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The UCAT can be a very discouraging exam. Unlike school exams where the teacher expects top students to get an “A,” the UCAT is designed to measure tiny differences in ability. For example, a student in 2015 set the record for the highest UCAT score ever (3560), and no other student has ever scored that high.

UCAT 90th Percentile
2022 2880+
2021 2850+
2020 2850+
2019 2800+
2018 2810+
2017 2860+

Part of the reason no student has ever earned a perfect score is that the UCAT is an incredibly time-pressured test, meaning its design forces the test taker to complete quickly. The UCAT is stressful for everyone because of this. These time-pressured tests are poor measures of students with ADHD, autism spectrum disorders, dyslexia, and other learning disabilities. They should apply for access arrangements and stay positive. ADD, ASD, and dyslexia should not disqualify a person from becoming a doctor.

#1 Plan your approach

Because the UCAT is time-pressured, everyone will run out of time. Many will tire before the end. Since there is no penalty for guessing, it is better to go at a reasonable pace. It is impossible to calculate how many questions a student needs to answer to get a “good” score, since scoring is relative. In 2022 a score of 2880 was in the 90th percentile, but in 2019 a score of 2800 was in the 90th percentile.

Instead, students should practice setting a brisk pace that will take them to the end without burning out. All long exams require endurance, but the UCAT is especially brutal. Students should be in good physical condition on the day of the exam.

#2 Make sure to time all your practice

Timing your UCAT practice is of utmost importance. It helps you get used to time constraints, identify areas where you’re spending too much time, and build your mental stamina. By setting a timer for each section, you can simulate test conditions and pace yourself appropriately. However, it’s important to prioritize accuracy over completion and tailor your strategy accordingly. This may involve answering fewer questions with greater accuracy and making educated guesses on the other questions. Ultimately, adapt your preparation to your individual circumstances and goals for the UCAT.

How much time per UCAT question?

  • Verbal Reasoning (VR), 28 seconds per question
  • Decision Making (DM), 64 seconds per question
  • Quantitative Reasoning (QR), 40 seconds per question
  • Abstract Reasoning (AR), 14 seconds per question
  • Situational Judgement (SJ), 22 seconds per question

#3 Learn to read faster

Effective reading skills are crucial for achieving success in 4 out of 5 UCAT sections, namely, UCAT Verbal Reasoning, Situational Judgement, Decision Making, and Quantitative Reasoning. Enhancing reading speed while maintaining comprehension is key to saving time during the test. Additionally, identifying and searching for keywords in passages can lead to quicker identification of answers. This is especially true in UCAT Verbal Reasoning where keeping track of the purpose of each paragraph can further speed up the process.

One way to enhance your reading speed is by visiting and practicing there. When you read faster, you can process information more quickly, leaving you with more time to devote to answering questions. It’s a straightforward strategy!

#4 How to study for UCAT Quantitative Reasoning, QR

Students should make sure there are no gaps in their math knowledge and they know the quickest way to solve any given QR problem. A correct way to a solution is not the same as the fastest way to a solution. Students should practice but they should also learn techniques of mental math and shortcuts for problem solving.

#5 How to study for UCAT Situational Judgement, SJ

Like the QR section, students can improve their score through focused study. One way is to watch medical dramas. ER, an older show that also launched George Clooney’s career, might be a good option because it was ultra-realistic. A more serious way to study is the ethical guidance published by the General Medical Council (GMC). As with QR, there are discrete, explicit principles that can be studied, and this study should be combined with timed practice. You may also choose to enrol in a class that will walk you through the basic concepts and strategies you need to know. For example, the SJ class at Prep Zone Academy.

Should you study for the other sections?

It is possible to make certain generalizations and derive strategies that can be helpful for any part of the exam and we teach these in our content classes. At the end of the day, timed practice makes the biggest difference to a student’s UCAT score.

Need help with the UCAT? Sign-up for a trial class with us today!

For any additional inquiries regarding our course or the trial class, contact our hotline at +65 6812 9999.


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Prep Zone Academy | UCAT

Author Prep Zone Academy | UCAT

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