UCAT Verbal Reasoning

Medistudents Team
Feb 5, 2024

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“I used the Abstract Reasoning section as I found the website the night before my test and I was pretty bad at AR. In my official exam my AR was my 2nd best section at 860! Overall, I thought the website was a very useful resource from what I saw and I liked the algorithm that showed skill in particular question types.”

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Why use the Medibuddy adaptive UCAT question bank?

Did you know that if you spend an average of 2 minutes answering and absorbing the explanation of each question in a question bank, it will take you 333 hours to get through 10k questions!?

No wonder the vast majority of people don’t answer anywhere near 10k questions before their exam!

We surveyed 100s of medical students and asked them what their biggest issue was when preparing for the UCAT.

Over 90% said that because the UCAT wasn’t a knowledge-based exam, they could answer thousands of questions but never feel like they were getting anywhere.

The trouble with standard question banks is that everyone is given the same questions to prepare with, with no consideration of what skills or topics each person is actually struggling with.

However, everyone has a different baseline ability. You might struggle with quantitative reasoning, whereas your friend might be a maths wizard. With a standard question bank, you’ll both answer the same QR questions, in the same order, meaning you’ll be left struggling while your friend doesn’t feel stretched.

No wonder so many people can find preparing for the UCAT frustrating!

The Medibuddy adaptive UCAT question bank is here to change all that.

We recognise that the vast majority of students don’t complete all 10,000 questions in a question bank.

It’s therefore vitally important that the questions you do answer are relevant to your skill and ability level.

We’ll ensure that in the areas you’re struggling, you’ll master the basics first. Whereas in your stronger areas, you’ll be immediately pushed.

This will mean that every minute of your revision is turbo charged to maximise your UCAT score.

More than a just question bank that tells you the correct answers

As you progress through the question bank, you’ll be able to see a sophisticated estimate of your current skill level for each subsection of the UCAT. When other question banks give you a performance review, they are simply telling you how many questions you’ve got right or wrong. 

We do things differently.

Our algorithm will tell you exactly what your ability level is for each area of the UCAT. We calculate this based on the actual difficulty of the questions you are answering and it’s done in real time, so you can be sure that the work you’re putting in is actually translating into real gains in your UCAT score.

The Medibuddy UCAT question bank is the only one available which shows you if you’re actually getting better at answering harder questions.

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.

What does UCAT Verbal Reasoning test?

Within the Verbal Reasoning subtest, you’ll be given a passage and asked questions related to it, to assess your ability to understand written information and draw specific conclusions.

Why is there a UCAT Verbal Reasoning subtest?

The UCAT website outlines the following reasons why your verbal reasoning skills are assessed as part of the UCAT:

  1. It’s essential that doctors and dentists can understand complex information and relay this in a patient-friendly way, clearly and concisely.
  2. You need to be able to apply the findings of published materials to your own practice, which includes being able to interpret the findings, critically analyse them and draw conclusions about the validity of them.

UCAT Verbal Reasoning format

The format of the UCAT Verbal Reasoning section is as follows:

  • 11 passages of text
  • 4 multiple choice questions for each passage
  • 44 multiple choice questions in total

How long is the UCAT Verbal Reasoning?

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 4 related questions; you can find advice on how to manage this in the tips section below.

UCAT Verbal Reasoning questions

There are two question types within the UCAT Verbal Reasoning subtest, they are:

  • True, false or can’t tell
    For these questions, you’ll be given a statement and have to decide if it's true, false or you’re unable to tell based on the passage. As with all of the questions, you’re expected to gain this information from the passage, so you should avoid making assumptions or applying previous knowledge to this type of question. If there is a lack of information to support or refute the statement then the answer will be ‘can’t tell’.
  • Most suitable response
    You’ll be given with a question or incomplete statement with four possible answers, from which you need to select the most suitable response. These questions can be presented as the following:
    • Incomplete statements
      For ‘incomplete statements’, you’ll be given the beginning of a statement and asked to choose the most appropriate ending from the four options given, using the information in the passage.
    • According to the passage
      Using the information in the passage, you need to choose the correct statement from the four possible options. Again, remember to avoid assumptions or using prior knowledge, and ensure that the statement is supported by the passage.
    • Except questions
      Again, you’ll need to choose the most appropriate answer based on what you’ve read in the passage; however, with these types of questions, you’ll need to identify which statement, out of a possible four, is not supported by the passage.
    • Most likely
      For these questions, you’ll need to make inferences and draw conclusions from the evidence given in the passage, to select the ‘most likely’ answer from the four options given.

UCAT Verbal Reasoning Scores

For each question in the Verbal Reasoning section you can only select one answer from the multiple choice options. 1 mark is available for each correct answer, meaning you can score a total of 44 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.

What is an average score for UCAT Verbal Reasoning?

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 2018 – 2023:

Year Number of candidates Mean scaled score
2018 27,466 567
2019 29,375 565
2020 34,153 570
2021 37,230 572
2022 36,374 567
2023 35,625 591

For more information about how the UCAT is scored, including the scaled scoring, visit our UCAT Score and UCAT Decile Ranking blogs.

What is a good score for UCAT Verbal Reasoning?

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 2023 a ‘good’ score for the Verbal Reasoning subtest would be 611 – 621.

As the average score will vary each year, depending on how each year’s candidates score, so will the ‘good’ UCAT score.

How to prepare for UCAT Verbal Reasoning

Preparing for UCAT Verbal Reasoning Test

For all UCAT subtests, understanding what the subtest involves, the types of questions you will be asked and learning to deal with the time pressure, 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 in the section below, following our UCAT Verbal Reasoning strategies and tips to help you prepare.

UCAT Verbal Reasoning strategies

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:

  1. Skimming the text
  2. Scanning the text

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 to skim read 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.

5 top UCAT Verbal Reasoning tips

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:

  • Complete practice tests which are timed.
    By dedicating time to practising against the clock you’ll become speedier at both reading the passage and answering the questions. It will also give you a realistic understanding of how much time you have for each passage and linked questions.
  • There’s no negative marking, meaning you won’t lose points for incorrect answers, so it’s better to give an answer than to leave it blank.
    If you’re struggling with time on a particular question, a good technique is to eliminate the obvious wrong answers first, before taking a guess at the likely correct answer from the remaining choices. The test has a function where you can ‘flag’ questions for review, so you can always go back to ones you’re unsure of if you have time, but this helps you to avoid wasting too much time on questions that you can’t find the answer to. Of course you don’t want to be guessing the majority of your answers, but it’s useful to consider how much time you’ve spent on a question and move on where you need to; in which case a guess and a ‘flag’ is better than an empty answer.
  • Avoid double checking.
    While it’s understandable that you want to avoid mistakes, it’s likely that you won’t have time to double check every answer option available. Instead, use the ‘flag’ function where you need to, that way you can return to questions if you have time to review them.

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:

  • Don’t use prior knowledge to answer the questions.
    It’s more likely that the passage will be on a topic you’re unfamiliar with; however, if you come across content you have prior knowledge of, avoid drawing upon this in your answer, unless you can also find the information in the text. Remember, the question is assessing your ability to extract information and draw conclusions from the text, not what you already know.
  • Think critically about what you’re reading.
    This should be applied to the passage and the questions. While time is tight, simple things like identifying if something is fact or opinion, and which the question is referring to, will help you to avoid mistakes which could lose you marks. Similarly, think about the language used in the question, qualifiers (for example: always or usually, all or most) change what is being asked slightly, which can be important for choosing the correct answer.

UCAT Verbal Reasoning practice questions

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.

The free, adaptive, Medibuddy question bank offers personalised learning, with artificial intelligence powered practice questions, 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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We don’t just pick the questions for our mock exams at random, we follow a similar process to the actual exam board by calibrating every question for difficulty, based on the abilities of 100s of medical students. This means your score will be a much more accurate reflection of the real thing.


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When the Medibuddy team were preparing for the UCAT, working out where to start was quite overwhelming. The online resources offered thousands of practice questions and lots of generic advice. However, the only way of getting help that was specifically targeted at you was by paying for expensive tutoring.

This didn’t seem right to us. The personalised learning you get with a tutor has been shown to improve exam results across all fields of education. So why when it came to the UCAT, an exam that is vital for medical school, should it only be available to those who could afford a tutor?

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Here at Medibuddy we’ve used the latest educational technology and combined it with our deep understanding of the UCAT, to produce the first ever AI-powered, adaptive UCAT question bank.

Our sophisticated question bank platform will adapt seamlessly with every question you answer. As you improve, the type and difficulty of the questions you receive will change with you, ensuring that at all times, you only receive the most relevant questions.

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The Medibuddy team has been creating educational resources for medical students and doctors for years. We’ve helped thousands of students pass their exams and we’ve put all of that experience into our UCAT question bank.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How does the algorithm work out what my ability level is?

As you progress through the question bank, our algorithm will be performing complicated statistical analyses of the way you answer questions. All of our questions have been tested on hundreds of 1st year medical students so the algorithm knows exactly how difficult each question is.

The algorithm looks at how you answer questions across a range of different difficulties to work out what your current ability level is.

How does the algorithm know what questions to give me?

Every question in our database has been tagged based on the skills required to answer it and its difficulty level. Once the algorithm has worked out what your ability level is and the areas you need to target, it ensures that the questions you receive focus on these areas. As you get better, the algorithm adapts with you, moving you onto new areas based on your needs.

How similar to the UCAT are the Medibuddy questions and explanations?

Every single question in our question bank is written specifically for UCAT preparation and is reviewed by our editorial team to ensure it is as close a match as possible to the UCAT standard. We don’t borrow questions that have been written to prepare for other exams. In addition to this, all of our questions are calibrated by 100s of first year medical students who have recently taken the UCAT, which allows us to remove any outliers and ensure consistency.