Today I sat my UCAT exam and scored incredibly average – and I’m okay with that.
I was one of the first two people to sit it at the test centre as everyone else had the sense to book it for later on in the year. I was terrified, sat waiting to go in. I must admit, all the ladies in the test centre were absolutely lovely and supportive. They were asking questions about where I was applying and whether it was Medicine or Dentistry that I was interested in.
I ran out of time in the first section and didn’t get a chance to go back and review any questions, there were even some questions that I missed entirely. I was adamant that a good UCAT score was out the window now. It shook my confidence enough for me to wonder why I was even attempting this.
I found DM to be not too awful. I had time to go through and answer the questions, flag those that I wasn’t too sure of and come back and review them. I didn’t feel as pressured for time as I had done in VR.
My most dreaded section. I know the maths is not ‘challenging’ but I hate maths. Always have, always will. Again, I didn’t feel as pressured for time but definitely was conscious of how much time I spent on these questions and working things out. I felt relieved when I’d worked out calculations and the answer I had gotten was actually in the list of possible answers!
At first, I was really thrown by these. I couldn’t grasp the pattern between the sets and knew that if I couldn’t find it, that the next 4/5 questions would need to be educated guesses. Once I had gotten into the swing of the questions, I was able to identify patterns quite quickly and blitz through the questions. I then went back and ensured the ones I had guessed had a second look over.
Situational Judgement was structured a little bit differently as to how I had practiced. I wasn’t too concerned with the section at all and managed to get through with time to spare.
TOTAL SCORE: 2550
SJ: Band 2
At first I was a little disheartened with my score. It wasn’t close to 3000 like you dream of. Then I was relieved. I had worried that I was going to do a lot worse and had originally said to myself that if I scored over 2500, I would be pleased. Warwick’s cut off for last year was 2570, which means I would need a decrease in cut off score to be in with a chance of an invite to interview. I then released how pleased I was with the score. The difference between an invite to interview and my score last year was 20 points. If I had scored 600 in VR, I would have 2570. My initial and practice scores on Medify were terrible. I had contemplated not taking the exam today and very nearly cancelled it to reschedule.
I know where my faults are – I should have revised sooner, I should have utilized timed practices, I should have booked the exam later and most importantly, I should have been more confident in myself!
At this moment in time, I was capable of an average score, that’s just below last year’s cut offs. If the worst case scenario happens and I don’t get offered an interview at Warwick, my GAMSAT prep is not sufficient enough and I don’t get interviewed at my other 3 choices, then I will be taking the UCAT next year and I KNOW that if I retake it again, I will be aiming for that 3000!
Whilst you’re probably thinking what can I possibly learn from someone who scored terribly?
UCAT and Medicine applications each year are down to luck. A score of 2570 would have gotten you an interview last year whereas a few years ago, the cut off was closer to 2700.
Self-confidence is really important! Exams are scary. Especially when they’re the obstacle that’s in the way between you and your dream of studying Medicine. However, you want this and chances are, you’ve spent the time revising, you’ve learnt the test format and you have a brain in that head. Give yourself credit for attempting and embarking on this journey. You’re probably capable of more than you give yourself credit for.
Buy Medify for practice. My scores improved HUGELY with Medify. I honestly don’t know what I would have done without it. If I have to take the exam next year, it’s the first purchase I’m making. Medify mimics the format and layout of the exam. There are minor differences but overall is the closest you’re going to get to the real thing. It’s also computer based so you can practice completing the test electronically instead of making the transfer from a book/ paper to a computer.
Flags are your friend – unlike American Football where a flag on a play is a bad thing, flags in UCAT are your friend. Time is definitely against you in some sections and instead of spending precious seconds struggling though for an answer on one question, flag it and return later. Don’t fall into the same trap that I did and run out of time – think of the precious points!!
It is recommended that you practice under test conditions – no noise etc. however, I found that I performed better with noise. A TV or another person sat in the room made a big difference. It also meant that when I sat the exam today, I wasn’t bothered by people getting up and leaving/ entering the room. It can be infuriating when you’re concentrating and the guy next to you is doing nothing but sighing because he’s hating his Driving Theory test..
Don’t be disheartened if you don’t get the score you were hoping for – I know I didn’t get that perfect number! Medicine is a challenge and its been made that way on purpose. There will be many people who will only dream of taking the exam. There will be some who take it and never do anything with it. There will be some who score exactly as you have and are proud to have achieved that! Remember it’s about the luck of the draw. If you don’t take the test and apply, you’ll never get that possibility of being offered a place. Getting a score that you’re disappointed with is not failure, it’s a stepping stone for your next attempt.