5 Characteristics to look for in a UCAT Study Buddy
3 weeks ago by Chris
Sitting the UCAT can often feel like an isolating experience, since many of your peers may be focused on other goals such as their school or university performance, making it difficult to stay motivated while studying for the UCAT. This is one of the many reasons why it can be helpful to find a UCAT study buddy, with whom you can create a community of practice where you share experiences, learn from each other and keep each other accountable.
As someone who scored in the 98th percentile in UCAT, I found that studying collaboratively for UCAT helped me to find areas that I may have missed while studying alone, as well as consolidate my understanding of concepts by teaching and explaining solutions to others.
However, there are certain qualities which can help to make your UCAT study group as effective and efficient as possible. Here are my top five characteristics to look for in a UCAT study buddy:
1. Commitment to the same goal
Studying with a friend who has similar aims to you provides some healthy competition, which can be great for keeping you motivated for your UCAT prep. It is invaluable to be able to discuss matters related to preparing for UCAT with your study buddy because you can share your concerns, worries and resources with each other, including everything from UCAT strategies to medical interview questions.
It also reminds you of what you are ultimately working towards, i.e. a career in medicine. This will help you to justify the long hours you might commit to UCAT study. Having a such a shared commitment can even drive you both to study more for UCAT in order to keep up with each other!
When studying alone, it can be tempting to procrastinate studying for the UCAT. Unlike school or university, you are not prescribed a rigidly structured timetable of the content that you need to study, or timings that you need to attend class. However, if you have committed to meeting your UCAT study buddy at a specific time and day each week to discuss difficult questions from UCAT practice exams, you will need to have spent some time on UCAT practice prior (make sure to regularly log on to the MedEntry UCAT platform for practice!).
If your study partner is often late or unprepared for sessions, this may dampen your spirits and drive, so it is helpful to find a partner who is reliable and shares a similar level of motivation as you.
This can be a very stressful time, so having a UCAT study partner who is supportive and encouraging can help to prevent burn-out. It is easy to become demotivated if you are seeing a lack of improvement in your UCAT prep, as self-doubt creeps in. However, it is important not to let yourself get down, and continue to persevere with your UCAT preparation. A UCAT study buddy can be the perfect person to help you push through these kind of slumps, especially if they have a positive outlook! Boosting each other’s morale is just as important as sharing UCAT knowledge, and this is one of the most overlooked benefits of studying collaboratively.
Working in groups can sometimes be counter-productive if you get easily distracted and start chatting about off-topic matters. Therefore, it is important to find a UCAT study buddy who can stay focused on the task at hand and keep your UCAT study sessions as time-efficient as possible. There’s always time to have a casual chat after you’ve finished your UCAT work! One way to help with this is to create a clear agenda for each UCAT study session, as it will help to keep you accountable and stay on track. For instance, you may plan to review one UCAT practice exam within the first hour and discuss at least 20 difficult UCAT practice questions within the second hour of your UCAT study sessions.
5. Complementary skill sets
One of the best parts about having a study buddy can be learning from each other. In an ideal world, your UCAT study partner would be great at the sections of UCAT that you were not so confident with and vice versa. If you can fill the gaps in each other’s UCAT learning, then you may both be able to improve your scores across all UCAT subtests! You can ask each other to explain UCAT questions which you may have found challenging, or even discuss different ways to solve the same UCAT question (understanding multiple approaches is especially helpful in Decision Making and Quantitative Reasoning). You may end up teaching each other an easier or faster way to solve the same UCAT question!
At the end of the day, your study partner should be someone who cheers you on, and makes you look forward to spending time studying for the UCAT (because, yes, that is possible!)
Written by Akanksha, a past MedEntry student who achieved 98th percentile in UCAT and is currently studying medicine