Knowing the right time to start preparing for the UCAT is a very common question from students looking to undertake medical or dental studies at university. Many students may think that there are still 10-11 months left till the 2022 UCAT, but it’s always better to start earlier than later. There is no true answer to when you should start, however, it is recommended that you start before or during the first term of year 12 as starting early will allow you to know how much effort you need to put in to achieve your desired results.
Before starting, it is important to understand the general structure of the UCAT. The UCAT (University Clinical Aptitude Test) is approximately 2 hours in length and is split into 5 different sections. All questions are multiple choice.
- Verbal Reasoning – 44 questions approximately 21 minutes
- Decision Making – 29 questions approximately 31 minutes
- Quantitative Reasoning – 36 questions approximately 24 minutes
- Abstract Reasoning – 55 questions approximately 13 minutes
- Situation Judgement – 69 questions approximately 26 minutes
Time to Improve
Almost every student struggles with the difficult and time limited nature of UCAT in the beginning, which is the primary reason for why starting early will be beneficial. Starting around a year earlier will allow you to determine what level you are starting at as each student starts of at varying results. If you started slowly then the extra time will be extremely important as it will allow you to work on your weaknesses. Furthermore, the UCAT is extremely fast paced for 2 straight hours, and most students are not conditioned to concentrate for that long, so regular practice across several months will further improve your ability to concentrate which is imperative to success in the UCAT.
Utilising the 6-8 week summer break between year 11 and 12 is crucial as the amount of work and effort you put in that time will really amplify in your final results, due to the flexibility and extra time you have where there is no compulsory school work. You do not have to study several hours everyday, just practicing 1-2 hours a day or every other day is enough to develop your skills.
Year 12 Exams
Another important reason for starting early is Year 12 trials. Many students will have their trials close to their UCAT examination which can make studying for both overwhelming. So the head start you gained by starting early will allow you to manage both your exams efficiently.
Preparing for the UCAT as soon as you can, will save you time when you finally sit it in Year 12. Your final year of school is filled the pressures of the HSC and Trial Exams, so it’s recommended that you take the time now to prepare while you have the capacity.
The UCAT is a skills-based exam (as opposed to memorisation), so students will not forget the techniques even after some time has passed.