UCAT Decision Making Overview
UCAT · March 04, 2019 Mr Philip Linell
Philip himself scores consistently in the 3200-3400 range for the UCAT. He has a First-Class Degree in English Literature from Lancaster University and a Masters in PPE from York University, and has used those credentials to help over 1000 students in almost 20 different subjects
The Decision Making subtest of the UCAT can seem intimidating for some or even just plain strange to others. It is a recently introduced section of the exam for medical school that mixes together text, charts, tables, graphs and diagrams to assess your ability to apply logic and draw conclusions by asking you to make decisions or conclusions based on the information given. It is simultaneously consisting of part good numerical and mathematics skills, part ability to apply logic, part decision analysis and even part riddle. But there are concrete strategies for tackling and giving a correct answer to each of the UCAT question types, and that’s what I will be discussing further here in this blog.
The Decision Making section of the UCAT test has 29 questions that have to be answered in 31 minutes, with various answer options, depending on the question type. This works out nicely at just over a minute per question.
How long you spend on each question will vary widely by question type. For a simple Venn diagram analysis or basic probability questions, you should be spending no more than twenty to thirty seconds per question. But for tough conclusion-picking or logic puzzle questions, you will be spending more like sixty to eighty seconds per question.
Realistically, you may have to guess a couple of the questions. If you find yourself in that position, don’t panic and don’t guess randomly. Guess a difficult logic puzzle or convoluted conclusion-drawing question. These are far more likely to take up your time rather than a simple probability or Venn diagram question.
So, what are the question types that will come up in the Decision Making section?
1. Shape equations
These are akin to equations to be solved, with substitution being the ideal method. These types of questions should take you between 40-60 seconds.
2. Conclusion-drawing questions
These are challenging questions requiring keyword tracking and deductive reasoning. These types of questions should take you between 60-80 seconds.
3. Logic puzzles
These are akin to riddles and involve using tunnel-vision to focus on the most mentioned name or category.These types of questions should also take you between 60-80 seconds per question.
4. Analyse the Venn Diagram
These are the easiest questions if you have a good working knowledge of Venn diagrams. Therefore, they should only take you between 20-40 seconds.
5. Pick the Venn Diagram
These are slightly harder types of questions than the ones asking you to simply analyse the Venn diagram. The best method for tackling this type of questions is elimination. So, I would recommend that you spend between 40-60 seconds on this style of questions.
6. Basic probability / analyse statistical information
These are the second-easiest questions, though they require confidence with converting fractions and percentages and are best tackled with the affirmative simplifying approach. These types of questions should take you between 20-40 seconds.
7. Evaluate the arguments and find the best one
This type of question asks you to respond to five statements with a Yes or a No. Some students find these questions hard because the answers can seem so subjective. But don’t worry - there is a strategy in solving them correctly. Remember to focus on objectivity and completeness. I would recommend you spend between 40-60 seconds on these questions.
If you’re interested in learning more about the question types covered in the Decision Making section of the UCAT, familiarise yourself with the exam and get some practice, theMSAG offers a 2-day UCAT course that is sure to get you prepared for your UCAT exam!
Now that I’ve come to the end of this blog post, I hope that you can see that the Decision Making questions can actually be one of the most approachable. I appreciate that these questions may appear tricky but with learning the theory and techniques, you should start to develop some confidence. However, remember that there is only so much you can learn in theory before you just need to learn through practice.
Good luck with your UCAT preparation and if you have any further questions, don’t hesitate to contact us at hello@theMSAG.com.