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August 09, 2020, 09:14:23 am

Author Topic: UCAT Question Compilation/FAQ  (Read 1358 times)

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fun_jirachi

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UCAT Question Compilation/FAQ
« on: June 21, 2020, 11:18:53 am »
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Hey everyone!

Thought I'd make a compilation of all the UCAT questions that I've gotten, especially with the UCAT period coming up pretty soon (probably should've done this earlier)! (Also, I just realised I missed a question on the UCAT board - also part of the reason.) I'm going to be quoting a few PMs that I responded to - hopefully you don't mind (all kept anonymous) - they were bloody good questions and tbh I feel is good advice for anyone; I think that you asking these questions really made me rationalise why I did what I did - and sharing this will help loads of people :). Also, just feels a little weird to have people get given advice only if they ask - advice and help should be free for everyone :) . Going to be also copy-pasting stuff from older threads, and including links to other relevant threads - good reads and honestly is a time saver should answer your question adequately enough. Should be a good resource for hitting that Ctrl-F on - sorry in advance for the long read, and for any cop-out answers I give! Any questions or further explanation, ask below or send through a PM :)

How do I prepare for UCAT?
Probably the most common question I've gotten. Can also be phrased in different ways, a la 'tips on doing well, how do I do well, what do I need to do x time before the exam'. Also, quite a vague question (by no means a bad one!) - it just means there are sub-questions that I won't address here, and will address individually. Read on! :) haha you thought i was going to answer this here

How much practice should I be doing?
Unfortunately, two questions in, we have cop-out No. 1. It really does depend.

That being said, it's pretty damn important to gauge how much work you need to do. Best way to do that is to do a
practice as soon as you decide to do the test (whether you pass or fail should not matter whatsoever). As a bare minimum, do some practice questions really early. Depending on how much you struggle with either of these, it should be an indicator of how much more work you need to do to reach a certain level.

That level is usually a level of self-satisfaction - are you setting target scores? Or are you just trying to maximise your score? The former imo is pretty counterintuitive - setting target scores restricts you a little bit and puts you into the mindset 'haha i reckon i've done enough to snatch that 2.8k score must be cool haha rawr B)'. While that might the mindset you adopt, what's most important is that you're comfortable with your own ability, can back yourself with enough confidence, and have built up a reasonable aptitude for the question types the exam provides you with. Effectively, UCAT is literally an aptitude test. Practice until you get to that level of self-satisfaction - whether it's endless grinding or no study at all, make sure you do at least try some questions first, and practice enough to be at the level you want to be at about 3 days to a week before the exam, so as not to peak too early or too late (too much practice is damaging!).

Clarification of above
Added this section to make me look cooler for having more sections
make the first section shorter
to just make completely clear of something I mentioned earlier.

An important clarification I wanted to add here was 'built up a reasonable aptitude for the question types the exam provides you with'. Two key factors here - ways of thinking about the different sections, and the time constraints. The time constraints are probably tougher to cope with given that some of the sections have ridiculous time limits placed on them, but this can be built over time. If you're a touch slow, that is totally fine - it's not a huge fuss come exam time, as the 'added pressure' makes you go faster than you think you go.

General time constraint tips (stolen from link below):
- "Even if you're not close [to finishing inside time constraints], 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"
- "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."

Pattern recognition, mental arithmetic, synthesising important information - all the sorts of things you need to consider when taking UCAT. There's more, obviously, but these are the ones that jump out - and you can probably connect the dots here and link them to individual sections. While still about proficiency, it is honestly less about proficiency and more about confidence in your own ability. The two queries 'Am I getting these questions right, and am I sure I'm getting them right?' and 'haha I'm good at this this is dope' are pretty polarising and while they both involve getting the right answers a lot of the time - one's clearly more consistent than the other under more varied conditions. 'Seeing' how to do questions, and moving on where necessary is probably the level of aptitude you should look to achieve - whether that requires huge loads of effort or none at all really depends on how you learn, how quickly you learn and how developed these skills already were. More important though is the aforementioned confidence:

"but ultimately you need to be comfortable with yourself as the test date approaches. It's [UCAT is] quite like other exams in the sense that overconfidence and underconfidence is completely awful - but you still need to be confident enough."

Also, perhaps most importantly, be confident enough that you can replicate your successes in practice in the real exam. Once you hit that level, you can really just walk in and do it like any other exam you've done before.

Should I be using paid services for resources? If not, where the hell do I get them?
Always been an exponent of the idea that 'free shit is good shit' - unless it is actual shit. Point is, you shouldn't feel the need to pay for something if you can get the same results for free. It really goes back to how much practice you need, and if you think the payoff from literally paying for resources will help. If not, it's not worth it - a good yet bad analogy here is instead of getting paid to work, you're essentially paying to work. It's ultimately up to you decide whether paying ridiculous amounts of money will help you succeed, or if you can do it all on your own, or somewhere in between. It's important to note that while you do see a lot of people paying for resources succeeding, they usually are already determined enough to smash UCAT and pay for resources as sort of insurance - don't panic and think that the UCAT is some sort of hack, pay-to-win system.

Quoting myself shamelessly yet again (sorry!): "I was totally F2P - didn't use any companies or any paid services at all. I prepped for about a month prior to the exam, but neither of these facts are relevant to succeeding - success is directly proportional to your levels of understanding and familiarity, and less so amount of time preparing and money paid."

Free seminars are free, so they don't hurt financially, but usually if you're well-versed enough, ie. gone through a bit of practice, they won't really tell you anything new.

Personally, (and I quote) "I stuck to what I could find for free... literally everything helped when I was scrounging for resources - if you really have to, leech off your friends (if they're nice enough to help you out!)". If you're really stuck on paying something, then I'd say perhaps buy a book.

As for where to find free resources - there tend to be free questions (with more w/ subscription - sort of like a freemium app) littered everywhere, plus the UCAT website - which tends to be the safest bet when it comes to choosing a set of resources.

When preparing, what should my priorities be?
For me, building confidence/positive mental attitude, time management (in test and in general), aptitude, in that order. It might seem counterintuitive but stepping through each successively logically leads to the next. If something works better for you, by all means, go for it! Each person has their own methods, and no one can or should stomp on someone else's opinion because they think theirs is better :)

Any section-specific strategies you had?
Second and final cop-out answer. I hate myself for this, but another quote, because I can't be bothered can't say it any better:
"While this does seem like a cop-out answer, you can seriously prepare all you want with any method of your choice, pick any strategy, and still see it unused in the exam under the pressure. It's important to realise that a) no one strategy exists, b) you shouldn't be set too much on one strategy - some are tailored towards certain passages or questions but not others, and c) you shouldn't set store too much on the exam itself."

But of course, there's the stragglers (and the people who want to see if my strategies work for them) who are going to ask for what I did personally anyway regardless of how many cop-outs I give (to be fair, a shit answer is asking for it). It's important to develop your own strats (see Other Notes) but with the above being said, here goes.

VR - keyword search. Might be familiar, but to those who don't know, you basically skim the questions, then the passage for keywords that appear in the questions. Basically like optimised 'read question, read passage, answer question'. Cuts back on time -> quicker under time constraints and prevents you from reading unnecessary extra bits, or rereading. However, it obviously loses consistency for longer passages and wordy passages. Don't get bogged down with a question set and move on quickly if you can't get them out - this stops you from wasting time and rereading passages again. Usually, save the longer ones for the end because those are the ones you do tend to reread. I emphasise again that it's important to use the method that optimises confidence, speed and accuracy though.

DM - because each of the question types is distinct, you can set aside the questions that take longer for you to answer and leave them until the end. Look to blitz (with speed and accuracy) the shorter questions (timewise) - but this does need a lot of self-confidence and understanding of each question type. 'Seeing' the method of solving the question is probably the biggest skill here, especially since reading time does not exist - so this may or may not work for you. Same thing goes for skipping questions - never spend too long on one question.

QR - might come as a disappointment, but I didn't have a strategy (sorry you guys). Mental arithmetic was a thing for me, and you can look to improve in many different ways. One is simply to practice (tired piece of advice, but it works all the same). A website I find handy for this is this one, stolen from the thread below (in 'The Week Of, The Day Of', from this message). You can additionally employ a similar strategy to DM where you leave tougher questions for last - set questions and ones with involve heavier computation. Tired, but true - 'I emphasise again that it's important to use the method that optimises confidence, speed and accuracy though.' (copypasta)

AR - 'Seeing the solution' is more important than ever. I sort of kept doing run throughs of progressively harder questions, skipping literally everything that I couldn't 'see' instantly. Each successive run had more and harder questions albeit with more time - confidence is more important than ever (you shouldn't look back), and try not to slow down here. There are common patterns like sides, colours and shapes, but looking for common patterns often sees you lose others in the process. If you can't see it, 'skip' - another run through or more will often see you take a different perspective. Tired, but true - 'I emphasise again that it's important to use the method that optimises confidence, speed and accuracy though.' (copypasta(copypasta))

SJ - I actually used a friend's strategy which worked in practice but sorta fell through in the actual exam (I didn't follow the strat exactly when I did the exam, as it turns out). While the section does to an extent ask you to act with morals and whatnot, it's important to consider not what you would do (which was where I screwed up - it's often tough to differentiate between the two because they do overlap occasionally) but what the most appropriate response (all factors considered) - see what's going on and the appropriate response to that. Value everything in the question, but know what to prioritise. Usually, you want to keep things direct and civil, and value the patient. With the much larger proportion of time, you can think through this slower and really consider every option carefully. Take your time! It's also more important than any other section I feel to read through solutions.

The Week Of, The Day Of
For the week of, I'm going to steal a response to another person because I am lazy could not have said it any better:

"In the couple of days leading up to the exam, I generally did no UCAT prep at all, just to let myself do the test without stressing - by this time you already either know your stuff or you don't (and you preferably do!), and there's likely nothing you can do to change that! Do things you enjoy to calm yourself down - I played football literally an hour before my exam. If you really want, do some light practice on the morning of to get yourself 'in the zone', but don't tire yourself out :) A positive mental attitude will go further to help you succeed than any prep you can possibly do!"

Takeaway is make yourself comfortable - you can grind all you want, but that's unimportant if it doesn't make you comfortable. If it does, by all means go ahead.

For the day of, an excellent thread already exists, really can't say what hasn't been already said here. Please read this (for more info anyway), and follow what instructions UCAT and the test host give. I recall that they're usually quite simple and involve remembering to bring stuff and going to the right place at most.

On the day, you should feel nervous - and that's not necessarily bad despite the negative connotations. Just remember to let your confidence shine through without letting yourself become overconfident. Back yourself. You got this :)

Other Notes
- The UCAT is NOT the be-all, end-all. You can have your 15 seconds of fame for getting a ridiculous score, then again if you get into a prestigious med course, but like your ATAR, literally no one will care or judge you. Not joking.
- A positive mental attitude will go further to help you succeed than any prep you can possibly do - a practice test isn't the actual test, and stay confident (but not overconfident!)
- same note, another quote (hate doing this, but it's honestly easier and clearer): "Don't let underperformance dent your confidence -> I don't really know what everyone else does to boost confidence, but instead of looking to do more practice, look to boost confidence in whatever way suits you best. It's so important to trust your own ability because without it it's so easy to go into a downward spiral where doing worse loses confidence, and lack of confidence loses results."
- You can't hardcore grind all the time (you will burn out, unfortunately). Alternate between looking to pick apart content and the grind, ask yourself "'what are they asking?' or 'What's the quickest approach to do this?'. This will basically let you develop your own strategies when answering questions." However, if rigorous practice is your thing, go for it - just not all out. You definitely need to do some though, if you don't, the time constraints will probably catch you out a little
- Do it your own way - no one knows you like yourself (or i should hope so); use what you know works for you and not necessarily what everyone says is the correct way to do things. There is NEVER only one correct way to do something
- Like any other subject in school, assess your mistakes and UNDERSTAND why you went wrong, and what you can do to improve (really same principles as school)
- Practice =/= results - it is NOT a linear scale and cannot be measured
- YOU WILL BE OKAY :D

The wall of text has ended :D - thanks if you got this far, or haha go back and read if you are doing UCAT and skipped to see if there was anything cool at the end (there isn't)

Two more things:
Hope this really really helped :)
Please think I'm funny
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)

Evolio

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Re: UCAT Question Compilation/FAQ
« Reply #1 on: June 21, 2020, 11:37:14 am »
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Thank you so much for doing this fun_jirachi!!  ;D ;D This is amazing!!
I will definitely be taking these tips on board!
Also, congratulations on your amazing score!
2019: Biology [41], Mathematical Methods [38]
2020: Literature, Psychology, Specialist Mathematics, Chemistry

sroe

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Re: UCAT Question Compilation/FAQ
« Reply #2 on: June 29, 2020, 07:09:56 pm »
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Hi, I was just wondering if anyone has any idea how the raw scores for each UCAT sections scale to the scores of 300-900? Thanks

whys

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Re: UCAT Question Compilation/FAQ
« Reply #3 on: June 29, 2020, 07:21:13 pm »
+4
Hi, I was just wondering if anyone has any idea how the raw scores for each UCAT sections scale to the scores of 300-900? Thanks
That's a secret Pearson will never tell ;). You can estimate using scaling tables found online, which will translate your raw score into a score from 300-900. We can't know for sure because each question is worth a certain number of points (10, 20, etc) based on the difficulty (assigned by Pearson) of that question, so it is impossible to go straight from a raw to scaled score with any certainty.

ghtoghto

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Re: UCAT Question Compilation/FAQ
« Reply #4 on: July 04, 2020, 04:35:12 pm »
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Hello!

I was just wondering whether we were able to have a pen and paper in the exam to write on?
Thank you


Evolio

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Re: UCAT Question Compilation/FAQ
« Reply #5 on: July 04, 2020, 04:49:09 pm »
+4
Hello.
Yes, we are provided with an A4 laminated notebook and marker pen.
« Last Edit: July 04, 2020, 04:51:05 pm by Evolio »
2019: Biology [41], Mathematical Methods [38]
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fun_jirachi

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Re: UCAT Question Compilation/FAQ
« Reply #6 on: July 04, 2020, 05:27:16 pm »
+3
Hello!

I was just wondering whether we were able to have a pen and paper in the exam to write on?
Thank you

You will definitely have writing materials - what they are will depend on the centre you take the test at. If you're lucky enough to be doing the test at a centre which has 'an A4 laminated notebook and marker pen' as Evolio suggested, brilliant! But the bare minimum you will get is scrap paper and a pen (which is what I got when I took the test). Not too sure about other centres, but I got headphones as well - irrelevant to the question but handy to know, I suppose :)
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)

paulthekiller123

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Re: UCAT Question Compilation/FAQ
« Reply #7 on: July 04, 2020, 05:32:15 pm »
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Hello.
Yes, we are provided with an A4 laminated notebook and marker pen.

Are the marker pen "erasable?"

whys

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Re: UCAT Question Compilation/FAQ
« Reply #8 on: July 04, 2020, 05:35:47 pm »
+5
Are the marker pen "erasable?"
Again, depends on the testing centre! Some have permanent ones you can't erase, so you'll need to put your hand up if you want more laminated sheets. Some may be erasable too, you'll be able to find out on the day of your test.

davsalooki

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Re: UCAT Question Compilation/FAQ
« Reply #9 on: July 08, 2020, 12:49:10 pm »
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wait is UCAT online or in person?
can you still get into monash med if u fail ucat?
when should you prepare?
is icanmed/medentry good?
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2022: English 40+ | Specialist Mathematics 40+ | Physics 40+ | Chemistry 40+
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whys

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Re: UCAT Question Compilation/FAQ
« Reply #10 on: July 08, 2020, 12:56:20 pm »
+3
wait is UCAT online or in person?
can you still get into monash med if u fail ucat?
when should you prepare?
is icanmed/medentry good?
It’s a computer-based test that is taken at a specific testing centre of your choice in the month of July in year 12 and beyond. Since Monash Med weights the UCAT equally alongside an MMI and the ATAR, you are unlikely to receive an interview/place offer if you ‘fail’ the UCAT (not quite sure what you mean by fail though). From your signature, I can see you’re a year 10 or 11 student, enjoy the time you have and worry about UCAT in year 12. You have plenty of time and don’t need to worry about ‘failing’. I don’t know about icanmed but MedEntry is alright I guess, if you’re going for a paid resource then I highly recommend Medify though.
« Last Edit: July 08, 2020, 01:05:08 pm by whys »