @wearemedics on Instagram, they have shared lots of great resources). My own approach so far and also going forward uses a mixture of free and paid resources. I am also trying to simulate how the test will be to make my revision as effective as it can be (so online not with books). I was fortunate enough to be able to get Medify’s question bank which has been great so far. You don’t have to choose that one of course. Medsimple are launching their own online UCAT course, and plenty of companies are running interactive courses and webinars too.
If you want a chance at winning access to Medsimple’s UCAT online learning platform with 65+ video tutorials and access to Medsimple’s UCAT question bank then have a look at the competition on Instagram. Winners will be announced this Friday (10/7/20). Keep your eyes peeled (and if you want, comment things you’ve found down below so we can all help each other) for free webinars and resources because they are honestly great.
I have been to a few of Meducator’s webinars which have been useful. I also think learning how to answer the questions as well as techniques to aid speed is really important too. This is where guidebooks and youtube videos come in really handy. I personally love Kharma Medic’s playlist on youtube all about the UCAT exam. It’s definitely worth a watch. We can’t forget UCAT’s own website either which has a goldmine of resources! They have tonnes of questions and tutorials to check out and it’s all free!
But what if I haven’t started preparing yet? Honestly, it’s ok. We still have time. I have been struggling to fit in UCAT practice despite being in lockdown so you’re not alone. But I am trying to make it a priority in my day now and slowly ramp up the practice. You’re not alone. None of us are perfect and we will all likely have days where we don’t do as much as we wanted if anything at all. We just have to pick ourselves up and move on. I would say if you haven’t started preparing, now is at least the time to compile your resources and make some sort of plan. Find out what successful candidates did and figure out how you want to approach this to get the best score possible.
We will all get through this. Remember that your mental health is a priority throughout all of this and that you’re not the only one who is finding this a bit difficult.
I’d love to hear from you. When and where are you taking your UCAT? How are you preparing for it?
Hope you’re staying safe and well. You’ve got this!
Written by Aimear Wolstenholme (student who has engaged with Medsimple programmes)