UKCAT verbal reasoning overview

UKCAT verbal reasoning 

Many students find the Verbal Reasoning subtest the hardest part of the UKCAT because it is so time-pressured. Therefore, it makes sense that it’s the most ideal subtest for repeated practice, as, with time, your brain can start to recognise patterns in the answers and patterns in what to look out for while reading.
In this blog, I’ll introduce the approach to the Verbal Reasoning section of the test, by making you aware of many of these patterns that often come up.
A majority of the questions, if recent tests are anything to go by, will have four unique options, testing your ability to make inferences and spot factual statements made in the text.

Some of the questions will ask if a statement is True, False, or Can’t Tell.

For the Verbal Reasoning subtest, you have 21 minutes to answer 44 questions. You will be given a passage of text of between 200 and 500 words - they are usually around 300 words long - and then asked questions based on that text.

Over my years of tutoring for standardised tests, I have learnt that it’s wise to spend much less time on the True, False, Can’t Tell questions. These are much more susceptible to pattern-recognition, tricks, and shortcuts than the four-option questions, which can only be answered by understanding the text. This is probably why the True, False or Can’t Tell questions are gradually being phased out. For more practical information, take a look at the UKCAT website. Take advantage while they are still around by learning the tricks to make answering these types of questions very quickly. You should aim to answer these questions within five to ten seconds of seeing the question! From my experience, you will need every second for the harder questions that may pop up from nowhere.

My message for the four-option- or inference- questions is that there is no substitute for actual understanding. Skim reading is advised by some, but I feel it is better to thoroughly answer the majority of such questions and guess two sets out of the four questions than it is to frantically read everything, take nothing in, and get nothing right. These questions include free text answers and value judgments which do make it tough to make inferences, especially within the time-pressured conditions. If you’re able to save enough time on the True, False or Can’t Tell questions, then you should get around 45 seconds to tackle these harder questions.

If you’re interested in learning more about the topics covered in the Verbal Reasoning section of the UKCAT, theMSAG offers an online UKCAT course. The Verbal Reasoning series contains the differences between a soft qualifier and a strict qualifier, number-scanning, understanding subjectivity and future-predictions. Both types of questions - True, False or Can’t Tell questions and four-option questions are included, in order to give you practice with both.

Now that I’ve come to the end of this blog post, I hope that you don’t feel as worried by this section of the UKCAT. I appreciate that it’s the first section of the test but the appropriate preparation leading up to your test will mean that you should feel confident and start strong in the test. After all, there’s only so much you can learn in theory before you just need to learn through practice. If you would like to practice these questions more, our new Online Question Bank is coming soon, where you can sign up for access to over 1000 UKCAT questions. If you would like to speak with a UKCAT expert today you can also email us here.

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