TL;DR: practice makes perfect. There’s no magic bullet.
I was asked a while ago if I could provide UCAT tutoring. I refused, because personally, I don’t think UCAT tutoring is helpful - in this field, there are definitely no shortcuts, and the best way to improve is through hard work. So, here are a few tips that I wrote up for this person about how I personally prepared and any strategies that I have!
A little bit about me: I scored a 3200 (98th percentile) in the UCAT during Year 12, but I had technical difficulties which resulted in me losing 3 minutes at the start of VR. (760 VR, 840 DM, 880 QR, 720 AR)
A little about me first: I’m Ollie, a 99.95 student who achieved a 420 TEA. My tutoring company Checkpoint Education currently have Year 12 Methods and Specialist availability open with a free trial (no lock-in) - if you want small group lessons taught by 99.9+ ATAR students, let us know and we’ll help set you up!
Checkpoint Education | WACE Tutoring in Maths | Get a free trial
The best investment you can make for your UCAT success is to buy a question bank service. I personally used Medentry, but I’ve also heard great things about Medify. I’d recommend against iCanMed from what I’ve heard. A while back I heard about someone who got 3400+ only using a UCAT book and no service! Just grind out as many questions and mock papers as you possibly can.
With regards to Medentry, I don’t really think that the workshop and guided video tutorials were too beneficial for me. I think it definitely improved my self-confidence, but looking back, I don’t think it was worth the extra cost at all.
However, others may definitely get use out of the video tutorials, which are really in-depth and explain some strategies. I didn’t end up using many of these strats, which leads me to my next point...
The best strategy is the one which works for you. The best way to find that strategy is through practice. I’d recommend trying out new techniques, trying to optimise the way you approach questions, as you do them. That can be stuff such as trying triaging (where you do easy questions and flag harder ones for later) or micro-optimisations for specific question types. Practice will help you discover what you’re best at, which is why I don’t advocate for UCAT tutoring or religiously following a set of instructions (cough cough iCanMed).
Personally, my ATAR was far more important than my UCAT, so I chose to focus on that during my final year. My prep began in the summer holidays before Year 12, when I did a handful of questions (maybe 10-20mins) a day to get a hang for things. After that, I left all my mock exams until Term 2 break, and grinded one mock a day (which is incredibly tiring and something I’d recommend against in hindsight) with extra revision questions in the afternoon. My actual UCAT was booked for the first week back from school after the holidays.
I got lucky and scored rather well considering I didn’t prep too much compared to some others. You may be different. The most important thing to do is practice early so you can gauge how you’re doing - if you try a few questions and find that “hey, these seem alright”, maybe you don’t need to go ham a year out from the UCAT.
One last thing. The UCAT is notoriously luck-based. Sometimes you can get lucky (like me), sometimes you can get pretty unlucky. Your ability to cope in an intensely stressful environment will be tested.