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11th June 2021
Quantitative reasoning is the highest scoring section of the UCAT test, so it’s a great way to raise your overall score. Follow the QR tips below for the best strategies to boost your performance.

Brush Up On Your Mental Maths

Our first quantitative reasoning tip is to revise GCSE maths, particularly things like ratio and portions, formulas for area and volume, and percentage calculations. In our UCAT course, we start by showing you the level of maths you need, so you can immediately tell if you need to brush up on those skills.

Work On Your Estimation Skills

Depending on the question, it may be worth working on your estimation skills as rounding numbers up or down makes it easier to do the maths mentally. The actual answer should be near enough what your (estimated) answer is.

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Read The Question First – And Carefully

The best way to go about maths questions is to read the question first and then look at any data that may be provided. Scan the data to identify the key information, then plug in your calculation if it’s required, and select your answer.

Sometimes you’ll see extra information in bullet points that many students ignore. Make sure you scan this information – it is usually essential to answering at least one of the questions.

Don’t Be Fooled By Unit Changes

The examiners are sneaky. It is not uncommon for them to provide the details in a scenario using one unit, and expect the answer in another unit. To confuse things even more, they may have the correct answer dressed up in different units.

So, for example, cm could have been the unit of choice in a question, but you might be asked for the answer in millimetres If you don’t read the question properly, you can easily select the wrong option.

Learn How To Spot Multi-Step Calculations

All the quantitative reasoning questions carry the same marks and therefore there is no need to spend extra time on one question that requires three or four steps in order to reach the correct answer. That’s because there will be a question further down the line that only requires “eyeballing” a graph or chart. It’s important you are able to identify these types of questions quickly, guess an answer and flag it up so you can return to it if you have time at the end.

A common trap people fall into is spending too much time on these questions which mean they do not finish the QR subsection and this results in a low score.

Write Down Important Information

This is one of the most important UCAT Quantitative Reasoning tips. Being time-restricted, it’s best to write down information as you read the question through for the first time on the whiteboard provided. This will mostly include figures and values and the goal of the question.

This way, if you need to refer back to the question for information it will prevent you from having to read it again. This will leave you more time to do the question.

Don’t Get Flustered

On average, there is only a small time frame for each question (around 30-40 seconds) so it’s easy to get very panicked if you cannot complete a question or if you realise that you’ve taken way too much time. This can throw you off your game for the rest of the section.

Learn when to skip questions if you feel you’ve taken too long to complete it. This will avoid panic, as it will allow you to pick up more marks in future questions, instead of wasting time. And if you have time at the end, you can always come back to it and work it out or change your answer.

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Practice Quantitative Reasoning Online

It’s good to get as much practice in for the UCAT as you can – especially online practice with a UCAT Question Bank, as this is how you’ll sit the exam. This will allow you to see how it will work practically by giving you a chance to use the on-screen calculator. I would also recommend using the keyboard to operate the calculator as this will save time, but you should always use what you are most comfortable with.

Online tests give you a direct insight into how you are doing progress wise and it will get you used to the on-screen timer and the calculator which may all prove important factors on the day.

Learn How To Use The Calculator

You’ll get a very basic on-screen calculator so it’s worth ditching all the extra functions on a scientific calculator whilst practising so that it’s the most accurate representation of the test. You’ll be able to practise this with our free practice UCAT questions and our UCAT Question Bank.

Make sure you learn how to use the UCAT calculator and its shortcuts, too.

Use The Whiteboard

You’re also given a whiteboard to jot down some notes, so feel to use one whilst studying, or simply some blank paper. However, the more mental maths you can do the better, as it takes time to tap numbers into the calculator or scribble on the board, so try to minimise this as much as possible.

Learn The Computer Shortcuts To Save Time

To save time using your mouse, consider using your computer keyboard both to open and operate the calculator, as well as move between questions. You can use the following shortcuts:

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

Practice Under Time Pressure

You’ll get 24 minutes to answer 36 questions, which means an average of 40 seconds per answer. Make sure you practice under timed conditions so that you’re able to stay on time. Try to arrive at the answer within 30 seconds – and use an online question bank to help.

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