What is UCAT Verbal Reasoning?

Verbal Reasoning is focused on assessing your proficiency in analysing and comprehending bodies of text accurately and at speed. The text presented should be the only source of evidence used to answer the questions with any other knowledge not directly used since the passage may not accurately reflect reality. Of course, knowing the topic and context of the passage will certainly help your comprehension and speed up your ability to process any verbal cues.

Test Structure

UCAT Verbal Reasoning
  • Time allocated for the verbal reasoning section is 21 minutes
  • 44 verbal reasoning questions
  • 30 seconds are available for each individual question.
  • 11 passages are presented with 4 questions per passage.

The ability to read, skim, and scan a text quickly and focus in on the most critical information is essential. Most candidates despite good comprehension skills struggle in this section due to the limited time available and the length of each passage. The verbal reasoning section is possibly the most timed pressured of all the UCAT subtests and has year on year yielded the lowest scores. Performing well in this section will provide you with an advantage over most other candidates.

Why does the UCAT assess Verbal Reasoning?

Verbal reasoning skills fundamentally enable a clinician to comprehend and extract the most relevant information from any patient record quickly and accurately. Without a clear understanding of the history of a patient a clinician will find it difficult to determine the best, most clinically effective course of action. Furthermore, medical professionals are often involved in research and most certainly will need to critically appraise the research of others and conduct literature reviews consisting of tens, possibly hundreds of papers.

What are the different types of UCAT Verbal Reasoning questions?

Verbal Reasoning questions are broadly categorized in the following two main formats:

True/ False/Can’t Tell

A written passage holding 200-300 words is provided. Four statements will then be presented and it’s your job to determine if they are True, False, or Can’t Tell. Speed is critical and you will need to test out what works best for you – reading the questions then the passage or the other way round. Some people are better at skimming and scanning, other individuals can remember the sentence details as they read so don’t need to review them again. Focused practice experimenting on different techniques is the only way you will discover what works for you.

Passage Comprehension

A written comprehension passage is supplied with four incomplete statements/questions. You have to understand these questions by reading the passage and decide on how they can be best completed from the choice of four options displayed.

More Types of Verbal Reasoning Questions

Verbal Reasoning questions can be further broken into even more categories which test takers should be familiar with:

Keyword Relations

As the name suggests in these types of questions the answers are connected to a specific/distinct word or expression mentioned in the passage.

Direct Comprehension

Here the answers are related to a broader context or concept rather than to a specific word or phrase.


The answer requires an evaluation of the text to decide which answer goes with the question without diverging from the suggestive context in which the writer or author has asked the question.


This is an indirect method where you have to deduce a relationship by using the information given in the passage.

Inadequate Information

There is simply not enough information in the passage or the questions to come to a conclusion.

What strategies can I use to answer UCAT Verbal Reasoning questions?

A simple but effective verbal reasoning strategy is as follows:

  1. Preview the problem
  2. Qualitative Reading and linkage
  3. Choose logical options
  4. Beware of Past Knowledge

Step 1: Preview the Problem

Speed reading can help your verbal reasoning skills
Speed reading practice for UCAT

You need to identify the problem statements which you need to focus on in the passage later and also the type of question itself. For example, an evaluation comprising of four probable solutions will almost certainly take longer to answer than a simpler True / False question. Flagging a longer, more complex question for a later attempt may also be an option but with limited time this is a risky strategy – in all cases make sure you make an “educated guess” just in case you don’t have time to come back. Use your judgement to decide the best course of action and with the intention to get every mark possible and answer every question as accurately as possible.

Step 2: Qualitative Reading and Linkage

The subjective passage may prove too long to read. Therefore, read through the passage quickly – using a scanning / skimming approach focusing on keywords, authors’ emphasis, and language attribution, which are linked to the problem statement. Slow down once you identify a keyword. Read the complete sentences and adjacent sentences as well to achieve conceptual clarity.

Step 3: Choose the logical option

Draw a logical conclusion from the passage, before approaching the answers. It will help you to reach a logical answer. You must read all the options of  Multiple Choice questions one by one and actively eliminate the incorrect answers. Simply establish the correctness of the statement for True, False, Can’t Tell questions. It will be false, if the statement is not correct and if there is not enough information to decide then select the Can’t Tell option.

Beware of Past Knowledge

Do not use your own personal knowledge and experience to come to a conclusion – restrict yourself to the information presented in the passage. The wording of tricky questions may compel you to select an apparently appealing option but without appropriate supporting text do not jump to conclusions. Also keep in mind that juxtaposed statements are not always linked.

How should I prepare for the UCAT Verbal Reasoning section?

Preparing for verbal reasoning requires an improvement in your reading speed and comprehension skills. Speed reading techniques are critical not only in this section but can also provide an advantage in the other subtests. There are various tools and videos online which can help you double and triple your reading speeds in a matter of days and weeks. You can increase both comprehension and speed but it will take hard work, consistency, and determination – knowing the different techniques is only one part of the story.

Finally, you need to practice, practice, practice and understand the types of questions that are presented. Your skimming and scanning skills are absolutely essential and building up a picture of the text can help answer subsequent questions without having to reread the whole passage.