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10th August 2022
Alice managed to score a staggering 900 in the Quantitative Reasoning section of her UCAT test – and then received multiple offers to study Medicine. Here’s some insight into how she achieved such a high score in QR, plus her top tips to help you do the same.

Brush Up On Your GCSE Maths

In the Quantitative Reasoning subtest, the difficulty of the maths doesn’t go any higher than GCSE level. However, with such a tight time limit, it’s vital to be familiar with basic mathematical skills. The purpose of QR 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 that you may need for these questions, as well as methods to speed up your calculations. For example, if you’re 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 Quantitative Reasoning. My personal advice would be to scrap the UCAT question book and focus your revision on using online resources. I used a UCAT Question Bank for eight weeks before my test. By completing all of your practice on the computer, it’s a lot more representative of the real UCAT 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 will also prevent panic in the real exam, because you will have seen many of the questions before in your practice.

I began my QR practice by tackling lots of practice questions without a time limit. This allowed me to get a feel for the different question styles and work on my mathematical accuracy. Next, I progressed to answering questions in timed conditions. After this, I moved on to completing mini QR mocks – and around a week before my test, I did the official UCAT mock exams.

Learn Keyboard Shortcuts

In my first few weeks of timed Quantitative Reasoning 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 running out of time and leaving questions blank.

Keyboard shortcuts turned out to be a lifesaver! They include:

  • 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 keyboard shortcuts instead of the mouse was unbelievable. I found out that I could shave minutes off my work, so I had time to go back to revisit questions I had flagged and even check my other answers too.

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Complete Your Practice With A Proper Keyboard

Bear with me as this might sound a bit silly – but if the option is available to you, try to 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 UCAT test centre. You will have to use an old-fashioned keyboard, the mouse will be big, and the numbers will be in a separate pad off to the side of the keyboard. You might be able to find this type of computer setup at somewhere like your school or your local library.

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 UCAT calculator with more ease (and speed!) and navigate between questions better too.

My Top Quantitative Reasoning Tips

  • Brush up on your maths skills and familiarise yourself with the different question types.
  • Practise questions with accuracy first, before you focus on speed.
  • Use keyboard shortcuts to save precious time.
  • Try to practise in real test conditions, which include a chunky keyboard and mouse.
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