Seven ways to nail your UKCAT and survive

Seven ways to nail your UKCAT and survive

Getting into medicine or dentistry is tough, everyone knows that. It’s hugely competitive, you have to be pretty brilliant at sciences and of course, you have to smash the dreaded UKCAT to even stand a chance.

The UKCAT, or UK Clinical Aptitude Test to give it its full title, is used by many universities to decide whether they’ll let you in to study medicine. Remember, most med schools will have ten times the number of people applying as they do places and those people will all be getting A at A-Level. 

The UKCAT is a good way for schools to distinguish between students and is scored from 300-900 for each section with the average score of each section being 660. Anything above 700 is considered very good but all universities have their own cut-off score.

It’s tough, there’s no denying it. And you’ll need to work your socks off to pass it, and pass it well. But with a bit of common sense and a fair amount of prep, you will pass. Thankfully, the experts over at Medify, who specialise in helping to get students into med school, have helped us put together some top revision tips.


  1. Practice makes perfect

    Okay, this one sounds really obvious but never was a truer word spoken. The UKCAT is less to do with academic achievement and more to do with aptitude, testing you on verbal reasoning, decision making, quantitative reasoning, abstract reasoning and situational judgement. Don’t be fooled into thinking that just because it’s not testing you academically you don’t need to revise.

    Lucy, from Medify says: “There are thousands of practice UKCAT questions available of the type you will get in the UKCAT and it is vital you go over and over them. You need to familiarise yourself with the style of questions and the types of answers you will be expected to give.”

  2. Book early

    Book early and give yourself plenty of time to prepare. If you book late you could panic and end up cramming plus, you might have to travel quite far to an exam centre which can add to any anxiety. Besides, once you know when your exam date is you can prepare your revision plan, making sure you leave enough time to cover everything.

  3. Force yourself to revise the area you like the least

    If verbal reasoning is your favourite thing and you consistently score very well on it but you suck at abstract reasoning, don’t spend all your time on verbal reasoning! Because you’re good at it, it can be easy to favour it, but that won’t help you on the day. Force yourself to concentrate on your weakest areas because that is where you will make the best use of of your time and improve.

  4. Don’t think you can blag it on the day

    This kind of relates to tip number one – rocking up to the exam without any practice means you’ll probably walk away with a big fat fail. The UKCAT is tough and you need to practise until you’re sick of it and then practise some more to make sure you’ve done absolutely everything you can to pass it.

    Remember, your test results will only apply for that application year. For example, if you take the exam in summer 2018 it will be valid for university entry in 2019. You can’t resit the exam in the same application season so you’ll have to wait until the next academic year if you don’t get the results you want. It’s why revision and preparation is everything – so you can go in confident you can achieve the result you need.

  5. Learn to deal with time pressure

    As much as practice is about working through questions in the different areas, it’s also about learning to manage your time. You’ll have a lot to do in the exam and in some sections you’ll have to answer more than one question a minute so make sure you’re up to speed.

    Lucy says: “It’s only by practising over and over that will you get faster at the questions and sometimes it’s not the level of questions that trip students up, it’s the time they take to answer them. 

    “Spending too long on one question puts pressure on answering subsequent ones, which in turn, means your answers might be rushed and incorrect. Practise your time management and moving on from each question efficiently.”

  6. Look after yourself in the run up to the exam

    No doubt in the days before the exam, your guts will be churning and your nerves jangling, even with all the prep in the world. That’s why it’s important to look after yourself as much as possible so you’re physically and mentally prepared.

    Make sure you’re not staying up late and definitely no partying. Get a full night’s sleep every night in the week before and treat your body to decent food to fuel your brain – no pop tarts or late night take outs.

    Give yourself a break too. Sometimes such intense study can get a little overwhelming but taking time out for a bit of exercise, even if it’s just a walk, can help you feel refreshed and ready for more study.

  7. Be prepared for exam day

    Don’t leave it until the day of the exam to figure out where you’re going and how you’ll get there. Rocking up late and flustered will only make you more likely to fail or worse still, unable to sit the exam at all.

    Make sure you know how to get there and what time you need to be there. Draw up a list of all the things you need to take and have them ready to go. If you can, get in a dry run a few weeks before to make sure it all runs smoothly and most importantly, leave yourself plenty of time.



Did you know?
Medify has helped thousands of students achieve their dream of getting into medical or dental school. Last year, the UKCAT specialists, helped one in three students through the exam. With thousands of exam questions, video tutorials and mock exams, they can give you the best chance of passing with flying colours. They also offer lots of practical advice, hints and tips to help you reduce stress and revise more effectively. Learn more.