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UCAT 2020: Top Tips For Verbal Reasoning



Verbal Reasoning is one of the most difficult and time pressured subtests of UCAT. In fact, up to 20% of students each year fail to answer every question – that is, they run out of time to even randomly guess some questions!

This blog describes five key strategies to help you boost your speed and performance in the 2020 UCAT Verbal Reasoning subtest.


Increase your reading speed

Speed reading is a key skill that is required to succeed in the Verbal Reasoning subtest of UCAT. Not only will you be faced with lengthy passages of text, but you will also have less than 30 seconds on average to answer each question.

You need to be able to skim through the text, identifying the structure of the passage and the key points being communicated. There are various speed reading strategies which are useful in UCAT, such as chunking. Check out the Speed Reading guide on the MedEntry UCAT Online Platform for key speed reading strategies. 

MedEntry has developed an exclusive UCAT speed reading trainer to assist you to reduce subvocalization, ‘chunk’ and significantly increase your reading speed.


Understand what True, False and Can’t Tell mean

It is imperative that you fully understand the meaning of the terms ‘True’, ‘False’ and ‘Can’t Tell’ as they relate to the Verbal Reasoning subtest of UCAT.

You should select:

  • ‘True’: if the statement can be logically inferred from the information in the passage
  • ‘False’: if the statement does not flow logically from the passage
  • ‘Can’t Tell’: if there is insufficient information in the passage to decide if the statement is true or false

It can sometimes be difficult to decide when to choose each option, particularly ‘Can’t Tell’. Ensure you practice making these judgements accurately by working through the drills and practice exams on the MedEntry Online Platform.


Use key words

Identifying and searching for key words will help you get to the answer more quickly in the Verbal Reasoning subtest of UCAT.

Start by identifying key words in the question stem that stand out or are unique. Good key words include dates (for example, 1998) or capitalised words (for example, United Nations).

Scan the text for these key words to locate relevant parts of the passage. Read just before and after the key word: this will provide you with the necessary information required to answer the question.

MedEntry has developed an exclusive UCAT keyword scanner trainer which will help you to train your brain to quickly identify keywords in a passage of text.


Accept that you won’t have time to check each option

Many students are tempted to check each option in Reading Comprehension questions to ensure that the option they are choosing is the ‘best’ answer. Unfortunately, the Verbal Reasoning subtest of UCAT is highly time pressured, and if you check each option for each question, you will run out of time.

If you come across an option that seems to match the answer, select it and move on. Trust your judgement and your instincts.


Don’t over-think

Smart students are prone to over-thinking passages and answer options. However, if you do this in the Verbal Reasoning subtest of UCAT, you will often get the question wrong.

Take the statements in the passages at face value. Do not over-analyse or second guess what is presented. For the purposes of UCAT, accept that each statement is factually true. Remember that the test designers know that you have limited time to make assessments, so you will not be required to engage in significant analysis or evaluation.

If you have to think too much about the answer, the answer is probably ‘Can’t Tell’.


For more tips and strategies to approach Verbal Reasoning questions, check out the MedEntry Online Platform (included in all MedEntry UCAT Packages) and follow MedEntry on social media.

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