Preparing for the test
The UKCAT is an important test. We know that candidates want to prepare properly. Please remember however that the UKCAT is a test of aptitude rather than academic achievement. It does not draw on any particular body of knowledge that candidates can learn in advance.
Candidates should prepare for their test using the free resources available in the Candidate Preparation Toolkit. This has been developed by UKCAT to contain comprehensive information and practice materials to support your preparation, including an Official Guide and Practice Tests. We also provide a Preparation Plan to organise a sensible schedule for preparing for the test.
In 2012 we surveyed our candidates about how they prepared for the test and compared this against the scores they achieved. Some of the advice below draws on the outcomes from this analysis.
How should I prepare?
- Familiarise yourself with the requirements and question styles in each subtest. Use the Official Guide, Practice App and Practice Questions in the Candidate Preparation Toolkit to help you.
- Use the Tour Tutorial to familiarise yourself with the onscreen test format, learn how to move around the screen and through the test and to use the calculator provided.
- Use the Question Tutorial to learn strategies for approaching and answering questions.
- Make full use of the UKCAT Practice Tests. UKCAT provides you with three fully timed tests which mimic closely the testing experience. It is important to understand the time limitations in each section and to develop strategies to approach each subtest with this in mind. Test items are of an equivalent standard to those you will encounter in the test and include new sections and item types. You may review your responses against answer rationales. In our survey, 88% of respondents agreed that the practice tests increased their familiarity with the types of questions and their ability to manage the test. 74% agreed that it increased their ability to manage the timing of the test. Use of the UKCAT online practice tests was associated with higher overall test performance.
- Spend around 21-30 hours in preparation for the UKCAT. This is the amount of preparation done by the highest scoring respondents to our survey.
- Use the UKCAT Official Guide - 63% of those who downloaded it agreed that it increased their knowledge of how to prepare for the test, and 74% agreed that it increased their knowledge of test content.
- If you have not studied mathematics beyond GCSE level (or recently), make additional time to revisit and practice your mathematical skills as this will impact on the Quantitative Reasoning section in particular.
- Go to www.thestudentroom.co.uk where there is advice available from current and past candidates. This includes links to free practice resources which can be found on the internet, but please be aware that some information may be out of date and may not reflect the current test.
- Ask for advice from your school/college and previous test takers.
- Watch our video of previous test takers sharing advice on their preparations and overall test experience.
What about commercial companies?
There are many commercial companies publishing books and offering coaching in the UKCAT. UKCAT does not work with any of these companies and we are concerned that taking advantage of these opportunities can cost candidates a great deal of money. UKCAT would advise you to be sceptical about claims they can help you do well in the test by coaching.
Please note that commercial organisations will be using items that are not necessarily of the standard you will encounter in the UKCAT and this may distort your performance whilst practising. Screen views may be different and commercial organisations are unlikely to include the new item types which you may encounter in your test. They may not have updated their materials to reflect the introduction of the new Decision Making subtest to the 2016 test and may still include Decision Analysis items.
The UKCAT survey suggested that use of books relevant to the UKCAT was associated with higher overall test performance. These books may contain helpful strategies for candidates taking the test and include additional practice questions. However there is lots of advice available for free on the web regarding approaches to the test and many sources of free practice questions. Unless the book has been published very recently it is unlikely to include the correct test content and timings and new test items.