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UCAT Blog Series: Subsection Mastery



Welcome to the final blog on this UCAT Blog Series! Thank you for staying with us! In this final edition, I will offer my suggestions for how to begin preparation for each subtest.


My name is Andeep – a second-year medical student and BWAMS conference officer.


Advice for each UCAT subtests

As a recap, the subtests of the UCAT are verbal reasoning, decision making, quantitative reasoning, abstract reasoning, and situational judgement. The subtests are sat in that order. Timing is difficult for the UCAT, so it’s important to have approaches to make the most of the limited time you have.


Verbal Reasoning

Verbal reasoning leaves you with less than 2 minutes per passage, which isn’t ideal – and will make it difficult to complete every question! Aim to do most of the passages to the best of your ability, and then take educated guesses for the remaining few questions in the last few seconds. In your preparation, figure out how many passages this will be. Try reading the questions before skimming the passage for keywords so you read the passage with purpose and can find the relevant area. For questions that review the whole passage, work on increasing your skim reading speed!


Decision Making

You will get a whiteboard for the exam, so don’t be afraid to use it! It is useful for decision making and abstract reasoning. Draw Venn diagrams and two-way tables to engage with the information in the question, so you don’t need to keep re-reading it. Figure out which of the six question types you find easiest and do them first! If calculations are required, try approximations rather than using the calculator.


Quantitative Reasoning

The difficulty level is GCSE, and the key skills are below. Review these and go back to textbooks/exam papers if required. Like above, don’t heavily rely on the calculator. As a rule of thumb, guess, flag and skip questions that require complex sums or more than three calculations!


Abstract Reasoning

This section will bring you out of your comfort zone, but with practice, it became my favourite! Try and get as much exposure to questions as possible! Try SCANS (Shape, Colour, Arrangement, Number, Symmetry) or other tools to jog your memory for common things look for in the exam. When you look at a shape, you need to be able to identify a pattern fast, which will come with practice. Be strict with yourself in terms of timing. Consider approaches such as looking at the simplest squares in a set to create rules or comparing Set A to Set B as the patterns will be similar but alternate.


Situational Judgement

Read through the Good Medical Practice document found on the GMC Website. This will provide a good understanding of how a professional should act. Then, work on getting question exposure which will help you gauge the right and wrong things to do in a situation and reflect on incorrect answers! Answers to specific scenarios tend to repeat themselves. Remember to answer questions from the perspective of the subject (e.g., medical student or doctor) and act within their competency. Start with getting the right answer ‘generally’ (e.g if ‘very important’ is correct, pick important/very important) to secure your Band 2. Once you have done this, work on selecting the right one of the two for your Band 1. Remember the core values of honesty, confidentiality, and professionalism!


General Tips

  • The above suggestions aren’t exhaustive! A google search will yield suggestions and YouTube videos for how you can approach each subtest! This is just a nudge to get you thinking.

  • Don’t leave any questions blank! There is no negative marking, so if you are running short on time, just pick a random option!

  • You don’t need full marks! If a question is time-consuming, don’t be afraid to guess, flag it, and skip to the next question. You can always come back at the end but can’t reclaim the time you spend on it.

  • Follow UCAT on Instagram for more questions!

  • Believe in yourself!

A Brief Word from our Committee:

The UCAT, just like any other exam, can be a huge source of stress and concern for those sitting it. In coping with this stress, it's tempting to become fixated on the exam and develop unhealthy coping mechanisms and tactics that we perceive will grant us better outcomes. However, it's important to look after yourself as you approach the exam. Exams are a necessary part of the medical lifestyle and keeping perspective or healthy habits can be a tough task for some. Keep up with your hobbies, talk to friends and spend time with loved ones. Not only does this afford a better environment for you to thrive in academically but helps you maintain a sense of self amidst all the pressure.


And that rounds up our whistle-stop-tour UCAT series! Hopefully, it has provided you with a solid foundation to thrive upon! Any queries, please contact BWAMS!





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