The abstract reasoning portion of the UCAT tests your ability to spot patterns amongst shapes and ignore irrelevant or distracting material that’s designed to trick you. To succeed, you need to be able to come up with hypotheses and question judgements as you go, be flexible enough to change tack, and critically evaluate your thinking at each stage.

What Is The Abstract Reasoning Section?

The abstract reasoning section tests your abilities to evaluate and generate hypotheses and assesses critical thinking skills. This is important because Doctors deal with both reliable and unreliable information, and they need to make judgements based on possible diagnoses from test results.

You’ll be presented with shape-based patterns and sequences to assess your spatial awareness and reasoning.

There are 50 multiple choice questions, divided into a number of question sets. With 12 minutes to answer everything, this gives you just one minute per set.

Types Of Abstract Reasoning UCAT Questions

There are four types of abstract reasoning questions in the UCAT subtest:

  • Type one: two ‘sets’ of shapes (Set A and Set B), followed by five ‘test shapes’. You must decide if the ‘test shapes’ fit Set A, Set B or neither set.
  • Type two: a series of shapes that alternate from one box to the next. You need to state which of the four shapes would follow in the sequence.
  • Type three: a ‘statement’ of two sets of shapes, where one has been changed to create a new set. You need to apply the same change to a set of test shapes and then choose which of the four options follows.
  • Type four: like type one, but you’ll be presented with four ‘test shapes’ simultaneously and will need to decide which one of the four belongs to Set A or B.

How Is UCAT Abstract Reasoning Marked?

Each abstract reasoning question is worth one mark. Your total marks for the abstract reasoning subtest will be placed on a scale to give your UCAT score.

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Average Abstract Reasoning UCAT Scores

The average abstract reasoning score over the last six years is 638. Last year the average score in the UK was 651 – and it was 650 in Australia and New Zealand.

What Is A Good Abstract Reasoning Score?

A good abstract reasoning score for the 2021 UCAT test was 650+. A high score of 740+ would place you in the eighth decile or higher and in the top 20% of test-takers.

Previous UK abstract reasoning scores:

Average Abstract Reasoning Scores2015201620172018201920202021
640630629637638653650

Previous UCAT ANZ abstract reasoning scores:

Average Abstract Reasoning Scores201920202021
629644650

For more on UCAT scoring, check out our UCAT Scores page.

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Abstract Reasoning Strategies

The first strategy you need to unlock is the process for tackling every question. The key steps are:

  1. Ignore the test shape
  2. Look at the simplest box
  3. Identify the pattern
  4. Try to match to a test shape

We teach you how to identify the pattern in our UCAT courses. We tell you how you can work out what the shapes and patterns could be, and give you a mnemonic to help you remember the process.

You also need to learn when you should flag the question and move on so that you can review it at the end and not waste time.

However, you may not be aware that there are likely patterns and variances for the abstract reasoning subtest. This means you can learn what’s most likely to come up in the test. Once you’ve developed this abstract reasoning skill, you’ll be able to tackle any AR question!

Example Abstract Reasoning UCAT Question

Looking at the Set A and Set B shapes below, which of the sets does the Test Shape relate to?

Choose the answer:

  • Set A
  • Set B
  • Neither

ucat abstract reasoning example question webinar
Watch the video below for the answer, plus an explanation of how to tackle this example abstract reasoning question.

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More Abstract Reasoning Tips

In our recent UCAT webinar, we walked through some tips for the abstract reasoning subtest – and we explained what the answer was to the above example question.

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