Should I be taking the UCAT at Home or in a Testing Centre?

Screenshot 2020-07-06 at 10.36.58

Leyna Roy

Head UCAT Writer

Introduction

This year, as you may already know, the UCAT consortium has announced that you have the option of taking the UCAT at home, instead of in a testing centre. This is due to everything going on at the moment regarding the COVID19 pandemic. Undoubtedly, there’s some pros and cons for each option, so you definitely need to think about your choice carefully.

Should I take the UCAT at home or in a testing centre?

This is pretty new to all of us, but we want to help you with this decision. I have used my personal experience of taking the UCAT in a testing centre in 2018 and I’ve also done some research on how taking the UCAT at home would work, to put together some useful information about the two options, as well as a nice list of advantages and disadvantages of each option.

Sections in this article:

  • Taking the UCAT at Home
  • Taking the UCAT in a Testing Centre
  • Taking the UCAT at Home vs. in a Testing Centre

Hopefully, this blog post will help you make a choice that’s just right for you!

Taking the UCAT at Home

How would an online exam work?

If you chose to take the UCAT in the comfort of your own home, you would do so as an online exam by using online proctoring (UCAT online) and the test content would be exactly the same as if you were taking it in a testing centre.

In terms of materials for the test, you would be allowed to use an erasable whiteboard and you would also have access to both the scratchpad and the UCAT calculator on the online testing software. As you know, these materials are important, particularly for Decision Making and Quantitative Reasoning, so make sure that you have what you need at home if you want to test at home.

For all the important details about sitting the UCAT online, make sure you carefully read through the UCAT Online Candidate Guide.

Taking the UCAT in a Testing Centre

If you chose to take the test in a testing centre rather than testing at home, you would be taking the test in a room with other students, with screens dividing your computers.

In terms of materials for the test, everyone’s computer is the same. You should also have access to an erasable whiteboard, as well as the scratchpad and UCAT calculator on your computer. Make sure you check out our tips for using the UCAT calculator as part of your UCAT preparation, as this will be really useful.

For further information about sitting the exam in a testing centre, make sure you read through the UCAT Test Centre Candidate Guide.

Taking the UCAT at Home vs. in a Testing Centre

This is where I get into the nitty gritty of which option is going to work best for you. As long as you make a well-informed decision, you will be completely fine!

In this section, I have given you all of the advantages I could think of for testing at home and taking the test in a testing centre. I didn’t bother with disadvantages, since the advantages of one option will highlight the disadvantages of the other… I hope that makes sense!

Hopefully, these next few points will aid your decision a lot.

Advantages of Taking the UCAT at Home

1. You are in a more relaxed environment.

If you prefer being feeling really relaxed during a test or being comfortable in your usual environment is really important to you, then you might be better off going for the UCAT online.

You could even take the online exam on your sofa… but we don’t recommend this!

2. You don’t have to worry about being near other people, particularly during this pandemic.

If the coronavirus pandemic has made you anxious about going outside and being near other people, or if you are vulnerable and therefore shielding, then taking the test at home would probably be a good option for you. This would prevent you from worrying about multiple things, so you would be able to give all your attention to the exam.

3. You can avoid travelling.

If you test at home, you would avoid the hassle of having to find the testing centre and leave enough time for your journey to arrive on time. Also, if you need to take public transport, taking the UCAT at home would save you from worrying about the current situation whilst on the way to your exam. It would probably be quite nice to just sit down where you are and start the exam, so if travelling is something that would concern you, then testing at home could be a great idea.

Take travel into consideration when choosing a UCAT location.

Advantages of Taking the UCAT in a Testing Centre

1. You are in an exam setting.

If you are the kind of person who performs better in an exam if you are in exam conditions, then you will most likely be better off sitting the UCAT in a testing centre. There will probably be a few more people taking the test with you and of course, you’ll all be in silence, so it shouldn’t be too different from an exam at school.

Also, if your home is often noisy, you might do better in a testing centre because there will be nothing to distract you from the exam.

2. You will get support if you need it.

As the UCAT is an online exam taken on a computer, the technology has a small chance of going wrong. If you’re in a testing centre and something happens on your screen, someone will be available to assist you immediately and get you back onto the exam. However, if you’re testing at home, you might get into a panic if a problem occurs and you don’t know how to fix it.

3. You don’t need to worry about Wi-Fi.

This is similar to the advantage above but still quite important to consider on its own. If your house has a poor or unstable internet connection, then you might struggle with testing at home because the UCAT online might not load properly or you may face other issues. In a testing centre, the Wi-Fi should be totally fine and even if it did play up, staff would be present to resolve the problem without you needing to panic about anything.

Make sure your Wi-Fi connection is strong if you’re testing at home.

End Note

Hopefully, this article has equipped you with what you need to make a good decision for yourself, whether that be taking the UCAT at home, or sitting the exam in a testing centre. For any further information, definitely check out the official UCAT page regarding this topic and as always, feel free to reach out to us with questions as well.

Remember if you would like some personalised support for your UCAT including in-depth strategies and shortcuts, check out our UCAT Online Course:

Best of luck with everything as always!

Leyna
(UCAT and A Level Biology Tutor)

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