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Planning your preparation…

The UCAT – these 2 words strike fear into the hearts of every medical and dental applicant across the nation. However! As always, Medology is here to teach you how to tame the beast that is this exam and to really show your UCAT journey can be smooooth as peanut butter – you just gotta be smart about it! You’re probably wondering how many weeks you should prep for and all that, right? So, let’s have a chat about how you’re going to plan your UCAT preparation when it comes to it…

How many weeks of prep should I do? 🤪

Let’s just get this question righttt out the way!

So, our verdict is that we believe 6-8 weeks of prep for your UCAT exam.

Ok, why not months? Well, we don’t believe it’s terribly feasible for you guys to start UCAT prep months in advance when A Levels should be much more of a priority and with tests and Y12 exams there will already be loads on your guys’ plate. We’d rather all of you get to grips with starting Y12 and put good habits into place, along with really smashing your Y12 exams, than to worry about UCAT at all before. Plus, if you decide to buy UCAT prep packages online, longer packages are more expensive, which is always a factor to consider.

Alright, alright forget months – but why is the upper limit 8 weeks? Well, we believe that more than 8 weeks of continuous UCAT prep can lead to burnout in individuals. Some of us on the team even fell into this trap when we did it! We think within that time period you can improve a lot from ANY starting point and get a really high score- trust us.

How many hours of prep should I do a day? 😵‍💫

We would like to preface this entire subsection by saying there is NO SET AMOUNT! All of you guys lead different lives, so it’s really important to know your own situation and think about it when it comes to planning your prep. Some of you may have a job, some may have responsibilities at home etc so work according to your own timetable and NEVER EVER compare yourself to anyone else.

For any of you still looking at this guide like 🥺, fine! If you guys must, try to get 1-2 hours done a day near the beginning of your prep. If you’ll be preparing on school days near the end of Y12, then it’s ok to let A Levels take a bit of a back seat (as long as this is after Y12 exams) since you’ll be able to catch up later in the summer.

As you start getting more comfortable with practising and know what you’re doing, feel free to amp up the time – you can build it up and do more when summer holidays arrive. As you move closer to your exam and do mocks, these will take 2 hours anyway and you may wish to do more practise after reflection (e.g. on any section you may not have done as well on)

The main thing though, we beg, is to give yourself breaks 😅 Try the Pomodoro technique, whatever it is, just chunk up your prep every day into manageable chunks with breaks throughout. Sitting on your laptop for hours and hours straight banging out UCAT every day for weeks and weeks is a recipe for burnout if we ever saw one!

When should I do my UCAT? 🤔

The testing window for the UCAT this year is from 11 July to 29 September. From late June, you’ll be able to pick a specific date and time slot within this time period and that’s when you’ll do the exam. Now, at Medology we advise you to plan your preparation in a way whereby you get your UCAT done early on.

Why you may ask?

  • You can get it out the way – if you grind just before and at the beginning of summer, then do the exam, you’ll be able to chill after and give yourself a well deserved break for the rest of summer pretty much!
  • Working on other parts of your application afterwards – you’ll be able to get started on things like your personal statement, EPQ (if you’re doing one), work experience and a lot more at your own accord with less pressure on you throughout summer
  • Making a tactical application – you get your score immediately after you do the exam, so getting it done early will mean you have your score ready for you to narrow down universities to apply to that you’ll have the best chance at. Don’t worry either, when it comes to that time we’ve got a juicy resource waiting for you too 😋

Of course though, if you decide to do the UCAT later on for whichever reason it’s really not an issue and won’t disadvantage you in any way. One key, key thing regardless to keep in mind is:

DO NOT FALL INTO THE TRAP OF PUSHING YOUR TEST BACK!

Genuinely, it’s unlikely that any of you will ever feel fully ready to sit the UCAT. However, pushing it back without a proper valid reason is a negative mindset and it’ll only set you up for failure. Again, some of us on the team made that mistake and we want you guys to have faith in the effort you put in and go for it when the time comes!