9 UCAT Preparation Materials To Boost Your UCAT Performance

The UCAT is a test that can't be revised for traditionally, so you will be relying on the materials you gather to support you through the majority of your preparation. In this guide, we'll explore ten of the best options for materials and resources that you can use to get ready for the UCAT and improve your score.

Last Updated: 16th April 2024

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No matter what stage of your UCAT preparation you are at, you’re going to need a collection of high-quality preparation materials to help you improve your skills and boost your score. 

This is usually easier said than done, as there are a variety of factors that may make the process more difficult. From having too many options to not being aware of the different options available, it’s tough to know what materials and resources will work best for you. From books to courses to question banks and tuition, the options are seemingly endless. 

In this guide, we will demystify UCAT preparation by detailing why preparation materials are so important and highlighting the best options to support you with not just your UCAT preparation, but the entirety of your medical school application. If you’re ready to prepare for the UCAT, then let’s begin!

Why Are UCAT Preparation Materials Important?

If you weren’t already aware, the University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT) is a computer-based admissions test for UK medicine degrees. The test is split into five subtests, each of which tests a different skill:

As you may have gathered from the subtest names, the UCAT doesn’t test any kind of subject knowledge relating to medicine, science or mathematics. Instead, each subtest is a test of a general thinking skill. This includes your ability to interpret written passages, reason with abstract shapes and patterns, use information to make decisions and work with numbers and data to form conclusions. These are all general but very important skills for medical professionals. 

The only one of these subtests that are directly linked with medicine is Situational Judgement, which sees you determining the appropriateness or importance of certain actions within medical scenarios. Even still, this is also a fairly general skill that could be applied to many other contexts. 

So what does this have to do with preparation materials? Simply put, there’s nothing quite like the UCAT, which means that you’re going to have to use dedicated resources to prepare for it. As there’s no kind of academic or scientific component to the test, any textbooks or resources you have from school/college aren’t going to be much use to you for the UCAT. 

That then leads to the question; “What UCAT preparation materials do I need?”. Let’s take a look at some of the best options: 

Utilise the best UCAT preparation materials all in one place. 

With a UniAdmissions UCAT Programme, you not only benefit from world-class UCAT preparation materials and resources, including books, a rich question bank, live courses and one-to-one tuition, but you also have the assurance that everything will work together seamlessly, meaning you won’t have to juggle multiple resources or monthly subscriptions. 

Discover our UCAT Programmes below and find out how you can enrol and triple your chances of success.

8 Best UCAT Preparation Resources

We know why we need UCAT preparation materials, but what options are out there? There is a wide variety of options available, so let’s break down the best options that you could utilise for not just your UCAT preparation but everything else within your application: 

1. Online UCAT guides

Before you can start to practice for the UCAT and build your exam technique, you need to understand what the test actually is. The best way to explore the UCAT before making any kind of commitment to a product or service is through free, online UCAT guides. 

Many different websites have covered pretty much everything you need to know about the UCAT, from the exam structure to the keyboard shortcuts and how to register for accessibility arrangements. It can be a bit overwhelming to find a single source for all of your UCAT knowledge, though it’s worth finding a blog or website that has a background in medicine to ensure that you’re getting the most accurate knowledge. 

The official UCAT website has a variety of pages detailing essential information, although they don’t offer as many helpful tips as other sources. If you’re looking to stay with us here at UniAdmissions, we have a large selection of guides available within our UCAT Hub. We’ve created an excellent library of free guides to support you on your UCAT journey, so be sure to check it out!

2. Official UCAT Practice Tests

The UCAT is run by Pearson VUE, one of the top providers of computer-based tests in the world. The test is run on a unique system that you can experience for yourself via the official UCAT Practice Tests and question banks

On the official UCAT website, you will find 4 full UCAT practice tests (alongside UCATSEN variants), as well as a collection of 5 question banks (one for each subtest). These are a great way to experience the test in its most authentic form. 

However, while there’s enough content here to last you a fair amount of time, the amount of questions available is somewhat limited. The four practice tests offer a total of 912 practice questions, while the five additional questions banks include roughly 800 practice questions. With just over 1,700 questions available, the total amount pales in comparison to other online question banks, some of which boast over 20,000 questions. 

The other major drawback to this resource is that there are no worked solutions to the questions included. When working with practice questions, it’s extremely beneficial to have clearly explained solutions to each one as this will help you learn from your mistakes when you get a question wrong.  

However, some feel that the content offered by UCAT is enough to sustain an effective preparation strategy, although we do believe that tackling as many practice questions as possible (with worked solutions) is the best way to fully prepare yourself for the test. It’s down to you to decide what feels like an appropriate amount of content to work with. 

3. UCAT Books

We’re now starting to delve into resources that require a bit of a financial investment. Books are on the lower end of commitment for UCAT preparation as they are a relatively inexpensive one-time purchase. 

Buying a book may seem to contradict what we said earlier about practising being the most effective method of preparation. It may also seem redundant to get a book when there are so many online guides available for free. However, getting a book has two things that these guides do not: 

If you find that you’re not making much progress by just taking on practice questions, the tips and tricks featured within a good UCAT book may be exactly what you need to improve your technique and begin seeing results. Plus, you’ll have a bunch of practice questions and mock tests with fully worked solutions to give you an all-in-one experience. 

The main downside to UCAT books is that they aren’t able to replicate the feeling of sitting the actual UCAT. Remember, the UCAT is computer-based and runs on unique software. Even though you can recreate the exam timings yourself, you wouldn’t be able to replicate the feeling of using the actual UCAT system. 

Although you can’t recreate an authentic UCAT experience using a book, the content included will teach you plenty of helpful tips and working through the included questions will still help you improve your speed and technique, even when done on paper. 

What book should you get though? There are plenty of options available, although it’s worth considering that we at UniAdmissions have published many best-selling titles relating to university applications, including The Ultimate UCAT Collection, which features a full UCAT guide and over 2,000 practice questions. 

One option when buying a UCAT book is to look for one second-hand. This will usually be cheaper, but it’s important to check which edition you’re buying. Over the years, the UCAT has seen numerous changes to its format and questions. Of course, these changes won’t be reflected in older editions of books, so it’s important that you’re aware of where information and questions may be inaccurate. 

4. Medical School Application Books

If you’re looking for support for your medical school application beyond the UCAT, then there are even more books you could explore. These books will typically have extensive sections on the UCAT (including practice questions), but will also cover your UCAS application, Personal Statement, Interview and more. 

Naturally, these books won’t go into as much depth about the UCAT as a dedicated book, but they should still feature plenty of actionable techniques and a healthy amount of questions to try. However, these books are more so for those who want support with the entirety of their application. 

As for recommendations, UniAdmissions once again has published an amazing book covering the medicine application process in the UK, although there are also more personal, anecdotal books about the medical school application that are written by individual authors. 

Beyond application support books, it’s also essential that you engage in wider reading throughout the application process and beyond. This means you should be reading through any books or media relevant to medicine that you find interesting so that you can learn more about medicine and discuss them at a later date, such as in your Personal Statement or during your interview. If you aren’t sure what to read, explore some recommended reading lists to discover books that catch your eye. 

5. UCAT Practice Question Banks

A good UCAT question bank is by far the most important and effective resource to have during your preparation. As anyone who’s taken the UCAT will say, the most effective way to prepare is to practice, and you’ll need plenty of questions to do this well. 

When it comes to looking for a good UCAT question bank, there are various factors you need to consider: 

We’ve already seen the official question bank offered by Pearson VUE, but there are so many other providers out there that offer unique question banks with different selling points. For example, the question bank offered by MedEntry features various unique features, including AI functionality and gamified practice. 

Meanwhile, the UCAT.Ninja question bank potentially offers the best value, with 15,000 questions, mock tests and 80+ written tutorials for £50 (as well as limited access to the platform for free).  

Each question bank will have its strengths and weaknesses, so it will be down to you to determine what you’re looking for from a good question bank. 

6. UCAT Courses

Everything we’ve seen so far has been for independent study, but it’s also important to be aware that there are plenty of ways to get direct support from UCAT experts. The first of these is by attending a UCAT course. 

You may find some free webinars that cover the UCAT (including our UniAdmissions Open Days), but these are better for beginners as they are more limited in terms of length, topics and available dates. Instead, attending a dedicated live UCAT course will be far more beneficial if you want a comprehensive UCAT experience. 

There will normally be a fee for attending one of these courses, but what you’re getting in return is a minimum of one full day being taught everything you need to know about the UCAT from someone who got a high score. These sessions are interactive, allowing you to take part in activities, and you will usually have a chance to ask questions to the tutor running it. 

Being with a group of your peers opens up plenty of new learning opportunities and being able to ask questions to a UCAT expert is extremely valuable if you’re struggling in a particular area. If you learn better with others, then a UCAT course is a must.

As for options, one course that stands out is the 6med UCAT Crash Course, which runs for a full day and also comes with a 200-page workbook. Bear in mind that most UCAT courses will take place remotely, although some providers do offer in-person events. If this is something that interests you, be sure to research providers that include this as an option. 

7. UCAT Tuition

If you’re looking for something a bit more personal than a live course, then one-to-one tuition may be a good fit for you. Typically a UCAT tutor will offer a set amount of one-to-one sessions in which they can teach you techniques, give you practice exercises to work through with them and offer detailed feedback of how you performed. 

One-to-one tuition is one of the more expensive options for UCAT support, but if you have the budget for it and feel you would benefit from individual time with someone who knows the UCAT well, then tuition is certainly something to consider. 

8. UCAT Support Programmes

So far, everything we’ve discussed has been stand-alone support options, which can certainly be enough to get a great score. However, you may feel that you need more than what just one of these options provides. That’s where UCAT programmes come in.  

Speaking generally, a UCAT support programme is a combination of all the different resources discussed so far, all included within one package. That means you’re accessing books, courses, question banks and more, all provided by the same people and available for a single price. It’s also common for tuition to be included in these packages as well, although that’s not always the case.  

So what’s the advantage of this? Let’s take the UniAdmissions UCAT Programme as an example. If you were looking for a UCAT book, a question bank, a live course and tutoring, you would have the option to buy all of these individually. However, not all providers offer all of these options, meaning you may end up having to buy different materials from different providers. 

Even if you do get everything from the same provider, there’s no guarantee that all the materials will smoothly interact with each other (e.g. your tutor may not be able to review your practice sessions on your question bank.

With a package like our UCAT Programme (which includes all of the materials listed above and more), all of the materials are consistent with one another and can all be accessed via your UniAdmissions Portal, meaning all of your progress is recorded and everything can be accessed by your tutor. 

What’s more, your progress through your materials is actually guided by a set curriculum, meaning you have set goals to reach each month that will ultimately help you get the best possible score in the UCAT. With each of these components purchased individually, your preparation schedule would be completely down to you which, while preferable to some, will make it less likely for you to take full advantage of all of your resources. 

The main downside to specialised programmes such as these is the price. These options are at the higher end of the spectrum and, in some cases, buying components individually will be cheaper. However, remember that you’re not just paying for the materials when you get a UCAT programme; you’re also paying for the structured support that has been designed by experts to give students the best chance of success.

Of course, there are other options for combined UCAT programmes other than UniAdmissions, but bear in mind that these won’t include features such as the personalised Portal and specially crafted curriculum. There’s a big difference between a guided programme and a collection of materials, and it’s down to you to determine what would be more valuable to you. 

9. Medical School Application Programmes

Lastly, we have medical school application support programmes. This is the exact same principle as a UCAT programme, except now it covers your entire application. 

This means that there will be more resources, more courses, more hours of tuition and, of course, a higher cost. These are by far the most expensive ways to prepare for the UCAT, although bear in mind that you will be supported from the start of your application all the way to the end. 

At UniAdmissions, we offer a Standard Medical School Programme but also, being the world’s first Oxbridge Preparatory School, we have a dedicated Oxbridge Medicine Programme for those who are determined to study at the University of Oxford or the University of Cambridge (both universities adopted the UCAT in 2024 so UCAT preparation will be even more important for Oxbridge applicants now). 

That covers all the best resources available to prepare for the UCAT. While these resources are important, the thing that will have the biggest impact on your success is how you approach your preparation. As good as these resources can be, they won’t help you unless you interact with them fully and put your full effort into improving your scores, your speed and your confidence. 

We hope that you now have a full understanding of what options are available and are ready to find the best match for you. No matter how you prepare, we wish you the best of luck with your UCAT and the entirety of your medicine application!

Prepare with the best resources available, brought to you by UniAdmissions

At UniAdmissions, we work with the top medical students in the UK to deliver world-class support to all of our students through our tuition, courses and materials. With everything encapsulated within your personalised UniAdmissions Portal, UCAT preparation has never been more convenient or more effective

Discover our UCAT Programme below and find out how you can enrol and triple your chances of success.

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