What is UCAT Quantitative Reasoning?
Quantitative Reasoning is the third subtest. Candidates generally achieve some of the highest scores so it is essential you do too. This section is not a typical mathematics test with binomial theorem or advanced integration rather you are being evaluated on your ability to quickly select the correct mathematical strategy and implement it pivoting if necessary as you go along.
A student is assessed to evaluate if their ability to determine which data is relevant, analyze this data, select and conduct any appropriate calculations, and ultimately offer an appropriate solution through the use of quantitative reasoning skills.
- You have to complete 36 questions in 24 minutes.
- Approximately 40 seconds per question.
- Four questions will be asked against the 9 data sets / scenarios presented.
- Out of these 36 questions, some questions are stand-alone and not linked to the other 3 questions in the set.
You will be provided with graphs, charts, tables, or passages from which you will need to filter out distracting information and figures. The questions themselves are not difficult but what is difficult is to select and use the correct approach quickly and then time effectively. Some questions are simple arithmetic operations while others are multi-step calculations or require you to use a process of elimination. Some questions will contain an option “E’ – “can’t tell”- which is generally used when there is not enough information provided.
Quantitative reasoning questions test your proficiency around the following areas:
Further information on each of these question types is provided later in this article.
Why does the UCAT assess Quantitative Reasoning?
One example of using quantitative reasoning skills is when clinicians need to calculate the correct dosage of a medicine using patient weight, height, age, and condition. Drug dosage is calculated based on these intrinsic characteristics and require good quantitative analysis skills which can be applied quickly and accurately. Patient safety is at risk when the wrong dosage is dispensed and can lead to fatal and severe harm.
Quantitative reasoning skills are also essential when reviewing medical research and interpreting data samples to infer trends and improve clinical effectiveness. These skills are required when writing up research allowing findings and results from clinical work to be summarised accurately.
What are the different types of UCAT Quantitative Reasoning questions?
For all questions mental maths skills can save you valuable seconds and can also help provide rough answers which may be close enough to one of the answers to avoid having to use the calculator. The questions are multiple choice and consist of the following types:
Here you will simply calculate the percentage rise or decline in price, quantity, type, or any other factor by using simple arithmetic operations like addition subtraction and multiplication, etc. You may need to convert between percentages, ratios, decimals, and fractions. These questions are normally easy to identify due to the presence of a percentage in either the question or the answers.
These types of questions involve the calculation of direct and indirect proportions and conversion between different types of units.
Rate questions are related to change, in other words how much one quantity will change around or by another. It could be the change in acceleration, flow, speed, intensity, magnitude, and or any other measure. For example, calculating the speed of an object or rates of flow of a liquid.
Calculation of mean, median, and mode by using data which is normally presented either as a group or set.
What strategies can I use to answer UCAT Quantitative Reasoning questions?
With a lot of people scoring their highest marks in this section it is necessary for you to also do well to ensure you are not left behind and playing catch up. Use the strategy below to help you do well:
- Careful Reading
- Grasp the Scenario
- Use the Aids and Tools
- Eliminate the Clear Outlier
- Use Your Mental Math Skills
Step No 1: Careful Reading
Thoroughly read through the questions – you may find individual words and quantitative units crucial in understanding how to determine the correct approach and arrive at the right answer.
Step No 2: Grasp the Scenario
You should try to develop a fair understanding of the scenario described. It will help you to concentrate quickly on the most relevant information. You really do need to have a high level of problem-solving ability rather than academic skill since the actual calculations themselves are quite straightforward.
Step No 3: Use the Aids and Tools
Your decision-making aids comprise of a whiteboard and on screen calculator. Use these to maximum effect to write only what is absolutely necessary to avoid mixing up numbers or having to repeat calculations. You must practice using the onscreen calculator and know the keyboard short cuts to save every second possible.
Step No 4: Eliminate the Incorrect
Generally, questions in the Quantitative Reasoning section have a few clearly incorrect answer options which can be eliminated first. This will remove some of the cognitive load and help you focus only on the answers that are possible, or provide you with a higher chance of “guessing” the right answer.
Step No 5: Use Mental Mathematics to Speed up your Quantitative Reasoning Skills
Practice basic mathematics skills and use them during when you practice. Calculating percentages, ratios, averages, and fractions and normally be done in the head – one thing to keep in mind is the order of calculations – or BODMAS rules.
How should I prepare for the UCAT Quantitative Reasoning section?
Keep in mind the test will assess your problem-solving ability and not your educational knowledge:
- You can get an outstanding score without being a great mathematician but it requires that you practice basic mathematical operations.
- Time management is also key and sometimes it is smarter to make an educated guess especially when you are uncertain and will have to return to the beginning of a question. If you do have time later on then you can always correct the answer but if you still have a lot of the test remaining it makes more sense to push forward and find those easy questions where you are almost guaranteed a mark. It is better to attempt all questions rather than missing question so it is essential you know how to make educated guesses.
- Time-management matters and familiarity with question patterns is very important to ease comprehension and decide on the best approach quickly to calculate the answer.
- Become comfortable in using the support aids like the whiteboard and calculator – it will save valuable seconds which can be used for higher end cognitive processing and avoid miscalculating or forgetting intermediate calcualtions.
- Learn common shortcuts for the test and calculator to save time.
- Practice recognizing obvious outliers as fast as you can through both the format of the question, types of numbers used and UCAT way of describing different questions. Linguist hints within the question will provide you with essential ques on the best approach to take for any given question.