What Resources Should I use to Prepare for UCAT?

What Resources Should I use to Prepare for UCAT?

2 weeks ago by Chris

There has been a proliferation of educational resources for all disciplines, and UCAT is no different. In the last few years there has been a huge increase in the UCAT resources available, both paid and free. In fact, there is so much out there that you could spend at least two whole years full time studying for UCAT using all the resources.

No one has the time or motivation to do this.

Like everything on the internet, the quality of the resources fall on a bell curve. At one end, there are those UCAT resources (paid and free) which are of such poor quality that using them can be a waste of time and detrimental to your UCAT score. At the other extreme, there are reputable, quality UCAT resources which can help you prepare efficiently and perform to your peak potential on UCAT test day. In between fall most available UCAT resources which are of average or mediocre quality.

 

What UCAT resources are available?


Free UCAT Official Resources

These resources are produced by the UCAT Consortium. In fact, they are not really free, but are part of the (very expensive) registration fees collected for the 2 hour computerised UCAT test. These resources are very useful and are a reasonably accurate representation of the questions which are likely to appear in your UCAT test.

We suggest that you use about 25% of these resources at the beginning of your UCAT prep, 25% midway in your preparation and the last 50% during the last few weeks before your UCAT test.

One important disadvantage of these resources is that they give you no indication of how you are performing in relation to the UCAT cohort, and do not provide predicted UCAT scores or percentiles. Therefore, after completing them, you will have no idea how you have performed, what your strengths and weaknesses are, or your likelihood of achieving a sufficiently high UCAT score to get into your chosen course.

Importantly, the number of UCAT questions you get right cannot be converted easily into UCAT scaled scores or percentiles (contrary to what some people claim). For details, check out our blog on how UCAT is scored.

Books on UCAT

There are numerous books on UCAT, with a popular ones being ISC 1250 and Kaplan. These are not recommended for several reasons.

Firstly, being a computerised test, UCAT is constantly evolving, so any printed material gets outdated very quickly. Secondly, UCAT takes place on a computer, so to score well you need to learn and practice computer-based strategies to answer UCAT questions efficiently. You should not waste valuable time practising using books. Thirdly, books will not provide you with feedback on how you have performed, such as percentile rankings and scaled scores, your performance in each question type, and timing feedback. Remember once again, that the number or percentage of questions you get right has little relationship to your actual UCAT score, as your score is a comparison against other UCAT students.

Free resources

Good services are seldom cheap, and cheap services are seldom good. It takes an enormous amount of resources, expertise and finance to create a high quality, comprehensive UCAT program.

So be skeptical of the quality of free resources. It's easy for anyone to put together a video on YouTube or post 'free sample questions' on the internet, but how will you know these resources are valid, reliable or useful?

Online UCAT courses

If you are highly motivated and able, an online UCAT course may be sufficient to help you score highly enough to secure a place in your chosen course. Remember, however, that the quality of such courses varies considerably, so it is important to choose a reputable organisation.

UCAT Workshops and Weekly Classes

UCAT workshops and weekly classes are worthwhile if you feel you would benefit from motivation and expert guidance.

Most students who are successful in getting into medical school find that attending a workshop with an expert UCAT lecturer along with online UCAT resources is adequate to enable them to obtain required UCAT scores.

Regular or weekly UCAT classes can be helpful if you need to be 'nudged' or need ongoing supervision and a more structured approach to your UCAT preparation. Note that most of MedEntry's high performing students tend to do well without weekly classes.

Personalised UCAT tutoring

One on one UCAT tutoring be expensive and may not be required. Further, you cannot be sure of the background of many UCAT tutors who may 'claim' to have succeeded in UCAT. Even if they are medical students, remember that their UCAT score may have been low (for example, rural students can get into medical schools with UCAT scores of 60th percentile).

If you wish to use a UCAT tutors, you should access tutoring from a reputable organisation which provides tutors who have truly excelled in UCAT.

Remember that one on one UCAT tutoring is only helpful if you have already done some UCAT preparation, otherwise you will be wasting your time and money. A common mistake is to start your personalised UCAT tutoring and ask simple questions such as 'How many questions are there in the UCAT'! Instead, you should be using your UCAT tutor to help you with UCAT questions and subtests that you are having difficulty with.



How should I make a decision regarding which UCAT preparation resource to use?


There are three key steps when making a decision regarding which UCAT preparation resources to use: 

  • Step 1: Recognise the vast variation in the quality of available UCAT resources.
  • Step 2: Identify high quality UCAT resources which will help you achieve the best possible score.
  • Step 3: Ensure you use your chosen UCAT resources effectively and efficiently.

Over the last several decades, many medical entry providers have come and gone. UCAT coaching can unfortunately be a very competitive space with each provider criticising others. It can be hard to know who to trust.

However, you can’t go wrong if you choose a provider run by expert, specialist doctors, with the highest rating of any educational organisation, and who has trained >20,000 doctors over 20 years. For more details, check out our comparison table.

 

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