Verbal Reasoning is the first subset within the UCAT; it aims to assess your ability to understand information and draw conclusions from it. Although it appears relatively straightforward, it has consistently had the lowest average score of all subtests in the UCAT. This guide will provide you with more information about the Verbal Reasoning subtest, including how to prepare, tips to do well and where to access quality Verbal Reasoning questions.
Within the Verbal Reasoning subtest, you’ll be given information presented in a passage and asked questions related to it, with the aim of assessing your ability to understand written information and draw specific conclusions.
The UCAT website outlines the following reasons why your verbal reasoning skills are assessed as part of the UCAT:
The format of the UCAT Verbal Reasoning section is as follows:
You’ll have only 21 minutes (plus a 1 minute instruction section) to read the 11 passages and answer the 44 associated questions.
Time is a crucial factor in the Verbal Reasoning subtest, with an average of less than 2 minutes for each passage and four related questions; you can find advice on how to manage this in the tips section below.
There are five types of questions within the UCAT Verbal Reasoning subtest, they are:
For each of the questions in the Verbal Reasoning section you can only select one answer from the multiple choice options. There is one mark available for each correct answer, meaning you can score a total of forty-four marks. The raw mark you achieve will be converted into a ‘scale score’ between 300 – 900. The other cognitive subtests – Abstract Reasoning, Decision Making and Quantitative Reasoning – are all scored in the same way, whereas the Situational Judgement Test is scored using a band system.
As mentioned earlier, out of all the subtests in the UCAT, Verbal Reasoning has consistently had the lowest average score.
The UCAT website provides the following mean scores for the Verbal Reasoning subtest from 2016 – 2020:
*Note, scores from 2020 are for tests taking up to 25 October 2020.
For more information about how the UCAT is scored, including the scaled scoring, visit the UCAT Practice Test blog.
Generally, it’s advised that a ‘good’ UCAT score is approximately 20 – 30 marks above the average score for each of the subtests. For example, for 2020 a ‘good’ score for the Verbal Reasoning subtest would be 590 – 600.
As the average score will vary each year, depending on how each year’s candidates score, so will the ‘good’ UCAT score.
For all UCAT subtests, understanding what the subtest involves and becoming familiar with the types of questions you will be asked and the time pressure in the exam, will help you to do well in the UCAT. Focusing on UCAT practice questions and practice tests during your preparations will enable you to do this.
You’ll find more information about practice questions and where to access our free UCAT practice tests in the example questions section below. The following strategies and tips will provide tools to help you in the UCAT Verbal Reasoning subtest.
There are two techniques which will help you to quickly extract the information you require from the passages, allowing you to answer the questions in the Verbal Reasoning section as swiftly as possible. These are:
Skimming involves rapidly reading the passage to gain an overview of the content, whereas with scanning you quickly look over the text to draw out specific information. Both are useful reading techniques, as skimming will help you to quickly gain a general understanding of the overall passage, while scanning will allow you to pick out keywords, which you can then read around to answer specific questions.
Some UCAT advice suggests only using the scanning technique – reading each question before scanning the passage to find the answer – but if you prefer skim reading the text first to gain an understanding of the content, before approaching the questions, that works too. There’s no right or wrong way to answer, it’s best to explore the different approaches during your UCAT revision to find what works best for you; it may be that you find a combination of both techniques most effective.
You may find that the scanning technique will be easier to try using practice questions, where you can identify key words in the questions, before using your scanning to find them in the passage. However, you can practice skim reading at speed with any text, allowing you to practice whenever you have a free minute, which will ultimately help you to pick up the pace.
Time is the biggest factor in the UCAT Verbal Reasoning subtest; while the task itself is relatively straightforward, the challenge is in being able to read each of the passages and complete the questions in the short time allotted. The following tips will help you to deal with the time pressure of the Verbal Reasoning section:
While timing is a crucial part of the UCAT Verbal Reasoning subtest, and something which you need to practice for within your revision, the following tips will help you more broadly in this section of the UCAT:
Practice questions and practice tests are the most beneficial tool for preparing for your UCAT exam. They’ll help you to become familiar with the questions you’ll be asked and increase your pace when answering, which is vital for the all important time pressure of the UCAT Verbal Reasoning subtest.
As well as providing general information about the UCAT, our UCAT Practice Test blog has free practice questions, for all areas of the UCAT including the Verbal Reasoning section. And our adaptive question bank offers personalised learning, with artificial intelligence powered practice questions and practice tests, which adapt to your strengths and weaknesses. This adaptive learning experience means that you’ll spend time working on the areas that you need to improve, which is likely to have the biggest impact on your UCAT score, and therefore support your UCAT preparations.
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