One of the best tips for boosting your Verbal Reasoning score is to know what the different question types are – and how to answer them.
The true/false/can’t tell questions are among the easier Verbal Reasoning questions, while the longer questions tend to be more difficult to answer. For example, there are inference questions, often phrased like “Which of these statements is most likely to be true?” – and the answer may not be explicitly mentioned in the text, but it must be true based on the information provided.
It’s very wise to make yourself aware of the common tricks that catch out a lot of test-takers in Verbal Reasoning. You need to be able to spot where the test is trying to trip you up, so that you don’t fall into common traps.
The true/false/can’t tell questions can catch you out if you aren’t sure what the difference really is between these options. Make sure you’re 100% clear on the definitions.
A statement is:
It’s important that you don’t make any assumptions. For example, you may know something to be correct from your own knowledge – but if the information isn’t in the passage, you can’t say that it’s true because it relies on additional information.
Keep an eye out for negative questions, which often include the terms ‘not’, ‘cannot’, ‘least’ or ‘except’. For example, a negative question could be worded like “All of the following statements are true, except…”
Although it seems straightforward, a surprising number of people accidentally skip the negative word when reading and therefore answer incorrectly.
One of the most common tricks is dispersion and contradiction. This is when key terms are referenced more than once in a passage, with the second instance negating or clarifying the first. It’s designed to confuse you and can lead you to the wrong answer.
Make sure you look for key terms in all areas of the text. Don’t just stop reading after you’ve spotted it the first time!
Sometimes the question or the text will have the same context, but the use of just one word can change the whole meaning. A good tip is to make sure you can spot the difference between ‘almost always’ and ‘always’, for example.
Remember that you don’t need any additional knowledge to answer Verbal Reasoning questions. Make sure your answers are based only on the information that’s been given.
You need to hone your ability to scan text as quickly as possible. Try speed reading text (which could include passages from books or articles) and summarising the content afterwards.
Always read the question first, so you’ll know where to focus when you scan the text. If you miss this step, you may find yourself wasting time by reading the whole passage of text when you didn’t really need to.
Spot the keywords in the question and then skim the text to find them. Make sure you read enough before and after the keywords to contextualise them, and this should give you enough information to eliminate the wrong answers and select the right one.
Another important thing to remember is that keywords can appear multiple times in the text – so make sure you scan it all!
Verbal Reasoning is a highly time-pressured section of the UCAT test, so you need to be quick with your answers. We advise you to take the statements at face value and don’t waste time thinking too deeply about them. If you have to think too much about a question, the answer is probably can’t tell.
If you happen to come across a perfect answer as option a or b, you can simply select it and move on. Timing is tight in Verbal Reasoning, so our tip is to choose the right answer when you see it and don’t waste time reading all the answers to check if you’ve missed something.
A key Verbal Reasoning tip is to flag any questions that you can’t speedily answer and come back to them at the end. All the questions are worth the same number of points, so there’s no merit in focusing on any particular question above others. Don’t let a tough question trip you up and put you at risk of not answering easier questions later in the subtest.
Make sure you use a UCAT Question Bank to practise Verbal Reasoning questions in an environment that reflects the real test. This way you can get used to the timing and to things like the ability to flag a question and move on.
If you’re running out of time, just go with your gut instinct because it will often be right! You don’t have enough time to second-guess yourself, so simply choose the answer that seems right to you and move on. It’s usually a 50/50 guess, since you’ve probably eliminated half of the answers already.
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