Top Tips for the UKCAT!

This may be a little late for some of you for this year's UKCAT (United Kingdom Clinical Aptitude Test) but for those of you doing this admissions test throughout September and future years, here are my final top tips and advice for succeeding in the UKCAT!

I have done a couple of posts related to this previously but I really wanted to share some of the things I've learnt along the way, the things I found to help me succeed and specifically the last minute preparation advice. You can read my other posts here where I shared my favourite books and here for information about the test, process, application and what to expect.

First and foremost, I recommend booking the UKCAT early to avoid late fees but also so that you can pick a time slot that suits your schedule. Personally, I would try and fit it in during the summer holidays before starting your final years of A-Levels. This means you can devote the entire week before the scheduled date to learning, revising and practising for it.

In terms of expectations for the exam itself, it's usually done in the same place as driving theory tests, using their test centre facilities. As with all exams, arrive at least 15 minutes early and set off early to allow for any travelling delays that may occur. Make sure you read your booking email as it tells you exactly what you need to bring with you, including ID.

Just a quick point, as this is in a test centre not everyone is doing the UKCAT with you. As such, you may notice people coming and going. Don't panic thinking that you are being really slow, in reality, they are doing a 40 minute test compared to your 2 hour exam.

When you get to your desk, you will be provided with a whiteboard, rubber and pen. Make sure the pen works before your exam starts! You can request another whiteboard throughout the exam if needed for extra working out. This is useful to know, especially for the long maths questions.

Talking about maths, make sure you practice using the online calculator through the official UKCAT mocks website. While practicing the questions in general will help, using a scientific calculator will give you unrealistic expectations. The online calculator is much simpler, in terms of functions, and it's also slower. You need to practice using it so you can change your timing accordingly.

In the current UKCAT exam, there are 5 sections. Each of them has a specific number of questions and a different time allowance. You need to make sure you check the clock throughout the test so that you don't run out of time. I have written a number of short posts over the last few weeks discussing each section individually:

As each section is timed individually and differently, you may need to keep an eye on the clock and adjust your timing for each section. If you are spending too much time on an individual question, flag the question and move on having put a random answer. Never move on without putting an answer as you may not have time to come back! If you do have time, when you get to the review screen, click on the "Review Flagged" questions button, and you will only be shown the questions that are flagged, meaning you don't have to go through multiple questions to get to the one you need to revisit.

Unfortunately, while they say that you don't need to do any preparation for the exam, do not be fooled. Almost everyone else will be! That means if you don't, you will be put at a disadvantage and the universities look at the whole cohort for the year to decide which applicants to accept or invite to interview.

I've found a couple of companies that offer lessons in the UKCAT. One is Medic Mind (run by two fellow UCL Medics with both an online course and private tuition option) and Medify. I am one of the tutors this year for Medic Mind but I also offer some private 1-on-1 tuition for the UKCAT as part of my mentoring programme, so if you are interested, defintely reach out and email me.

For me personally, I purely used the books I mentioned in an older post, which at the time had 600+ questions. The latest edition now has over 1250 questions in. Then I did every single possible question I could find available online for free. Some of my favourites are:

  • Official UKCAT Mocks: try to save these and use them towards the end of your practice as these are the questions most closely like the real exam. 
  • The Medic Portal: a similar setup the official site with full mocks as well as individual section questions 
  • KapTest: offer a free UKCAT starter kit when registering 
  • Some of the sites mentioned previously also provide some free resources so look at them too, especially Medic Mind's YouTube channel

There are so many more resources around now, than there was five years ago, so defintely utilise them! Good luck.