Here are our top tips for achieving the highest UKCAT scores you possibly can!
1. Set a target score during preparation
Everybody wants to achieve the highest score possible, but you need to set a target practice score to act as a benchmark during preparation. Typically, this would be the minimum UKCAT score needed to be invited for an interview for your ideal choice. Universities assess the UKCAT differently, some have a total cut-off and whilst others do not have a cut-off at all.
Do research on how the universities you have chosen to apply for assess the UKCAT, and then set your ideal and minimum score level accordingly. If you achieve less then the minimum score you have set yourself, then consider the mock exam a fail and aim to beat the mark you score each time.
2. Identify Your weakness first
Before buying any practice book or enlisting on any course, identify which sections of the UKCAT you find the most difficult. The UKCAT is made up of 5 sub-tests (here’s a sectional guide), they are Verbal reasoning, Abstract reasoning, Decision Making, Abstract Reasoning and Situational Judgement. The most reliable way to find out your weakness is by attempting the official practice tests on the UKCAT website. It is updated each year to reflect the same level of difficulty candidates can expect in the exam. Attempt the past papers first to help become familiar and comfortable with the exam, then to identify which areas you need to work on the most. You can also use mock papers and a host of other resources too.
3. Prioritise smartly
A common mistake candidates make is that they can at times find themselves feeding their ego without even realising it. This happens when they spend the majority of their time on sections of the exam they enjoy the most. This is a waste of time. Think about it, if you find the Abstract reasoning section easier than Verbal reasoning, it doesn’t make sense to practice more abstract questions. Studies show that honing your strongest section only boosts your overall UKCAT score by 10-15%, but focusing on your weakest section can boost your overall score by 20-30%. That is double the impact! Give priority to your weakest section and spend most of your preparation improving it.
4. Practice question types, not just sections
Don’t over-practice on questions as it only familiarises you with the exam, it doesn’t significantly improve your reasoning skills. In order to really do well with the UKCAT, you need to dig deeper! Try to understand which type of question in each sub-test you struggle with. For instance, in the Abstract reasoning section there are four types of questions that examiners include, you might find one type of question difficult and another easy. It makes sense to focus your efforts on improving the one question-type you find most difficult instead of the entire abstract section. This also lets you keep mock papers for use another time.
5. Evaluate your progress
Another mistake to avoid is just practising questions after questions with no strategy. You must evaluate your progress throughout the duration of your preparation.
A good way to evaluate your progress is by attempting a mock exam every week until your big day. After each mock exam compare your results with the previous one. This will help identify areas of improvement and ensure you are working effectively to boost your weakest skills. Re-assess after focusing on your weakest skills each week to see where else you may need to focus.
6. Learn exam strategies to compensate weak reasoning skills
It is virtually impossible to significantly improve your cognitive skills in a short amount of time. For example, if you are a slow reader, you won’t be able to significantly increase your reading speed in 2 weeks or a month. However, you can learn exam strategies and techniques to improve your ability to read and comprehend information quickly.
7. Practice with an online course
The UKCAT is a computer-based test, you need to practice questions under the same exam conditions as the real test. Pick an online course that closely mimics the testing experience and allows you to familiarise yourself with the onscreen format of the exam. Online courses are a great way to hone your exam strategies and techniques.
8. Improve skill don’t just practice
Practising questions only increase your familiarity with the exam. You need to also identify which elements or skills you struggle with and work on improving it. For instance, If you find the verbal section difficult this might be due to a number of things, you might have poor comprehension or critical thinking skills or possibly a slow reader. Try to identify what element you struggle with and try to improve it.
9. Do a mock exam every week
There is no other better way to assess yourself than attempting mock exams. Treat them like the real test. Do an entire 2-hour test with no breaks and no distractions. I recommend attempting your mocks on an online course to mimic the testing environment.
10. Be confident
Do not let your nerves get the better of you, with practice you’ll become more confident. However, the combination of applying to university and sitting the UKCAT can be stressful but try to stay calm during your preparation – not only do you feel better, but also perform better.
Not seeing enough progress or feel you need a little extra support?IMPROVE YOUR UKCAT SCORE