11th July 2023
Verbal Reasoning is the section of the UCAT where people typically score the lowest – but you can beat this trend using our best UCAT tips for this tricky subtest.

1. Know The Difference Between Question Types

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.

2. Learn Common Tricks And How To Avoid Them

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.


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3. Understand What Is Meant By True/False/Can’t Tell

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:

  • True if it follows logically from information you have read in the text.
  • False if it definitely can’t be true based on info given in the text.
  • Can’t tell if there isn’t enough info to say true or false.

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.

4. Watch Out For Negative Questions

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.

5. Look Out For Dispersion And Contradiction

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!

6. Beware Mitigating And Definitive Words

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.

7. Don’t Use Any External Knowledge

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.


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8. Practise Your Speed Reading

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.

9. Read The Question First

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.

10. Find The Keywords

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.

11. Don’t Miss Multiple Keywords

Another important thing to remember is that keywords can appear multiple times in the text – so make sure you scan it all!

12. Take Statements At Face Value

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.

13. Don’t Waste Time On All The Answers

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.

14. Use The Flag And Guess Method

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.

15. Practise Questions In A Realistic Environment

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.

16. Trust Your Instincts

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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