The UK offers one of the best career paths and benefits for medical care providers and health professionals on top of having a number of unparalleled medical training programs and institutions in the world.
With the demand for healthcare providers rising annually, more and more people are taking an interest in pursuing a career in that industry.
Of course, one of the first hurdles that you will have to face is passing the admissions test of the medical school that you are interested in.
More often than not, if the university that you want to join is well-known or prestigious, then it is very likely that the exam that you will have to take is the Universal Cognitive Aptitude Test (UCAT) in order to confirm that you have the minimum cognitive skills needed to function and succeed in the profession that you are aiming for.
While it does not contain a verbal reasoning section, hence the reason why it’s called ‘universal’ so that people from all walks of life to pass the exam even if English is not their first language, a lot of students make good use of a UCAT test guide so that they can improve their chances of being accepted.
This is more predominant in medical schools where the cut-off score is high. To make things worse, there are universities that: do not have a cut-off score but they will take a percentage of your UCAT test results to be used in a weighted average or use a ranking system such as having only the top 30% of students are given invitations.
As a result, you will need to do everything in your power to make sure that your attempt at the UCAT goes well the first time around so that you won’t have to wait for the next academic year for another try.
So, let’s take a look at the subjects contained within the UCAT test so that you know what to expect and do in order to get a good score.
The Contents of the UCAT
The exam contains 40 questions to be answered within a 20-minute time limit. These questions are divided into four main subjects, these are:
Numerical Reasoning – Meant to test your ability to perform simple to complex calculations, the questions included in this section will revolve around the basic operations, number series, fractions, and word problems, some of which will require you to analyze graphs and some graph and table-based problems as well as word problems.
Logical Reasoning – In this section you will have to analyze a paragraph or set of statements and you will need to determine if the provided conclusion is true, false, or if there is not enough information to make a logical conclusion. Other times, you will have to select the correct conclusion or even arrange things based on what information is available.
Spatial/Abstract Reasoning – Questions encountered in this section will require you to analyze a set of figures or shapes in order to determine the pattern or sequence that they follow so that you can choose which of the choices fills the missing figure. Other questions will instead have you select which of the figures is the odd one out or what the differences are between two figures.
Attention to Detail – In this section, you will be presented with a table containing a set of figures or shapes, and you will need to check how many of them are duplicates. While this may be similar to the ones in the previous section, numbers and letters will also be used.
How to Beat the UCAT Test
Apart from studying for all of the topics contained in the UCAT assessment, there are a number of things that you can do in order to beat it, and most of these are smart test-taking strategies.
Your main opponent is the time limit – When analyzed outside of a live testing environment, you may notice that the UCAT isn’t actually all that difficult to begin with. Instead, the reason why so many people fail it is because they get pressured by how much time they have left, causing them to panic and thus affecting their ability to think clearly when solving a problem. This means that, even though you need to answer as many questions as you can, you need to try to stay calm so that you can get as many correct answers as possible instead of answering a lot but getting a lot of wrong ones.
Don’t be afraid to guess! – There is no penalty for making an educated guess when it comes to a question that you truly have no idea on how to answer. Not only will this allow you to answer other questions that may be easier, you will at least also have a chance of getting it right compared to leaving it blank.
Get as much practice as you can – Considering that this is an exam, the best way to beat the UCAT test is to be familiar with both its questions and live testing environment. By looking online, you will be able to find a few websites that offer practice tests that contain the same or similar questions that can be encountered in the actual exam itself. Some of these also provide tips and explanations on how to solve each subject, allowing you to have a better understanding of the UCAT and boost your chances of landing that slot in medical school.