On 1st June 2020, it was announced that the UCAT may be sat at a Pearson VUE test centre or at the comfort of your home in 2020. Here, we provide you with some advice on whether to sit an online UCAT or not and tips for success in an online exam.
The UCAT registration and booking is planned to open on 1st July 2020, with tests taking place between 3rd August and 1st October 2020.
Some of you might’ve heard the news that the 2020 May/June online GAMSAT (Graduate Medical School Admissions Test) was significantly different from past years’ exams in terms of the number of questions and time given.
This will not be the case for the UCAT. The online UCAT will have the same content and duration as the UCAT taken in a test centre. This is to ensure fairness in testing and comparability among candidates.
Sitting your UCAT online confers several potential benefits.
- You will be very familiar with the testing environment, including the room, desk, chair, lighting and temperature. You will even be using the same computer, mouse and keyboard that you’ve used to go through practice questions and Medify’s unique mock exams. This can put your mind at ease and help you perform at the optimum level.
- You won’t have to travel to the test centre, which makes it convenient for you. There is no need to arrange transport or worry about traffic jams. This is even more so if you are a candidate who doesn’t have a test centre near your home.
- There is no risk of catching COVID-19. Despite the social distancing requirements and hygiene procedures, there is still a chance that you may catch the virus at the test centre, as well as your way to and from the test centre. You won’t have to compromise your health with the online UCAT.
- You won’t be distracted by other candidates. Occasional coughs, leg shaking and any other habits of other candidates can be a cause of distraction for you at the test centre. By sitting the online UCAT, you can eliminate this risk and be ultra-focused for every single second of the UCAT.
On the other side, sitting your UCAT online comes with some risks.
- The unfamiliar context of online proctoring may make you feel slightly nervous and be detrimental to your performance in the UCAT.
- While the majority of test takers report a smooth, positive exam-taking experience with OnVue, it should be noted that this is the first year that OnVue will be used for the UCAT. Furthermore, a small number of problems with the OnVue have been reported in various online forums, including failure of the OnVue application to launch properly and having to wait extended periods of time for a proctor to become available.
- Lastly, there is an element of risk, albeit small, that your internet connection or power supply may be disrupted.
Note: According to the official UCAT Online guide, while it is possible to sit the UCATSEN, UCATSA, UCATSENSA and UCATSEN50 online, they may be best suited for sitting at a test centre. You should also check to see if your access arrangements can be accommodated for the UCAT Online.
For those of you who have decided to go ahead with the online UCAT, we’ve compiled some tips to boost your advantages and to mitigate the risks.
1. Optimise your room for testing. This includes adjusting the desk height, temperature, lighting, ventilation and even getting a new comfortable chair if needed. Once you are happy with your setup, run through Medify’s practice questions and mock exams just as you would sit the actual online UCAT exam.
2. To emulate the experience of having an online proctor, get a friend or a family member to watch over you via webcam while you sit a mock exam or two. At first, this may feel strange, but you will soon become comfortable and no longer mind their presence.
3. Be familiar with the rules and requirements of the online UCAT. If there is a technical issue that you need to address (e.g. your computer is not running on one of the specified operating systems), sort this out as early as possible to minimize any stress for you.
4. Let your family and anyone else sharing your residence know when you will be sitting the online UCAT and remind them about it closer to the exam. You should ask them to not make any noise (e.g. vacuuming, partying), limit the use of the internet, and to not attempt entering your room. Locking your door and placing a sign on the door would be advisable.
5. If you perform any upgrades, software installs or system changes on your device, re-run the systems test to make sure that the compatibility and functioning of the OnVue application are not affected.
It is understandable that some may not have access to a suitable space, device or internet connection. If this applies to you, you should sit the UCAT at a test centre. However, you should aim to book as early as possible to ensure that you secure a place in the nearest test centre. If you have any other concerns, please contact the UCAT office directly to address your concerns.
Now that the UCAT is indeed going ahead in 2020, you should aim to focus on your preparation. Check out Medify's UCAT 2020 Online Course here.
We have a bank of over 10,000 questions, a decision-making section, and 8 full mock exams and 18 mini-mock exams; we even give you performance feedback too.
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