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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 at abstract reasoning, you need to be able to come up with hypotheses and question judgements as you go, be flexible enough to change track, and critically evaluate your thinking at each stage.

What Is The Abstract Reasoning Section?

The abstract Rreasoning 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 55 multiple choice questions, divided into 13-question sets. With 13 minutes to answer everything, this gives you just one minute per set.

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Abstract Reasoning Questions

There are four question types in this section:

  • 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.

Average Abstract Reasoning Scores

The average abstract reasoning score over the last six years is 638. Last year (in 2020), the average score was much better than in previous years, at 653.

Average Verbal Reasoning Scores201520162017201820192020
640630629637638653

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

UCAT Abstract Reasoning Tips

Follow these tips to boost your abstract reasoning score:

  • Familiarise Yourself With The Question Types. This section assesses your ability to recognise patterns, so the more UCAT questions you practice, the quicker you will be able to recognise the kind of patterns that commonly reoccur in exams.
  • Think About The Patterns. As you look at different examples, ask yourself: how many shapes are there in each box? Does the tile fit the format? Do the shapes or patterns rotate clockwise or anti-clockwise?
  • Take Your Time. Don’t be in a rush to time yourself when you first start practising this section. It will take a while for you to recognise and learn the patterns that recur.
  • Be Strategic. Put each set through a series of questions that help you rule out obvious patterns. For example, is there a colour pattern? Is there symmetry? Does the pattern correlate to the number of shapes?
  • Practice. The more you practice, the quicker you will get.

Check out these abstract reasoning tips from one of our Tutors:

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