14th March 2023
If you’ve started preparing for the UCAT, you’ll know the timing is tight – and it isn’t uncommon for candidates to run out of time in the test. Here are some UCAT tips and methods to help you speed up and ensure you finish answering UCAT questions within the time limit!

Tip 1: Know your UCAT timings

Our first tip is to make sure you go into the UCAT test knowing exactly how much time you have to complete each section.

By knowing this, you can work out how long to spend on each question – and if you realise that a question is taking too long, you’ll know when to guess, flag and move on. 

Practice is key to boosting your UCAT score and increasing your chances of getting into Medical School.

UCAT SectionTime for sectionNumber of questions
Verbal Reasoning21 minutes (+ 1 minute of reading)44 questions
Decision Making31 minutes (+1 minute of reading)29 questions
Quantitative Reasoning25 minutes (+1 minute of reading)36 questions
Abstract Reasoning12 minutes (+1 minute of reading)50 questions
Situational Judgement26 minutes (+1 minute of reading)69 questions

Tip 2: Verbal Reasoning timing

With the UCAT Verbal Reasoning subtest, you need to practise speed reading, so you can take in key information from a passage of text as quickly as possible. If you need to re-read, you will lose valuable time!

Another good UCAT timings tip is that for true/false/can’t tell questions in Verbal Reasoning, you should read the question first – then scan the passage for keywords, rather than reading the whole passage first. Make a mental note of key information, e.g. if there is a date mentioned in the passage, there might be a question about it!


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Tip 3: Decision Making timing

Questions in the Decision Making section can really vary, so it’s hard to give each DM question a fixed time allowance. One key UCAT timing tip for this section is to use your whiteboard and pen, because doing things mentally might slow you down.

The Venn diagram and logical puzzles may take longer to work out, but you can compensate for this by being quick with the on-screen calculator for the probability questions and syllogisms. Identify the type of question being asked and then decide how you will approach it time-wise.

Tip 4: Abstract Reasoning timing

You need to be as familiar as possible with common patterns used in Abstract Reasoning. Number of shapes, sides, arrow direction and colours will be involved.

There is limited time and lots of questions to get through – so if you can’t identify patterns quickly, you’ll have to guess, flag and move on. By spending more time on one difficult pattern, you are sacrificing easier marks from more simple patterns.

Tip 5: Quantitative Reasoning timing

The maths involved in the Quantitative Reasoning subtest is not complicated, as it’s supposed to be GCSE level. Some questions require ‘eyeballing’ – looking at a graph to identify the tallest bar. The trap that people often fall into is spending too much time on questions which require multi-step calculations.

For example, if a question requires summation, division and then subtraction, it will obviously take longer. In these instances, it might be wise to make an educated guess or ‘guesstimate’, flag and move on, instead of devoting too much time to it and losing marks elsewhere.

There will be a single-step calculation question/eyeballing question further down the line. Use the whiteboard in this section for any key numbers, like a total or average, in case an item within the same question requires it.  

Also, get used to using the UCAT calculator by completing practice questions with a UCAT Question Bank.


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