How can I avoid being overly anxious and stressed?

By far the easiest way to avoid getting anxious and stressed is to start early. Don’t leave UCAT preparation to the last minute, don’t leave interview preparation to the last minute, and don’t wait until the last day before the deadline to apply for medical/dental courses. The earlier you can get these things (especially UCAT preparation) out of the way, the better the position you’ll be in and the less anxious and stressed you’ll feel about gaining entry.

Second, you also need to understand the assessments and what they involve. If you’re not clear on what the UCAT is and how to prepare for it, what interviewers are looking for, or how ATAR even works, this creates a level of uncertainty that can trigger anxiety and insecurity.

Third, don’t be overconfident. This may sound a little strange—surely the more confident you are, the less anxious you would be?—but it’s 100% true. If you’re overconfident about your chances of scoring highly on the UCAT, for example, you won’t put in the necessary time and effort to prepare and instead might just ‘assume’ that you’ll do well on it since you do well on your school tests. (This might be OK for a while, but leads to massive levels of stress when you finally realise, one week or one month before your UCAT test, that you are actually extremely under-equipped to face the exam and probably won’t be able to get a good score.)

Fourth, focus on outcome, not effort. Instead of stressing that you’re not doing enough practice tests or spending enough time on your UCAT, interview or ATAR study, focus on the results you’re seeing. Are you seeing improvement? If yes, then that’s something you should take encouragement from and continue to maintain.

Finally, a good way to reduce your levels of stress and anxiety is to always improve the way you learn. When your learning skills are constantly being refined, you’re able to see significant, tangible improvements in your efficiency and results, and you gain real, justified confidence that you will be able to perform well at the critical moments.

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ucat guide 2022