60-Second UCAT Tips: Verbal Reasoning and Decision Making
When you’re preparing for UCAT, it’s common to feel bombarded with information and tips – so we’ve condensed our top tips for each section into an easy two-part blog series! The first edition will cover Verbal Reasoning and Decision Making.
Many students often find Verbal Reasoning the most difficult as it’s the most time pressured – with just 21 minutes to answer 44 questions, this comes to around 30 seconds per question. However, don’t panic – here are our tips to score highly on this section!
1. Read the question first
This is a key part of Verbal Reasoning strategy. As the section is so time-pressured, it will save you a lot of time to read the question first, mentally select any key words or phrases, and then scan the text for those key words. By doing this you will save unfocused reading time and will be able to move on to the next question much faster.
2. Look for the key words
The question will often contain the key words or phrases you need to scan the passage for. So, once you locate those in the passage, make sure you contextualise the info by reading the sentence before and after to make sure you’ve got the right information.
Something to be aware of is that key words can turn up in a passage more than once, so make sure you’ve found the correct part of the text.
3. Pay attention to negative questions
Similarly to the way you should keep an eye out for key words in questions, it’s also important to be wary of negatively-worded questions. These might contain words like ‘not’, ‘cannot’, or ‘least’ – small words that, if skipped over, can change the whole meaning of the question. They’re often designed to trip you up, so make sure you read the question carefully.
4. Know the difference between types of questions
Generally speaking, students find the ‘True/False/Can’t Tell’ questions much easier than the longer style questions. For example, one of these questions may ask you ‘which of these statements is most likely to be true?’ and the answer may not be explicitly mentioned in the text, but could be true based on the information provided.
Students often find these questions much harder and inevitably spend longer on them. So, when practising, you may find it easier to focus on the longer questions, as this will help you boost your speed and your score.
5. Use the flag function
This is one of the most important UCAT tips as it can save you a lot of time.
If you find yourself spending too long on one question, use the flag function to mark the question and you can then return to it if you have enough time at the end. Alternatively, another option is to make an educated guess and then move on to the next question.
Decision Making tests your ability to think logically, evaluate arguments as well as your analytical skills. Here are our top tips for this section…
1. Pay attention to the question
Similarly to Verbal Reasoning, it’s important that you read the question carefully. Compared to Verbal Reasoning, however, this is a little less time-pressured – so you have around one minute per question.
2. Brush up on your maths skills
This will also be good for your Quantitative Reasoning prep too, so it’s doubly useful! Spend some time familiarising yourself with venn diagrams and probability calculations, as these are likely to feature in this section.
3. Practise Decision Making online
This is also one of the key UCAT tips. Some questions will require you to ‘drag and drop’ the correct answer so it’s a good idea to practise this beforehand so you don’t waste time on the day getting used to the platform.
4. Only use the information provided
As with Verbal Reasoning, only use the information given to you in a passage. Many students make the mistake of bringing in outside knowledge, but it’s important you don’t do this.
For example, the strongest arguments in DM often directly relate to the subject, but the weaker arguments tend to be vague and less factual.