If you are a student who’s interested in medicine and wants to pursue medical education in one of the finest medical colleges in Pakistan, then I assure you that the information below will definitely guide you about what to do and how to do it.
This part will provide a brief intro of MDCAT and special tips that every student is going to need for attempting the exam. The next part will cover elaborate detail regarding preparation of each subject.
What is MDCAT?
MDCAT (Medical & Dental College Admission Test) is an entry test taken by UHS (University of Health Sciences) in order to grant admission in different government and private medical colleges of Pakistan for MBBS, BDS and some other fields like DVM. This test is conducted in months of August or September after FSC students are free from their board exams.
A total of around 74,000 students appeared in MDCAT in 2019 and competed for 3500 seats in government medical colleges.
Cruelty is that acceptance ratio is only 8%
This makes MDCAT a nightmare for the medical students as they have to work like a Trojan to be in those lucky 3500.
Students always ask this question. Why MDCAT? Why not select students on the basis of their Matric and FSC score?
There may be a lot of answers to this question, but one very valid answer in my opinion is that becoming a doctor is not a child’s play; it requires skills, hard work, devotion and above all expertise.
This test actually assess these abilities of a student along with his or her memory. MDCAT is a standardized, multiple choice examination designed to assess the examiner’s problem-solving, critical thinking, writing skills and knowledge of science concepts and principles.
- 50% MDCAT Test
- 40% F.S.C. Or Any Other Equivalent Education
- 10% Matric
The percentage criteria speaks itself how important it is to score good in FSC as well as in MDCAT. If for some reason you are not able to score good in Matric you don’t need to let your spirits down as it holds only 10% of the total aggregate. So, even if you score less in Matric still you can compensate by working hard in FSC and MDCAT.
Matric + FSC = MDCAT
10% + 40% = 50%
Also, your four year labor and your 3 months struggle are equal. This is the reason why MDCAT is a extremely significant in a medical student’s carrier. You cannot in any case ease yourself after scoring well in Matric and FSC. You still would have to remain very diligent during those three months of your MDCAT preparation.
Who can apply?
All FSC students who have scored 60% above can apply for MDCAT. This means your subjects must include PHYSICS, CEMISTRY, BIOLOGY and ENGLISH as per UHS criteria.
Also, there’s no age limit
Students of any age group can apply and can take admission in a medical college. This is a special facility for those who fail to acquire admission in a medical college at their first attempt. I have friends who repeated MDCAT 3 times and they finally were successful in attaining admission in a medical college. It’s all about passion and devotion.
Exam is totally MCQs based, comprised of a total of 200 hundred MCQs divided into four subjects as follows:
Each MCQ carries one mark. There is no negative marking lucky you all (it has been introduced in the 2020 MDCAT).The time duration to attempt the paper will be 2 hours and 30 minutes. Minimum 60% marks i.e. 120/200 are required to pass the test. One of my friends scored 199!
Is MDCAT difficult?
Believe me everyone, MDCAT is not at all difficult if you have full grip over concepts. Concepts are the key of the door to success in MDCAT.
What students usually do is that they start preparing for MDCAT during their FSC which I was never in favor of. During my FSC time I kept all of my focus on my FSC exams and I crammed all my books along with concepts.
I believed or you may say this was my strategy, if a student prepares really good only for his FSC exam, he has already covered 80% of his MDCAT course. Preparing for FSC exams along with MDCAT is hectic plus it diverts your attention from the aim at that time and you can’t manage and excel in both at the same time. Eventually you fail to work well in FSC as well as MDCAT.
A lot of my friends also joined pre-classes for MDCAT preparation but in the end it became hectic for them and their scores in FSC dropped and they failed in MDCAT too as they were burdened by their low grades in FSC. FSC is the time for your concept building. Those students who get full grip over concepts in their FSC see MDCAT as a piece of cake.
In short, one thing at a time!
Now let’s discuss each subject one by one to see how to prepare and attempt these subjects.
Most teachers would recommend you to attempt the Biology portion of MDCAT first because the questions in Biology segment are exactly from context of the book and some questions can be solved in like 15 seconds! If you’ve studied your textbook well enough you can save a lot of time for the more complicated portions of the test like Physics.
Let’s say, even if you spend 20 seconds on each question in Biology, which most of you would agree is enough, then:
20 (seconds) x 88 (questions in Biology portion) = 1760 seconds
Time for Biology portion = 29 minutes
So, almost half an hour for Biology portion and 120 minutes for the rest of three MDCAT portions. After Biology portion, try attempting Chemistry then Physics and lastly English.
Academy or no Academy?
This is a frequently asked question by students as well as parents. In my opinion, if a child affords expenses of an academy then he or she should definitely join one. The reason is that competition among students is increasing day by day and repeaters also compete with new students so the struggle for gaining a seat in that 3500 increases.
So, joining an academy will help polish your skills as well as offer ample practice which is all that MDCAT requires. If you ask me that if I joined an academy or not? Yes! I did!
But still I have friends who worked really hard at home and used internet as help and eventually secured admission in medical college. You just need a proper guideline.
But one more thing,
Self Study > Attending coaching classes.
Self study matters a lot. Listening is not enough. Even if you join a coaching class and attend it regularly still you’ll have to learn and study thoroughly and revise everything or else only coaching classes will do no good for you.
Also, You can study everything from the comfort of your home without wasting time in academy coaching classes. If only you think you can!
- Download MDCAT syllabus from UHS site.
- The first thing you should do before you start preparing for MDCAT is that you must buy past papers. Yes! Because there are chances that questions may repeat especially in English section. So, buy past papers or download them from the internet and try solving those.
- Use social media YouTube and Google for help and lectures.
- While preparing for MDCAT, you should short list your syllabus. This does not in any case mean that you start omitting things you learn once, NOT AT ALL! Short listing means that you omit those lines that are unnecessary or those points that you think you’ll never forget your entire life , for example Newton’s laws of motion if you think you’ll never forget you can omit.
- You are asked to short list important material because the day before exam you won’t have enough time to revise everything. So, make things easy for yourself.
- Set up a favorable routine for yourself. For Example, sleeping early at night and getting up early in the morning and studying at least 8 hours minimum a day. I made routine of sleeping at six in the morning and getting up at 10 for academy and then self study at night as there is minimum disturbance at night. You can do whatever suits you.
- Keep all the formulae on one page so that you can revise all of them in 5 minutes. And you can use one page formula for other things too that you think you might forget.
- Focus on your shortcomings and keep learning practicing them.
- MDCAT is test of your nerves. So, don’t lose control over them in any case or this may severely affect your exam
- It is all a game of TIME. I you keep time in hand there are bright chances that you will have MDCAT in hand. So, learn time management well during preparations.
- Stay confident. You should be a 100% confident about your preparation before exam and also while answering your question. If because of any case you get nervous just leave the pen and sit for a minute, take deep breaths and relax. Then start your exam once again. Taking a minute or two would save you a lot of time which in other case would waste.
- Most importantly! Attempt MDCAT-type exams beforehand. Minimum 2.
- Lastly, sleep well the night before exam. Eat good breakfast before you go for exam. (Larkian behosh ho jati hain wahan).
- Take at least 3 gel pens with you.
In the end it all depends on your devotion and sincerity with your goal. You work diligently for something, you eventually achieve it. So, trust your abilities and work as hard as you can. You’ll achieve your aim if you buckle down on it. You’ll be in a medical college soon InshaAllah!
In the next part we will discuss every subject in detail.
Written by: Fatima Ayub
About the Author
Fatima Ayub is currently studying MBBS from Allama Iqbal Medical college.
She has been actively involved in guidance activities and webinars for PrepVitals and her juniors.