I was asked by a subscriber how much time did I spend preparing for the UKCAT. I spent roughly 2.5 months, but in all honesty it DOESN’T MATTER!
A common mistake candidates make (myself included the first and second time) is that we get bogged down on the amount of time to prepare for the UKCAT. I spent three times as long preparing for the UKCAT the second time and I only increased my overall average by 40 points?! It really doesn’t matter how long you spend preparing, what I believe is more important is the QUALITY of your preparation. I’ve helped candidates that have scored in the top 10% with only 2 weeks worth of prep. The official UKCAT recommends spending 21-30 hours in preparation (thats 3 hours over 10 days!). This is the amount of preparation done by the highest scoring respondents to their surveys.
Pay more attention to how you use the time you have. Planning and structuring your preparation accordingly is extremely beneficial; part of that involves identifying your weakest areas ASAP, prioritising the subtests accordingly and allocating a rough amount of preparation time to each subtest to give structure.
Think of time as a resource the moment you BOOK the test. Spending equal amount of time preparing for each section is a BAD move. what’s worse is spending more time on your strongest subtest! It will most likely result in a mediocre score, which was the case with me the first and second time I took the exam.
So how do you figure out the amount of time to spend preparing for each section of the exam?
As a rule of thumb, you want to spend about 45% of the time remaining working on your weakest areas, and about 5% working on your strongest subtest.
The strategy below helps give structure to preparation and provides a minimum amount of hours candidates must commit to each section. In order to calculate the recommended hours, follow these steps:
- Calculate the number of days till the big day (e.g 30 days)
- Calculate the average number of hours per day you can realistically spend preparing for the exam ( e.g 3 hours per day, so that’s 90 hours over 30days)
- Dedicate 45% of the Total Time to your weakest section (e.g 45% of 90 hours is 40.5 hours)
- Dedicate about 28% of the total time to the 2nd weakest section ( e.g 28% of 90 hours is 25 hours)
- Dedicate 18% of the total time to your 2nd strongest section( e.g 18% of 90 hours is 16 hours)
- Dedicate 9% of the total time to your strongest section ( 9% of 90 hours is 8 hours)
This calculation is based on my personal experience and feedback from other high scoring candidates. Nonetheless, It should be used as a rough guide to help balance your time, you can modify or personalize as you see fit.