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July 10, 2020, 01:57:29 pm

Author Topic: Exam Day UCAT Strategies  (Read 1725 times)

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A.Rose

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Exam Day UCAT Strategies
« on: May 17, 2020, 06:45:23 pm »
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Hi!
I have to do my UCAT exam in July this year in the evening at 6 and I was wondering if there are any good strategies for making sure my performance is still optimal at this time of day? And what kind of things should I do during the day before arriving at the test centre? Obviously, by then I would have done quite a lot of study in the weeks/days before so I presume cramming my day with study isn't a good idea as I want to make sure by the time I have my exam I have energy and I can concentrate and focus. Should I just do a few warm-up questions prior to the exam and mostly relax during the day? Of course, I want to make sure I will be awake and focused but I do want to avoid coffee!  ;D
Any advice for my exam day preparation would be amazing, especially because the time of the exam isn't great but I have to just work with it and I want to make sure I'm giving myself the best chance at performing well on my UCAT.  :)
Thank you!!

Evolio

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Re: Exam Day UCAT Strategies
« Reply #1 on: May 18, 2020, 03:08:50 pm »
+6
Hey A.Rose!   :D

I'm also sitting the UCAT test this July so I've been thinking about this as well:
- Making sure everything you need for the exam is organised the night before. This includes your photographic identification and a printed or electronic copy of your appointment confirmation email
- Arrive early. This is so that you're not stressed about getting late especially if any unforeseen circumstances come up. The UCAT Consortium says that you must arrive at least 30 minutes before your test time to complete the check in process.
- Having a nice, healthy breakfast and making sure you drink water (but not too much)
- I've heard of some past UCAT exam takers going to the test venue before the actual exam, especially if the place is very unfamiliar so that on the actual test day, it doesn't seem that daunting and hopefully you're more comfortable.
- Relating to the above point, make sure you know where to go, planning the travel time etc.
- Sleep early the night before.

In regards to what you should do on the actual day, it depends on you. However, I don't think it would be wise to cram and do heaps of practice questions because as you said, you've done the work in the days leading up to this day, and so I think it's better to keep calm and 'meditative' throughout the day so that you're in a clear and level-headed mindset when it's time to do the UCAT exam.

Here are some helpful links I found which may give more additional info:
UCAT Consortium: https://www.ucat.edu.au/ucat-anz/test-day/
Medentry: https://www.medentry.edu.au/ucat/entry/tips-for-ucat-test-day-and-the-night-before

« Last Edit: May 18, 2020, 03:17:29 pm by Evolio »
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fun_jirachi

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Re: Exam Day UCAT Strategies
« Reply #2 on: May 18, 2020, 05:28:53 pm »
+6
Hey there!

Just like to add a few more notes:
- Really try to make yourself comfortable before the test; whether that's 'warming yourself up' with a couple of easier questions, taking the day off to grind, or just going about your day normally prior to the test - it doesn't matter because there really is no one way, whatever works for you will make the whole process easier.
- Literally everything Evolio said above - I'd like to emphasise arriving reasonably early, bringing all relevant materials and ID/confirmation, and getting a good night's sleep
- It's important to just back yourself and trust your own ability :) - it's an odd sort of thing when you do the exam you should think about your answers without thinking about them - think to get there, but stop after you've locked it in and trust your hard work!

From personal experience, I had my exam at 3:30, and everyone I knew doing the exam the same day jigged and crammed that last little bit! Some had more success than me, some didn't (make sure you do what works for you!). I just went to school as usual and left football training early to go do the exam, arriving about 30 minutes early.

Any other questions feel free to ask! :)
Failing everything, but I'm still Flareon up.

HSC 2018: Modern History [88] | 2U Maths [98]
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UCAT: 3310 - Verbal Reasoning [740] | Decision Making [890] | Quantitative Reasoning [880] | Abstract Reasoning [800]

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A.Rose

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Re: Exam Day UCAT Strategies
« Reply #3 on: May 18, 2020, 05:55:17 pm »
+2
Thank you so much! Both of you have given me excellent advice and I really appreciate it.
Yes, I am quite nervous for the exam. Mostly because of the time constraint (particularly for me in quantitative reasoning, I find the time pressure hard).
I am trying to do thorough preparation - a bit during the week and then lots on my weekend and then I'll have two weeks I can completely devote to UCAT in my holidays. I am purely using the free UCAT resources on the website as well as free video tutorials as I decided not to rely on external providers. Hopefully, I can still do well without relying on external resources (and UCAT stressed that they don't endorse these so I'm following with that).
Any other advice with preparation in the lead up to the exam would be greatly appreciated!
So far, I'm thoroughly going through the question banks and mobile app Q's and recording my progress and working on time pressure and then I'll attack the four practise tests from UCAT.
Would I be right in saying, you try and finish the whole test but maybe you have to make guesses for the rest you don't finish due to the time pressure? Also, did you find the actual test to be very similar to the practice tests in terms of difficulty and question type similarity?
Thank you!!!!  :D


angrybiscuit

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Re: Exam Day UCAT Strategies
« Reply #4 on: May 18, 2020, 06:33:17 pm »
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Hey there! Just another tip: try to do practice questions near/around the time you're going to sit your UCAT! You mentioned that your time is not ideal which is completely fine, you can of course work around this. Personally, I am very tired at night so I try not to do practice then. My test is at 2 pm so whenever I can I do my practice around that time. This is so that come exam time you won't be fatigued or tired as you are not used to doing questions at that time :)
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fun_jirachi

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Re: Exam Day UCAT Strategies
« Reply #5 on: May 19, 2020, 04:59:52 pm »
+7
Just going to address a few more of your concerns :) ~

Yes, I am quite nervous for the exam. Mostly because of the time constraint

You can look to tackle this issue in a few different ways. Some of my friends who did do better than me did daily rigorous practice under timed conditions, while I took time pressure out of the picture completely, and just timed myself after doing a set of questions (without worrying about time as any sort of constraint) or even just in a chill untimed way. What's important to note here is that there is no one way to succeed - you can try one of the above two ways, none or both and any number of them could work!

Some important considerations:
- Ask yourself 'how do I function best in a school-based exam?' - this will give you some sort of measure as to how you already cope with time pressure -> think particularly about exams where you have to write (time constraints are particularly tight here) or mathematics (relevant subject matter).
- Not completing all the questions in practice is not something to worry about - if you're getting close enough to finishing in the time limit, that's excellent; you do tend to go a tad bit quicker in the actual exam and you'll probably finish with an exam adrenaline rush type thing
- Even if you're not close, it's important to note that you should focus on maximising the marks you can get instead of maximising the marks you can't -> just get as many questions as you can right in the time limit over finishing all the questions :)

I am trying to do thorough preparation - a bit during the week and then lots on my weekend and then I'll have two weeks I can completely devote to UCAT in my holidays. I am purely using the free UCAT resources on the website as well as free video tutorials as I decided not to rely on external providers. Hopefully, I can still do well without relying on external resources (and UCAT stressed that they don't endorse these so I'm following with that).

I never paid for anything either - it's so crucial to see just like how in school effort =/= marks, money spent =/= higher UCAT score. What's more important is how well you understand what the questions ask, how focused you are and how well you can cope with pressure. If you can do that without spending any money and you can back your own ability, you'll do better than almost everyone that pays to succeed, and everyone will think you're 10x cooler for a bit - you can 110% do well without relying on external resources.

Would I be right in saying, you try and finish the whole test but maybe you have to make guesses for the rest you don't finish due to the time pressure?

Typically, as soon as you see a question you can't answer quickly, you skip it, and come back at the end - for verbal reasoning, you tend to skip the whole question set since you don't want to have to read the passage twice, synthesise it twice for two separate attempts at different questions in the set. This holds true for abstract reasoning particularly, since the time you get is literally criminal.

If you do find yourself running out of time, you should guess - it is better than putting nothing down at all. It's always good to be glancing at the time remaining frequently to know when you need to up the ante a bit - depending on your confidence with each section, it might also be a wise decision to start making educated guesses earlier than making random guesses when you're really running out of time.

Also, did you find the actual test to be very similar to the practice tests in terms of difficulty and question type similarity?


It actually depends. I think in my year there were three different tests in rotation and you got one of the three. Some companies apparently had tests which were bang-on in terms of difficulty, but for all the F2P people, the UCAT website did an excellent job compared to the majority of companies who were basically clueless in the first year of UCAT. I don't remember the UCAT tests as well as the actual exam, but I do remember feeling more confident the more I went through the exam, and that they were reasonably similar enough because at no point did I actually get thrown off. At any rate, all practice is good practice, if it helps you understand the concepts better.

Hope this helps :)
Failing everything, but I'm still Flareon up.

HSC 2018: Modern History [88] | 2U Maths [98]
HSC 2019: Physics [92] | Chemistry [93] | English Advanced [87] | Maths Extension 1 [98] | Maths Extension 2 [97]
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UCAT: 3310 - Verbal Reasoning [740] | Decision Making [890] | Quantitative Reasoning [880] | Abstract Reasoning [800]

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A.Rose

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Re: Exam Day UCAT Strategies
« Reply #6 on: May 19, 2020, 05:27:49 pm »
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Thank you so much fun_jirachi!!
Your advice is amazing, I really appreciate the time you have put into giving me some thorough tips.

 
I never paid for anything either - it's so crucial to see just like how in school effort =/= marks, money spent =/= higher UCAT score. What's more important is how well you understand what the questions ask, how focused you are and how well you can cope with pressure.

It certainly also makes me more relieved to hear that just using the UCAT provided resources will still give me just a good chance. I definitely agree with what you said about making sure I practise well, understand the questions and practise with time pressure.

Yes, I did begin with untimed conditions as I wanted to have time to go through the question and solution one at a time. Now I find that for VR, AR and SJ I manage to answer the majority of the questions in time but when I time myself with DM or QR its much more pressure!! Even DM is better because some questions aren't mathematical and you don't have to calculate/write anything but QR almost all the questions require multi-step calcs and I am not fond of the on-screen calculator (the memory function is quite useful though). So if anything Quantitative reasoning is the one I am most worried about due to time and having to understand exactly what the question wants in a short time frame. 

Thanks again!

fun_jirachi

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Re: Exam Day UCAT Strategies
« Reply #7 on: May 19, 2020, 06:59:09 pm »
+5
I am not fond of the on-screen calculator (the memory function is quite useful though). So if anything Quantitative reasoning is the one I am most worried about due to time and having to understand exactly what the question wants in a short time frame. 

I think this seems to be the issue that I haven't properly answered, sorry about that! :)

If you can, try to develop your mental arithmetic, so that using the on-screen calculator isn't always necessary. I agree that it is a bit tacky, and I honestly didn't really use it - it was either quicker by hand or to make educated guesses. There are ways to make each aspect of this sort of arithmetic better:

- Where possible, look to use 'back-of-the-envelope calculations' this will save you loads of time. If an answer is the only one within the correct 'ballpark' - it must be right, thus ruling out all the other options.
- This site might be helpful for developing mental arithmetic speed, and not just for UCAT, it's very handy and very fun (depending on what your idea of fun is)
- In general, the questions that only use addition and multiplication will be easier to handle without a calculator. Toss in subtraction and division and it becomes almost a 50/50 on calculator/no calculator, but with percentage and other slightly more complex arithmetic you might feel safer using a calculator for more insurance. But again, this depends on your level of confidence at the point of sitting the exam

In addition, with synthesising the question - you seem to have fewer issues with VR and SJ, so try adapting a similar approach! Whether that's reading the question first to target parts of the context, or using a keyword search (or something along those lines), it's important to do a) what works for you and b) cut out the parts of the question that will lead you away from the relevant parts, in that order! In general, for QR, you want to be targeting relevant numbers, proper nouns and salient data. Usually from a quick skim you should be able to tell which parts these are, and you will get quicker with more practice.

There is still plenty of time, so there is still loads of time to improve. Keep going and stay confident :)
Failing everything, but I'm still Flareon up.

HSC 2018: Modern History [88] | 2U Maths [98]
HSC 2019: Physics [92] | Chemistry [93] | English Advanced [87] | Maths Extension 1 [98] | Maths Extension 2 [97]
ATAR: 99.05

UCAT: 3310 - Verbal Reasoning [740] | Decision Making [890] | Quantitative Reasoning [880] | Abstract Reasoning [800]

Quick Link to Guides:
Subject Acceleration (2018)
UCAT Question Compilation/FAQ (2020)

A.Rose

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Re: Exam Day UCAT Strategies
« Reply #8 on: June 07, 2020, 10:21:46 am »
+1
Hi!

Thanks so much for all of your advice! I really appreciate it!
I have a bit under 4 weeks to go and I'm still super nervous! I've finished all of the question banks on the website finally. My timing still isn't great but I know I just have to keep practising. The annoying thing is - I do quite well when I do untimed tests then when it's timed I end up guessing way too much and therefore I get more wrong.   :-[
I'm currently working through one of the practice tests and I'm saving the others for two weeks before my exam when I have my holidays and I can completely focus on UCAT.
I have come across a few free tests from external companies and I have noticed how different the questions seam to the UCAT questions on the website so I guess I'll still utilise them since they're free but I will focus on UCAT web resources.

Any further advice for me at this time would be much appreciated! I hope I am allowing myself adequate time with two weeks before. I have been studying for UCAT for a while but only about 1 or 2 days per week.

Some advice for abstract reasoning would be good as there are some patterns that I just don't see straight away. I know mnemonics are a popular strategy but are there any other useful ones?
Thank you!!