24th June 2021
The verbal reasoning section of the UCAT test is notoriously difficult, with average scores consistently lowest in this subtest. Anna managed to get an impressive 680 for verbal reasoning, and shares how in this blog.

It’s All In The Timing

Ask anyone who has taken the UCAT will probably tell you that the hardest part of the verbal reasoning section is the incredibly tight time limit.

I tackled this by trying timed questions early on so that I could get a feel for what I would face on the day. You can try the free UCAT questions or subscribe to the UCAT Question Bank to do this.

Guess, Flag, And Move On

As a general rule of thumb, it’s fair to assume that questions with longer passages will be harder to answer, as you have even more text to scour for information. If a passage was particularly long, I would immediately guess, flag, and move on.

Although you don’t need any background knowledge of the subject matter to answer the questions, some topics can be tricky if you generally struggle to wrap your head around the subject matter. For example, I often struggled to get to grips with passages on ancient history, so they were an immediate flag for me!


Practise Verbal Reasoning Questions

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Read The Question First

During my UCAT prep, I read this tip a thousand times, but I truly did not believe it would help my score. As I did more and more practice, I realised that no matter how quick you can speed-read, you will never have time to read and digest each passage in full.

By reading the question first, you get an idea of which keywords you should be scanning the passage for so that you can hone in on this part of the text. It may feel counterintuitive, to begin with, but give it a go.

Learn Strategies For True/False/Can’t Tell Questions

The secret to a high UCAT score is strategy. You need to know exactly how to approach every type of VR question that you could face.

I found true/false/can’t tell questions hard. My approach was to start by eliminating either “true” or “false”. Then, even if you have to guess, you still have a 50:50 chance of getting the answer right.

Don’t be afraid to select “can’t tell”. When you’re under pressure on the day, it’s easy to think you may have missed a vital piece of information that would have allowed you to answer either true or false confidently. Remember that the “can’t tell” option is there for a reason, so don’t be scared to use it!


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Don’t Be A Perfectionist

It’s easy to get bogged down in really getting to grips with the passage and trying to answer each question with 100% confidence. Unfortunately, there isn’t time for this in the verbal reasoning section. Remember that you are just trying to bag as many marks as possible, and you won’t need anywhere near full marks to do well in this section.

My Verbal Reasoning Top Tips

My tips for beating the average score in verbal reasoning are:

  1. Remember that by flagging a question you’re not giving up on it, you’re simply allowing yourself to bag the easiest marks first!
  2. Practice other sections first. As verbal reasoning is the first section of the exam, most candidates will try to learn this section first. However most candidates would also say it is the hardest section, so it may help your confidence to leave this section until later on in your preparation.
  3. Don’t panic! The verbal reasoning section is easily most people’s lowest score, so don’t worry if you find it dragging your overall score down.

Check out our 17 best verbal reasoning tips for more inspiration.


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