Effective UCAT Preparation Tips: Get Expert Advice

5 min read

One of the most challenging aspects of the medical application procedure is the UCAT. This is because the UCAT poses many unique difficulties as compared to other aspects of your medical school application. The examination structure is different from any other examinations that you would have taken in the past, and there is a tight deadline for taking the UCAT. We understand how it might seem intimidating at first. Thankfully, thorough UCAT exam preparation can help turn one of the most intimidating parts of the process into one of your strongest.

It might be difficult to know where to start and what to prioritise when considering how to prepare for the UCAT. Furthermore, we are also aware that time is often very tight because applicants must manage their UCAT preparation, draft a UCAS personal statement, and keep up with regular academic obligations at the same time.

In this article, we will go through our top UCAT preparation tips to ensure success in preparing for the UCAT! 

UCAT prepare

How to Prepare for UCAT

1. Getting to grips with the test format

Researching and comprehending what the UCAT is testing you on is the first and possibly most crucial step in how to prepare for UCAT exam. You should pay attention to the examination’s structure and question categories. The official UCAT website is the best place to start, but our other UCAT blog postings may also be helpful. When checking out these websites, you should ensure that you have a good understanding of the details of the five test subsections and what to expect. The sections are as follows. 

  1. Verbal Reasoning 
  2. Abstract Reasoning 
  3. Decision Making 
  4. Quantitative Reasoning 
  5. Situational Judgement

Once you understand what the question is asking you in these sections and the type of questions to expect, you can understand how to prepare for UCAT UK to increase your possible score. We have a helpful UCAT scores guide and UCAT conversion table, giving information about the process and raw scores if you still need help understanding the assessment criteria.

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2. Tackle each section on its own

Preparing for UCAT can be daunting. Making sure you have adequately prepared for each component of the UCAT is essential for proper revision and a good performance. Understanding the skills needed for each section is only the first step. After which, you should structure your study plan to target each skill. You can also adapt how much time you spend on each section to your skills/ability when answering the questions. You may realise during revision that your approach to, say, quantitative reasoning is different from your approach to decision-making.

Each component evaluates an entirely distinct set of skills. By clicking on these links, you may see our detailed recommendations for each section:

  1. Verbal Reasoning 
  2. Abstract Reasoning 
  3. Decision Making 
  4. Quantitative Reasoning 
  5. Situational Judgement

It could be worthwhile to seek external assistance if you are finding at least one of the sections to be very challenging. You might find 1-on-1 UCAT tutoring sessions advantageous as they can be customised to your specific needs.

how to prepare for UCAT test
UCAT Sections

3. Understand how timing works

The extremely strict time constraints for the UCAT are one of the issues that students frequently encounter. For example, in some sections, you are only given roughly 15 seconds to answer each question. Therefore, it is important to start early on with time management. It takes more than knowing the right answers to the questions to achieve a high score. You must be able to respond to them immediately!


The UCAT is structured differently than most school examinations; you will unlikely finish all questions within the allotted time. Hence, for the UCAT, it would be more advantageous for you to refrain from proofreading your work and methodically answering all questions. Instead, answer the questions with strategic, time-efficient estimations or educated guesses instead of working out the correct answer. At first, it may be difficult to adopt this approach; you want to answer the UCAT questions to the best of your ability. This technique may take time, as it is a different style from those you took in school. However, by learning to answer the questions using educated guesses, your score will improve by leaps and bounds!

SubtestTimeNumber of Questions
Verbal Reasoning22 minutes44
Quantitative Reasoning25 minutes36
Abstract Reasoning14 minutes55
Decision Making32 minutes29
Situational Judgement27 minutes69
Total120 minutes233
Break down of test sections and their timings

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Time is of the essence
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4. Use the official UCAT practice tests

As with preparation for most other examinations, practising plenty of past-year questions should be included in your UCAT preparation. Past papers will give you the most accurate simulation of the actual test, and they will allow you to put all of your preparation to use.

The official UCAT website is among the greatest places to find practice tests. As the examinations mirror the actual test, this will help you get used to the computerised test style.

There are many other tools you may use to help you revise, and you can find these materials in one of our other blog entries. If you are trying to decide which resource would be the best investment, it is an article worth reading. You may even take a full mock UCAT with one of our experts to take your UCAT preparation to the next level. This approach is especially beneficial since it will let you look into any questions you might have had trouble with, letting you grow and learn from them.

5. Effective UCAT preparation

It is easy to become overwhelmed during your UCAT preparation and answer the same questions for hours without improving. This is why thorough planning with specific objectives is crucial.


To ensure you learn from your failures, try establishing reasonable goals and reviewing the questions you get incorrect. Space out your revision and allow yourself enough time to feel prepared.

how to prepare UCAT
Make sure to prepare

6. Practice in a library setting

Plan to take a thorough, two-hour practice exam at your neighbourhood library. This will allow you to stimulate examination conditions more accurately. Try and do this, especially if you have been conducting most of your study at home.


Furthermore, the computers at libraries are older and would more closely resemble those at the testing facility. It is beneficial to test out using a desktop mouse and keyboard after revising on a laptop or tablet. Even though it sounds funny, understanding how it works might help you save valuable time and gain additional points.

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    7. Give yourself enough time to prepare

    Since the UCAT differs from the conventional tests, you should allow enough time for preparation and familiarisation with the structure. Depending on your other obligations, you could require two months although some individuals may just need a month. Hence, make sure you set up your revision schedule in advance! It is also advisable to make the schedule realistic instead of ambitious so that you would actually be able to adhere to it.

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    8. Do not compare yourself to others

    Everyone will have their own method of preparing for the examination, whether it is by taking a course or answering practice questions on their own. There is no one best strategy to prepare for the UCAT. Instead, you should customise your approach to fit your individual requirements. If you are not sure where to start, one of our knowledgeable UCAT teachers can help!

    UCAT Preparation: Conclusion

    For more UCAT preparation tips, watch our advice video

    The UCAT exam might appear to be a very difficult process. For many applicants, it is one of the biggest barriers to admission to medical school. Thankfully, the UCAT can be successfully passed with well-planned and efficient UCAT preparation.

    This article demonstrates how important it is to pay attention to details like time and to make sure you do not neglect any sections in the UCAT. Hopefully, this guide has provided you with the knowledge you need to start this process and eventually go through to UCAT success!

    FAQs

    What is the UCAT?

    The UCAT (University Clinical Aptitude Test) is a standardized test used by universities in the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand to assess the aptitude of candidates applying for undergraduate programs in medicine, dentistry, and other healthcare-related fields.

    What are some effective UCAT preparation tips?

    Some effective UCAT preparation tips include practicing with UCAT question banks, taking timed mock exams, reviewing UCAT strategies and tips, improving mental arithmetic and speed reading skills, and staying up-to-date with current events and medical news.

    How long does it take to prepare for the UCAT?

    Each student’s preparation period for the UCAT will be different. It is crucial to start planning early, as you might end up not having enough time to learn the essential skills otherwise. It is also vital to avoid starting too soon because you can become burned out and run out of resources. Prior to the UCAT, we advise students to regularly revise for two to three months and to start putting in more consistent preparation in the final two weeks.

    When should I start my UCAT preparation?

    Each student’s approach to UCAT preparation is different, and what works well for one student may not necessarily work for another. We advise taking the UCAT test after the end of summer break and taking the time between the end of school and your examination to do consistent practice. You will normally be better prepared if you do a little bit of revision every day for two to three months as opposed to all day long the week before.

    Which UCAT resource is best?

    One of the most crucial aspects of your preparation is using question banks and practising with official questions. You must, however, also be certain that you are familiar with the techniques required to answer the questions. This would not be taught just by simply doing practice questions, so we also advise adding a UCAT online course or instructor to your preparation.

    →What resources are available to help with UCAT preparation?

    There are several resources available to help with UCAT preparation, including UCAT question banks, UCAT preparation courses, UCAT preparation books, and online forums and discussion groups. Candidates may also consider working with a tutor or attending UCAT workshops.

    Why is effective preparation important for the UCAT?

    The UCAT is a highly competitive test, and effective preparation is essential to achieve a high score. A good score can improve a candidate’s chances of being accepted into their desired program and university.

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