UKCAT Practice books are a must when preparing for the exam. They provide great strategies and practice materials to help students familiarise themselves with the exam and boosts their 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?
I have reviewed the best selling books currently available and which practice book you choose should really depend on your weakness in the exam and strategy for preparing for the test.
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 two – UKCAT for Dummies by Chris Choplar and Neel Burton and How To Score In the Top Percentile by Michael O. Carter. Unfortunately, The UKCAT for dummies is dated and doesn’t include the new decision making subtest. However, does contain very helpful strategies for the remaining subtests.
#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. Kaplan’s Score High In The UKCAT practice book and Michael O. Carter’s How To Score In The Top Percentile are strong contenders.
My UKCAT Practice Book Picks
I recommend getting two types of practice books – you want to pick a STRATEGY book and PRACTICE QUESTIONS book. 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:
#1. How To Score In Top Percentile by Michael O. Carter
#2. Get Into Medicine: 1250 UKCAT Practice Questions by Olivier Picard et al
#3. The Ultimate UKCAT Guide: 1250 Practice Questions by Rohan Aggarwal and David Salt
#4. Score Higher On The UKCAT: 1000 Practice Questions by Brian Holmes et al
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.
Which UKCAT practice book did you find most helpful? Please leave your comments below.
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