Published on March 14, 2023

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UCAT Verbal Reasoning Tips, Questions & Strategies

What is UCAT Verbal Reasoning?

The UCAT Verbal Reasoning section is the first of the subtests in the UCAT. In this section, you must critically analyse written passages and answer multiple-choice questions solely using information provided in the text. The passages may include topics such as science, history, politics or literature. This means that none of the questions need any prior knowledge. Often, using your own prior knowledge on a topic covered in the exam can lead you to the wrong answer by distracting you from the focus of the question. Verbal Reasoning is designed to test your logical thinking and reading comprehension skills. It’s considered the most difficult section of the UCAT due to the length of the texts along with the tight time limit.

UCAT Verbal Reasoning Questions

In this section of the UCAT, you will come across two main types of questions:

True / False / Can’t Tell

You will be given a statement and asked to determine if the statement is true, false, or something that can’t be inferred from the passage (can’t tell). It’s crucial to base your answer solely off the information given in the passage. When it comes to “Can’t Tell”, you always need to think – If you were given more information, would that change the answer? Is it possible that it could be true or false, but there isn’t enough evidence to suggest either? If so, you “can’t tell” the answer based on the passage alone.

Statement-Based

You will be given a question such as “Which of the following can be deduced from the passage?” followed by four statements. Most of these are inference questions, meaning you’re required to “read between the lines”. You’ll need to have a general understanding of the passage to answer these. These questions are more difficult and require a high level of reading speed and comprehension.

Most Verbal Reasoning passages will involve statement-based questions. No passage will have a mixture of question types – they will either be True, False, Can’t Tell or Statement-Based.

UCAT Verbal Reasoning Time

You will need to interpret 11 unique 200-400 word long passages, each accompanied by 4 questions. This gives you a total of 44 questions to complete in 21 minutes, giving you about 28 seconds per question.

UCAT Verbal Reasoning Average Score

The average Verbal Reasoning score in the 2022 UCAT testing cycle was 567. This is low in comparison to the other three sections which averaged between 616 and 659.

Since 2018, the average Verbal Reasoning score has remained between 565-572. As such, this is often the section that students struggle the most with.

What is a Good UCAT Verbal Reasoning Score?

A ‘good’ Verbal Reasoning score would be above the average score. So in 2022, this would have been a score of above 567. In 2021, when the average score was 572, a ‘good’ score would have been one above this. For the purposes of university applications, usually you need a good overall UCAT score (combination of each section), and you should be aiming for around 700 as an average of each section. This kind of score will ensure that the UCAT is one of your strengths in your application.

It’s rare that universities focus on your scores in individual subsections, however, this can occur. For example, Chester Medical School (international entry only) requires applicants to have a Verbal Reasoning score equivalent to at least the average Verbal Reasoning score for that year.

UCAT Verbal Reasoning Strategies

Verbal Reasoning can definitely be daunting, so we’ve collated the best strategies by top 1% scoring candidates worldwide to really help you tackle this section. These include:

  1. Strategies specific to tackling True or False Questions
  2. Strategies specific to tackling Statement-Based Questions
  3. Reading Speed and Comprehension (eliminating subvocalisation, reducing fixations, eliminating backtracking)
  4. Scanning Keywords
  5. Use of Language (subjective vs. objective statements, necessity vs. possibility, future qualifiers, negative language)
  6. Use of Outside Knowledge
  7. Drawing Conclusions (identifying premises, the best conclusions, assumptions, inferences and their types, correlation vs. causation, faulty logic)
  8. And more!

See our example question below to give you an idea of the general strategy for statement-based questions. We dive deeper into Verbal Reasoning strategies in our UCAT resources by top 1% scorers, such as our 2-day live UCAT course, our 175-lesson online UCAT course (bitesized video lessons), best selling UCAT book (updated for 2023), and one-to-one UCAT tutoring.

UCAT Verbal Reasoning Example Question

Try out the example question below!

For the first time in history, NASA astronauts have launched from American soil in a commercially built and operated American crew spacecraft on its way to the International Space Station. The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft carrying NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley lifted off at 3:22 p.m. EDT Saturday on the company’s Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Known as NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2, the mission is an end-to-end test flight to validate the SpaceX Crew Transportation System, including launch, in-orbit, docking and landing operations. This is SpaceX’s second spaceflight test of its Crew Dragon and its first test with astronauts aboard, which will pave the way for its certification for regular crew flights to the station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. “Today a new era in human spaceflight begins as we once again launched American astronauts on American rockets from American soil on their way to the International Space Station, our national lab orbiting Earth,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. For operational missions, Crew Dragon will be able to launch as many as four crew members at a time and carry more than 220 pounds of cargo, allowing for an increased number crew members aboard the space station and increasing the time dedicated to research in the unique microgravity environment, as well as returning more science back to Earth. (Source)

According to the passage, which of the following statements is true?
A. The launch of the Crew Dragon spacecraft on Saturday was the first test of this spacecraft
B. Robert Behnken was the lead engineer for this project
C. This is the first time that NASA astronauts have launched from American soil
D. The International Space Station orbits the Earth

Answer:

The correct answer is D. This is evidenced by the statement “…on their way to the International Space Station, our national lab orbiting Earth”.

Verbal Reasoning Strategy: Read the text, then answer the questions. This is a standard example of a Statement-Based question. The text is slightly complex, and the questions ask for inferences, so it’s important to have a general understanding of the passage.

Top 5 UCAT Verbal Reasoning Tips

Preparing for and taking the UCAT can be a stressful time, especially when it comes to the Verbal Reasoning section. Here’s our top 5 tips to help you be more confident and meet your Verbal Reasoning goals!

1. Start Early

Giving yourself as much time as possible will allow you to fully develop core Verbal Reasoning techniques such as speed reading and comprehension.

2. Scanning vs Reading

Learning when to scan and when to read the passages given to you is one of the most important Verbal Reasoning strategies in this section. When you are able to, scanning texts will save you so much time compared to reading them, allowing you to spend more time on difficult questions. 

3. Remember to Infer

This is one of the core Verbal Reasoning skills required, so making sure to read into sentences and draw logical conclusions is crucial. This can’t be done by simply making observations or rewording the text given to you, but at the same time, remember not to overthink it – write out what comes naturally to you as a conclusion from the passage. Again, practicing this skill before starting Verbal Reasoning mock questions will be very helpful.

4. Learn When to Discard

There will be some styles of questions you’re not as good at, or some that you find more time consuming. If you spend lots of time on a question and still struggle for the answer, sometimes the best option is to discard that question and move on. If you’re struggling on the first question out of four, it usually indicates that the other three questions are going to be of similar difficulty. In this case, you should discard this passage and move on. 

5. Take Breaks

Taking regular breaks during your UCAT revision will help keep your mind fresh and focused. Make sure to take breaks every hour or so to give yourself time to relax and recharge before continuing your studies.

Remember, there are other sections in the UCAT – spending ample time on all sections is crucial to scoring high overall, and no university will only look at individual section scores. There is no benefit to scoring 750+ in one section at the expense of the other sections, so spending time on them all is incredibly important. That being said, remember to think about your strengths and weaknesses when preparing for the UCAT to decide how much time you want to spend preparing for each section.

We hope this article was useful for your UCAT preparation! It’s an excerpt from our popular UCAT resources, created by top 1% scoring candidates!

Check out the best UCAT resources, such as our 2-day live UCAT course, online UCAT course (175 lessons), UCAT book, and one-to-one UCAT tutoring for more UCAT support.


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