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17th June 2021
Alice managed to score a staggering 900 in the Quantitative Reasoning part of her UCAT test last year and received multiple offers to study Medicine in September. She shares how she got such an impressive score and her top tips to help you do the same.

Brush Up On Your GCSE Maths

In the QR subtest, the difficulty of the maths doesn’t go any higher than GCSE level, but with an average of 40 seconds per question, it’s vital to be familiar with the basic mathematical skills. The purpose of the quantitative reasoning questions is to test your mathematical problem solving alongside skills that you should already have.

Most QR questions are based around these topics:

  • Percentage change
  • Area/perimeter of 2d shapes
  • Ratio
  • Speed=distance/time
  • Some basic statistics (calculating averages)
  • Converting between units

It’s important to know any formulas you may need for these questions, as well as any methods to speed up your calculations. For example, if calculating a percentage question, there is no reason to multiply the final answer by 100 – you should be able to get the answer from the decimal without the extra step.

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Use Online Resources For Your Practice

Repetitive practice is vital for scoring highly in any of the UCAT subtests – not just QR. My personal advice would be to scrap the UCAT question book and focus your revision by using online resources and UCAT Question Banks.

I personally paid for access to a UCAT Question Bank eight weeks before my test, but there are great online resources available for free as well. By completing all of your practice on the computer it’s much more representative of the real exam and will prepare you far better than reading from a book and writing answers on paper.

With QR it is so important to have been exposed to as many question types and styles as possible before your exam date. This will not only prepare you well but also prevent any panic in the real exam as you will have seen many of the questions before, in your practice.

I began my QR practice with a wide variety of untimed question sets. This allowed me to get a feel for the different question styles and work on my mathematical accuracy. Next, I progressed on to timing my own sets – this meant that I was aware of the time I spent on each question, but I was able to run over if I needed to. I then moved on to completing mini QR mocks and just a week before my test I used the official UCAT full mock exams.

Learn The Keyboard Shortcuts

In my first few weeks of timed QR practice, I really struggled to complete the whole section within the time limit. This meant my scores for QR were very low as I was having to leave the last couple of questions blank completely.

Keyboard shortcuts were a lifesaver! They are:

  • Alt + n for the next question
  • Alt + p for the previous question
  • Alt + f to flag the question
  • Alt + c to open the calculator

The amount of time I was able to save by using these instead of the mouse was unbelievable. By practising using these (and more!) on the UCAT official questions, The Medic Portal’s Question Bank and other online resources I was able to shave minutes off my work.

This allowed me time to go back and revisit the questions I flagged as well as checking any of my other answers.

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Complete Your Practice With A Proper Keyboard

Bear with me as this may seem a bit silly, but if the option is available to you, try and complete some practice using an old-style chunky keyboard and a real mouse! This was a great piece of advice that I was given, and it really helped me to navigate the real exam.

Most laptops nowadays have the numbers in a row across the top of the keyboard and a trackpad instead of a mouse. This is not the technology you will get at the test centre. You will have to use an old fashioned keyboard, the mouse will be big and chunky, and the numbers will be in a separate pad off to the side of the keyboard.

If you can become familiar with this setup before your real exam, it will feel more normal and help with the stress and anxiety that comes with the UCAT. As well as this, you will be able to use the calculator with more ease (and speed!) and navigate between questions better too.

My Top Quantitative Reasoning Tips

  • Familiarise yourself with the questions, the set-up, the navigation of the test well in advance of the real exam.
  • Practise questions with accuracy before you focus on speed.
  • Utilise the mouse, number pad and keyboard shortcuts to save precious time.

You can see our 12 best quantitative reasoning tips here.

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