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How to Pass the UCAT and study at UK medical schools?

ByDave Stopher

May 14, 2021

If you want to pursue a career as a health worker in the UK, one of the very first hurdles that you will have to overcome would be the admissions test or entrance exam of the college, university, or medical school that you are interested in joining.

When it comes to medical schools, it is very likely that you will have to take the University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT).

This exam was designed by the test developers to measure a number of abilities that are crucial for a student to have in order to take on the basic duties and responsibilities that are expected of a healthcare professional in the UK.

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On its own, the UCAT is quite simple. However, some medical schools either have a high minimum passing score or have limited slots to give when it comes to new students, making it competitive in some sense.

As a result, you will need to know how to pass UCAT test expectations better than anyone else if you want to have a good shot at achieving your dreams.

Let’s take a look at each section of the exam so that you can know how to prepare and pass it with flying colors!

  • Sharpen both your reading comprehension and logical reasoning skills

When you take the verbal reasoning section of the UCAT, you will encounter two types of questions: one where you will have to read up on a non-fiction passage of sorts and you will need to examine the details provided carefully in order to draw the correct conclusions and select the correct choice, and one where you will need to check if a provided conclusion towards a passage is true, false, or does not have enough information.

In total, there will be 44 questions, and you will be given 21 minutes to answer everything.

Apart from looking up reading comprehension quizzes, you will also need to look up ones revolving around deductive or logical reasoning because those tests contain questions that are nearly identical to the ones included in the actual exam.

  • Try not to get overwhelmed

Not everyone is good at math, even more so when graphs and tables are involved.

In the UCAT assessment, you will be made to take a Quantitative Reasoning test.

Here, you will encounter a number of word problems that are accompanied by a graph, table, or spreadsheet of sorts that you will need to analyze carefully in order to answer the question that follows.

Fortunately, you will be given an on-screen calculator to help you in your calculations.

Apart from brushing up on your math skills, you will need to make sure not to get overwhelmed from the amount of data that you may encounter in the test because there will be a lot of variables, values, and other figures to consider in the graphs that accompany the questions in this part of the UCAT assessment.

  • Look up the qualities of a healthcare worker and how they are expected to act.

One of the main reasons why the UCAT is used is because of its situational judgement test section.

This allows medical schools to see what kind of person the would-be student is like and to measure their sense of integrity if confronted with a difficult situation or scenario that is regularly seen in medical settings.

In essence, you will be presented with a passage containing a social problem of sorts and you will need to rank the provided responses from least to most appropriate to do in order to resolve it.

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To properly tackle this part of the UCAT assessment, you will have to read up on the general qualities that a healthcare worker has to have, remember them, then try to figure out which of the choices related to them the most and are the best and second best courses of action to take.

Alternatively, you can focus on which are the worst and second worst ones to take first.

By doing this, you will only have to then take into account the remaining two choices to see which of them are the best or worst, depending on what the question is asking for.

  • Find a number of puzzle books that contain pattern or sequence-based puzzles

Compared to the other parts of the UCAT, the abstract reasoning section will mainly focus on images.

You will be provided with a set of figures, to which you will have to discern the pattern, sequence, or relation to each other.

You need to do this in order to know which of the choices completes the missing figure; which of them follow the same rules; if the provided figure follows one, both, or none of the sets; and which of them mimics the same qualities of the shapes in the set.

This means that puzzle books that require you to do the same will become highly valuable.

  • Consider taking a preparation course

While not extremely important, online preparation courses can help you if you are pressed for time and cannot compile a good amount of study materials for whatever reason.

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These resources contain study guides tackling every subject in the UCAT admissions test, with some of them also having a number of practice tests that you can use. 

This is because questions used in them are designed or curated to be identical, if not at least nearly similar, to the ones that can appear in the actual exam.

Furthermore, most of these practice tests will have an in-depth explanation as to why the provided answer is the correct one.

As a result, this will allow you to know how to solve even the most complex questions in the quantitative reasoning section, with the on-screen calculator of the assessment doing the calculations for you, on test day.