If you want to apply to a Medical School in the UK you will have to pass the UKCAT test before starting on your UCAS application. The results of the tests have to be joined to your application so make sure you take the test early enough in the year to get it out of the way, so you then have plenty of time to concentrate on your UCAS application, Personal statement, etc…
But how do you make sure to achieve the best score possible? Here are a few tips to maximize your efficiency during the test.
To be ready for the test there is nothing better than practice, practice and more practice! Make sure you are familiar with the different sections of the test, and practice past questions.
Practicing UKCAT questions will put you at ease and make you more comfortable with the exam format, and you will learn techniques to improve your accuracy. This will make you calm and composed on test day, allowing you to perform at your best.
Make sure you read the questions and statement properly. Take you time to make sure you have understood them properly. If you go too fast, you have more chance to miss that little detail that will change the meaning of the question or that influences your choice of the right answer.
If you have practiced before you will be aware of your weaknesses. Make sure you start with the section that might be the hardest for you, but don’t get bogged down on these questions either. Remember that you have lots more questions to answer as well. Don’t get stuck with the hardest questions – no doubt there will be some. In the time spent answering only one of these you may miss out on answering three easier questions. If a question is taking too long, choose a sensible answer and move on. You can always flag it up and come back to it at the end if you have spare time. If you made a guess then it makes sense to mark it. Always select an answer first time round (even if it’s a guess), as there is no negative marking – you may not have time to go back to it later on! Which leads us to…
Mastering timing is paramount. Some candidates choose answer questions as quickly as possible to save up time at the end to check back, but this is generally not the best way to do it. UKCAT questions are packed with information – each time it takes time to get familiar with the instructions and information. By splitting the question into two sessions (the first run-through and the return-to-check) you double the amount of time you spend on familiarizing yourself with the data, as you have to do it twice instead of only once. This costs valuable time. In addition, candidates who do check back may spend 2–3 minutes doing so and yet not make any changes. Whilst this can be reassuring, it is a false reassurance as it has no effect on your score. Therefore it is usually best to pace yourself, aiming to spend the same amount of time on each question and finish the final question in a section just as time runs out. This reduces the time spent on re-familiarizing with questions and maximizes the time spent on the first attempt, gaining more marks.
The test’s marking scheme is only positive – you won’t lose points for wrong answers. Each correct answer gets a mark and wrong or unanswered questions do not get one. Therefore if you are not sure about the full answer to a question, you should guess. Since each question provides you with 3 to 4 possible answers, you have a 33% or 25% chance of guessing correctly – which is likely to translate to a number of points across the test.
If you do need to guess, try to make it an educated one. By giving the question a moment’s thought or making a basic estimation, you may be able to eliminate a couple of options, greatly increasing your chances of a successful guess.
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