I’ve recently been innundated with Instagram DM requests (if you’re waiting for me to reply, I’m sorry!), and I’ve noticed that many people ask similar questions. These questions are largely regarding the UCAT, and tend to go along the lines of “how do I get better at X subtest?” or “my scores are plateauing, what should I do?”
These questions are completely understandable, and I appreciate that people come to me for help - looking for advice is often better than what the majority of people do, which is sit down and give up.
Surprisingly, my answer to the majority of these questions is the same - try and work it out yourself!
I know that this is not what many people may be looking for, but I believe that most people can find the answer to their own questions through careful reflection. While asking for help is valid, the advice I provide will only help on one occasion, and the person who asked me the question will likely return with more for a different problem that inevitably arises.
In contrast, building the skill of self-reflection works in any circumstance, and allows you to succeed through any problems you face. It’s a step by step process where you find the solution to your own problems:
- Problem: I’m not very good at the VR subtest.
- Question: Why aren’t I good at this subtest? What mistakes do I tend to make?
- Answer: I tend to make mistakes in reading comprehension questions because I read information and struggle to retain it.
- Question: Why do I struggle to retain the information I read?
- Answer: I might be reading too fast.
- Solution: Try some questions, purposely reading slower
- Possible continuation: Why do I read too fast?
Each reflection follows logically from the one before it, and this allows this person to find an actionable solution to their problem. Even in this short example, the person reflecting may find many other areas for improvement, such as changing their mindset on timing.
This skill is important to build in any field, as the advice that anyone can provide will never be able to account for your strengths and weaknesses. Only you can find the solution to your problems.
I’ve been applying this advice to my own problems throughout this year, and I’ve found that it allows me to regain control when faced with difficulty. Instead of challenges seeming mysterious and insurmountable, I’m able to identify concrete areas for improvement, and focus on them one by one.
The next time you have anything that you think you need help with, take a moment, step back and think - Could I solve this myself?