While preparing for the UCAT it can be easy to fall into a number of traps that hinder your progress. This blog article discusses three common pitfalls that you may face and tips for overcoming them.
Burnout occurs when you are unable to deal effectively with the demands of your workload. It is an issue that students face commonly leading up to and during examination periods, and the UCAT is no exception.
While revising for the UCAT, you should keep in mind that this journey is a marathon, not a sprint. There is little value in spending all day on UCAT revision, only to find your energy and motivation faltering away after a few days. To prevent burnout, it is vital that you manage your time wisely.
A simple time management technique to manage daily revision is the 8 hour rule, where each day is split into 3 blocks of 8 hours:
This time management dynamic can form your baseline, with the hours shifting to suit your current priorities and condition. For example, if your UCAT exam date is getting closer, you may assign 9 hours for work to accommodate increased hours required for UCAT revision and assign 7 hours for other activities.
Conversely, if you are feeling tired or have an important commitment not related to your work (e.g. a family gathering), you can reduce the work time to 5 or 6 hours. In any case, you should do your best to get around 7-8 hours of sleep each day.
Students are typically more experienced in sitting knowledge-based tests (e.g. school exams) than aptitude- or skill-based tests (e.g. the UCAT). As a result, they are more used to the process of understanding and memorising a defined set of concepts and facts.
However, the UCAT cannot be prepared for in the same way as a school exam and this leads to a struggle for many students. They feel anxious because there is always an element of unpredictability (e.g. new passages, new shapes) and it seems like the preparation process never has an end to it.
You should become comfortable with facing the unknown and accept the fact that it is the mastery of skills, rather than knowledge, that is essential for UCAT success. Once you fully appreciate this, the UCAT will become a test where you can freely apply the skills that you have honed, rather than being an unpredictable test.
Perhaps the most common caveat of revising for the UCAT is the comparison that students naturally make between themselves and their peers (online or offline), as it is in our nature to compare and compete.
With an exam as competitive as the UCAT, students can get worried that they have not done as many practice questions as someone else or did not take part in a certain workshop that ‘everyone’ has. While some tension can be motivating, it can be easy to get unnecessarily stressed by constantly comparing yourself to your peers.
So what can you do? We suggest that instead of comparing yourself against others, you compare yourself to who you were before. The most important metric to measure is an improvement, and you should focus on how your own performance is improving. You can sit mock exams regularly to monitor your progress and also make use of progress trackers and statistical insights that come as part of Medify’s Online UCAT Course.
We have a bank of over 10,000 questions, a decision-making section, and 8 full mock exams and 18 mini-mock exams.
We’ve been lending a successful helping hand since 2009. Medify is here to support you, just reach out to us.