One of the secrets to scoring highly in the decision making section of the UCAT is to first recognise the skills this subtest is assessing and the different question styles that can appear. DM concerns logical thinking, problem-solving and tests some maths skills, via long worded questions and probability/statistical questions.
You can find more detail about decision making questions on this website, and you’ll be taught how to tackle these in a UCAT course.
Personally, I found watching YouTube videos and reading the blogs on this site really helped me to understand what was being assessed in each section. Practicing DM questions will also help you understand this and to improve your confidence in this section.
My most important tip for DM would be to use as many online resources to practice as many questions as possible. Using the free online UCAT website resources and paying to access a UCAT question bank for three weeks before my exam was pivotal in my DM and wider UCAT success.
Decision making was initially one of my worst UCAT sections. I found the long-worded logic questions impossible to complete within such a short time limit, and the probability questions similarly difficult. However, with continued practice and determination, I greatly improved my UCAT score.
I strongly recommend only using online resources and generally avoid UCAT books. That’s because the UCAT is an online computer-based exam, so using practice UCAT questions online allows you to become familiar with the format on the computer and get used to using the keyboard. Replicating the test experience will increase your confidence and competence and best prepare you for your test.
During your exam, you will be given several whiteboards and a whiteboard pen. I found that drawing Venn diagrams, creating tables, and jotting down notes on the whiteboard greatly improved my score in this section. It allowed me to work through DM problems with all the necessary information in front of me, without being confused by long wordy blocks of text on the screen.
I strongly recommend practicing with a whiteboard and pen before the exam to get used to writing down information and to improve your score. However, it is worth noting that when I sat the exam, I was not given a whiteboard rubber, so it is important to draw small diagrams to save space and ensure you have enough room to write down notes for future questions e.g., in the quantitative reasoning or abstract reasoning sections.
During your early UCAT DM practice, I recommend working through the different questions without a timer, to prevent excess stress and to gain a good understanding of the format of the section.
However, switching to timed practice is vital in ensuring UCAT success, as you will only be given 31 minutes to answer 29 questions in the real exam. That works out as roughly one minute per question!
Engaging in timed practice will give you a realistic gauge of how quickly you need to answer the questions in the real exam and will improve your ability to quickly problem-solve through continued practice.
If a question looks overly complicated and as if it will take you a long time to complete, I recommend guessing (either using common sense or completely guessing), flagging the question, and then returning to it if you have time at the end of the section.
In my opinion, it’s best to first complete the questions you are confident with and then to return to the few challenging ones. This ensures that you score the best possible in the section and do not end up missing out on easier questions you could have answered as you spent too much time on a complicated question earlier in the test.
During my practice and in my real test, I used this strategy and was able to answer flagged questions once I had settled into the section and worked through the rest of the questions. Similarly, in my final exam, I guessed several questions I was unsure about.
Always answer every question! There is a chance it will be correct if you guess, but always a 0% chance if you don’t!
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