How to deal with UCAT test anxiety in 2024

5 min read

Most of you will be taking University Clinical Aptitude Test exam in the upcoming months, so you may already be feeling under UCAT anxiety. In this blog post we hope to alleviate some of that pressure by demonstrating to you that it is really not that hard if you take care of yourself and approach the admissions exam in a positive way!

It goes without saying that those of you taking the exam will be pretty anxious throughout the UCAT examination season. In this blog post, we will draw from the experience of our expert UCAT tutors to relieve some of your admissions exam fear and provide you with some tried and tested advice.

This article will breakdown our top tips for: 

  • Lowering test anxiety before your exam;
  • Lowering UCAT test day anxiety.

If you have not yet scheduled your UCAT exam, check the official website for significant dates and read some of our UCAT articles for helpful scheduling tips.

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Tips to reduce UCAT test day anxiety during the lead-up to your exam

Being a little “on edge” during this time is quite normal. When you have A Levels, personal statement due dates, and admissions examinations occurring all at once simultaneously, it will inevitably be a bit stressful.

It’s important to learn stress management techniques so that your ability to study and perform well on the UCAT test is not hampered. Here are our top tips to help you feel more confident about your upcoming admissions test:

1. Take things one step at a time

Try not to think about everything at once. This means coming up with a structure and plan for your UCAT preparation journey. This would allow you to only focus on one thing at a time, preventing you from being overwhelmed by the number of tasks that you have to complete. Do ensure that, as you are planning your journey, you are selective about what you want to focus on at different due dates rather than trying to do everything at once.

For example, if your UCAT examination is in August, you can choose to focus mostly on revising for it in the month of July and August before moving on to your personal statement and interviews once it is complete.

Naturally, you should not entirely ignore any aspect of your application. However, you should establish a strategy and set priorities so that you do not become overwhelmed with lots of different tasks.

ucat test day
Making a list might help you stay on top of your priorities
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2. Create a clear revision schedule

Building from the previous point, you would benefit from a solid strategy and revision schedule. Make sure you integrate breaks and other obligations, such as holidays or activities, into your schedule. Furthermore, you should try to make your revision schedule as clear and specific as possible. For example, you can include in your schedule to complete 2-3 past year papers a week. 

A solid timetable will allow you to finish all of the practice questions and mock exams you need to complete before the admissions test, giving you plenty of time to feel comfortable before the test day.

If you are unsure about how much revision to do, you can have a look at some of our blog pieces on UCAT preparation. We have also written articles that give important revision advice for each of the UCAT exam areas, such as decision making. Having a deeper understanding of the examination as well as reading some useful tips would help you provide some direction on how much preparation you require. Another great resource for preparatory advice would be the official UCAT website.

3. Get into a regular daily routine

Ensuring regular meal times and sleep hours will definitely benefit you in the weeks leading up to my UCAT exam and lower UCAT anxiety. This will not only allow you to feel more energised on the actual day of the exam, but to also keep to a daily timetable that will organise your day. This will enable you to be more productive in your revision time, accomplishing more in fewer hours! 

ucat test day
Get a regular schedule sorted for yourself

4. Take care of yourself

Building from the previous point, you should try to incorporate pauses in your revision schedule. This will allow you to continue to engage in enjoyable or relaxing activities throughout your preparation journey. Spending time with loved ones or engaging in a pastime like cycling are just a few examples of fun activities you can do. Remember, the whole UCAT examination journey as well as the application process is rather long and spans over a few months. Burning out in the initial stage of the journey would set you back further than pacing yourself consistently throughout. It is a marathon, not a sprint!

Additionally, always take a break if you need one. Forcing yourself to revise when you are not in the mood is not the most effective, as your concentration will likely be low and would make it difficult for you to absorb the information you’re trying to learn.

5. Have a good support system

Make sure that you spend enough time discussing any concerns you may have regarding the admissions exam with your family or friends. While they might not be able to solve every problem or fully comprehend what you are going through, communicating your feelings can be really helpful when you are under pressure.

If you have friends who are also taking the UCAT, speaking together about your experiences and UCAT anxiety can be incredibly reassuring and help you all to feel less alone. 

Of course, your personal support system is also not restricted to your friends or family. If you have access to one, you can also talk to your school teacher or a tutor you know will be there for you at this difficult time.

6. Remember that you are good enough

Spend a little period of time each day or each week reminding yourself that you can handle this. Overconfidence is obviously not a good thing, but a healthy dose may go a long way. You are applying to a healthcare profession by taking the UCAT, thus you must be smart and capable of succeeding in this!

Ultimately, this is an aptitude exam that does not require any knowledge from A Levels. Therefore, you probably already have what it takes to pass it. Think of the success you may achieve with some solid revising!

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    Tips to reduce UCAT test day anxiety

    Now that you are aware of some potential ways to alleviate your UCAT anxiety in the upcoming weeks and months, what about arguably the most crucial component… the UCAT examination itself?

    In this section, we will discuss the kinds of things that can help you maintain your composure on the day of my UCAT exam. 

    1. Get a good night of sleep beforehand

    You have probably heard this countless times from your teachers or parents before a test, but it is genuinely very important! If you are well rested, getting up would not be a problem, and you will be able to concentrate and think clearly during the admissions exam.

    The day before your test, try to finish revising early and spend the evening doing something you enjoy. This could be spending time with family or friends, or having a relaxing evening in watching a film or tv show. This will ensure that, on the day of the test, you are alert and ready to take the UCAT with a clear mind. 

    ucat anxiety
    Get to bed on time so that you are well rested for the exam

    2. Do not revise on UCAT test day

    Although this is certainly not a hard rule and you can choose to revise on the day if you would like to, we would generally advise against it. This is because discrepancies between what you have revised and the new information you are trying to cram in might cause you to be more confused and stressed out. Furthermore, as the UCAT is an aptitude examination, the revision that would be constructive would be consistent and regular revision. Last-minute cramming would not be as helpful!

    You should be well prepared by the time your UCAT exam date arrives if you have created and followed your revision plan; you should not need to complete additional questions on the examination day itself. It probably would not be of much use and getting them incorrect might even make you feel more stressed!

    Check out our free practice tests and the official UCAT practice exams if you want to get some questions under your belt before the test.

    3. UCAT anxiety: Know that you can do this

    You probably spent a lot of time studying and getting ready for this admissions exam, so you are probably going to perform fantastically! Being confident in your ability to answer the questions would help you score as well. Do not go back and forth too much on your answer– if you are uncertain, choose an option and go with it. Do not hesitate! You might not have the luxury of time to be unsure as it is a timed examination. 

    4. Meditate

    This might not be conventional advice, but meditation is a great way to help you calm your nerves. You can also do anything that allows you to relax and be present, such as an activity that you enjoy, talking to a parent or journalling how you feel. It really is up to you!

    ucat anxiety
    Do whatever you can to stay calm before your test

    5. Once you are in the exam room, take a deep breath and just give it your best shot.

    You are ready, and you know what you are doing. You only need to respond to a few questions that you have been answering all summer long in that exam room.

    Use all of your preparation, along with any guidance or advice you may have received from a tutor to ace the UCAT exam because now is your chance to shine!

    UCAT anxiety: End note

    We hope this blog post helped you feel a little bit better about taking the UCAT. 

    Remember to keep checking for any UCAT updates on the official website during the lead-up to your admissions exam, just to be safe!

    It is also crucial for me to emphasise that even if something does not turn out the way you expect it to, it is still not the end of the world. You will have time to research which universities you have a high chance of getting into based on your UCAT score. Even if none of that works out, you can always try again as so many others do! The extra year out can be enriching and crucial to your self-development as well.

    Check out our online course or one-on-one UCAT tutoring services if you want any individualised assistance during the admissions test time.

    As always, best of luck with everything!

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