The UCAT is definitely one of the most daunting tests out there. Especially when you're trying to enjoy your summer, or maybe live quarantine life in peace, why on earth should you spend weeks preparing?!
Most people applying for medicine or dentistry should definitely spend a bulk of their summer preparing for this exam, however, there are a couple of situations where you might not need to.
Are you definitely set on applying only to universities that take the BMAT as an entrance exam? This isn't the safest bet - if you want to do the BMAT, we would still recommend doing both entrance exams, as the BMAT is sat after sending your applications, so you won't know how well you're going to do until it's too late. Regardless, if you're absolutely certain that you only want to apply to BMAT universities, and maybe don't even want to do the UCAT, then fair enough - you don't need to spend your summer revising.
Have you sat the UCAT before and done really well? You probably won't need to spend as long as a first-timer, but it would still be wise to get lots of practice in to improve your score even further!
If you don't fit into either of these categories, chances are, you're relying on an excellent UCAT score to help you get a place in medical school!
Yes, UCAT is not the only thing that universities look at, but having a very high UCAT score of 700+ would guarantee that not a single university will reject you based on your UCAT score. If you have that head start, it only gets easier from there. Whereas you might be in a situation where your interview skills are phenomenal, your A-levels are great, and your personal statement really blows readers' minds - but some of the universities you apply to weigh UCAT very highly, and you're left with very few options due to a low score.
The main reason you need to spend weeks preparing for the UCAT is to give you a head start when you're applying. We've found that applicants who only gloss over the UCAT, hoping that they might get a decent score with a week's worth of preparation, usually end up worse-off with their applications. Whereas the opposite is true for those who really dedicate their time to UCAT - they generally get most, if not all of their universities offering them interviews! So, if every single university is happy with your score, then you're in a great position and likely to get a number of interviews. Even if you don't do great on one or two, hopefully you'll still get an offer somewhere! And if you do brilliant on all of them, you'll have a range of universities to choose from.
This year, applicants are in a great position to study for the UCAT. Dates are yet to be announced, it's likely that they'll be later than normal, and there are no A-level exams to worry about. What are you waiting for?! You need to get started!
If you truly want to be a doctor or a dentist, you need to work hard. There is no easy route to success. Don't give up, don't shy away due to doubts you may have, and ignore doubts that others may have. If you stay dedicated, stay on top of your work, and really put in the hours - you're on the way to reaching your goals!