Looking for UCAT Quantitative Reasoning tips? Here are our strategies for brushing up on your numerical skills and boosting your Quantitative Reasoning score so you can tailor your preparation accordingly…
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In Quantitative Reasoning, all questions carry the same marks – so there’s no point spending extra time on one question that that requires more than one step, as you’ll be wasting easy marks elsewhere.
There are other questions which will involve much simpler steps – for example, looking over a graph or chart – so it’s a good idea to get used to recognising questions which require more than one step so you can flag these and return to them at the end.
A common trap students fall into is spending too much time on one question, which means you’ll run out of time to finish all of the questions – and therefore are likely to get a low score.
2. Get to know common Quantitative Reasoning topics
Once you start practising for the UCAT, you’ll get used to the types of topics that recur in each section, and Quantitative Reasoning is no different.
For example, here are some topics which are commonly tested in QR: calculations involving percentage change, currency conversions, interest rates, ratios, speed-distance time graphs, areas and volumes and basic statistics such as mean, median and mode – as well as data interpretation from charts and graphs.
3. Spot your common mistakes
Once you’ve completed several practice tests, you’ll be able to start spotting the types of questions or topics that you usually get wrong – and so you can target your practice as you go along.
For example, if there’s a topic which you find difficult, focus more on this area and practice questions on the topic online.
4. Replicate the test environment
Although you may practice for the exam on a laptop, it is better to practice on a desktop computer if you can since you’ll be able to use the number keys on the on-screen calculator. Bear in mind that using the mouse will take more time, so it’s a good idea to practise this if you can – you could even buy a plug-in mouse!
On the test day, you’ll be given a whiteboard and pen that you can use for working. You can use this to jot down important numbers or to double check a mental calculation quickly.
You do get a calculator in Quantitative Reasoning but that’s just the UCAT examiners pretending to be nice to you! If you are quick with your mental arithmetic you won’t need to use it that much – if at all. To save time, only just the calculator if you really have to.
5. Brush up on your mental maths
There’s no getting around this one. Get to know your times tables, simple mental maths, percentages, conversions.
Quantitative Reasoning is full of these types of calculations so it’s a good idea to start practising them. Usually, a given calculation acts as one of several steps in your quest for the correct answer. So, the more you practice your mental maths, the more time you’ll save – you’re doing yourself a favour!
6. Complete practice tests under time pressure
Many students find the time pressures of the UCAT the most difficult to get used to. Especially in Quantitative Reasoning, the maths involved is GCSE-level so the sums itself aren’t complex, but arriving at the correct answer in a time limit takes practice.
Therefore, it is important that you practice under timed conditions and aim to arrive at the answer within 30 seconds. Most online practice resources will have timers on the test screen, so you can use this.
7. Don’t be fooled by unit changes
The examiners are sneaky. It is not uncommon for them to provide the details in a scenario using one unit, and expect the answer in another unit. To confuse things even more, they may have the correct answer dressed up in different units.
So, for example, cm could have been the unit of choice in a question, but you might be asked for the answer in millimetres If you don’t read the question properly, you can easily select the wrong option.
Example unit conversions:
8. Know your QR formulae inside out
There are some prerequisite formulae you need to know for the UCAT. The most common one is speed = distance / time. You also need to be aware of the geometric formula for basic 2 and 3 dimensional shapes.
Remember that you also need to be comfortable rearranging formulae too.
9. Learn the computer shortcuts
To save time using your mouse, consider using your computer keyboard both to open and operate the calculator, as well as move between questions. You can use the following short cuts:
Alt + n for the next question
Alt + p for the previous question
Alt + f to flag the question
Alt + c to open the calculator
Good luck with your Quantitative Reasoning practise!