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Improving your UCAT skills in VR, DM and QR


Rather than assessing your knowledge, the UCAT is an exam which isolates certain deductive skills that will be important in work as a doctor and requires you to apply them in various scenarios. Therefore, if you wish to succeed in the UCAT, you will need to nurture these skills, sharpen them and know exactly when to use them. If your eager mind has begun this uphill climb towards UCAT success and if you have thoroughly scoured the LMS and still seek ways to better your logical reasoning, this guide will show you how.

Logical Reasoning & Problem Solving questions in the UCAT (in VR, DM and QR) are a time constrained battle against stimuli with convoluted and often overly intricate language that add no specific benefit to the motifs of the text. Just like the sentence you just read. The point here is to simultaneously test your reading, comprehension and retention skills, with texts which are often complex and confusing. At the same time, you must remain purely logical and remain within the scope of the stimulus. It is well observed that prowess in speed reading and short term memory varies between candidates and in the end, this largely contributes to your success in this type of question. As often seen in Logical Reasoning & Problem Solving questions, you will sometimes be presented with one long stimulus followed by 1-3 questions relating to it. Therefore when monitoring your time in practice tests, you should account for the total time it would have taken to answer all those 1-3 questions as if they each had individual stimuli. Often students find they have to re-read large chunks of stimuli, because it presents you with a myriad of different facts (some irrelevant). Forgetting key points along the way wastes a lot of valuable time during the exam.

You can improve your skills with a few timed exercises. With the help of a study partner or family member, find newspaper articles or scientific journals with text that is roughly 300 words. The more complex, the better. Allot yourself 1 minute to read it and then test your short term memory and retention skills by stating the main points of the text in as much detail as possible but using simple language a novice could understand. What you want to achieve in the end is a simple understanding of a complex scenario. Work with your partner to explain the rules and scope of the stimuli. When you can teach/explain it well to another person, you will have understood it yourself. In the UCAT, once your set of questions is over, you will be presented with a completely new scenario with new rules, so when doing this exercise you should have a fast turnover. In the short time you have, you want to understand the complex text well enough to make a decision at the end; you should then move on to the next scenario. Imagine yourself “speed-dating” each scenario. Practice the methods mentioned above with many different articles in succession. Learn to absorb and forget – this is what you will be required to do in UCAT.

An important fact that candidates often lose sight of when confronted with intimidating stimuli, is that every UCAT question is worth the same amount of marks. And so, you will stand to benefit by knowing how much time you should allocate to each question. A good landmark is to allow yourself half the time for half the questions for each subtest. Too many students spend too much time on one particular question, and then struggle to finish the exam.

Now that you’ve read this blog, put it away and try your best to state every important detail in it!

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