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September 23, 2023, 02:04:57 pm

Author Topic: UCAT Experiences Thread  (Read 2942 times)

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UCAT Experiences Thread
« on: August 25, 2020, 07:09:46 pm »
Hello hello, another UCAT resource :) - but this time it's collaborative!

It's taken a little while to roll out (which has made it redundant for this year's cohort, sorry you guys :( ), but as per the title, this is a thread for everyone to share their experiences prior to and after doing the UCAT, and of course share what you would've changed in hindsight (really is 20/20 haha 8) )! Tell and share your stories- hopefully, the variety of learning curves and experiences will give something for other students to feed off and a small but certainly not definitive list of do's and don't's (the whole point of this is that there is no correct method set in stone to succeed!). I know I definitely took a different approach to a lot of my schoolmates, and as such all of you will have different stories to tell - looking forward to see hopefully loads of contributions. Don't be discouraged to share even if you're not quite satisfied with your results, everyone has something to give :)

For contributors, a few things you might want to address (as a starting point - weave your tales however you like :D ):
- anything you would/wouldn't change?
- your development up to the ucat
- contributing factors to your result
- anything else you deem even remotely helpful :)

For everyone else reading the thread:
- ask questions! 100% no judgment, nice community happy to help here :)
- even if you're currently on your journey now, keep us posted on your progress
- perhaps suggest more ideas for this fledgling board

Hope this helps :)
« Last Edit: January 20, 2021, 04:58:39 pm by fun_jirachi »
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Re: UCAT Experiences Thread
« Reply #1 on: August 25, 2020, 07:47:09 pm »
Hey everyone. :) I'll be sharing my top tips for the UCAT, which I've posted elsewhere but will be most pertinent here as well. Most of these are generalised, however, I'll come back to this thread in a while (or maybe after exams) to post some more section-specific stuff. Also, keep in mind that following these tips aren't going to miraculously improve your score, they worked for me, yes, but you know yourself better than anyone else and everyone has their own way of approaching the UCAT.

General tips
- Go to the bathroom BEFORE your test - you really don't have time to waste during the test (except during SJT, of course, no one cares about that section :D)
- Get there earlier than your appointment, it might take some time for registration stuff
- If you start to panic, take a breather and close your eyes - it will be ok!!!!
- It's ok if you think you did badly in one subsection. I remember being upset after VR and DM because I found a lot of the questions difficult, but I knew I had to forget about VR and DM altogether if I was to have a chance at doing well in QR and AR, which were to follow.
- Take a water bottle and earplugs. Your testing centre might not provide these - check to make sure
- REMEMBER YOUR SHORTCUTS. It simply takes wayyyyyyy too much time to be using the mouse to go to next/previous questions and bring the calculator up
- Work on the subsection until your timer hits 0 (unless it's SJT)
- Maintain your confidence - you've worked hard, you CAN DO THIS (do NOT lose your CAN-DO attitude), your state of mind will affect your performance
- RUN (through the questions) LIKE THE WIND. GO FAST - DO NOT SLOW DOWN. This is a big one because I think a lot of people get caught up with a few difficult questions and miss easy ones at the end and don't get enough time to finish. I made a note to myself before the test that I would check the timer (something I didn't do in my practice mocks) and if I couldn't get any question in less than 30 seconds, I'd skip it because I wouldn't have time to do the rest of the questions
- maintain a POSITIVE mindset before and during the test!

For QR and AR
- Don't spend a lot of time on each question, if you can't get the answer then flag it and move on and come back to it later
- AR is mostly 'seeing' the pattern - pattern recognition comes with lots of practice!
- Learn how to use the calculator and keyboard shortcuts quickly and efficiently (use the numpad for the calculator)
- QR is mostly simple calculations - try and find out the questions you keep getting wrong and work on those skills in isolation to UCAT practice (e.g. if you struggle with time/distance/speed calculations, find some questions online to do with this and practise that!)
- don't get bogged down with your performance/how you think you did in VR and DM - I felt really demotivated after a poor performance in VR and DM, and what allowed me to do well in AR and QR was to completely FORGET about how bad I did and focus on doing my best in the second half of the test
- With QR, donít skip questions if you can do them - this would be my advice. I donít really think the easier questions were at the end for QR, it was more spread throughout
- Honestly, I don't think anyone starts off being good at AR (unless they have exceptional pattern recognition abilities, which not many people will have at the start of UCAT prep. If you do - you're one lucky bean). With AR, it's all about exposing yourself to as many patterns as possible. Getting good at AR is an extremely long, demotivating road. You will fail, and fail again. You will keep failing. I honestly felt like quitting when my AR scores would never improve and my test date was getting closer. DO NOT give up. You gotta keep pushing through, and you WILL improve. It just takes time!

Iíve never actually skimmed the text before answering questions - I always read the question first and find the answer in the passage, answer the question then move on. I donít usually skip passages, if I do then itís really long historical passages that I know will take me lots of time (I donít skip all historical passages though, most are doable). I usually do everything in order otherwise.

Free resources I used
I would definitely recommend MedicMind and KharmaMedic videos on youtube. There are probably other great videos on youtube too, but these are the ones I watched. They go through specific questions and it's beneficial to see others' thought process to see if employing something similar could help you.

Reflecting on mocks
It's totally normal to fluctuate (so don't worry if you do good one time and not so good the next) because it is an aptitude test after all. At the start, I had more time so did mocks really spaced out (like once every 1 or 2 weeks) but I sort of neglected UCAT for school (assessments at school had immediate consequences, whilst UCAT was X months away so it was very easy to push UCAT away and just say 'oh, I'll just do it later'). Try and dedicate a set amount of time each day to do UCAT, I know it's easy to do a lot of practice on one day and neglect it the next, but especially this close to the test try study consistently and don't overburden yourself or you'll burn out.

After a mock, I would on average spend 40 mins to an hour going over the exam. This would mainly just be me looking over everything I got wrong and saying unhelpful things like 'wow, can't believe I misread that I'm so dumb' or 'okay whatever, I'll just do this next time'. Rarely did I actually note down the question types I got wrong and practise them in isolation - if I did this I think I could have improved more. I think what would be helpful is instead of just going through a mock and being like 'ok, whatever', focus on specific question types. Practise them untimed, or focus on them in isolation to the UCAT. Pinpoint where you make mistakes and correct those. For example, if you suck at speedreading, then practise by reading Wikipedia until your eyes are red and teary. If you keep getting speed/time/distance questions wrong, google some of those worksheets and work on them till you never get those questions wrong again.

I kinda miscalculated the timing of my mocks and didn't have time to complete 7 entire mocks! I even started doing a mock every day/ever 2 days in the lead up to the exam (stopped doing this 4 days before the exam since I didn't wanna, yknow, burnout!) You obviously don't need to finish all your mocks to do well, just make sure you can reflect upon them efficiently. So yeah, in conclusion I didn't reflect well on my mocks and only started doing this near the end of my UCAT practice. One more thing - keep a mistakes document for AR! Read it every once in a while and it will help you stop repeating mistakes in AR and help you get patterns you might not otherwise be able to recognise.

How I spaced out mocks
I think I started doing mocks 2-3 months before my exam. I did them in linear order and would do one every 1-2 weeks. Closer to my exam date, I realised I had lots of mocks left over and not enough time to finish them, so I started doing mocks everyday or every 2 days (ended up feeling burnt out quite close to my test). I suggest timing your mocks and space them out so you can reflect over them and donít overdo it, itís better to do it over a longer period of time rather than cram everything. I was really worried because I got so burnt out that my brain couldnít recognise even the simplest AR patterns, so in the few days leading up to the big day I took it easy. I think I did over half of my mocks in the past month (so from mid June) and the others randomly before that.
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Re: UCAT Experiences Thread
« Reply #2 on: August 26, 2020, 02:08:57 pm »
Hello everyone.  ;D I didnít do as well as I wanted to and so I wanted to share my experience. I made a lot of mistakes in my preparation so hopefully future UCAT-takers reading this wonít make the same mistakes I did. Iíve also shared things that worked for me.

Mistakes I made; what I should have done differently

Mindless Preparation
So, I started UCAT prep in the Summer Holidays. I mainly attempted questions from the official UCAT question bank and then after I finished those, I started Medify. The mistake I made was randomly doing questions wherever and whenever I could, just for the sake of it. Whenever I sat down to do UCAT prep, I didnít have an intention or goal of what specific section I wanted to improve on but rather I was aimlessly doing as many questions as I could. DONíT DO THIS. You should do UCAT questions mindfully and intentionally. This went on for months before I realised my mistake and I really only started mindful preparation about 3 weeks before my exam. Before that, I was doing bucket loads of questions for the sake of it without properly reflecting on my weaknesses and how I could improve them. (I know. It was really dumb of me and hopefully I never make this mistake in my life again)

What I should have done:
At the start of each session, I should have written a goal down or had an intention in mind on what I wanted to focus on and how I was going to go about it. Then, after completing a practice session, I should have noted down my weaknesses and reflected on my progress which brings me to my next point.

Targeting your weaknesses EARLY
I didnít target my weaknesses early but rather when it was way too late. If you identify them earlier on, youíll have more time to work on them and turn them into strengths. This is really important as this is what will boost your score!!

What I should have done:
I advise that you do the official bank questions first and then use other company resources if you feel you would benefit with more practice. Then, after completing those official questions, analyse what questions in each subsection you are getting wrong and note them down. This will give you a much better idea of focusing on what youíre weak at as thereís no point in spamming questions on sections youíre good at, because youíre neglecting your weak sections. Your whole score will suffer as a result.

Comparing yourself to others
I compared myself to others (and still do) and people who had already completed the test and it wasnít good for me. It didnít serve me well.

What I should have done:
FOCUS ON YOUR OWN PREP. Yes, there will be people who are way ahead in their preparation compared to you, but donít let that bog you down and just focus on YOURSELF and on improving YOUR weaknesses because comparing yourself to others and feeling sad about it wonít help anyone.

Practising speed reading late (in relation to VR)
Again, another mistake. If youíre not a fast reader, never fear. If you start early in the year (rather than a few weeks before the exam like I did), you can improve.

What I should have done:
Read random articles online, it can literally be everything. There are useful websites online that actually test your reading speed and help you become a more proficient reader. You also need to make sure you are retaining your comprehension skills while reading fast because you donít want to read the passage so fast that you didnít understand what they were talking about. Practising digesting and remembering information is especially useful + also skimming for keywords. I feel this strategy takes a lot of time to build and develop so start early.

Things I did that worked (yay!)

Even though I realised all these things VERY LATE, these still helped me and if I hadn't even done these, then oh, my score would have plummeted rapidly.

Making mistake/advice books for all the sections (including Situational Judgement)
I had a Google Doc for each of the sections where I noted down my weaknesses, questions I didnít understand and difficult questions I got wrong.
QR: I wrote down my silly mistakes + difficult questions and underneath them I reflected:
How could I improve them? What am I doing wrong? What fault in my thinking is there?

VR: I wrote helpful advice + tips to utilise.

DM: Wrote down the questions I got wrong and sometimes reattempted them later

AR: Wrote down ALL the patterns I came across. Also, just a side note, itís probably better to snapshot the pattern and paste it rather than writing them down (like I did, another oopsy)

SJT: Okay, this doc was probably the one that worked best for me (surprisingly)
I formatted it like this:
-Paste the premise I got wrong
-Write down the question
-Write down my incorrect answer + actual correct answer
-Paste their explanation but if I didnít understand theirs, I tried to understand by either talking to other people or reflecting on it and then I wrote down my own explanation. I also wrote down the thought processes they used to arrive at the answer because you need to really understand the nuances of the issues involved to differentiate between Ďvery appropriateí and Ďappropriateí because thatís often the hard part.

Repeating questions I got wrong
Make sure you donít fall into the trap of remembering your answer so to combat this, I usually repeated the questions a long period of time after I did it the first time.

You need to reflect on your progress continuously and consistently. This is a crucial part of improving.

Special mentions

Situational Judgement
Contrary to popular opinion, DONíT neglect Situational Judgement. I strongly advise you to focus on it as one of the other subsections rather than as a section thatís useless because itís really not. In fact, the thought processes involved may even help you in interviews. Who knows how universities utilise it? Just because itís a bit of a different section, doesnít mean you can just wing it and do abysmal on it. You donít want to be taking any chances so do well on everything and you donít want this section to bring you down when you did so well on the other sections. The section is there for a reason.

Practise maintaining intense focus
You need to be in a mental state where youíre blocking all external stimuli and just focusing on your UCAT exam to minimise mistakes + make sure youíre performing to the best of your ability. In my VR exam, another candidate was being prepared for their test and I lost focus so easily. Donít be like me. You need to be prepared for everything as you donít want anything to go wrong on the day.

The above are my reflections on my UCAT experience and Iíll edit this post if I remember more stuff. Believe in yourself! Youíve got this!  8)
« Last Edit: August 26, 2020, 03:10:31 pm by Evolio »