Struggling with UCAT preparation? In this post, we explain what decision making is and how to solve UCAT decision making questions.
The Decision Making section is second of the five UCAT subtests. It is used to assess your ability to apply logic to arrive at a conclusion or decision, analyse data-based information, and evaluate arguments.
Doctors, dentists, and/or medical professionals are often required to make quick decisions in complex situations. These important decisions demand excellent problem-solving skills and the ability to asses situations, manage risks and work without certainty.
Medical practitioners are often required to apply their logical and reasoning skills to analyse statistical data or information presented in visual formats.
These type of data-based questions don’t require advanced statistical knowledge. However, they are created based on everyday, practical reasoning.
The Decision Making subtest consists of 29 questions and is one of five subtests within the UCAT. Questions may ask you to refer to text, tables, charts, diagrams or graphs and must be completed in 31 minutes.
All questions are independent and do not rely on other questions.
Questions will include a presentation of information and will require you to decipher information and come to the most probable conclusion or answer.
The flowchart below illustrates the different categories in the Decision Making subtest.
In Decision Making, questions can be categorised into six different types:
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These types of questions require you to use provided information to take steps of deductive inference to reach a conclusion. Provided information will be in the form of text, tables or graphics.
Here’s an example of a ‘Logical puzzles’ question:
Jane, Carl, Smith, Kate and Dean all have either a Corolla or a BMW. The cars are either silver, blue, red or white in colour.
Three of them are BMWs.
Corollas are either blue or red.
Jane and Kate do not have BMWs.
Dean has a white BMW.
BMWs are either white or silver.
Which of the following statements must be true?
(A) Carl has a silver BMW
(B) Kate’s car is white or silver
(C) Jane has a blue Corolla
(D) Smith’s car is silver or white
The correct answer is D.
A syllogism is a type of logical argument that requires you to use deductive reasoning to use two or more propositions that are assumed, or asserted, to be true as a means to come to a conclusion.
In these question types, you’ll need to assess whether the series of conclusions arise from the provided information.
Some questions may have multiple correct response options and you’ll need to drag and drop your response.
Here’s an example of a ‘Syllogisms’ question:
Sydney General Practice has found that its cold medicine prescription rates are 15% higher than the average prescription rate for the rest of the practices in the state. A review is undertaken and it is found that Dr Smith, who works at the Sydney practice, has been prescribing cold medicine at a higher frequency than the rest of the GPs in the practice.
Which of the following conclusions can be drawn from the information provided in the passage?
(A) Dr Smith’s prescribing habits are a contributory cause for the higher cold medicine prescription rates for Sydney General Practice.
(B) Dr Smith’s prescribing habits are the main cause for the higher cold medicine prescription rates for the Sydney General Practice.
(C) Sydney General Practice has the highest amount of cold medicine prescriptions compared to the other general practices in NSW.
(D) Sydney General Practice should aim to reduce the number of cold medicine prescriptions prescribed.
The correct answer is A.
In these question types, information is presented in different formats including text passages, charts, or graphs. Information must be interpreted to determine valid conclusions. Some questions may have multiple correct response options and you’ll need to drag and drop your response.
Here’s an example of an ‘Interpreting information’ question:
Passes for seats at a K-pop concert are on sale. There is a choice of seats which are either VIP by the stage or general seating.
General seating seats are closed when it rains. The weather agency has predicted that it will not rain on 15 out of 18 concert days.
The likelihood that the seats are closed for maintenance is four sixteenths for the VIP seats and one quarter for the general seating.
Considering only the likelihood of rain and the chance of the seats being closed for maintenance, is it better to buy passes for the general seating?
(A) Yes, the chance of the seats being unavailable due to maintenance is lower compared to the VIP seats.
(B) Yes, there is a 1 in 6 chance that it will rain and therefore the probability that it will rain is low.
(C) No, the likelihood of the general seating being unavailable due to maintenance is 50% higher.
(D) No, as the VIP seats will never be closed due to rain.
The correct answer is D.
These types of questions require candidates to evaluate for and against arguments to find a solution to a particular problem. You’ll need to assess the strength of arguments and validity of assumptions.
There is only one correct response in these type of questions and candidates must dismiss their own beliefs in order to arrive at the strongest conclusion.
Here’s an example of a ‘Recognising assumptions’ question:
A pharmaceutical company tested a weight loss drug on a group of 180 volunteers. The test subjects reported to the lab between 9 am and 5 pm each day in order to receive their dose of the drug. After a six week trial, the test subjects were found to have lost 4 kg on average. The company declared the weight loss drug a success.
What assumption was made by the company?
(A) That the drug worked best if taken before dinner.
(B) That the test subjects were happy with losing 4 kg on average.
(C) That the test subjects had not changed their lifestyle during the test.
(D) That the test subjects were trying to lose weight.
The correct answer is C.
In these types of questions, you’ll be presented with a Venn diagram which you’ll use to select the best conclusion using a series of statements. Some questions will consist of a text passage with information that you can organise into a Venn diagram or by providing conclusions. Alternatively, you may be provided with a series of statements and a series of Venn diagrams as the different responses – you’ll need to select the Venn diagram that best conveys the provided information.
Here’s an example of a ‘Venn diagram’ question:
48 students are asked what they most commonly eat for breakfast.
21 students eat cereal. 18 students eat fruit, of which 6 also eat toast. 23 students eat toast, of which 8 also eat cereal. No student eats all 3 types of breakfast.
Which of the following diagrams represents this?
The correct answer is B.
These type of questions will consist of a short passage of text with statistical information. You’ll need to select the best answer to the question.
Here’s an example of a ‘Probabilistic reasoning’ question:
A coin has a 50% chance of landing on heads and a 50% chance of landing on tails. The coin is flipped five times to give H, T, H, T, H.
The sixth coin toss will definitely give tails.
(A) Yes, as the pattern alternates between heads and tails.
(B) Yes, since the coin is balanced it must produce an equal number of heads and tails.
(C) No, because there is a chance it will give heads.
(D) No, because the chance of giving tails is not greater than 50%.
The correct option is C.
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