Just as it’s important to know what to do to score highly in the UCAT, it’s also important to know what NOT to do. Here are the most common mistakes made by students sitting the UCAT – and our top tips on how to avoid them!
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In the UCAT, you’ll be given a laminated booklet with a pen for the exam – you can use this for noting down key numbers, calculations or drawing diagrams to help you answer the questions.
Most students find this the most helpful in Quantitative Reasoning. However, just as it’s a good idea to use these, it’s important to keep in mind the amount of time you spend on them. For example, if you’re pushed for time, doing sums in your head – as opposed to on the board – will improve your speed.
If you find yourself running out of space, remember to ask for a new booklet sooner rather than later. It’s much better to be prepared in advance than having to waste time waiting for a new one!
UCAT Mistakes #2: Panicking
This is one of the most common UCAT mistakes: flipping through each question and struggling to answer them, or spending too long on one question. Thinking: ‘are all the questions going to be this difficult?’. Although it’s easier said than done, try not to panic – this is a sure-fire way to run out of time!
Panicking will only increase the amount of time you spend on each question, and you’ll likely forget the strategies you learned to tackle each section. So do your best to stay calm and rational – it will help!
UCAT Mistakes #3: Leaving an answer blank
This is an important one – there’s no negative marking in the UCAT, so you won’t be penalised if you get an answer wrong. So you should never leave an answer blank – this will guarantee you zero marks.
An effective way of doing this is to use the ‘flag’ function to mark difficult questions and then come back to them at the end, leaving you time to pick up easier marks elsewhere.
If you’re stuck on a question, the best thing to do is to make an educated guess – this may score you some extra points!
UCAT Mistakes #4: Sitting the test if you’re unwell
If you’re not feeling well, you’re unlikely to perform to the best of your ability so this will affect your UCAT score. It’s worth keeping in mind that you can only sit the UCAT once per year, so you want to be on top form (if you don’t score well, you’ll need to take a year out and sit the test again – so make sure you’re feeling ready!)
Once you have started the test, you won’t be able to stop it – so even if you leave halfway through, that sitting will count as your score for that year. So, if you’re not feeling well, reschedule your test for a different time and give yourself the best chance of scoring well!
UCAT Mistakes #5: Falling for the common tricks
This is a common mistake – but can be easily avoided with lots of practice.
For example, in a Verbal Reasoning or Decision Making passage, make sure you only use the information that is provided in the passage – nothing else! Sometimes students will use prior knowledge and lose marks, so watch out for this.