Part 6: UCAT Strategies

In Part 6 of the UCAT Guide, we discuss the strategies for acing each section of UCAT.

UCAT Strategies

As with any subject, UCAT assesses skills that can be learned, developed, and improved.

For each of the 5 sections in UCAT, there is a process you can follow to increase your chance of acing the UCAT exam.

What are UCAT strategies?

UCAT strategies are processes that provide a logical and sequential way of analysing the question to reach a valid conclusion. For each section, there is a specific process that can be applied to solve the question quickly and accurately. Hence each section of UCAT requires a different skillset.

Why are UCAT strategies important?

The greatest challenge that you’ll face in UCAT is time.

The exam goes for 2 hours and can be extremely intense given the concentration required under time pressure. For example, in Abstract Reasoning section, you are required to solve 55 questions in 13 minutes – this equates to one question in 14 seconds!

You have to solve 1 question every 14 seconds in Abstract Reasoning Subtest.

Although UCAT is an aptitude test, you can significantly improve your skills through practice. By having the knowledge of the processes that are required to apply to each section, you can formulate a strategy to solve questions quickly and accurately.


Verbal Reasoning Strategies

The Verbal Reasoning section assesses your ability to read a passage of information and determine whether a specific conclusion can be drawn. Here’s what to look out for:

  • Key words: look for definitive key words. It is likely the writer has included them as a clue to a link between the passage and the statement.
  • Personal bias: just because the passage relates to something you are familiar with, unless it is explicitly stated in the passage, do not go by your own knowledge or bias of the situation. Just rely on the information presented to you.
  • Trick questions: Some questions may appeal to things that you know that aren’t specifically written within the question, these are trick questions to fool you.
  • Causal relationships: Just because two statements are juxtaposed placed side-by-side doesn’t mean they are linked. Always look for bridging statements that explicitly state the connections.


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Decision Making Strategies

The Decision Making section is used to assess your ability to apply logic to arrive at a conclusion or decision, analyse data-based information, and evaluate arguments. You’ll remember that there are five different sub-categories for decision making test.

Let’s take a look at some strategies for approaching these questions.

Strategies to solve ‘Logical Puzzles’ type questions:

  • Order of information: Before answering the question, place facts in order by starting off with known facts. Build on these as you read through more of the information.
  • Write it out: Often writing or drawing information in a grid, graph, table or diagram will help organise or visualise the information.
  • Only do what you need: When completing a question such as a puzzle, only complete the working out that you’ll need to answer the question. You don’t want to be wasting time on working out more than is asked.
  • Eliminate, eliminate, eliminate!: While solving problems, eliminate answers that cannot be true.
  • MUST VS. MIGHT: Be aware of wording in the questions, for example, look out for tricks with words such as ‘must’ and ‘might’.


Strategies to solve ‘Syllogism’ type questions:

  • Read with care: Read over the provided information carefully and read over it more than once.
  • Work backwards: Go through each of the conclusions and determine whether they follow from the provided information.
  • Do not assume: Even though you might be an expert and have additional knowledge or external bias on a certain subject matter that they include in the stimulus, never ever use that information to solve UCAT questions. In addition, these questions may sometimes use words that are made up but it shouldn’t prevent you from answering the question. Don’t be put off!
  • Look out for words: Only consider the provided information and watch for qualifying words, for example, ‘all’, ‘only’, ‘some; and ‘none’.
  • Diagrams may help: Using Venn diagrams may help to answer the questions successfully.


Strategies to solve ‘Interpreting information/Inference’ type questions:

  • Focus on the facts you find: You may be presented with graphs and charts that appear to contain a lot of information but don’t let it overwhelm you. Only focus on the information you’re able to interpret from the statements, especially if you can’t understand everything presented. You should ensure you’re not using prior knowledge of information and you may need to apply reasoning skills to work out answers.
  • Round off numbers: On some occasions, simply rounding off numbers in some questions will help you answer questions quickly.


Strategies to solve ‘Recognising information/Strongest argument’ type questions:

  • Select the strongest argument: Step aside from your own beliefs or any prior knowledge as it is not required to answer the questions.
  • Eliminate assumptions: Cross off any assumptions and focus only on statements or facts. Since this is an elimination-based strategy question, you can stop as soon as you find an answer choice that matches the original term accurately. Only check the remainder if you are not completely confident with your choice.


Strategies to solve ‘Venn diagrams’ type questions:

  • Refresh your maths skills: You’ll need to brush up on your Venn diagram skills that you would have learned in Maths. Most usually have numbers that you need to add up for figures that overlap to answer the question
  • Read carefully: Ensure that you read through the information carefully and multiple times to help you with the questions. It’ll help when you may need to draw up a Venn diagram. There are questions that may not contain numbers. There may be times where there is overlap, partially or not at all. So, get used to drawing these diagrams.
  • Elimination can save you time: It’s helpful to eliminate the responses that do not or cannot be representing the provided information.
  • Don’t go overboard: Only solve what you need – try to only do working required for the answer you need. Sometimes, an answer can be reached using just some and not all of the information in the stimulus. Try and think in terms of shapes instead of words.


Strategies to solve ‘Probability’ type questions

  • Be careful of a twist: this could involve an incorrect deduction about the possibility of an outcome. the question may describe a few independent events, with one or more events that have already occurred, hence cannot be a part of the probability calculation since it has already occurred and the result is known.
  • Know when to covert: There may be success/failure rates. So, be clear that you are comparing the same kind – this may involve correcting the same comparison rates.


Final Tips for the decision making subtest

Here are some general strategies when attempting the decision making section:

  • Timing: Time given to complete this section is limited so it’s important to keep track of your time spent on each question – flag questions that you’re unsure about and then return to them at the end. You don’t want to waste a lot of time on one question only to be unable to complete latter questions that you may answer correctly.
  • Write out or draw information: Use your booklet and pen to help you work out any questions. Sometimes it may help to visualise information in a graph, table or diagram. Or, you may need to make some calculations.
  • Practice question type online: Some questions in this section will require you to drag and drop responses. Practice these question response types with online practice tests.
  • Polish up on your maths skills: Some questions will require you to apply maths skills when interpreting probability questions or Venn diagrams.


Studying to solve Quantitative Reasoning type questions:

The UCAT Quantitative Reasoning section assesses your numerical abilities to solve problems quickly. This section will demand some maths skills but will have more to do with problem-solving. Here are some tips to help you with this section:

  • Understand the problem: Carefully read the question to understand the information, especially if there is a chart, table or graph involved.
  • Mental maths: It will be greatly advantageous if you have the ability to do sums in your head. You’ll have access to an on-screen calculator but doing quick sums in your head will save you time.
  • BODMAS: Pay attention to the order of operations – brackets, order, division, multiplication, addition, and subtraction.


Abstract Reasoning Strategies

The UCAT Abstract Reasoning section tests your ability to identify patterns. You’ll be presented with a series of abstract shapes where you’ll need to identify patterns amongst other irrelevant material that may hinder your ability to answer correctly. Here are some strategies to tackle this section:

  • Try to spot at least one pattern: Questions will often include more than one pattern. You’ll often get some points if you can only spot one of them. Always think about finding the possibility of another pattern as it is usually not that simple otherwise “neither” would never be a viable option
  • Know your intersections: The edges of the boxes are not intersections. If the line does not cross over, it is not an intersection.
  • Use elimination strategies: It’s worth rote learning rules about what patterns random shapes can have. If you get a hexagon, rule out curves. If you get an oval rule out angles.


Situational Judgement Strategies

The UCAT Situational Judgement Test is used to measure an applicant’s ability to understand situations in the real world, identifying key factors, and recognising the appropriate response to deal with them. Here are a few ways to approach this section:

  • Read carefully: Read each of the scenarios and responses thoroughly before answering. Ensure you’re answering from the perspective of the correct character.
  • Don’t be influenced: Make judgements for your responses independent from the other options presented in the scenario. It’s permitted to repeat a rating number within a question. For example, within a question, all response options could be given the same rating of ‘very appropriate’
  • Practice question type online: Some questions in this section will require you to drag and drop responses. Practice these question response types with online practice tests.
  • If in doubt: If you have a situation where you struggle with the appropriate response, look for an answer that may seek advice or assistance from colleagues or seniors.



Don’t leave your UCAT until the last minute!


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