Now results day has come and gone, I’ve been able to focus more on my new university application for the 2020 cycle. After being rejected last year, I’ve been working very hard to make sure that I have a good chance of getting a place on a course. Once I’ve applied, I’ll detail these all in a post but in this post we’re just focusing on one of my choices.
Most of my course choices (3/5) are for Biomedical Science, which doesn’t require any additional admissions test, neither does Diagnostic Radiography – one of two of the remaining courses.
The remaining course is in fact Medicine with a (Gateway) Foundation Year at the University of Bristol. Alongside hitting the academic requirements, which is BBC with a B in Biology or Chemistry and the contextual criteria, in which my school is on their list of Aspiring State Schools, you also have to take the UCAT Exam.
The UCAT, formally known as the UKCAT, is the University Clinical Altitude Test (United Kingdom Clinical Altitude Test) and it is used by many medical, dentistry and vet med schools in the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia in the admissions process. Alternate admissions tests include the BMAT (BioMedical Admissions Test) and the GAMSAT (Graduate (Australian) Medical School Admissions Test).
I’m taking the UCAT on the 30th September, so there’s a long hard preparation road ahead of me – how am I going to tackle it?
The UCAT Examination
The UCAT exam is 1.5hrs long (although I get 25% extra time) and consists of four/five sections: Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, Decision Analysis and Abstract Reasoning. Each section varies in the number of questions, thus varying in the amount of time allocated as well. An example (taken from an old UKCAT book & based on standard UKCAT time) would be that you have 22 minutes to answer 36 Quantitative Reasoning questions and then 15 minutes to answer 65 Abstract Reasoning Questions (as they’re less complicated to answer).
There’s no specific content you need to know for the test as it’s mainly testing your judgement, you just need GCSE level mathematical knowledge as you’ll need to do fast paced analytical/numerical questions. You don’t get marked negatively for incorrect answers, instead you’re compared to a baseline – it’s a bit confusing! The good thing, I guess, is that the entire test is multiple choice so you always have a chance of attaining the correct answer.
How Am I Preparing?
Deciding to take the UCAT was quite an impulse decision, although I did think very hard about it! I do not regret applying for it, I think that it will be good for me to do it even if I don’t get into medicine this year (I’m hoping to do it Graduate Entry otherwise). I booked myself the test the day I booked it so that I had six weeks (from booking, not now!) to prepare which is only really just enough time. It’s quite a lot to take on.
As I mentioned before, there’s no specific content to ‘revise’ but you’ve got to familiarise yourself with the structure of the test and what they could ask of you. You also need to work on speed as it is a VERY time critical exam.
So, firstly, what I am going to do is go through my books I have bought (second hand, online – they were nice and cheap) and do a bunch of the questions from each section and mark them, just so I can get used to them. I then plan to do a full mock exam but untimed just to see how long it takes me, probably online. After that, I will work though, section by section, doing timed tests and then onto full timed tests so that hopefully I’ll be able to work fast enough on the day and it’ll all be okay!
I’m going to try and stick to my plan as best as I can. I will try and update you all too!
Wish me luck!
Thanks for reading