UKCAT books are a must-have when preparing for the exam. They provide great strategies and practice materials to help students familiarise themselves with the exam and boost overall UKCAT score. Even though they are not official UKCAT resources, studies conducted by the UKCAT exam board suggest that use of practice books significantly improves a candidate’s overall score. Unfortunately, there is a long list of practice books available, so how do you go about picking the right one for you?
I have reviewed all the best selling UKCAT books to date and which practice book you choose should really depend on your weakness in the exam and strategy for preparing for the UKCAT.
The following are KEY factors to consider when picking a UKCAT practice book
#1. Number of Practice Questions
And that brings us to first understanding the number of practice questions included in a book. Obviously the more practice questions the better, right? The best selling books all replicate the breadth and depth of the different types of questions that can be asked in the exam and cover the spectrum of difficulties as well. However, make sure to also take into account the ratio of practice questions. If you find the verbal reasoning section the hardest of the 5 subtests you would ideally want a practice book that contained more verbal questions (i.e a practice book with a higher ratio of verbal reasoning practice questions) so that you can practice more and improve your overall verbal skill. Make sure to recognise your weakest section (using the official practice tests) before picking a practice book, you want to select one with a higher ratio of practice questions for your weakest section.
#2. Number of Mock Exams
Mock exams are a great way to mimic the testing environment and further identify any area of improvement in time management and dealing with pressure. They also help give you an indication of what you a likely to score in the live tests. I recommend attempting at least 3 mock exams before test day. The more mock exams a book provides the better you’ll be able to gauge how you manage time our and handle the pressures of the exam.
#3. Detailed Explanations, Tips & Techniques
You will find yourself referring to answer rationales for items you either get wrong or find difficult. in-depth and comprehensive explanations of the correct answers allow candidates fully understand the reason for why they were wrong and best books must provide fully explained tips and techniques to improve.There are practice books that offer better explanations for a particular subtest than others. Have a look below for the best practice book for each subtest.
#4. Preparation Strategies
There is a popular saying that goes ‘work smart not hard’, practising questions only familiarises you with the exam and won’t significantly improve your score. The right preparation involves identifying your weakness, continually assessing your improvement and working on your reasoning skills regularly. Unfortunately, most practice books do not cover preparation strategies except for UKCAT for Dummies by Chris Choplar and Neel Burton. Unfortunately, the book is outdated and the authors have not released any new versions. After acheiveing one of the highest UKCAT scores in 2015 I wrote a step-by-step study guide to help structure UKCAT preparation and offer future candidates the tips, strategies and techniques I used to achieve a UKCAT in the 90th percentile. The most 2017 edition was bought by 1-in-7 candidates that took the exam with 100% positive feedback and 79% of readers achieving target UKCAT score (see Testimonials). I compare my UKCAT Study Guide with the UKCAT for dummies book as seen below.
#5. Exam Strategies
‘Failing to plan is planning to fail’ is another popular saying that can apply when taking the UKCAT. If you do not have a plan for how you intend to tackle each subtest then you are ultimately doomed. The highest scoring candidates adopt exam strategies for each subtest before their live tests and constantly practice new strategies before the live test. Some books provide really good exam techniques to adopt in the live test such as the Kaplan’s Score High In The UKCAT practice book. I provide a vast amount of exam strategies for each section of the exam. I compare my UKCAT Study Guide with the Score Higher in the UKCAT for dummies book as seen below.
My Final UKCAT Practice Book Picks
I recommend getting two types of UKCAT books – you want to pick a STRATEGY BOOK and PRACTICE BOOK FOR QUESTIONS. The strategy book will give structure to your preparation and help in targeting weak points and developing your skills in each section of the UKCAT, whilst the practice books will contain thousands of practice questions for you to practice and gain familiarity with the exam. Here are my final picks of books for practice questions (in no particular order):
Get Into Medical School: 1250 UKCAT Practice Questions by Olivier Picard et al
The Ultimate UKCAT Guide: 1250 Practice Questions by Rohan Aggarwal and David Salt
Score Higher On The UKCAT: 1000 Practice Questions by Brian Holmes et al
As for a strategy book I recommend buying the 2018 Edition of my UKCAT Study guide, I share step-by-step how I prepared for the UKCAT and achieved a score in the 90th percentile. It includes all the tips, strategies and exam techniques I used to improve my score. The 2017 edition was bought by 1-in-7 applicants with 100% agreeing it improved their score and 79% achieving their target score. Click To Find Out More…
In conclusion, keep things simple – get at least one strategy book and one practice questions book. Use both books together to structure revision and improve skill in each section.
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Best of luck,